Odd Things You Learn About Life When Near Death

I had an experience over the past week that has distracted me from my series on transhumanism. In a way, however, the experience is related to the topic of transhumanism. Both topics are vast and can therefore be connected to any other topic imaginable. So if you will indulge me, I will ramble on at length about my odd weekend.

I had a cardiac event. I am told it was a myocardial infarction. I am not a doctor. Whenever anyone asks what happened, I say “myocardial infarction,” and they reply, “Oh, a heart attack?” I don’t think so… but like I said, not a doctor.

Before I continue, let me just say that everything went fine, and aside from the hospital bill, I am better than I have been in years. And the hospital bill was only around $800 because I am NOT in the United States, so I guess I really can’t complain.

Another thing I should say up-front is that this is going to be a long post, even with the condensed version (I will leave out a lot of little details to save some time). It is yet another long-winded and wandering post, but the experience has led me to some new considerations. Before we get to those, here is what happened:

On Friday night, I went out planning to have a fun weekend. It was Halloween Weekend, and there was a lot to do. I had plans. I went out for dinner Friday night around 5:00 p.m., and then went shopping for presents for some friends back home, because I am a giving and wonderful human being.

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Actual footage of me on a bender.

After procuring the gifts, I dropped them off at my hotel (I live a good three hours outside the city in a rural area, and occasionally treat myself to a hotel in town to see friends). After a brief rest at my hotel, I headed for the subway to meet some friends. As I walked to my platform, I felt a sharp pain quickly growing directly behind my sternum. I figured it was gastrointestinal trouble and kept walking, but by the time I got to my platform, I was in so much pain that I had to sit on a bench and watch my train go by twice, feeling too unwell to get up and move into a crowded subway car. So I sat there, sweating and feeling like I might vomit.

As I sat there, a man in a black coat and carrying a briefcase sat on the bench beside me. He had been walking past, but then had turned back after spotting me sitting there, nearly doubled over, holding my stomach. In this country, some of the older men will approach foreigners and try to strike up an awkward conversation in order to practice their English. I hoped this wasn’t going to be the case as I did not feel like speaking to anyone at all. He sat on the end of the bench with his back to me, but right beside me, almost touching me. At the time, I felt there was something odd about him, like he had noticed my condition and was… maybe checking on me? I thought for a moment that he might be a doctor, but that just didn’t feel right. He wasn’t looking at me, just sitting in oddly close proximity. And there were other benches available. I wished he would move away. Him sitting right there was making me uncomfortable, and I was now feeling too tired and sick to move myself. You know how when you are sick you don’t want people near you?

After a bit, another train came by and I managed to pick myself up and get on it. I felt like the guy next to me had noticed a problem, and I didn’t want to make a scene. I just wanted to get away from him before he started speaking to me, or asking me questions. I am the sort that is very self-conscious about my outward/public appearance. The pain in my sternum was still there, but I moved onto the train and rode it the three stations to my stop.

I got out of the subway and went to a pub that my friends and I frequent. In fact, it is owned by friends of ours, and we know all of the usual regulars. I sat down and ordered a pint, and started chatting with the bartender on duty that night. I mentioned I was not feeling well, and she noted that I was sweating. We Googled heart attack symptoms, and sure enough, top of the list, chest pain, nausea, sweating. My friends got concerned and suggested I get in a cab and go to the hospital.

However, I am a stubborn idiot, and I felt it was “mild” discomfort. I wasn’t having trouble breathing (or drinking), and soon it had passed anyway, so we put it out of our minds as more friends showed up. An hour later, however, the pain was back. I went out to find some antacids, but failed. They’re not as popular in convenience stores in this country. You usually have to go to a pharmacy to get them, and at this hour, all the pharmacies were closed. However, the pain went away on its own again soon after. Then around midnight it was back, not nearly as sharp and stabbing as it had been at first, but still annoying. We decided to call it a night anyway as the big events were the following night, the Saturday before Halloween, so I headed back to my hotel and went to bed. When I awoke in the morning, I was feeling fine. However, I needed to change hotels as the one I had booked for Friday night had overbooked for Saturday due to it being Halloween Weekend. I had made other arrangements, and so packed up my things and prepared to head out. The new hotel was closer to the action, so to speak, and so I didn’t mind moving. It was only 8 a.m., however, and I had a few hours before check-in. Being in the city, and so close to my usual doctor, I decided I would pop in for a quick check-up just to be safe.

