I have been so fortunate that despite having had at least three encounters with death, that I am fully aware of, I am still among the living.

The first encounter took place, believe or not, before I was even born!

You must be wondering what am I talking about.

Well, this first encounter had a happy ending thanks to my father’s powerful desire to bring my mom back to life when he was told that she was dead. My mom had already given birth to four of my siblings and my father could not accept the fact that they would face a life without their mother (You can read exactly how he felt by reading his verse The Miracle which he wrote shortly afterwards).

My mother was about six months pregnant with me, when she suffered from a lung embolism which made her heart stop. When my father arrived at the hospital, three doctors told him “I’m sorry your wife is dead.” Most husbands would have tearfully and reluctantly accepted the verdict feeling also sorry for the four little children who would have become mother orphans.

My father, however — who by the way, before becoming a civil engineer had studied medicine for one year — asked for a new drug that was barely being tested, namely, levophed (norepinephrine bitartrate) which is vasoconstrictor, similar to adrenaline, used to treat life-threatening low blood pressure (hypotension). Since my mother had already been declared dead, the doctors had no problem giving my father this new drug. By the way, this drug is so potent that it burned my mother’s wrist when my father spilled a little while trying to insert the needle, the scar is visible to this day.

After an intravenous infusion of this drug into my mother’s arm, my father spent all night trying to find a pulse or hear a heart beat. He was eventually able to hear a very weak heart beat and the rest is history. My mother is now 87. My father died in 2011, he was 84. I was born a few months later purple, with severe hypoxia, but alive!

The second encounter took place when I was in elementary school. I was enjoying a ‘jawbreaker’ (one of those hard candy balls) and at the same time I was cursing someone for a reason I no longer recall. All I remember quite vividly is the fact that the candy ball went into my throat and I began to choke!

I was barely able to take in just a little bit of air as the candy ball moved up in my throat and blocked it completely and then fell back into my throat.

Under this life-threatening circumstance, my brain seemed to have kicked into high gear and I thought to myself “maybe if I drink water the candy ball will pass through my throat.” Thus, I managed to walk to the school bar and gestured my need for water. Interestingly enough, they did not have any! My mind then took my to portable water fountain a few feet away. I opened the faucet but it was empty! I know now that this was providence, for had I drank water, my chances of survival would have been close to none since the little air I was still able to gasp would have been completely blocked.

I then fell onto my knees, my stomach, in a desperate attempt for survival, contracted with enough force to expel the candy ball from my throat.

Gasping for air!

I took the biggest breath I have ever taken in my life and felt so much relief you can only imagine if you have ever been through a life/death situation such as this. Ever since, whenever I have to swallow a pill, I have to force my mind into it.

My third encounter with death took place about two years ago when I gave myself a shot of vitamin b complex that had expired and went into anaphylactic shock.

I remember beginning to feel short of breath midway through the injection process but I continue pushing the syringe thinking that the little dizziness and short of breath that I was feeling was due to the fact that I never liked needles piercing my body, especially if someone else is holding the needle.

Once I finished injecting myself, the difficulty breathing became stronger and, as I came out of the restroom at one of my daughters’ house, my daughter saw me livid and asked me what was wrong with me, I told her “I having difficulty breathing,” providence, once again to the rescue, moved my son-in-law to bring me a cold Dr. Pepper, as soon as a took the first sip, I felt life coming back into my body as the caffeine forced my blood through the anaphylactic shock.

What a relief to be able to breath normally again!

I trust that my final encounter with death is a pleasant one.

JC Wandemberg Ph.D.

Sustainable Systems International

About the author: Dr. Wandemberg is an international consultant, professor, and analyst of economic, environmental, social, managerial, marketing, and political issues. For the past 30 years Dr. Wandemberg has collaborated with corporations, communities, and organizations to integrate sustainability through self-transformation processes and Open Systems Design Principles, thus, catalyzing a Culture of Trust, Transparency, and Integrity.

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