I'm a real high energy sort, sleeping about four or five hours a night and routinely doing an eighteen hour workday as an Investment Banker.

I talk fast, I walk fast and I do things fast.

Needless to say, many people here in London attribute this to being an ex-pat New Yorker, but fellow noders I have a confession - I'm a vitamin freak.

Every morning I take Ginko Biloba (brain candy), Vitamin C (to ward off scurvy), Vitamin E (anti oxidant), Choline (converted to aceytocholine, it's a precursor for synaptic communication), L-Glutamine (I just liked way the name the sounded), Ginseng extract (ask my girlfriend why) and Brewers Yeast (for the B vitamin complex).

Altogether, it's exactly 53 pills, 45 of which are the Brewers Yeast.

At night before I go to sleep I take Ginko, vitamin C, Acidipilous, Ginseng and more brewers yeast. And when I'm ready to deactivate I take a melatonin pill and I'm sleeping fifteen minutes later.

And all these vitamins are in addition to a proper diet.

For breakfast I always have what locals call a flapjack; basically a chunk of oats with honey. I have two cups of coffee and some grapefruit juice.

Lunch is a sandwich, almost always tuna and cheese, soup and a can of Red Bull.

And unless I'm doing some kind of social bullshit for my job, dinner is always the same - a big salad, a whole wheat pita and red wine.

With the vitamins and all, I like to think I'm pretty healty. But it was the vitamins that almost killed me one night a couple of weeks ago.

After dinner I watched a movie and had a couple of glasses of wine. I was getting ready for bed, the flat was quiet and dark, and I went into the kitchen for my evening dose of vitamins.

I measured out the pills and got a glass of water to help wash them all down.

Since I do things fast I usually take all my pills in one big gulp. I got other things to do, and don't want to be screwing around, wasting time swallowing vitamins.

But tonight there was a problem - several of the pills somehow got lodged in my throat.

I suspect that it was the brewers yeast since they get sticky when wet.

But whatever it was didn't matter, as I couldn't breathe!

All of a sudden I couldn't take a breath and I found myself gasping.

I live alone so there was no one to turn to.

And I wish I could tell you that I had the presence of mind to do a heimlich maneuver on myself (fall down onto the back of chair, letting your upper abdomen absorb the force simultaneously compressing the diaphragm), but to be absolutely truthful, I panicked.

I couldn't take a breath no matter how hard I tried. And I was starting to get a nasty feeling because I needed a breath.

There was a burning sensation in my chest. I still had some air in my lungs, so I forcefully exhaled.

Nothing.

I forcefully exhaled again. Still nothing. I found myself on my knees.

The situation was getting really desperate. I exhaled as hard as I could once more and puted a mouthful of pills all over my kitchen floor.

I could now breathe, and took several deep breaths. I was sweaty, my vision had dark splotches in it, and my heart was pounding so hard in my chest it felt like someone was knocking me on my back.

Since I'm almost certain that it was the brewers yeast that caused me to choke, I immediately threw out my big bottle of pills. The next day I purchased powdered brewers yeast that I mix with water.

The powdered stuff tastes like shit, but now I'm only swallowing eight pills at a time. I can have my vitamins the way I like to take them - fast.

So was there a profound side to this experience?

No, I can’t truthfully tell you that I saw an all encompassing bright light or heard the beckoning of dead relatives.

And no Supreme Being solemnly told me "it's not your time; you must go back".

At least I don't think so.

Is there life, after death? I'm sure that every one of us has asked ourselves that question at one time or another, especially after a close brush with it. I'm not here to debunk other people's claims, I just wish to give you my personal perspective on it, having come back from death a few times. Here is my story.

On March 18, 1970 my boss and I picked up his 1965 Corvair convertible at a reputable service-center, in Saugus, Massachusetts. He drove me down to Brockton, Massachusetts and took me to his home where we would be spending the night. Ed introduced me to his mom and dad, and we went out and hit some bars. After a fun night, we decided to call it quits. We gassed-up before going home. Coming out of the service-station, onto a long straight road, Ed wanted to see how well they had tuned-up his car; he asked me first. I gave him the nod, knowing he was a skilled driver.

He wound it out...first gear...second...third. We must have been doing 80-90 miles per hour when we both heard a loud "WHOOMP!" The right-front wheel had blasted through the right fender, and we left the road at a 90 degree angle, to the right, through a set of hedges.