I was diagnosed with hypertension in college, and I see a doctor regularly in the city at the best hos… I guess if you’ve bothered to read this far, you deserve to know where I am. This is in Seoul, South Korea. The best hospital in Seoul is Yonsei University Severance Hospital, and despite the unfortunate name, the hospital is truly one of the best in the world. Their international clinic welcomes walk-ins every Saturday morning, no doubt in anticipation of the foreigners who come to Korea and spend their Friday night overdoing it on the soju. My doctor was, amazingly, on staff on this particular Saturday. She only works that shift once or twice a month. [Lucky Coincidence #1]

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Severance Hospital in Seoul is massive, with separate buildings for the main hospital, the cancer center, and the cardio hospital, which is where I ended up.

I went in, and within minutes I was with my doctor. She said that I seemed to be OK, but we needed to do an EKG and some blood work to see if there had been a cardiac event. They then told me to hang around as my test results would be back in about an hour and a half. So I went into nearby Sinchon and ate two Whoppers at a local Burger King. (Perhaps you can see the source of my problem.) At 11 o’clock, I schlept back up the hill to the hospital with my backpack and gifts for my friends in tow, and was ushered in to see my doctor. She told me that they had found evidence of trouble, and that I needed to be checked into the E.R. immediately.

I went along, thinking they would keep me for observation and a CT scan, and then release me in time to meet up with my friends at the Halloween parties.

Picture1-CT-Scan

NOT a Halloween party. But the chemicals they inject into you feel mighty warm when they cook you in this thing.

They did not release me, and nearly 48 hours later, I was lying on a table getting my first angioplasty. They would have done it sooner, but I did not appear to be dying, and the cardio surgeon was busy with his golf swing. They had sent him my details and were keeping him abreast of the results of each new EKG, sonogram, and blood test. I had a lot of those. I was stuck with so many needles… at one point I had two IVs in the back of each of my hands. When one came out, they stuck another into my arm. At one point, it looked like they were thinking of sticking one in my foot, but I said no — to many nerve endings there. So they stuck another one into another vein in the back of my hand. Man, those needles were long.

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Anyway, over the course of Sunday, they explained the procedure, and had me sign the scary consent forms that must list every complication that could occur (for legal reasons), from straight-up cardiac arrest to death. Before I signed, I said to the doctor on duty, “Look, I feel fine. Is this really my only option?” to which he replied, “No, you could leave now and come back in for emergency open-heart surgery in a few days.” So I signed.

As I laid in bed with nothing but Netflix to keep me entertained — and I do not mean to dismiss Netflix’s contribution. I am actually very grateful I had my cell phone — and my cell phone charger, which plugged neatly into a conduit in the side of my bed in the CCU (Cardiac Care Unit). It not only provided me with entertainment, but also allowed me to text with friends and family outside the hospital, a few of whom even took the time to come in to visit me. I could only text, as I was told I was not allowed to take phone calls or go to the bathroom. Twice during my 48-hour stay, they brought me a bag to pee in. I was happy to have that as I live in fear of the dreaded catheter.

I have no family in Korea, but friends here are, well, family. Anyway, as I laid there, I thought about how lucky I was that my heart went on the fritz while I was a) in Seoul near top-notch medical care and b) I just happened to have a packed bag with me that contained everything I needed for a weekend in hospital. [Lucky coincidences #2 and #3] Had this happened on any other day, I might have been beyond reach of a hospital, and I would not have gone in to get checked. There is a small hospital in Punggi where I live, but as a foreigner who speaks very little Korean, I would most likely have not made the effort to go there and that blockage would still be a ticking time bomb in my artery. Punggi is very rural, a three-hour train ride south of Seoul. It is so rural, even Koreans don’t know where it is.

