Guest Column:  8 Minutes

Credit: Sue DeGregorio-Rosen, Photographer

by Sue DeGregorio-Rosen, RN, CLNC, Contributing Editor


My heart stopped for 8 minutes, I was pulseless, lifeless and yet I am still here. I can hear your voice when you pray over me. I can remember how we laughed, I can remember that sandy beach, where we shed our clothes and we went swimming. And I felt so soaked in the sunshine. Am I the sunshine?

I have questions that I cannot ask.  I listen to the machines that are keeping me alive.  I feel the nurses and doctors who so gingerly care for me, and they whisper, “8 minutes”.  

I want to tell them all that I am still here.

I want to talk to my mom. I want to read an entire book with her. I want to cuddle with my husband. I want to kiss my daughter and dry her tears. I want you, my love, to not be afraid, but I hear you ask what does 8 minutes do? 

And I hear you cry.

All brain activity is thought to cease by around three to four minutes from the moment the heart stops. Thus, every second counts if someone suddenly collapses in front of you and stops breathing.

But I was in a controlled environment……….I know how sick I am.  I understand that when this happened it took your breath away.  I wish I could hold your hand and tell you I am still here.

This near-death experience has given me more insight about life, not death.

  I am near death at times, and I am aware that I drift from this reality, in this room on these machines, into another place with relative ease.  I wish I could share this experience with you.  We had such a unique way of communicating, I want to share this with you, but I was down for 8 minutes. It’s the communication of the dying where we seem to drift from this reality into another and back, with relative ease. I can’t attempt to share the wonders of these experiences because I am sedated and on life support, and during those 8 minutes you thought you lost me. 

I once dreamed that we were on our honeymoon, and I saw my grandmother.  You told me it was just that, a dream.  I trusted you. And then I had no pulse, yet I am here.

But the Universe is telling me something different.

The Universe is telling me that I still have life! To feel it all.  Hold my hand, don’t be afraid, do this with me.

Know that life never gives you anything you cannot handle. I am still here. I try to listen to what the nurse just said.  She doesn’t know I can hear her. I can see her, and you, and I want to tell you both to trust. 

“To trust means to rely on another person because you feel safe with them and have confidence that they will not hurt or violate you. Trust is the foundation of relationships because it allows you to be vulnerable and open up to the person without having to defensively protect yourself,”

Trust is love, trust is part of life and trust is in the endings and beginnings of that life. Trust in those 8 minutes.