Saturday, November 19, 2011

My Not-so-Near Death Experience

I know I said I wouldn’t be writing blog posts while I was busy writing the second book in the Stella Steinar series, but if you know me, you know I can’t help myself from pursuing an idea when it refuses to leave me alone.  And this has everything to do with completing Stella’s story, so I need to just get it out there and release it from my mind.  After reading this, some of you will have questions that I may not be able to or willing to answer.  I’ve sporadically spoken of this to a handful of friends over the years so it will sound familiar to some.  But here, now, I’m officially putting the rumors to rest.  This is the story of my not-so-near death experience.  My account of a mysterious and everlasting memory.  A trip into the unknown.  The waiting room.

I was 20 years old.  Old enough to know things, but still naïve nonetheless.  At that time I knew nothing of chakras.  But I knew that I was endlessly and consistently plagued with stomach issues which were a direct result of anxiety shadowing all aspects of my life.  At this particular time I had, what I perceived to be, a lot going on and a lot to worry about.  Now I laugh at what I used to think was stressful and my third chakra is much happier for it.  Ha! 

Anyway, I’d spent a few days in the hospital for a simple reason, nothing major.  Just needed some TLC for a sensitive tummy that wasn’t getting better on its own at home.  To give my stomach a rest, I had an IV and received fluids and medicine through it.  Turns out, I was stricken with an unexpected allergic reaction to one of the drugs I was given.  It started slow.  Some muscle spasms, a strange pulling sensation in my neck and eyes.  Then as my back began to uncontrollably tense and arch in a slow rhythmic pattern, panic set in.  It was late at night and I called a nurse to my room.  She suggested I should try to relax.  I could not.  Terrified, I managed a quick phone call to home just before I was completely consumed by a full-on seizure.  Now, I’d never had one before, so I had no idea what was happening to me.  The problem was compounded by my fear as I complicated the episode with hyperventilation.  Feeling I couldn’t move, talk, or breathe, I was convinced I was dying.   To be clear, I was not. 

As the nurses and doctor discovered me and checked my vitals, etc., I heard them talking and was assured my oxygen levels were normal.  I was aware they were injecting me with something to counteract the reaction.  Within seconds, as the seizure unleashed me from its grip, my body melted out of it and I slid into a drug-induced sleep.  Just before I drifted off, I slurred out loud, “I’m dying.”  I really, truly felt like I was leaving my body, drifting helplessly away.  Different than sleeping, I was unable to control where I was actually going.

This is where I went.  The beginning of it was loose, distorted, finding my way.  Then I steered into a constructed version of reality, I think a place that made sense to me.  Another dimension maybe.  It was a room.  A waiting room.  Bright, but fuzzy and foggy.  Empty, save for chairs lining the four square walls.  Instinctively I sat in one, waiting—for what, I wasn’t sure.  For my name to be called, I guessed.  For death, I suspected.  A girl materialized next to me in the chair beside.  One moment not there, there the next, not having entered through a door.  There was only one door.  The way out.  The exit. 

The doorway was even brighter than the room.  So bright it was nearly blinding.  I was unable to see past the light in the doorway, but I was completely unafraid of it.  I was indifferent to it.  Not happy, not sad, not fearful.  I just “was.”  Waiting.  The girl sat too, waiting.  I knew her face.  Someone I recognized.  I didn’t know her, not personally.  But I knew of her.  I’m purposely leaving out her name for reasons I’ll explain later.  She’d been sick a long time.  It was common knowledge around my small town.  She had cancer.  Too young, much too young.  But when is it ever fair?  Young, old, never.

We sat together for a while without speaking, and her presence was comforting to me.  Soon her name was called.  She made no rush to leave, lingering beside me a few moments.  She placed her hand on top of my hand, resting on the arm of the chair between us.  She looked at me, her face alight with serenity and joy, spirit, confidence.  “I’m leaving now.  But you aren’t leaving.  Go back,” she said.  Her smile penetrated my very existence.  ‘I must listen to her.  She knows,’ I thought.  ‘She knows better than me what we’re doing here, in this place, the waiting room.’

I don’t remember seeing her leave through the exit because I had already woken up, my consciousness shifting timelessly from there back to my hospital bed.   So real.  So vivid.  So many years ago, but still clear.

I’ve spent all these years since trying to decide what happened that night.  My need to know the truth doesn’t stop me from living a full and happy life.  It’s just always there, always present, a bit beyond my reach.  A gentle torment .  You will see fragments of this experience littered throughout my writing.  I draw inspiration from it as I attempt to find the meaning of it.  You may choose to diminish my experience by shaking your head and calling me a “crack pot.”  However, I’m not claiming anything as fact or true.  On the contrary, I would love nothing more than to know the truth, for the truth is what I seek.

The waiting room as a dream symbol has obvious meaning and makes sense for the situation and the particular stage of life I was in.  But that has never been the focus of my search.  It is the girl.  Why her?  Why then?  How did she make her way into my subconscious at that particular moment?  And is there more to this story than I am ready to know?  The possibilities are endless.  Did I hear people discussing her while I was asleep?  Did my fear of death conjure her image?  And other questions looming in the shadows have somehow seemed inappropriate.  Would talking of this experience be disrespectful to the girl or her family?  Would they find peace if they heard the story or be enraged that I should mention such a thing?  And what if I dug a little deeper and found records from that night, anything that might support an alternative source of the truth, something no one wants to talk about?  And if I did find something, would it even matter?  She is at peace and has been for a very long time now.  Not only is she at peace, but the kindhearted physician who was on call that mysterious night is also at peace, moved on through the waiting room.  Why can’t I let this go?

Since I was a child, I’ve always felt I possessed a touch of "the witch"--a seer of things unseen by others.  I say this with equal parts humor and seriousness.  Maybe it was my name.  Maybe I identified with that particular archetype.  Whatever the reason, I have always questioned and have never accepted any explanation of the unknown with a simple answer.  To me, there is much that we do not, cannot, and will not ever know about our world and how we function within or outside of it.  My experience in the waiting room is just another of those unknowns.  But I sure hope one day to find out.  That would be an amazing prize at the end of the journey!

This is the most honest and true account of my not-so-near death experience I can describe.  I welcome comments or questions from those who know me along with those who don’t, and will do my best to answer.  Thank you for reading!


Adriana Ryan said...

This was an amazing read. I know we don't know as much as we think we know (ha! How's that for confusing?), and don't think you're a crackpot at all.

T. Anderson said...

Thanks for reading and confirming my sanity. Gah! I had a look at your site. Seems we have common interests. Nice to know we have allies out there! Good luck with your books, Adriana... ;0)