Picture above was taken moments before I died.
My son’s smile broke my heart. My wife’s beauty struck me down. They both smiled at one another with smiles so wide, while their eyes touched each other’s souls. Connected they were in so many ways, as my son Lincoln smiled at his new mommy of 20 months with an innocence and love that made my chest hurt. My wife, Jessica, smiled back with the wind in her hair as her nose sniffled and her teeth showed dazzling white while the sun filled the space between them with a beautiful glare. There was a stream of light that captured the love between them both, drowning out the elephants behind them as I “clicked” photos with my cell phone camera at the Portland Zoo. Lincoln, resting safely on his mommy’s right hip, as Jessica wrapped her loving long arms around his short little body. Nobody else existed, no one else was alive but me and my family at that single moment. Before I died just moments later… I had never been more alive than seeing the two people I love the most happy, safe, and connected.
I felt great as we walked away from the elephants. I walked ahead as Jess carefully guided Lincoln down to run about like toddlers do. I saw a sign pointing to more animals and I got excited. I turned around and there she was, already smiling at me before I turned. Right at that moment my heart started hurting a little bit more. There is no better image of your wife smiling at you from afar. Space between but connected we are. I calmly yelled out, “More animals this way!” I was so excited that the zoo wasn’t over yet! That we were going to continue this beautiful day at the zoo as a family. A day like this is what I work for, train for, live for. Jessica opened her already smiling mouth as she turned around to grab Lincoln as he stomped around the grass around the concrete trail like he was a dinosaur, because well, that’s what he is! He is my little dinosaur! My smile turned into a laugh as I turned to walk to my death.
God soon would kill me to save me. Moments later I would be dead in order to be brought back to life for a reason, many reasons. I know the reasons as I type to you this morning. I don’t want to tell all, but I will tell some. I was brought back to life after a conversation I had with a gold figure in the dark. I was dead. I was dead for 18 minutes, and while those 18 minutes of death seem scary and horrible, they are a blessing that will put me on a new path with a new mission for much longer than 18 years ahead. The between the lines meaning, the details, the fine print might not be understood now, but over time throughout my journey and prayer, they will come to me one line at a time. They will come to me at the perfect time when God wants, when God needs me. It’s blurry now on what the image was and what we talked about, but thankfully I have a little memory I can hold to my heart and write about to you this morning. The gold was so beautiful, as layers and layers rested upon the human-like image, swaying and draped, smooth and sparkly, strong and upright. Pure dark, as I stood facing the gold beauty toe to toe. I feel for what I slightly remember we talked about must stay with me. Stay within my family. I hope you understand. I will say, I am writing you this morning on my brand new blog to tell you that I am on new path, built upon an improved me. A new direction in my life I must walk and conquer. As scared as I am I have God who gives me strength and direction, a purpose with a beautiful and heart stopping revelation. From dying to being saved, I have many new missions to take on. I have many more hands to shake and people to touch. I have a new life with new opportunities, and I must act on them now and forever.
I remember having the feeling of a horse kicking me in the chest but with out the pain. I remember going down slow and steady as everything around me became blurry and faint. Before I hit the ground is where my memory stops. Before I hit the ground I was already dead. Before I even hit the ground I was in this odd bubble like an all black room looking directly at a gold human-like-angel, God-like figure. Then, after an 18 minute conversation I woke up to blinding lights flashing down upon me as faces faced down to me. I was rolling and fast, I couldn’t hear much and I couldn’t seem to talk. The talking I did do was mumbly and slurring. I was scared, well… I still am. The not understanding and unknowing is the scariest part of all. One second I was with my family, the next, this. I remember asking over and over if my wife and son were ok. I would then ask if I was dying. I then asked if there was a shooting. Then the memory stopped. That’s all I remember about this part, it was bright, confusing and scary. You want to know something interesting. When I was conscious under the lights and doctors were looking down on me on the fast moving, wheeling cart to my next bit of consciousness… nothing. Not even black. Not a dream. Not a single anything. Just nothing. No conversations. No gold Angels, or who knows… no gold God.
