Ana C.

They had to operate on me a second time to extract the liquid that was surrounding my heart and lungs. This was making it very hard to breathe. They found it was full of Staphylococcus aureus.

Some patients are able to hear and feel much earlier than others, after anesthesia. I realized that the surgery had begun, I was alive, but it wasn’t agreeable because I could hear everything. The doctors and nurses in charge of cleaning me at the end of surgery and to prepare me to return to intensive care carried on talking. I heard how they lamented and mentioned that I had a little girl 10 months old and maybe I wouldn’t ever see her again. They were speaking about my family my two sisters, father and of my husband.

Why were they talking about me and my family in this way, as I was still alive? They shouldn’t talk like this they should see me, here I am, I am listening! From within, I cried desperately.

The situation was very delicate. I hung by a thread and the result of the investigation was to apply a liquid, it was not encouraging: my entire body was invaded by spores of Staphylococcus aureus. It was very complex to eradicate this bacteria under the circumstances in which I had found myself. Maybe during the first surgery the area had become contaminated, nobody was sure.

I awoke in intensive care in a private cubicle whose walls were windows. I opened my eyes and I realized my whole family were gathered around, their faces filled with pain, they announced that which I had heard was true, I hadn’t imagined it. I was on the brink of death, but inside in my soul, my spirit was as strong as ever. There was no way to communicate this confidence and strength, because I was intubated, on a respirator and there was no way to communicate, other than making signals.

The doctors asked me how I felt and I raised my arms in a triumphant signal, just like Rocky the boxer, and in that very moment they tied my hands to the rail of the bed, because of the danger of running the risk of ripping out the respirator tubes. I saw how the doctors retreated with my parents and husband to talk a distance away from intensive care.

‘Most probably Ana Cecilia is delirious or more specifically has brain damage. We are revising with which antibiotic we should treat the bacteria that she has.’

‘But what is it that she has Doctor? What are we to do now?’ asked my mother.

‘A Staphylococcus aureus just started, but it is very dangerous.’ My parents cheered up a bit, my husband continued talking to the doctor.

‘How serious is this doctor?’

‘It is very serious. It isn’t very easy to say this to you, but I recommend getting your admission papers in order. She is registered as single with a single surname. If she should die, you will have a lot of problems in trying to retrieve her from the hospital yourself.’

‘Die?’

‘We have two options to medicate her and eradicate the Staphylococcus aureus. As there have not yet been definitive tests we will have to take the risk and begin the medication. If we don’t start it today, hoping we are correct, we will lose her in days.’

My parents and husband went home where they stayed with broken hearts. In the hospital, there was no comfortable space where they could spend the night. Nowadays there are comfortable chairs to spend the night there, near a family member in a critical state.

Meanwhile, in my cubicle, I tried to signal in different moments that the tube in my throat was hurting a lot, I managed to move my head, but with my hands tied and the breathing tubes and the effects of the anesthetic I couldn’t make myself understood.

I made a nurse give me a pen and notebook to write what I wanted to say. I was only able to say ‘My throat hurts.’ One of the two nurses, which were always in charge of me, touched my head and said ‘it was natural that it should be a little uncomfortable, but they have to leave the tube there’. It was impossible, no one would listen to me and the pain I felt wasn’t normal. I had previously been intubated and hadn’t felt any discomfort at all. It was no use continuing to try to tell them that the tube was badly fitted.

Some hours later, in the small hours, maybe the most memorable experience of the rest of my life began. One of the nurses said to the other she was going to meet her boyfriend in McDonald’s, on the first floor of the Hospital. As everything seemed to be going well, the second said to me that she won’t be long she was only going for water. The water was only a few steps from my cubicle. They seemed normal actions, without any consequences. Nevertheless, as much as I had tried to explain, the respirator tube was badly fitted. With the secretion of some phlegm this was blocked and the moment arrived when I was asphyxiated. It stopped the air reaching my lungs.

With no one to watch over me, my first reaction was to try to rip out the tubes so I could breathe. With my arms tied it was impossible, in spite of the jerking that I did with all my strength. Much later, they would be bruised and hurt from trying. It hit me, the bed was moved completely, and my body writhed not able to do anything, seconds seemed like hours.

