“Code Blue Emergency Room! Code Blue Emergency Room!”
I was seeing another patient in the ER the other day when this blared out of the the speakers.
Running into the next room, a woman’s heart had suddenly stopped. She had what we call
Sinus Arrest. All electrical activity from her heart’s pacemaker had stopped. The EKG strip showed a flat line. No pumping action of the heart was occurring. She woman began seizing, CPR was begun. Quickly, she her heart began working again. I stopped what I was doing and the ER physician asked me to see her.
After interviewing her, checking her laboratory, and xrays, it was clear she was going to need a temporary pacemaker and perhaps a permanant pacemaker. This is a device that beats electrically for the heart. We placed an external pacemaker on the woman and waited for the surgeon who would do the temporary pacemaker.
I returned to my other consultation.
Fifteen minutes later, the surgeon was just walking in the door, but he could place the temporary pacemaker the woman’s heart stopped again. Her heart stopped for 30 seconds. It was quite scary, looking at the complete flat line on the EKG. Once again CPR was begun and the surgeon quickly put in the temporary pacemaker.
The woman was admitted to the hospital as we tried to determine the cause of her Sinus Arrest.
I saw her the next morning in the ICU. She was sitting up in bed, looked well. The “beep, beep” of the temporary pacemaker signal on the monitor was reassuring. Her daughter and son were present.
“Glad to have you here,” I said to her. “When your heart stopped in the ER it wasn’t clear you’d be with us today.”
“Yes,” she said, “I here I gave you people quite a scare.”
Because I had always been interested in people who had “come back from the dead” like her, I asked her what the experience was like. “Did you see yourself going down a bright tunnel?”
“No, I didn’t see that,” she said, “But I saw my husband (he’d passed six years earlier). And I saw my best friend Jean who had died a few months ago. She told me it wasn’t my time, and that I needed to come back. It was the most comforting feeling I’ve ever had- to know things are going to be OK over there.”
Some physicians think such near death experiences are just memories, odd dreams, or discharges of brain electrical activity. Although my personal beliefs make me tend to feel they are real events, what they are doesn’t really matter to me.
I do know that they provide a real feeling of comfort to the hearts of those people who have the experience.
Our hearts need comfort. They need reassurance. I asked this woman if I could share her experience on this blog. She said, “Yes, if it brings them to a greater peace and love.” I said, “I am sure that it will give them a sense of greater love.”
I know this is vital, because I truly believe, “Love is the Medicine that Heals.”
I welcome your comments.
Dr. Kirk Laman