They told me when I asked about my family, and if I was going to die, I repeated this over 50 times and then started to panic and aggressively try to get out of my emergency room bed as all the doctors tried to save me. They could not hold me down so they had to restrain my legs and arms. Soon after, they put me under and saved my life. I have no memory of this.
The doctors have good news and possibly some unfortunate news to my family who all waited for me to wake up in the ICU room they moved me to after the doctors worked on me in the surgery room for over 3 hours trying to keep me alive. The good news is I was going to live. My family was very happy. Another chance to see my son grow up strong, happy and tall. Another chance to spend my life with my best friend, Jessica. Another chance to have a chance to have another beautiful baby. But I wasn’t out of the clear yet, this was only the beginning. Due to me being dead for 18 minutes it was highly possible that I would have brain damage. My family buckled and lost it. I laid in the bed alive and at rest, but the doctors and my family had no idea if I would be the same me once I woke up.
The beautiful part about this death to life situation is that God was the one who killed me to bring me back to life. Which is great news, because He set up the situation perfectly. And also, here is a big reason why God killed me at this point at this time and place. I later found out in the hospital once I woke up in the ICU that I have a heart disease. It’s a disease that has to do with the structure of my heart and the electricity in my heart that makes it communicate and beat properly. We are still learning and finding out more. I will see specialist doctors over the next several months to definitely diagnose my condition. I am healthy as an ox, the doctors say. Nothing wrong with me. Completely healthy heart, except for the heart disease, which was ready to take my life at any point in time. Here is where the beauty lies in God killing me in the zoo, at this exact time in my life: When I dropped, my wife ran over and held my head in her lap, screaming and yelling for help. A bystander was a nurse and ran over to give me chest compressions for several minutes until one of the zoo safety officers (who we are getting her name and everyone’s name and address as I type who saved my life to thank them and hug them), ran over and literally pushed over the nurse lady who I guess wasn’t going quite hard enough on me. Then the zoo safety officer started giving me CPR, and by what my wife says, going very, very hard on me which kept blood and oxygen flowing throughout my body. The nurse and the zoo safety officer giving me chest compressions and CPR is what made it possible for the ambulance paramedics to bring me back to life in the first place, but also kept me from having brain damage. About 10 or more minutes later the ambulance arrived and they got out the paddles to my dead body. Shock one, still dead. More CPR. Shock two, still dead. More CPR. Several more minutes had passed. My wife was screaming as my son was confused on why daddy was moving around the ground like a worm. Shock 3, my heart finally started beating again.
This was going to happen to me at some point of my life, my heart was a ticking time bomb. Just think if this happened to me when driving my son to kid’s club. Just think if this happened when driving my family to church. This heart bomb could have gone off when I was all alone. This could of happened when I was asleep at night, or in the shower. If this would of happened in any of these situations or a million others… I would be dead. The only reason why I was saved and I do not have brain damage is due to the fact God dropped me at the right place and the right time with the right people around. Without the nurse and safety officer I would be dead. Without the paramedics getting there fast and shocking me, I would be dead. Without the work, care and treatment the Portland Hospital gave me, I would be dead. Without the strength I have for my family, I would be dead. Without the path, purpose and work God wants me to do, I would be dead. This is why God had to kill me right then, at that exact location and time. Everything was in His hands. Someone told me that a person on a forum said that God tried to kill me, that’s how much He hates me. Well, God doesn’t try to do anything, He only does. And yes, God did kill me.
