Dead And Back Again: A Writer’s Tale

Dead And Back Again: A Writer’s Tale
Dane La Born

Dane La Born

Hello, dear readers. Over the past couple of years, I have shared much of my own life and experiences with you all. I’ve told you what it was like to live on my end of the spectrum and how that has affected my life. I’ve told you about my bout with cancer, and how difficult that was. Today, though, I’m going to share something even more personal.

This is the story of the time I died.

The aforementioned cancer was aggressive for being such a survivable thing. It was leaking things into my bloodstream and wreaking havoc on my nervous system, totally unbeknownst to me. Two or three years before they even found the tumor, it was already trying to kill me. I had been living with my Mom to help take care of her, and struggling with seizures myself so it was better to live with another human being in case something (like this) happened.

All I remember about everything that happened before the incident was playing video games, but apparently I had a major seizure, and was bleeding out of my ears, nose, and mouth when my Mom found me and called 911. I was evacuated by helicopter to UAMS in Little Rock, as Washington Regional was apparently ill prepared to treat me. The seizure wouldn’t stop, but in transit, my heart decided to.

This is the part where things get weird. I’ve never been a particularly faithful person. I was raised as a Presbyterian, but as soon as I was old enough to do my own reading and research, I gave up on organized religion as a whole. I’ve always had a degree of faith, though, and had to rectify that with a staunch belief in science, which leads to the following: I know what happens scientifically speaking when we die. I know our brains release a massive amount of chemicals, and we are thrown into a super dream state. I know all of this, and yet I still have one of those ‘near death experience’ stories.

Everything went full-on tunnel of light. I remember a lot about my time in wherever I was, which I started calling ‘the in-between’ at some point, because while my heart was re-started, my near-death experience went on. As my body was flown down to Little Rock and I was put into a medically induced coma in order to stop my seizures and try to save my life and save me from any brain damage, my mind was in another world.

I’ve been asked to describe the place before, and truth be told, it’s pretty much impossible, but I will do my best. When I came to, I was in this golden room with a crystal bridge leading somewhere… else. There was a woman nearby, clad in this egyptian-esque black silk. She started talking to me, asking me if I knew what had happened. I told her I didn’t, that the last thing I remember was being at home. She told me I had died, and that I was now stuck somewhere between life and death. There wasn’t any fear in me. There was this sense of contentedness and, oddly, familiarity.

I knew this woman, this young woman with black hair and kind eyes. She asked if she looked familiar to me, and I told her she did, and then she told me her name was Lola.

“I have a Great Aunt named Lola who lives in Oklahoma” I told her.

“I know,” she replied with a wink.

I didn’t know it, of course, but while all of this was happening to me, my Grandma’s sister Lola died of a stroke at her home in Oklahoma. This is one of those things that the science-side of my brain can’t rectify. I’m sure there are a dozen explanations for How, but it’s my bit of unexplained magic and I’m fine with it staying that way.

After this little exchange, my now young and thriving Aunt Lola led me across the crystal bridge. The other side is the part that’s pretty much impossible to describe, because it was everything. I mean that as literally as I possibly can. To the west, there was a beautiful golden desert. The north held mountains with high, white, frozen peaks. The east held beautiful cities, full of buildings from every architectural era and even some from eras that I don’t think have happened. To the South, and immediately on the other side of the bridge, was a grand forest, full of billions of beautiful trees and animals of every color and variety. It was, in the most literal sense of the word, paradise.

I was taken to a Longhouse, which I was told held my family stretching back longer than I could imagine. Inside, there was so much more than that though. The entire pantheon of human religion was sitting at a table at the head of the room, which was vaster than my mind could handle, but somehow small enough that I could easily traverse to the other side in the blink of an eye. I was told that that’s how it worked wherever it was I was. The limits of the imagination, and since the imagination knows no limits, neither did this In-Between paradise I’d discovered.

I was told that my body was dying, but my spirit was fine, which is why I found myself there. At that point, I was given a choice.. I was told I could stay here, that my body would die, but my soul would go on. I could remain there, in the In-Between, or be reborn and try at life again. I distinctly remember making the choice to survive. It was funny, because at that point in my life, I didn’t feel like I had too much to live for, but oh man did I want to live. As my body was fighting its own battle on Earth, my spirit was fighting for my life in whatever was beyond.

And fight I did. To get to my body, I had to literally fight my way back. The choice I had made wasn’t without it’s cost, and the cost was that Death lost a customer that day. As I remember it, Death didn’t want to lose me. So, I fought and I fought, harder than I’ve ever fought for anything, and I remember seeing my body surrounded by my family and leaping for it. Then I was back.

On Earth, as my body had been dying, doctors were scrambling to find out why. My kidneys were failing, and it was dialysis that saved me. They were able to safely bring me out of the coma once my organs were back to functioning properly, and I can tell you for sure that television doesn’t show you at all what that is like. I woke up terrified, strapped to the bed, and gagging on the giant feeding tube that was jammed down my throat. It is the absolute worst way to wake up.

I ended up spending an extra month in the hospital, because what they also don’t tell you on television is that when the person wakes up from the 5 year coma, they aren’t going to be going anywhere. Even having been under for only a month, I still had to learn to walk again. If you don’t use your muscles, and i mean really don’t use your muscles, they atrophy and are totally useless to you. It took a rigorous regime of physical therapy in the hospital to even get me up and walking with a cane, and an additional two or three months of it after I got home before I could walk normally again.

Thankfully, I avoided any major brain damage. Through the miracle that is modern medicine I managed to not die. Here I sit today, able to tell this story. Do I think there was some grand plan? That some divine Creative Force in the universe wanted me saved? No, not really. I’ll never forget what happened to me though, even if I know the science behind why. There was too much magic to it.

While there was some cost, namely to my ability to retain memory around that period of time, overall I am a better man today because I went through all of this.Comparing myself then to myself now, I have to feel a bit grateful for everything that happened.

As for everything about the In-Between, that’s something that, while utterly fantastical and dreamlike, I will never give up believing. Dreams have this intangibility to them, which is why so many people forget what they were dreaming. Even those that remember them in their waking life still know they are dreams. There is something about a dream that makes it distinct, which is why memory and dreams rarely get confused. What I remember from my time in a coma feels like that; a memory. Not the fleeting wispy recollections of a dream, but the vibrant tastes and smells and sights of a distinct, clear memory. I remember the feeling of the sun there, the smell of the trees mixing with ocean salt and desert sand, the taste of the food. So I choose to think of it like that, as a memory of something real, even if science and my own logical mind argue with me over the Hows and Whys of it all.

That’s my story, dear readers, of my own battle of life and death. I hope you enjoyed hearing my tale. If you have any questions about details that I didn’t have room to expand on, feel free to leave a comment on the web edition, and can friend/follow me at

Until next week, mes amies, au revoir!

Categories: Commentary