The doctor told my mom I was minutes from dying.
My body was shutting down and none of the doctors knew what was wrong with me.
Have you ever had a near-death experience?
I have… I was just 31 years old with two daughters in elementary school.
One day, out of the blue, I got really ill… chest pains… fever… chills. The next day, I went to the clinic but didn’t get any answers. The doctor suspected pleurisy but I knew in my gut, that wasn’t right.
I was sent home and missed two full weeks of work. My condition was slowly declining.
Desperate to find out what was wrong with me, I returned to the clinic. This time, they found something on the X-rays… pericarditis.
…wtf?!! The sac around my heart was filling with fluid.
They immediately sent me to the University of Iowa Hospital where I could get better care.
For the first couple of days in the hospital, I seemed to feel better but the doctors couldn’t figure out what was causing the pericarditis.
On the third day, I remember, it was a Saturday, I woke up feeling much worse. Throughout the day, I continued to rapidly decline.
I can’t explain the feeling but I wanted to get out of my body.
Soon, more and more nurses and doctors were coming into my room, running tests and scans and consulting one another.
Because there was so much fluid in the pericardium (the sac around my heart), my heart was unable to expand to pump my blood.
Without the blood supply, my body was shutting down.
I lost blood pressure in my extremities.
…It was becoming a life or death situation.
I remember becoming very calm. I couldn’t speak but I was observing everything.
They were rushing me to the cardiac catheterization lab to drain the fluid from the sac around my heart so it could start working again.
I could feel the sense of urgency… and fear… from the hospital staff as they ran my hospital bed down the hallway, I could feel the breeze on my skin. My sense of hearing was heightened.
Then, I realized… This could be my time to go.
I remember thinking, Wow, is this how I die? I better start looking for a tunnel and white light.
And then I thought about my two beautiful young daughters.
I couldn’t do that to them. I couldn’t leave them.
They couldn’t grow up without a mother.
I told myself, No, you are not dying today.
Just hold on.
I held on.
During the procedure in the cath lab, they started draining fluid from the pericardium.
When they had drained enough fluid off, my heart could expand and it began to pump blood throughout my body again. I could feel it.
I could feel my limbs coming back to life.
This was a defining moment in my life.
I could have died that day, but I didn’t. There was a reason and I had no idea what it was.
Everyone told me, You are so lucky. You must be so grateful. Life is precious.
But the truth is, I was depressed…
…I didn’t know my worth
… I didn’t understand my power
…I wasn’t aligned with my purpose
…I was struggling
After my near-death experience, things got worse before they got better.
I started drinking to cope. I was in a marriage I should never have gotten into. I didn’t know what to do or how to change my situation so I kept drinking.
I didn’t have the support, or tools, I needed to navigate the challenges I faced. But I refused to let my circumstances define me.
My near-death experience was a turning point in my life (I sometimes refer to it as my wake-up call #1), it took me years to fully understand the meaning of my life; to find my purpose.
It was a journey of inner healing and self-discovery which eventually led me to helping others find meaning and purpose, happiness and fulfillment in their lives.
More than 20 years have passed since the day I almost died.
It was my wake-up call to change my life for the better.
Life is full of second chances and you don’t need a near-death experience.
It’s never too late to start over and become the person you were always meant to be.
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