Monday, January 10, 2005

Everyone Should Try Being Dead

Phew! It seems I bailed out of Pfizer, taking a small end-of-year loss to offset gains from other investments, just days before the stock plummeted on news that the company’s Celebrex may follow Merck’s Vioxx into prescription drug anathema-land. There’s nothing quite like a close call to make you think and think again.

A few years ago I had a really close call when I gave blood for the first time. It turned out to be the last time as well. Toward the end of the bloodletting I felt faint, struggled with that state, then completed blacked out. They tell me that at the same time my face and body turned completely white, my pulse went to zero, my respiration was non-existent, and my blood pressure reading was zero. Medical science has a technical term for this condition: dead. Apparently my brain was still going, and was it! I remember intense activity. Did I see a white light? No, I’m afraid not. My theory, and this is only a theory, is that those people who have religious experiences during near death events have the predisposition or brain-wiring for that kind of thing (and that I don’t).

Obviously, since I am writing this, I was revived. Spiritual and religious questions aside, this type of experience makes you think. If I hadn’t been brought back, I would have died without even a split second apprehension of death. Alive one moment, dead the next, nothing in between. It can happen that way.

I have to add after some thought that "near" death experiences involve an apprehension of death. If you narrowly avoid a car crash that would have been fatal, your thoughts race with "what if." When you really go to the other side, even if briefly, the opposite may occur: you are taken up by the experience and have neither time nor occasion to reflect, except after the fact.

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