Time almost stood still. Lucky it was 2AM, and nobody was sitting at a picnic-table in their back yard. We hit it at high speed and I watched it disintegrate in slow-motion; I could see each individual piece fly through the air. To my horror I could see an oak tree, some three feet in diameter, 60 feet in front of us. I knew we were going to hit it, head on. In that ultra-micro-second, I knew we were going to be dead. Instinctively, I put both feet up on the dash and braced for the impact I knew was to come. Time slowed even more, my whole life played out for me on Gods' big movie-screen. I will never forget it. Just two feet from impact I blacked-out. God and his Mercy.

Much to my surprise, I awoke in the car, the wind-screen was gone, and the tree was now just two feet in front of my face. My knees were up behind my ears. Ed was conscious, too. He told me not to touch my face. Ed's right-femur was fractured, compound, and impaled into my left buttock...we were then true "blood-brothers." My right hand, and both ankles were crushed between the dash and my seat. I knew I was hurt very badly, but felt no pain. (We were told later that the gas-tank was pushed out the driver's side of the car and did not rupture, and that we were fortunate that it was filled to the brim or it would have exploded!)

The Brockton Fire Department Rescue Unit arrived in minutes, God bless them all, they saved my life! They chained the car to the tree, then ripped the convertible roof off the car using a wrecker. A fireman came up behind me, and told me they were going to take me out. Please do! The fireman gave a yell, and slid his hands under my armpits. There was a loud metal-grating sound as the wrecker pulled on the rear of the car, and the car came apart, releasing me. I blacked out as the fireman began to lift me.

I awoke in the ER of a hospital...I could tell it was the ER by the bright lights shining in my face. A doctor asked me my name and I told him. He asked where I lived, I told him. The doctor told me to count from three, to one. I never made it to two.

I awoke, again, ten days later. I was lying flat on my back in ICU. I had tubes coming out of everywhere. Dr. William Donahue, a bright, cheerful man whom I liked instantly, told me that I was in Cardinal Cushing General Hospital, in Brockton. He had more to tell me: That I was one lucky guy. That I was DOA, and it was lucky they recusitated me, immediately. If my wreck happened more than just one mile from this hospital, I would be dead now. Had it been just 30 seconds more, before they got me to the ER, I would have been brain-dead. I was lucky this hospital was one of the two in the whole USA that had the new experimental defibrillators, the paddle they shock you back to life with. (Massachusetts General Hospital being the one other.) He told me I died no less than four times in ICU over the past ten days.

Dr. Donahue told me all the injuries I had suffered. Nothing had been done to me yet, they had to get me stable, first. I had both ankles pulverized. My right femur had the ball broken off, both ends. Fractured pelvis. Fractured right wrist, with two broken fingers, little and ring. Fractured skull with minor brain damage. Upper jaw, and lower jaw, fractured. The whole right side off my face was crushed. Collapsed right lung...I had a large tube inserted to drain it. In other words, I was a basket-case.

Dr. Donahue then proceeded to tell me how they were going to fix me up. He went into great detail, and it gave me the hope I needed to get through the whole ordeal. I had to have a portable X-ray machine wheeled in every two hours, to take pictures of my lungs, I could not be moved to X-ray. I came to dread seeing that machine rolling in. They would lift me a bit, to slide the X-ray plate under me, and even though I was on the highest possible dose of morphine they could give me without killing me. The pain was excruciating. Dr. Donahue suspected a back-injury that wasn't showing up on a regular X-ray. He scheduled me for a "myelogram" a proceedure where a doctor injects a radio-active dye into your spinal-column, then you're tilted up into a standing position, on an X-ray table, so the dye can run down through your spinal-column. Where the dye stops is where there is a problem. No fun when your stood up onto crushed ankles, broken femur, hip...all not fixed, yet! It was discovered, indeed, I did have two compression-fractures at L4 and L5. A grand total of 17 broken bones. Had I been wearing a seat-belt, I would have been cut in half. (I will advise everyone to wear them, my case was just a freak of circumstance.)

I won't bore you with the long recovery. I want to get to the point of my story: Those people that tell you they died and floated out of their bodies, and were looking down upon themselves, etc, etc.. I suspect they weren't even close to death, or they were on a good tab of LSD. I could very well be wrong about the people who make such claims; the human mind is so complex and may never be fully understood in the whole lifetime of mankind. As a result of my experiences with my own "death," I have become even more afraid of death than I was before all this happened to me. The closest thing to death is: When you are very tired and you go to sleep at your normal time. You sleep for eight to nine hours without any dreams whatsoever. You awaken; now try and remember the past eight to nine hours! You damn well can't. There is a void. That is what it is like to be dead. And that is the scary part. You don't go to an "after-life." There is no Heaven, there is no Hell. There is only that void when you cease to exist. Although, you will live on, in your family and friends' imaginations, memories, sorrows. That is your only immortality. I guess we will really never know for sure, until we really die, and never come back.

