Sunday, June 24, 2007

Brain Dead

Living in a large retirement area has given me the chance to meet some really interesting and intriguing people. People who have lived and worked a great portion of their lives and are willing to share their life stories without concern of judgement. It doesn't hurt that I'm the local funeral director and people usually end up in the arm chair across from me telling me information about their deceased spouses, however I particularly enjoy speaking to and about the living. Retired couples have come from all over the country to live in this area because somewhere along the line the media has picked up that this place exists and it's now on the retirement map. This now brings me to Charlie and the stories he's told that have stirred my mind.

First off let me give you a brief background on Charlie. He's in his mid seventies and currently heads the hospitals Board of Directors. He's from somewhere in the state but his career was in the military which took him all over the world. He retired fairly young from the service and eventually became the President of a nice sized corporation. He owns several pieces of rental property in our area as well as other parts of the state, has a sweet wife and 2 children, one a Baptist Minister. He's suffered circulatory problems for years now and has been through many surgeries and all seem to have done their intent. I think he's very comfortable financially and his mind is as sharp as a tack.

During one of our conversations Charlie told me that his surgeries didn't all go smoothly and in fact he had died 3 times. Each of these three times he explained with wonder he had out-of-body experiences. He recalled being above his body looking down at the doctors attempting to revive him. He heard their conversation and said he had a definite view of what they were doing and on top of it all he didn't really want to go back; he felt so good. I had read of this before but never knew anyone who even knew anyone who had experienced this, let alone three times!

I try to consider myself spiritual, not necessarily religious but none the less spiritual. I know all about the theory of evolution and I have read the Bible. Science of any kind has always fascinated me; maybe because that's where the truth lies. If you've read my profile or past posts you have an idea of how analytical my mind is. Okay, now here is what this story sparked me to consider; maybe this is where I lose it!

We all know that when our heart stops beating, (Clinical Death) the tissues of our bodies have some time before they actually die. Clinical Death is not to be confused with Biological (Brain Death) which is complete in several minutes after no oxygen is received. From what I've read the brain takes approximately 30 to 40 seconds without blood flow to lose consciousness as in Cardiac Arrest yet many people are revived and are fine despite this. I've also been told by doctors not to speak too openly around an unconscious Coma victim because their brain may be hearing and processing the information. Okay, so if I compile this information is it possible that the person having this out-of-body experience be instead just hearing what's going on around them? When a person first dies (heart stops) can their so called lifeless eyes see for those first 30 to 40 seconds? Can their ears hear? It seems like a short time but try standing completely still for 40 seconds and you'll see how long it really is. We'll never know the answers to these questions, maybe not even when we ourselves die but if it were true the luckiest of us would have that time to say the last " I love you" or at the very least "goodbye". What a thought. Thanks Charlie.


MedStudentWife said...

WOW !! Tis a thought worth thinking and you have me thinking

Anonymous said...

Interesting topic for sure. I think back to the code situations I have been in as a critical care nurse. The one thing that has always stood out to me is that people lose the light in their eyes at that very moment and you know... you just know without looking at the monitor or checking for a pulse. When the light goes out in their eyes call the code. I often wonder in those moments between life and death what level of awareness their spirit might have of the physical circumstances that their body is in.