Sunday morning around 9 a.m., alarms went off on the CCU and they rushed in some poor fellow who had had a full-on heart attack. Sadly, he did not make it. His family came in, and he died two hours later, barely ten feet from me. The worst part was the howling, pained cries of his now-widow… it was heartbreaking. I had my earbuds in and was pretending to watch a video on my cell phone as something like that should be afforded every privacy, but nothing could keep those heartbroken wails from my ears. I decided then and there that whenever, however I die, I do not want to die in a hospital. There is a dark energy for the dead at play in a hospital. I can’t explain it, but you just get the feeling that souls get… lost. Large hospitals like this one are confusing for the living to navigate. For the dead… I fear there are pitfalls unseen by the living, if you get my drift. In fact, one of the scariest ghost stories I have ever read takes place in a hospital and is called “Don’t Let Me Die.”

As a co-worker later told me, “Master Nietzsche said there are only two acceptable ways to die: In a bed surrounded by loved ones, reflecting on a completed life, or in battle.” We’ll talk more about this coworker later. He happens to be from Transylvania.

I was moved by the mortality of man, having witnessed the drama of the day. In the dim hospital lighting of 1 a.m. Monday morning, I wrote a brief “Last Will and Testament” on the notepad app on my phone. My condition was not nearly as serious as that poor fellow that had passed on, but I realized, especially after reading the consent form for the angioplasty, you never know. Around 3 a.m. they did more blood work and shaved my crotch. Later, during the procedure they put the angioplasty tube in through my left brachial artery (arm), so I am still not sure why they shaved my crotch… I can only assume it was in case the artery in my arm was not strong enough. I handed the nurse a slip of paper with the code to unlock my cell phone and told him, “If anything does happen, check my notepad app.” He smiled, and said, “Don’t worry. You’re going to be fine.” And then he slipped the paper with the code into the breast pocket of his scrubs.

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Not my crotch (photo by Ape)

At 8 a.m. sharp, they wheeled me into the operating room, placed me on a flat surface under the angioplasty machine (no idea what it’s called), and told me to lie perfectly still. They administered a local anesthetic, and inserted the tube. I could feel it moving into my wrist, up through the artery in my arm and into my chest, but it didn’t hurt. About 45 minutes later, they had removed some blockage in my left artery, and informed me that they did not feel a need to put in a stent as my artery was nowhere near 70% compromised. I guess that is the tipping point for weak arteries. The doctor said my artery was fine, just a little narrow, and that could be handled with medication. They removed the tube and wheeled me back to the CCU for observation. Around 1 p.m. Monday afternoon, I was discharged.

I checked into another hotel room for the night as I did not want to head back to the middle of nowhere just yet. I felt like if anything went wrong, I wanted to be near Severance Hospital. Just the same, the first thing I did after dropping my things off at the hotel was go out for a beer and some cheese fries. You might think this was dangerously reckless, but the doctor had said my heart and arteries were OK, and although I do need to make some major dietary changes long-term, a couple of beers and one cheesy meal would not send me back to the CCU. And besides, after my experience, I needed to remind myself that I could still live on my terms — to an extent, of course.

A day later, I was feeling fine and on my way back to Punggi. Now before I get to the point of all of this — the revelation of being near death, so to speak — I just want to say how GREAT the staff, nurses, and doctors are at Severance Hospital. Never surly, always happy and accommodating, reassuring, and kind. They apologized profusely every time they had to stick me with something. The health care in Korea is amazing.

Now… when I say I was “near death,” I don’t mean to sound overly dramatic. Sure, if they hadn’t found the blockage, it might have killed me in a day, or a week, or a year, or… who knows? But when I say I was near death, I am thinking more of the poor fellow that actually died. And all of the others that pass on from this world, in and out of hospitals. 

