He tried to look around. Small dimly lit room. Clicking noises, something humming. Flickering. His bed – metal, like a hospital bed. Hospital? What the hell? Window to his right. It was dark outside. He saw his wife looking at him. Where am I, what is going on? Why? Why are we here, not at home? She just looked at him. “You got sick.” Let's go home he said and started to get up, turned to put his feet on the floor. And he noted some tubes inserted in his body. "What happened to me?" he finally asked? "You got sick and will have to stay here in the hospital for a while."
But he had a hard time concentrating, keeping his thoughts together. He felt dizzy and thoughts were coming and going in no particular order. He couldn't remember his questions and her answers.
So he kept trying to get up and she softly would explain again where he was.
The door was open on the left and the light was coming into the room. He saw TV on the opposite wall in front of him - it was on but no sound. Some show he did not recognize but it made no difference. It was all foggy and unreal - the room, the light, TV, him being here.
He would fall asleep, wake up and sleep again. Somebody came through the door - the nurse. She did something with his body, looked at some displays and left.
His wife was unfolding the couch and layed down on it.
Little by little the darkness outside retreated and he could see the buildings, the street, cars moving. He did not hear any sound through the windows and all this looked like a silent movie. He did not recognize the street.
He tried to get up and go to the toilet several times but again his wife softly stopped him trying to explain that he had a catheter. In a few minutes he tried again and was stopped with the smile and patient explanation.
Little by little the world came into focus and his mind started working. But still the whole thing - hospital, being sick, nurses coming and going.
Faces of friends, relatives and his kids and grand kids were like a blur. Surreal.
Days went by. Time was stretching and flying by his semiconscious mind poisoned by medications.
He dosed off during the day, woke, ate and looked at TV without really watching it. The world outside was getting dark and lighting up in rapid succession.
He knew that he did not like any of this. His wife always by his side was his anchor, his connection to the world. He felt the need to be near her at all times, he felt lost when she was not near him.
The doctor allowed him to get up and walk with the nurse and that helped his body and mind to get stronger. His wife told him what happened. Cardiac arrest - his heart stopped while they were in the bedroom. She saved his life.
He thought about it, wondering about his miraculous survival and wondering if what he was seeing and experiencing now was real. He remembered science fiction stories and parallel universes. His imagination was playing out different versions. What if he was really in the other universe and just didn't know, did not see the subtle differences?
Finally the doctors allowed him to go home. His kids came to help. They all walked to the car helping and supporting him on the way. As they drove he was looking at the buildings, the streets, trying to notice if there was anything different, strange about what he was seeing. He could not see any differences from what he remembered but he still was not sure. He thought that memory loss would prevent him from noticing anything different.
It took him a while to get used to normal life again. Some things were hard. Especially at night. He could not sleep normally in bed and in the dark room.
Panic and anxiety were choking him. He would get up and walk, try to sleep in his chair, on the couch. Drink some tea. Trying to calm himself. He could not sleep close to his wife or hug her in bed - he did not have enough air. He would sit in his chair and count hours, waiting for the morning to come.
Pills helped some but he had a hard time getting up in the morning. He felt better during the day.
And all this time since he woke up, there was a nagging feeling, almost subconscious, about being in coma, still laying in hospital bed, about the reality of this world. What if all his life after cardiac arrest, life after death, is just his dream? And if it is true, what difference does it really make? After all, we don't really know what reality is.
But as time passed he was getting used to the daily routine. Company of friends, spending time with kids and grand kids. And his wife, his life companion, always by his side. Almost back to normal. But he still has a hard time planning ahead.
When THIS happened he did not feel, he did not know what happened to him Until he woke up 3 days later in the hospital. What if he had not woken up? He wouldn't even know that he lived and died.
But... How does he know he is really alive? How do we know what “really” being conscious is? Do we realize that in deep sleep a dream is not “real”?
The spring came. Birds, the sun, the flowers. Thunderstorms and winds - he lives in Chicago after all.
All this can end without warning, in the blink of an eye. And that scared him. But he tried to push away the thought.
The weather was great. The Botanic Garden was waking up from winter slumber. It is a different atmosphere in such places, maybe because a certain type of people go there. Bright blue sky and, emerging fragile and yet unstoppable, the awakening of all kinds of plants. It soothes the soul. He was just wondering around with his wife with nothing in particular on his mind.
He tried to look around. Small dim lit room. Clicking noises, something humming. Flickering. His bed – metal, like a hospital bed. Hospital? What the hell? Window to his right. It was dark outside. He saw his wife looking at him. "Where am I, what is going on? Why?"
Often we do not remember our deep sleep dreams. Maybe there is a reason why.