Almost at the same time, the respirator alarm sounded, and again. It was loud, and it was as if an ambulance was in my cubicle. There were what seemed like an army of doctors and nurses entering my cubicle. I heard the cries ‘Respirator! Respirator!’ They were calling the specialist team. They were shouting like madmen it seemed to me. I could hear everything, but I couldn’t breathe.

Meanwhile some nurses held my legs and tried to calm me in the bed, the doctors took out the top part of the tube that went into my throat to carry on the necessary procedure. They put in a little liquid into the tube that came out of my mouth and tried to suck out the phlegm. I continued struggling in order that they could help me breathe. The desperation to receive a little air and the adrenalin made me writhe so badly that four people couldn’t hold me down. I only wanted one thing; to breathe.

My body hangs onto life in spite of being weak, infected, recently operated on, and deprived of oxygen, to maintain life. My body isn’t easily overcome and makes the final force to manage to survive.

They tried the procedure once more, and weren’t able to free the tube, maybe because it was badly positioned. Then the dizziness started and I began to lose consciousness and the body began to surrender. I stopped breathing and almost immediately my heart stopped. Then, I left.

Suddenly, I opened my eyes and I felt totally liberated, I saw myself in a hospital gown, with the doctors around my body trying to resuscitate me. I saw how they were busily moving from one place to another, each time smaller and more distant. The sensation was strange because I felt myself complete integral and without doubt, I saw my inert body in front of me. I floated alone. No one tried to hold down my painful legs and arms. The relief was enormous. I couldn’t control that which had happened, I let go. Then, there began the most wonderful journey.

I floated from within what seemed like a tree. I could only be a spectator. First I saw something like a layer of branches that sheltered little animals. There were squirrels, rabbits and birds amongst them. All of them were harmonious, I felt peace, fullness, they radiated a love the like of which I had never felt and much less coming from an animal: a fullness that hadn’t lived. The sounds penetrated my soul, and everything that I had left behind lost importance. To experience this sensation was the only thing that had all my attention in that moment.

I continued floating, meanwhile my body relaxed, my muscles stopped hurting, I breathed freely, I no longer felt tired. The relief wasn’t just external, but internal also. Straight away, I saw a second layer of various extensive branches, the scenario was incredible. There were big animals, horses, giraffes, elephants, lions, and many more. The scene was beautiful. The colors of the skins of each species amazed me. For the first time I saw these wild animals, like inoffensive and friendly beings which before I had never seen. It was as if we knew each other and were part of the same family. I felt love for those beings and was aware that they loved me as well.

I continued rising. I saw a third layer of branches. These were full of children of all races and ages, everyone unique and at the same time beautiful. Everyone was happy. Smiles, songs, small sweet voices, they were all that could be heard. The smiles shone in the faces of the children. They played and ran in the field; they splashed in the water that cascaded from a fountain in the center of the garden. I wasn’t able to talk to anyone, at least I didn’t try, I was content to observe and enjoy this beautiful countryside: a countryside that emanated love from every side. The communication I had during the journey wasn’t verbal, but I felt flooded with love, so that I didn’t say anything. I enjoyed, and was delighted with this beautiful spectacle. I would have decided to stay here if I had had the choice. But I was like a balloon that leaves the hand of a child, and is not concerned with that which it leaves behind. It goes wherever the air takes it.

At this moment, I remembered Ana Cecilia. But I wasn’t worried, I knew that she would be fine. Then I was able to see her in her bed sleeping peacefully. I felt great peace and very close to her, as if I was there at her side. I wasn’t worried, but just drew close to her and cared for her.

I realized that I had the power to see everything in front, behind, up and down or everywhere at once. Without worrying where I would turn, and without needing to turn the head, my eyes could see as if in three dimensions. I didn’t feel worry or anxiety. It was a lot of information at once, and all of it was assimilated and fascinated me. I felt that there had been magic in this place.