When I got back home, I walked up to my university to let them know I was OK and would be available to teach my classes. They had already cancelled all of my classes for the week and so told me not to worry about it. As I sat in the office, one of my coworkers came in. I see him at campus events from time to time, and we have spoken briefly in the past, but we really don’t talk much. Today was different. He said he was glad I was OK, and then somehow, almost immediately, the conversation went into the weird. If you read this blog, you know I like weird topics and think about them a lot. Keep in mind, this is the fellow from Transylvania, and he even has the accent, so imagine my paraphrasing of what he said, but in a Dracula-esque sort of accent. 

He said to me, ‘You must be careful in this world. Most people are unaware of it, but there are other entities here. I know, being from where I am, I hate to even say it, but there are vampires. But I do not mean the movie-like drink your blood kind of vampires. There are some who do that some of the time, but mostly, they are just after your life force, and they can get it without only drinking the blood. I know in your culture, this probably sounds silly, but in my culture, we still take these things very seriously. Not just in Romania, but in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, we still are aware of these things.”

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Like “shadow people,” for instance. Google ’em!

And then I remembered the fellow in the subway station who had seemed to be passing by until he spotted me nearly doubled-over on the bench. I told my Romanian colleague about him, and he nodded and said, “Yes, this is what I am speaking of. You were smart to move away from him when your train came. I have been in the Seoul subways many times, and I cannot tell you all of the creatures I have seen there. There is some bad energy there, as there is wherever large populations gather. That’s why it is nice to be here in Punggi, where you can replenish your energy, and the mountains around us, they provide masculine energy, which is good for you. Once your mind is open to these things, and you realize that this reality is more than what we are taught, you are open to a larger world. Now you have been touched by one of these creatures, but on a primal level, your body knew it needed to get away, and this is good.”

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The mountains of Punggi, chock full of masculine energy. (photo by Ape)

I recalled how tired I had felt with that man sitting next to me. My Romanian colleague said, “You know in those situations, your natural instinct is to move away from people. This is an instinct of self-preservation, because there are people who are not people, they are these entities that feed on human suffering. They come around when there is pain or sickness or death, like wolves around a dying deer. If you are in the subway again, and you get sick, get out of the subway, or if you cannot, move into a corner where no one is likely to see you or sit by you. Don’t go into a crowd.”

He explained that the world was like the ocean, and the deeper you get into lower frequencies of negative thought or energy, the less light there is, and the uglier the creatures get. He said if you move up, using positive energy, you see more sunlight, and eventually you can even escape the water and fly in the outer atmosphere. He said the dark was always attacking the light, but light never attacks dark. He said that this world was good for us as living beings because on this level, we can change. Outside of this world he said things are more static, and we stay the same and cannot change like we do here. He gave me some advice on how to stay healthy spiritually, and he quoted “Master” Nietzsche a lot. Aside from the quote I mentioned above, he also said, “As Master Nietzsche said, ‘A yes, a no, a straight line, a goal.’ We always have to keep moving forward or we may sink into those lower frequencies.”

Atlantic Spotted Dolphin - Stenella Plagiodon

Hmm…. Up in the light……. or down in the dark.

We talked for nearly two hours, and I was so captivated by what he was telling me that when another co-worker, a friend of mine, came in to see how I was doing, I was wishing she would go away so that I could continue learning about the Romanian cultural take on these other worlds, entities, and frequencies. 

At one point, he mentioned the Middle East had a very strong connection to these other worlds, what with their belief in Jjin and black magic. I recalled living in Oman for a couple of years, and speaking to my students there. I remembered telling them that I was planning to visit the souqs (markets) in Nizwa one weekend, and they had warned me not to go there at night due to the black magic. I had thoughts of maybe buying a monkey’s paw, but my students were serious. They said, “There is dark magic in Nizwa at night. Be careful!” Indeed, it is mentioned in the first part of this video I came across on YouTube.

