NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE AND PTSD TESTIMONY
Feeling compelled to share an event that changed my life I write this testimony. I am Pastor/Master Chaplain Les Sanders and this is my testimony of my Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) experience.
On September 9, 2010 I had a motor cycle accident wherein I had a near death experience, my injuries were six broken ribs all in my back, broken shoulder blade, broken collarbone, concussion, blood in my right lung, muscle atrophy in my chest, my face from the upper lip to my eye socket was broken requiring sixteen plates with thirty two screws leaving me with facial nerve damage, the loss of 1/3 of my palate, ½ of my upper teeth, and scar tissue.
At one point I was laying there with my Daughter standing next to me when a nurse came in and said she needed me to push my drug button because she need to change it out I was running low. When she was done I saw that she was walking side stepping around the foot of my bed looking at me. The she called out "BREATH MISTER SANDERS BREATH" then I was gone, I knew I was no longer in Kansas. I did not go to the great OZ either. I knew I was dead: I was in a dark place, a place of peace with no fear, and I began to ask where "is the light, and why don't I hear the angels singing". The I heard a very clear masculine voice (I call the angel of the Lord) and he said "where do you want to go?" I knew he was asking if I wanted to go to heaven or stay here on earth. From somewhere came the answer, I said "Not my will Lord but Yours" and then I came back into my life. From that point I was not concerned about dying but felt encourage just to get well.
I know this sound like a lot of injuries and it was. I knew I was going to be ok because God sent be back and there was no reason to think otherwise. I never thought that I was traumatized enough to have any emotional issues, having no remembrance of the accident there were no bad dreams or fears and I was well pleased with how quickly recovery was progressing (with God's help). Then in December (a little over three months afterwards) I started to notice that I was emotional about almost everything until one day my wife brought home a set of twin dolls she was going to give to our grandchildren for Christmas, seeing those dolls caused me to break and start crying. Maybe it was because they reminded me of our two twin grandsons I don't know, but that day started the healing of my emotional state. Looking back I can see that I was experiencing; Hypervigilant, amnesia, increased anxiety, and emotions, felt detached, the inability to concentrate, emotionally numb, guilt, shame, self-blame, and tunnel vision. These feelings were all justify in my mind so at first I did not see any trouble. Those who were around me could see it clearer and even see other signs that I was not aware of.
Being trained in PTSD I recognized some of the signs of trouble and knew that action needed to taken. Personally never walking this path before I was not aware of how much trouble I was in. Not wanting to make a federal case of what might turn out to be nothing, I picked my family to be my debriefers without them knowing it (trying to be the man I am). This blew their minds! I just began to talk and talk, expressing my fears, worries, the accident, the hospital stay, about all my friends support, my wonderful church, well you name it I was more than willing to talk about it. It got to the point that my wife Sue brought it up to my trauma doctor and I explained that I had chosen them to hear me out. I explained to my son, daughter and Sue that I need someone to listen and if they could not handle it then I would need to find someone else, but they agreed to listen. I am sure that January was a hard month for them but by February it was getting noticeably better.
Some thoughts of this experience are:
The effects/signs of PTSD came on about four months after the event
I had no control over my emotions, when telling my story I knew at what point I would break down crying and could not stop. It even got to the point that before getting to those points I would say "here is where I start to lose it", and did.
Being debriefed was not a one time event, but a period of time sharing and working through it, allowing healing to take place.
There are all different levels of PTSD that can be caused by so many things and it is a normal process, it is how God has created us to cope with the traumas in life. It keeps us from becoming the cold, indifferent, and hard person that no one likes to be around.
The damage to my mental state did not compare to that of our military, police officers, and fire fighters. Witnessing death, injustice, or even causing death would do more damage and would need a greater depth of ministry and counseling to learn how to cope.
I do not know what would have happened if my family had not been there for me, how long my physical and mental healing would have taken and what negative effects would have taken control of my life.
I don't know if there is any connection, but my physical and emotional healing seemed to run about the same course.
The Lord is my strength and He has put upon my heart to help others. I can give a non critical ear to listen and prayer that releases the comfort of the Holy Spirit. God is the eternal Healer and He has given us His Holy Spirit to be our Comforter and Healer and much more.