A little further up, I saw another large layer of branches. This time there were teenagers, people of middle age, and people just growing old. I saw harmony, serenity, and happiness. People smiled and I felt strengthened. The voices were clear harmonious and fluent. The communication flowed in a natural manner. The atmosphere was total peace, and completely full of love. There was also a fountain surrounded by flowers of every color, in the center of a large garden. The water cascaded in different rhythms forming images and its sound was in harmony and was amazing. The people sat down around themselves and talked and smiled at one another. They didn’t talk with sounds from the mouth. It was as if just with the mind they could say everything and I could hear them. There were people leaning in the garden reading a book, or just enjoying the Sun. The countryside was fantastic.

I continued being carried along on this journey. I was only able to enjoy the pleasure of traveling on, rising up this tree that was as a tunnel full of life where it seemed everything was one; that made me feel complete and fulfilled, free. I was able to breathe deeply and oxygenate myself. I didn’t feel ill. I didn’t hurt in any way, absolutely. I remember my parents and my husband. I knew that they were suffering, but I also knew they would be OK. I wanted to console them, love them more and more. Nothing, absolutely nothing worried me. It was as if I knew that sooner or later they would enjoy this excellent feeling of well-being that I had, and I stopped worrying.

I went on a bit further towards a layer of branches, but this time, I could see a large group of old people. The elderly people smiled, they looked strong and vigorous. Many were sat down talking but without saying anything just enjoying the countryside. They were in the middle of flower-filled gardens, trees of various species, and rivers flowing with clean fresh water. They walked along paths and shared stories. Nobody had any problems with moving. This caught my attention.

Suddenly, I realized that my body was as if it was filled with electricity, that it was able to radiate light. I felt fulfilled, the countryside was simply beautiful and my soul filled up with happiness.

I looked up, to see what was happening, then everything was a spectacle with sensations that I had never felt before. I saw a small yellow fine circle so intense that it attracted me. Also my natural curiosity made me go in to see what was behind it.

My curiosity turned into desire, I wanted to go into it. But as much as I tried I wasn’t able to speed up my journey. Anxious and trying to go in, I managed to penetrate slowly into this small space. It was as if it was a silk thread; soft and delicate.

To lift my head and shoulders, as I believed that I would finally be able to live in the light that was within, it stopped at the middle of my body, and filled every part of my body. I became blinded and was in complete ecstasy. I breathed deeply, to fill myself completely with this amazing sensation. I didn’t want, didn’t need anything else. I had arrived at the end, the final destination, there wasn’t any way that here could be any more love than this, I felt it, I knew it, and I enjoyed it enormously.

No pleasure, feeling of peace, harmony, fullness or ecstasy could describe the sensation of being embraced by this light that filled me with this complete love. There were not sufficient words. I could see, hear, feel and perceive everything without moving from this tree that made me float. It was as if everything was as one. Everything was connected. I had the ability to be everywhere at the same time, and to communicate myself with everyone without saying anything. I felt completely loved accepted, without any conflict or confusion. It was like being at home with the whole of the family of creation.

Without looking absolutely at anything, almost immediately I felt the stroke of a hand on the upper part of my head. In this moment I was flooded with an unimaginable love. I was filled with ecstasy. At this moment when the hand touched my head I heard a gentle, beautiful, almost mystical voice which said to me, ‘Stay calm and go in peace. Do everything that I have asked you.’

I wanted to ask, understand, investigate more but in this instant I began my journey back. I returned seeing the layers of branches but really quickly. There was no way to enjoy them. I wanted to but could only go back in this violent way. I didn’t want to return from this beautiful experience which was so nice, and that I liked so much.

Why do I have to return if I was able to rest at last? For what reason are they waking me up? Why are they bothering me? I asked myself constantly.

Again I saw myself far away in the hospital bed and the doctors surrounding my body trying to resuscitate me. In an instant, I was in my body. My head went round and round. I again felt pain, anguish and anger. The dizziness stopped me locating myself in time and space. I opened my eyes and saw lots of doctors around me trying to resuscitate me. I felt a great heat in the chest from the electric shock they had used to try and get the cardiac rhythm back. In this moment I heard the doctors shouting.

‘No! I don’t want to return, Leave me in peace!’ I shouted inwardly without anyone hearing me.

