When I was a 19 year old and a freshman at Georgia Tech, I had a near death experience. The year was 1978. I was at a fraternity party and walked through a very large plate-glass window (five feet by nine feet). I was rushed to the hospital where the doctor told me that many people who do this recoil when they hit the glass and either cut off a limb or decapitate themselves. I still had my head, but I was cut up pretty badly. My face was deeply cut and you could see the ball and socket joint in my shoulder. The doctors stitched me up and sent me home. It made me rethink everything in my life.
Before that accident, I was extremely arrogant and condescending. I made fun of others for their “shortcomings” even if it was something they had no control over such as their physical appearance or stutter or affectation. After the accident, my empathy level went way up. I had much more compassion, probably because of a prominent scar on my face. I was now the scar-faced guy. The guy with the scar. It made my hyper-aware of how people judge. How I used to judge. How I still judge if I don’t catch myself. So, as a result of this experience, something changed dramatically within me.
Now for the second near death experience, which took place in February of 2015. The day after a routine physical, I received a frantic call from my primary care physician. He told me to go directly to the emergency room. He said that all of my blood values were in the single digits. I had very low red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. My wife and I drove to the emergency room and checked in. They asked me if I had any headaches, nose bleeds, fatigue? I told them I did not, but now that they mentioned it, I did feel a little tired. They said that with these numbers, I should be experiencing a massive brain hemorrhage and be near death. It didn’t make sense that I was still conscious. So they drew more blood and ran some more tests.
My wife and I waited for four hours for the results. Did I need to call anyone? Were there any unresolved issues? No. Not really. My mom, who had dementia, would not understand a call to her, but there were no unresolved issues with her that needed to be addressed. I had good life insurance for my wife and we had nothing to resolve. I was good to go. I was ready to leave the earth if that was the plan. I contacted my brothers and my close friends and told them via text. They offered up prayers and support. My wife and I and my entire support system prayed for a miracle.
At the end of the four hour wait, the doctor came in and told me that my blood test was textbook normal and that I could go home. It made me think. Did a miracle just take place? Was I somehow healed of this horrible blood disorder? I’m not sure. They called it a lab error. In any case, I was given a great gift. I saw my own death without the consequence of my own death. I was reassured and content with my life. There were no major things to resolve and I have lived a good life. It did make me think about trying to worry a little less and work a little less and enjoy life a little bit more. I don’t like to offer advice to anyone, but I hope you won’t wait for your near death experience to re-examine your life and see if you want to make any changes.