MY HEART ATTACK by Don Lyles, Th.D

I was taught that a man’s story is a first source and no one has the right to argue.  If I tell you about my trip to China, I will have few to no one that will interject; no you are wrong, it happened this way.  But when I tell this story, I have many people that need to argue, “Don, you are wrong”. You may interject your eisegesis into this story, but it is my story.

It was a normal Monday morning.  I had a class at 12:30, immediately after lunch. I had not felt well all weekend and hadn’t gone to church the day before, which rarely happened.  Karen asked, “Are you really going to school today?”  I said, “Why not, I’ve gone feeling far worse.”  And so I jumped into my bucket of bolts and drove to Stockton. 

In the 40+ years we have been married, I don’t think I have ever sent my sister a check, but on this day, I had a big check that had to do with concluding my dad’s estate that needed to get to her.  I was pushing myself to get that check into the bank.  And so I did.  I remember driving to Stockton; I have no memory of driving across Stockton.  I have very few seconds of memory after depositing the check.  I remember the Bank guard, yelling at me, “Hey, are you OK?” as everything went dark. 

I have no memory of this, but was told to me several times.  The good guard yelled something into the bank about calling 911 and man down.  The Bank President came and gave me compressions until EMS arrived, which I was told took seconds as they typically park in eyesight of where I fell.  The compressions on the ground at the bank and multiple uses of the paddle on the way to the hospital, a half-mile distant, kept me healthy once the ordeal was over.

Paul wrote, “And I know how such a man--whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows-- was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak” (2Co 12:3-4 NAS95).  And this was my experience as well.  I can tell you details, but have no idea if there was a time element, for there was no time element for me.  I was told my heart stopped.  My breathing stopped; which at one time was the definition of death.  I went to a dark place that had a floating room I could look into at one end.  The main detail in this place was a floor to ceiling, wall to wall curtain.  There were parallel pinholes across the middle of the curtain.  The light shining through was brilliant beyond description.  Very slowly, if that is the word, as there was no time, the curtain moved a bit from one side to the other and the same brilliant light would make me close my eyes, which is ironic as I am sure my physical eyes were closed.

Visually, I was in a dark place with a brilliant light playing peak-a-boo from behind a curtain.  It was all in black and white.  The sense to put the emphasis was the feeling, not the seeing.  My kinesthetic senses were alive!  Again I quote Paul, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6-7 NAS95).  I was in a place of beyond amazing peace.  I love my wife, I enjoy my children and grandchildren, but if there was a way to push a button and be back in that amazing place, I’d push the button.  Amazing peace and tranquility far greater than anything I have ever even thought of.  Not even the morning smelling the coffee, and watch the trout jump at sunrise.  This peace was at least 100 times better than anything I have ever felt, ever on this planet. 

David, a warrior, describes a near death experience.  “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Ps 23:4 NAS95)  David was using figurative language but David was describing a visual image.  I see in his words a deep canyon with steep, cliff-like sides.  It is getting darker by the minute and the shadows are reaching across the canyon.  Near death should start off dark.   If one has given their will to Jesus and been born again, there will be peace in abundance as God’s rod and staff send comfort.

I went to the bank at noon on September 09, 2013.  I had compressions, where someone else did the work and I did nothing.  I had several EMS personnel that worked furiously, I am told, using the paddle and using the paddle all the way to the hospital.  (My chest took around two months to fully get back to my original skin color as the paddle bruised the skin each time it was used.)  Once at the hospital, the MD made an incision into the vein on my leg and threaded a stint to my heart and placed it correctly.  Each time I go through the airport, it sets off alarms.  I have no memory of when I woke up or what happened on Tuesday, except that evening when two friends, Dr. Steve Messinger and Dr. Paul Graves, came, talked and prayed over me.  I was high enough on drugs, I remember them telling me I was going to have open heart surgery, but it was no biggie.  I understand I talked all day to dozens of people and have absolutely no memory of anything or anyone other than Karen and these two friends.  (Some of these details may not be correct, but it is how I remember them.)

I did have hallucinations.  Once Karen left each evening, and she drove the more than an hour to Stockton, sat with me for more than twelve hours and only left when they pushed her out the door around 9:00 PM.  I dreaded the time they would dim the lights for the night shift.  I saw and can still describe in detail an open heart surgery that took all night across the hall.  It was right in front of me.  The room was red, there were four Doctors and nurses and a patient that they snuck up the back stairs.  From time to time they moved the red lights to see their work easier. It did not happen and could not happen, because in the daylight with a rational wife, there was a wall in my room that kept me from seeing across the hall.  But I knew, without a doubt I had watched an open heart surgery across the hall to save money I still have a hard time believing it was all in my head it was so real.  

I have had at least two very close scrapes with eternity.  When I was 33, I dropped a motorcycle in the desert.  I broke my left leg six places as my leg went around the transmission.  I had to be found the next day and helped.  It took over six months to heal enough to go back to work.  Lying on the desert at sunset I saw the most awesome purples and pinks.    The pain and shock I was in over 12 hours made the experience surreal.  But I saw it with my eyes, I don’t think it was heaven, it was a glorious sunset.

The second time I hovered between heaven and earth was when I was 66 and had the experience I mention above.  We cannot see the wind.  We cannot see electromagnetic waves.  But I can feel the wind.  I talk over radio waves that I neither see nor feel.  In the quiet of night, especially, if one asks God truthfully, to reveal himself, we can know God.  Jesus is more real than my Facebook friends I have never seen. Just because we can’t see doesn’t make it less true or real.