Through sheer will-power, and several years of rehab, I got on my feet once again. Ed, the driver, suffered a broken right femur and broke his right arm, and a number of wine bottles hit him in the back of his thick skull at about 60 MPH. (Never, ever, leave bottles above the back-seat of your car, in the window area!) He fully recovered and we are still good friends. By 1979, I was walking without the aid of a cane. Due to damage to my right eye, I have worn an eye-patch since 1970, in the style of Kurt Russell in Escape From New York.

I battled drug-addiction up until the year 2000. I was badly addicted to pain-killers, Demerol was my favorite. Now, I live each day of my life as if it will be my last. Uncle Sam, the U.S. Veteran's Administration And U.S. Social Security Administration gave me a good pension, and I live happily ever after to this day. I still fear death more than ever. I fear the void.

As a post-script: The cause of our accident was determined. The mechanic who had replaced the whole front steering assembly was rushed by his boss. The mechanic left off the clamps on the steering-adjustment-sleeve (r-wheel). As we drove, the sleeve slowly spun off. It reached the bitter-end, just as we reached third-gear at about 90 miles per hour. The rest is history. I sued the service-center, who did the work. They settled, quietly, out-of-court, to the tune of 150 thousand U.S. Dollars ($150K) Had I not been so impatient, and fought it out in court, I could have got millions out of this big company. I had to give my attornies one third of the settlement. Hospitals, and doctors took $37K. And I blew the rest of the money on sex, and drugs, and rock and roll. The money finally ran out, after a year in the Philippines. My Mom called and told me the U.S. Veteran's Administration and U.S. Social Security Administration were giving me a life-time pension, now that I was destitute once again. I had the pension since 1970, but it stopped when I got the settlement in 1976. I had no idea that I could ever get it back. I wondered: How much more lucky could I get?

Beware the ides of March! I hope none of you go to the void until your time is up. Delay it, long as you possibly can. There is no future in death, that I, know of.

A near-death experience (often found abbreviated as NDE) is a personal narrative event characterized by visions catalyzed by the experience of approaching death or a sense that one is dying.

The NDE is often described in terms of spiritual awakening or mystical experience.

How common are NDEs?

Although most people who have come close to death say they remember nothing, a third or more may later report that "something happened."

Denominators of the NDE:

NDEs tend to be unique to each individual, although there are common factors which appear in different iterations:

  • Hovering: feeling that the "self" has left the body and is hovering overhead. The experiencer may later be able to describe in detail the location and actions of individuals in the room during the time when they are technically dead.


  • A dark space or tunnel.


  • Intensely powerful emotions: from bliss to terror.


  • Light: Golden, white, magnetic, and/or loving are common descriptors. Less commonly perceived as a reflection of the fires of hell.


  • Message: "It is not yet your time," or variants thereof.


  • Encountering others: deceased loved ones, sacred beings or religious figures, unidentified entities, "beings of light", operant religious symbols.


  • Life review: re-viewing both major and trivial events of one's life, followed by the development of conclusions about the past and the future.


  • Sense of understanding: Feeling that all is clear, knowing how the universe works.


  • Boundary: a barrier of some sort is encountered which the experiencer knows they may not cross if they wish to return to life.


  • In some cases, entering a city or library.


  • Decision to return may be voluntary or involuntary.


Variation: The Terrifying NDE

NDE researchers are unsure how many near-death experiences are frightening. Experiencers whose NDE involved beneficent white light and spiritual enlightenment, etc., are more inclined to share than their counterparts, who may have experienced something more along the lines of abject terror, misery, and self-loathing.

The frightening NDE may encompass some of the following traits:

  • Features similar to the "numinous" NDE, but experienced at a rate of speed which terrifies the hapless experiencer
  • Demonic rather than angelic overtones. Some experiencers perceive themselves in an ugly or threatening landscape, full of people who seem to be in terrible distress.

The Aftermath of the NDE

In the aftermath of an NDE, the experiencer senses himself or herself to be different, spiritually and physically. Those close to them often report a drastic change in the experiencer's behavior.

Reported physiological changes include:

For more information on near-death experiences, contact IANDS (The International Association for Near-Death Studies).


http://www.mindspring.com/~scottr/nde/faq.html
http://www.iands.org

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