I was desperate. I didn’t want to be here. I asked myself once again, why they had woken me up, if finally I had slept after battling to breathe. It was as if nobody cared what I wanted. Everyone wanted to bring me back to this place where everything hurt, and I could barely breathe. I felt that hours had passed here, without a doubt it had only been some minutes. My body had resisted and had once more been in cardiac arrest.

The doctors seemed to lose control and they shouted in a loud voice, ‘She’s back, again with us. She’s gone! She’s gone! Try again.’

I fought to return to where I had been for some seconds. There was no reason to stay here, where there had been so much pain and suffering I just wanted to return to this light, this love, and this instant. I wanted to feel this immense love and fullness that I had felt. No one heard my inner cries. It was incredible that no one cared what I thought. I couldn’t think of my daughter, my husband, my parents, or my family. All was left behind, in importance after having lived in this peace and restfulness. I felt that they would be well, I didn’t worry any more.

‘Leave me in peace! I don’t want to be here anymore. I want to go back! Please! Let me go!’ I said inside myself.

After a battle of around an hour, with electric shocks and cardiopulmonary resuscitations they managed to re-establish my heart beat. I came back. I was here again in the hospital, full of tubes, sounds, respirators, and a large group of doctors around me. Little by little they moved away, there remained only the guard of the two nurses, that always had to be here, and a cardiologist who stayed with me the rest of the night.

At first, I was bewildered and confused. It’s not possible to suffer an experience like this and hope to return understanding what has happened. They attached lines and I realized that I was very angry with everyone and that I didn’t understand anything. Who had said these words to me? Why did they say this to me? Would a doctor talk to me, or Jesus himself show me the way that I had to decipher? Everything had happened at once. I enjoyed an amazing scene, and they had resuscitated me and tried to save my life.

Some hours passed before it became clear in my mind. I was able then to understand and accept what had happened. I had been in another place, in another dimension, or maybe in the same place but I was able to see that which before I couldn’t see. Something happened and I wanted to understand because I had left my body. I insisted on telling myself and the only way was to write. They gave me a pen on my left side, because they had a catheter on my right. But I wasn’t able to write. As I tried to ask no one could answer. No one gave me explanations. In spite of all my intentions to write in my little notebook, I was not able to obtain an explanation. I felt disconcerted but very animated. I didn’t understand where I had been, but I knew that I had been alive, it wasn’t of this world or this kingdom, it had been a foretaste of the amazing world which comes after death. Everyone acted as if I was dead, but I would like to explain that it was healthier than anything. I wanted them to stop acting in this way and to tell them, that although I looked bad, I wasn’t ill and I didn’t feel pain anymore, that I knew that I would live, that I felt that they had said it to me. But I wasn’t able to say anything or communicate the internal force that sustained me helped me and didn’t discourage me in any way, in spite of the bad news that would come much later.

After many serious days I entered a crisis and began to cry deeply, I had another amazing experience.

I re-situated my head on the pillow, I looked up and then I went through one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. I started to pray asking God to give me peace. With my eyes on the ceiling, I was trying to take slow deep breaths, meanwhile listening to Marcela my sister. I concentrated on my prayer. Then I felt a tingling sensation all over my body. With my eyes open and feeling that I was totally conscious I saw two angels come down and one stayed on my right side another on my left.

They emanated light and I saw the movement of their clothing like silk tunics. All the time they seemed to be floating. I don’t remember ever having seen wings so great or golden, only transparent bodies that shone brilliantly and showered me with pure love, and fulfillment. They began to clean me. They rested my head back with great care, my chest, my arms, stomach and legs. I felt as if my body began to free itself from the pressure it had. I felt relief, I enjoyed the scenario, and it was all a spectacle for my eyes. I felt lovingly embraced by these beings. Marcela just looked at me and didn’t understand what had happened when she saw me relax each time as I looked at my body from one side to the other.

I remained in a deep sleep for several hours. I rested as if for the first time in days. My breathing improved dramatically. Crying was the best respiratory exercise that I could have done. I managed that which Lorna couldn’t in days. With force, the air entered my lungs and this had dislodged the liquid phlegm. Events sometimes as dark as they seem, carry with them a light with them, and give meaning to pain.

This is what I mean by growing through the pain. It was basically two amazing experiences in which I lived during my two months stay in hospital.

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