In 1950, I was born almost two months premature which, back then, was almost a death sentence. The result of that left me with a lifetime of physical issues that I have had to deal with.
One of these resulting conditions is that I have a heart arrhythmia where I could go into atrial fibrillation (A-FIB) at any moment. The result was that, when growing up, I could collapse at any time with my heart in arrhythmia. Over the years (it seemed like hundreds of times), my family would pick me up and rush me to the hospital. By the time we arrived at the emergency room my heart would be back in normal rhythm. This happened over and over again each time my heart went out of normal rhythm. The doctors were always baffled because I seemed to be perfectly normal by the time I was examined. By the time I reached my teens, the arrhythmia had calmed down and I lived a fairly normal life at that point.
By my early twenties, I became a professional touring musician performing throughout most of the East Coast, from Florida to Connecticut and the Bahamas. At age twenty-seven, I had signed a contract to work for a recording artist whose home base was in Macon, Georgia. So my wife and I moved to Georgia where I began working for the country recording star. By age twenty-eight, my wisdom teeth finally decided to come in, so I scheduled a visit with a local dentist who said he could remove them. When it came time for my dental visit, to my horror, I discovered that he was going to just give me the usual numbing shots for the surgery instead of anesthesia.
He assured me that everything would be fine, so I agreed to the surgery. As he began trying to extract my wisdom teeth, he discovered just how deep the roots were and decided to try to split the teeth in half first and then pull them. About this time, despite the Novocain shots, the pain was getting increasingly intolerable. It was at that time I felt my heart begin to act up and go into arrhythmia, which can happen with me when I experience extreme pain or stress.
What seemed like a moment later, all of a sudden, I was not in my body any more. I was up near the ceiling looking down at the dentist and the nurse. As I looked around, I could see the other rooms in the dentist office almost like there was no ceiling. I could look at several rooms at the same time. In the waiting room I could see my wife reading a magazine. By now the dentist had stopped trying to pull my teeth and was starting to shake me and slap me, screaming at me to wake up. The nurse was also very stressed out and was trying to help the dentist revive me.
For me, everything seemed perfectly normal and calm. I was feeling no pain. Everything seemed just fine to me. When I glanced back toward where my wife was sitting, I saw that she had put down her magazine and was acting stressed. I guess she could hear the dentist slapping and screaming at me. What I did not know at that time was that I have a condition called “sudden arrhythmic death syndrome”, or SADS. My heart can suddenly stop for anywhere from a few seconds up to a minute or more and then restart on its own. This happened again over a dozen times throughout my later twenties up through my early thirties and beyond.
After what seemed like several minutes (but probably was less than a minute) my heart restarted, and I found myself back in my body feeling horrible from the pain of the surgery and from what the dentist had done to me trying to restart my heart.
At first, I did not remember the event. I knew something had happened while I was out but did not understand it. Over time, I began to remember the event but still did not know what it was. Back in 1978, nobody ever talked about a “near death experience!”
As I stated earlier, my heart stopped several more times, with other stressful events in my life. It stopped twice when I was in various intensive care units for my arrhythmia and it was documented that my heart stopped and restarted itself on its own, completely baffling the doctors and nurses.
The other times my heart has stopped, I remember being in a dark room with no light. I was fully alert, aware of my surroundings and my senses were 100% but the space was pitch black with no light. I felt like I was floating and completely at ease.