I then woke up in the ICU with my family by my bedside. I looked at my mom and said, “447 Brookside Drive”, my old childhood address. Why did I say it, I have no clue, and I don’t remember. My mom, Lezlie, hugged and kissed me and began to cry. I didn’t know what I was crying for because at that time I didn’t understand what was happening or what had happened. I was scared and a boy needs his mom. I then turned to my step-dad, Jim, and said, “Light Elegance”, the business they created from scratch when I was growing up. Why did I say that, I have no idea. Maybe just emotions and memories that make me feel comfortable. Memories that take me back to when I was a kid, safe and sound. Jim grabbed my arm and his cheeks turned red as his dimples got deep, and his eyes were glassy like the water we used to ski on in the morning camping. My wife and Lincoln were talking to the doctors out in the hallway when they got the news from a nurse running down the hall telling them I was up! And not only that, but talking! Everyone was so scared of brain damage, and this was a great sign there might not be any. My wife ran in and grabbed my hand, her sweet, small tiny hand felt warm and nice in mine. My son gave me a kiss as he then gave me a dinosaur roar! Ha! I told you, he is my little dinosaur. Later that day my dad, David, my step-mom Kim, and my sister Leah came to see me. My dad being my hero ever since I was a baby made me feel confident and strong, just like him. You think my hands are big… his swallowed mine as he wrapped his half Japanese hands around mine and gave me a kiss on the side of the lips. A half lip, half cheek kiss. Kim was warm and comforting and seeing my sister, Leah, was like seeing another angel, this time not gold but quarter Asian just liker her brother. My other mom, Janet, my mother-in-law gave me a kiss and hug and I was blessed to see the woman who raised the woman I so dearly love today. Janet smiled as I thanked her for coming and soon the doctors walked in. Always more than one doctor, sometimes up to 5 at a time. The first few days they didn’t know what was wrong with me, or why this happened. It was truly like the show, House. A show that is ironic to talk about and compare to because my wife and I just finished the entire series. A show we watched together every night on Netflix before bed. I then found myself in the show!!! We joked about that for little bit when the mood was good and right. Then the room would get quiet and calm, and the realization of what happened, unanswered questions and an unknowing future would drown the room and take the breath out of everyone’s lunges. All I know during those days was that I had my family near me, and that was all I wanted and cared about. The next day didn’t even exist.
There is no conclusion paragraph because we still have lots to learn about my heart. The good news is I qualified for a very new, rare and hard to get heart shocker that actually goes into my side. The technical name of the device is, Subcutaneous Implantable Defibrillator. The reason this device is preferable compared to traditional defibrillators or pace makers, is because there are no actual leads, wires, or anything attached to my heart. This device is like a robot, working in my body tracking my heart beats, heart rhythm and blood flow pumping through my heart. Believe it or not, my heart shocker has wifi. It communicates to a box in my home that then sends data to my doctors every day. This is very important because, I went home without a definitive diagnosis. After all of the tests, research, and imaging of my heart, the doctors came to the conclusion that my heart is abnormal in two ways. One, the walls of my heart are very thick, structurally abnormal, and therefore, my heart does not pump correctly. Two, there are electrical issues wrong with my heart, so the two top chambers of my heart do not communicate correctly to the bottom chambers, making it possible for it to get off rhythm and go in to ventricular tachycardia, or vtach. This bad rhythm is what caused my cardiac arrest. The bottom of my heart was beating so fast and out of rhythm, that the top of my heart could not keep up and blood could not get in. Therefore, my heart was pumping dry, which caused it to stop, and caused enough damage that I technically suffered both cardiac arrest and a heart attack. What my heart shocker does, is track all of this and if my heart every gets out of rhythm and goes into vtach again, my heart shocker will shock it just like paddles in a hospital and get it back into the correct rhythm.
I am God’s son. I am a family man. I am a coach. I am an example that life is precious and that it can be taken at anytime. Life can be given back at any time. Life can give birth at anytime. Life is beautiful, and each day is a blessing. In my past blog, The Dark Orchestra, you have taken my story from 2006 to recent with stories, diaries, lessons learned, lessons accomplished, battling demons, getting to know my skeletons, and the overall melting pot of my life story as an athlete. Now, I am ready for the next chapter. The next blog, the next book, the next mission. Enter the my life as I write to you everyday in my new blog. Coaching, life, stories, experiences, articles, family, philosophy and more. My life was taken and given back to me with much improvements and new direction by God through the feeling I have in my soul, the light in my eyes, and the conversation I had with Him when I was dead. Join me as I embark my new life.
God is good.