On December 10, 2015 my book Near Death In The ICU was quietly floated into the world. With very little fanfare and only a few postings on Facebook and Twitter, suddenly I was receiving a frenzy of feedback from all over the world. It seemed I'd struck a nerve. With a spectrum of comments making their way to me across social media and in person, one thing was clear - the subject of near-death experiences was something people wanted to talk about.
"Oh, it's real," one doctor told me, as he stopped to chat in the ICU workroom one frosty, February morning at the hospital where we both work. He shared with me how he'd once escaped death by a narrow margin, bringing back with him the life-changing impact of a near-death experience. "I saw my mom who'd already died several years earlier, and she just told me it wasn't my time to die and that I had to return. That changed things for me. I'm not afraid to die anymore." Then lowering his voice he looked around carefully before continuing, "But you have to be careful who you share that sort of thing with around here."
What also became clear to me, through that brief conversation, and from other medical professionals I've since chatted with, is that despite the increasing presence of the topic in mainstream media, medical folks are still shy about openly discussing near-death experiences. Concern that such a dalliance will affect their credibility seems to be the overriding theme for keeping such conversations in whispers and shadows. But another comment from a former ICU nurse reminded me of why it's vital to continue to shine a light in those dark corners.
The nurse shared with me that during her time caring for open-heart surgery patients at our institution, occasionally one would return from surgery and hesitantly open up, "During my surgery something odd happened. I could see the whole thing below while I floated up above my body. It was so strange. What was that? I'm not sure who to talk to about this?" Exactly!!
Who can they talk to if not us - those caring for them in the hospital setting? My hope for this book, and the whole reason I wrote it in the first place, is to move the conversation out of the shadows and into the broad daylight of everyday patient care. It's important to provide a safe space for those who have these anomalous near-death or out-of-body experiences during extreme physical states, because for them, "Oh, it's real!"