To say this past week has been rough would be a gross understatement. It ranks up there with the worst…and best…of my 48 years of life on Planet Earth. It started with an acid-induced near death experience, followed by the actual very real and sad deaths of two people I love and culminated in the realization that the Lord delights to use even the ugliest things in life to speak to His people. And I am thankful for His voice in the storm.
I guess I should clarify that the acid trip was not something I sought. Let me explain. My father died of colon cancer when he was 63. So I was cautiously following medical recommendations to have a screening colonoscopy. My first experience six years earlier had resulted in numerous allergic reactions and revealed the menacing presence of several suspicious polyps. So, this time out, the gastroenterologist suggested the procedure be performed in a hospital as a means of avoiding a repeat performance of anesthesia-allergy induced projectile vomiting. I concurred.
On the appointed day, at 4:30 in the afternoon, I reported to the hospital after dutifully following the protocol which included a colonic, 24 hours on a liquid diet and then 12 hours without water or liquid of any kind. To put it mildly, I was dehydrated. A flock of overeager nurses, phlebotomists and doctors descended and tried in vain to find a vein. Every attempt produced a brief, “I got it,” followed by a gasp and then a call for gauze to soak up the blood that spilled out when the vein collapsed. This went on until I looked like a pin cushion.
All the while, the doctor was growing increasingly impatient because his previous case had been a no-show. (I wish I knew that had been an option!) So he instructed the anesthesiologist something that sounded innocent enough, “Try Ketamine.”
Since we had never heard of the drug, my husband, Brent, asked the team not to inject Ketamine into my system but to continue to try to get a vein. “After all,” he said, “My wife has numerous allergies, as you know. So I would hate to have her try something new because we don’t know what the effects would be.”
The anesthesiologist’s reply was, “It is safe. We use it with kids, who sometimes get nightmares. But it only stays in your system for 30-40 minutes.”
We should have checked out of the hospital that very second and driven immediately to a 7-11 to buy a Big Gulp. But we didn’t because we didn’t want to put out the medical team. After all, they had already been waiting so long. What could happen? I could take it.
After saying our goodbyes, Brent left to wait for me in Recovery while I was placed on a gurney and wheeled to a surgical suite. The nurse held my hand while the doctor injected a sickly sweet substance into my left thigh, which burned as it entered my unsuspecting system. I won’t go into detail about the horrors that I saw that day. But suffice to say they left me screaming at the top of my lungs, writhing; crying and calling out for God, who I was convinced had abandoned me to hell. For two hours, I was on a mind-altering psychedelic hallucinogenic trip.
The colonoscopy itself went swimmingly. No polyps were found. But Brent and a nurse had to witness my emergence from a bad trip caused by a drug sold on the streets as Special K. We later discovered it is on a par with LSD, PCP and Angel Dust. Since I had no idea the drug could produce visions and hallucinations, I attributed the things I was seeing to death.
“I’ll never see Brianna & Edward, Avery, Lauren & Kyle and Kaitlin again. I’m in hell. God, why did you abandon me?” I shouted. “I placed my trust in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I believe He died and rose again. Why would you allow me to die and send me to hell? Please help me, Jesus!”
In my altered state, the line between fantasy and reality merged into a house of horrors. I finally surrendered to what I believed to be the inescapable fact that I had died. Brent was there. But his image was taken from a photograph circa 1992. So I thought he was a prototype produced by Satan to taunt me. When I reached awkwardly to feel my hubby’s hands, they were not soft and warm but cold and plastic.
I told him I knew I was dead. There was no use trying to convince me otherwise. He pleaded with me to accept the truth that I was still in the hospital and that everything would be fine. “After all,” my godly husband asked, “Would I be in hell?”
I tried as hard as I could to look him square in the eye (although he says my eyes were wild and open far too wide) and told him, “But you’re not the real Brent. You’re a puppet. You look like Sponge Bob.”
Tearfully, I instructed him to tell our daughters that the only thing that matters in life is to seek after Jesus Christ and to follow Him. “Please make sure you tell them that. It will be worth it for me to be in hell if they come to know Jesus,” I explained. I later asked him to do me a favor and “marry a pretty girl.” He told me, “I already did.”
The more the drugs wore off, the sicker I grew. My body instinctively convulsed to eliminate the poison. But all that was in my system was Ketamine and bile. So I threw up air for two hours. When the anesthesiologist came to check on me, he laughed aloud. “That was brave of me to use straight Ketamine since she was allergic to the drugs I usually mix with it.”
His “bravery” left me confused, nauseated, terrified and convinced that the recovery room was a movie set and the nurse and Brent were holograms. I grew even more confused by the unreal quality of everything when I was finally discharged and, due to hospital construction, the nurse wheeled me out past screaming kids and bloody people in the emergency room, finally arriving outside, where she pushed the chair over rocks and cords in the parking lot. Too nauseated to sit upright, I climbed into the backseat where I could lie down and asked Brent to play worship music. As he drove up the curved roads that lead to our home on the hill, lights streamed into the windows, taking on frightening forms. Clearly, the poison was still in my system, where it stayed for several painful days and scary sleepless nights.
As soon as I could form logical thoughts, one hit me like a ton of bricks: “What if it isn’t true?” And by “it,” I knew exactly who was at the object of the question. After all, I had just witnessed the natural realm fall aside and understood at a guttural level that my own world is temporary instead of eternal. Without skipping a beat, I said aloud what I knew in my heart to be true, “Not a chance! I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to take that which I’ve committed unto Him until that day.”
I didn’t immediately understand why my Father would allow His daughter to undergo the pain of that experience. But now I see that He was planning to use it to bring revival to my heart. Christian author Eric Gondwe put it like this: “We are spiritual beings having a human experience instead of human beings having a spiritual one.” So even though I would ardently recommend against believers ever taking a psychedelic trip, for me, the destination was well worth the journey.
While recovering, I started to see the world through new eyes. Watching the Olympics, I was struck by the blood, sweat and tears athletes endure for the sake of a medal that will decay. It won’t matter in eternity. I sat in my office staring blankly at my laptop and wondered how I could have invested so much effort promoting marketing principles. It won’t matter in eternity. Leafing through magazines on my desk, I was shocked by the shallow content of reality television star romances and diet plans. It won’t matter in eternity.
Measuring how I have been spending my time as a sojourner on earth was a sobering experience. It was obvious I needed to make a change. Unless it will matter in eternity, I no longer want to waste another minute on it. So, after contributing columns for RIMOFTHEWORLD.net and the Press Enterprise for three years, going forward, I have decided to write for God’s glory instead of my own business development. If you were a fan of Bowling for Business, please consider reading my new weekly blog, Bowling for Jesus. My goal will be to encourage you as we journey together to glorify God.
I hope you’ll check back next week, when I endeavor to share the way the Lord followed up my trip through the K-Hole with spiritual lessons too obvious and insistent to ignore.
~Bowling for Jesus