Here I will relate another story of becoming deathly ill in other countries:

One holiday in Oman, my friends and I decided to take two Jeeps out into the wadis outside of our town of al-Rustaq and go on a camping trip. As we drove toward the mountains through the rocky valleys, we were told by local shepherds that the mountain roads were blocked with rocks from the previous winter’s flood. It rains in Oman maybe twice a year during the winter months, but when it does, the baked earth floods quickly. At several points along our journey, we had to stop our Jeeps and get out to remove rocks from the road. On one such literal goat-path, we were moving rocks from where a landslide had deposited them. I picked up one rock to find that it was actually flat and rectangular-shaped, more like a tablet than a rock. It looked like someone had been using it to sharpen a knife blade as it had markings all over one side. I showed it to my friends, and they took a brief interest in it, but were more focused on getting the other rocks out of the road and moving on. I carelessly tossed the flat stone down into the wadi, and soon we were on our way again. Not ten minutes later, however, I came down with a sudden mystery illness. I broke out in a bumpy rash all over my body, and felt light-headed and nauseous. I moved from my position at shot-gun, trading places with another friend so that I could lie down in the back seat. As I faded in and out, I could hear my friends discussing what to do with me: Continue on our way to the campsite, or drive me to a hospital that was a good three hours away in the opposite direction. If it was to be the hospital, the camping trip would have to be cancelled. I suddenly felt a purge coming on, and told them to pull over immediately. When they did, I slid out of the Jeep and just violently lost ballast from both ends right there by the road, leaning up against the side of the vehicle. Thankfully, one of my friends walked back up the road to stop the Jeep with the girls in it if they caught up to us. This was nothing they needed to see. My other friend found some paper towels for me to clean myself up with and said, “Yeah, we’re going to the hospital.” We drove along the dirt road through the dusty desert, still a good hour from the intersection at which we could either make a left to the camp site or a right towards the hospital. To everyone’s relief, by the time we got to the intersection, I was feeling much better and we went on to the campsite and I wasn’t ill again for the rest of the trip. We had a blast.

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Driving through the wadis, moving rocks as we went…….. the very wadi into which I tossed the                                                                    strange stone. (photos by Ape)

To this day, however, I wonder what that tablet-like slab had been, and why I had gotten so sick right after handling it and tossing it aside? 

My Romanian colleague has no doubt that there is more in this world than we allow ourselves to see or even think about. I am inclined to agree. Heck, just read some of my previous posts and you can see that I am a believer. I have been lucky. The timing of my cardiac event in Seoul was so timed, that I was packed and ready to go as if it had been planned. I even had my passport with me, which I never travel with domestically, but I had planned to go to the bank to send money home and for that, you need a passport. I never made it to the bank, but when they asked for it at the hospital to check into the ER, I had it right there with me, along with everything else. And my doctor, the one who knows all about my family history, was on duty that day.

As the Beatles so famously sang, “I get by with a little help from my friends.” My friends are tremendously supportive, and I am thankful for that. And I am very lucky — not only in timing, but in the people that appear around me at the weirdest times (the good, helpful ones, not the vampiric dark ones like that fucker in the subway). My father, a notorious gambler, had said that I would be lucky because of the numbers associated with my birth date (a lot of 7s and 1s). And it took three heart attacks to kill him.

Now as I sit here, with a week off due to illness, I can’t get what my colleague was talking about out of my head. There are things here with us… entities, if you will. Many kinds, many forms. I get the feeling here, the day after Halloween, of all times, that I will now be seeing more of them.

Keep your minds open as well as your eyes. You can choose to ignore it and walk around with your third eye closed, but you will not grow as you are supposed to that way. You will eventually just die and perhaps fade away into nothing. If you are to live forever, even beyond the death of your current physical shell, you will need to strengthen your soul, and knowledge is strength. The information is there. If you are lucky, it finds you. Or you see the signs and follow them to the information you need. You learn, and you see the world beyond our limited vision. 

Be cautious, be safe, and above all, be kind. Stay in the light. As The Pogues sing here, stay on the sunny side of the street.

We’ll talk again, and all this will tie in with transhumanism. I haven’t forgotten about that. Next, transhumanism and overcoming death. How will this technology help us defend ourselves against those dark entities? Like I said earlier, knowledge is strength.

Thank you for reading, and stay tuned.

 

 

 

1 thought on “Odd Things You Learn About Life When Near Death

  1. Pingback: Death. Get Ready. | thecontemplativeape

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