The Shift and my own shift…

Near Death Experiences

When you have a near death experience (NDE) or I guess brush with death your meant to act or feel a certain way it would seem. I don’t seem to be acting or feeling that way (what ever way its meant to be) some suggest I might get posttraumatic stress disorder in years to come. If this is true, I’m certainly not looking forward to re-experiencing the original trauma through flashbacks.

I remember back in July last year talking to my social worker (I assume they get you one after a dramatic experience just in-case you decide to do something silly) the one and only time. He came to my flat and we talked generally about everything and how I felt. It was ok if a little weird (most of the conversation centered around my anger for the way I was treated at the hospital), but he said something which made me think.

Obviously I don’t remember exactly what he said but basically it was something like “such an experience will make you re-evaluate your life and your faith.” To which I answered… “Like faith as in God?” he answered, “…yes I turned to god when something like this happened to me for example.”

That was the last time I saw him really, not because he was bad. Just didn’t really need him. I’ve been figuring stuff out myself in my own time but to be honest I’ve not really been thinking about turning to god or anything like that. But every once in a while I come up against (for a better word) something which makes me think (not necessarily in favor of god or religion).


This time, it was when I went to the Thinking Digital university/workshop on with Bobby Patterson. I wasn’t looking for happiness or even seeking happiness, since the near death experience I’ve come to appreciate life on a totally different level.

Its hard to explain… but I’ll try

I view life on a slightly amazed scale. The miracle of life is so precious and I’m in totally ore we even exist at all (thanks to evolution). We scuttle around and worry so much about our own problems while the rhythm of life marches on regardless.

Our brains are wildly complex and able to conjure up the greatest dreams and darkest nightmares. The mind can set you free or imprison you for life.

Its genuinely a wonder and thirst for life…

And I’m reminded of this quote… (no idea who from)

Your just a thought away from changing your life…

So when Bobby talked about and some of the thinking behind and why, it struck a cord with me and my recent thinking.

One of the many links he suggested was a link to a film called the shift by Wayne Dyer

From the creators of You Can Heal Your Life: The Movie comes a compelling portrait of three modern lives in need of new direction and new meaning. In his first-ever movie, Wayne Dyer explores the spiritual journey in the second half of life when we long to find the purpose that is our unique contribution to the world. The powerful shift from the ego constructs we are taught early in life by parents and society—which promote an emphasis on achievement and accumulation—are shown in contrast to a life of meaning, focused on serving and giving back. Filmed on coastal California’s spectacular Monterey Peninsula, The Shift captures every person’s mid-life longing for a more purposeful, soul-directed life.

I watched the shift and I thought about it. I wasn’t sure quite what to say about it.

It felt quite religious in parts but in other not so much. There’s a air of cheesy self helpness to it but actually its not as bad as it would seem to be. The hard thing is wanting to know, what its end game (as such) is? I felt looking at Wayne Dyer’s wikipedia page would help, and it did. The interesting parts included…

Although Dyer resisted the spiritual tag, by the 1990s he was altering his message to include more components of spirituality, in Real Magic, and higher consciousness, in Your Sacred Self.

My belief is that the truth is a truth until you organize it, and then becomes a lie. I don’t think that Jesus was teaching Christianity, Jesus was teaching kindness, love, concern, and peace. What I tell people is don’t be Christian, be Christ-like. Don’t be Buddhist, be Buddha-like. [cited interview]

“Religion is orthodoxy, rules and historical scriptures maintained by people over long periods of time. Generally people are raised to obey the customs and practices of that religion without question. These are customs and expectations from outside the person and do not fit my definition of spiritual.” [cited post]

I feel that should be going for this self help stuff, but I’m still feeling very uneasy about it. Some of the things from the shift are interesting but the overall tone is closer to something I can imagine someone with an agenda or religious view would have. I’ve certainly not damaged the part of my brain which deals with rational thought thats for sure. I expect Dyer if he read this and saw me, would suggest its ego talking but I certainly don’t think it is.

Anyway, I didn’t quite know what to think at the end but I certainly felt a bit like oh well thats a shame…

I guess I’m hardly changed in certain ways but forever changed in others. I do feel like I should be more changed that I actually am, but maybe thats the fighting response holding on to what I am or something… Who knows…

One year on from my brush with death

Get well cards from 2010

It seems only yesterday when I was totally stressed out about the closure of BBC Backstage, trying to help Future Everything, buying my first flat on my own and goodness knows what else…

I assume this time last year is about the time Adrian got the call saying I didn’t have mengentis, instead I had a massive bleed on the brain and they were going to operate straight away, could he contact my parents.

It still makes me very sad that I put everyone through everything but then again I really wasn’t to know. The bleed was caused by having high blood pressure and although my size doesn’t help, its also in my family genes. Both my mum and dad have high blood pressure and to be honest I’d never really thought to ask them about it. Ever since, I’ve asked them all types of questions…

In my flat, I have had all the cards I received during my time in hospital up. It reminds me what happened and how I need to move forward. My parents would rather I had taken them down but I did say I would keep them up for a year then put them away for safe keeping. This is exactly why I’m writing this post I guess.

I know I’m one of the luckiest people on this planet. To survive a bleed on the brain (Angiogram) is one thing but to be able to walk away with little permanent damage is just something else altogether. I’m not one for religion but as my parents say, god must have been looking down on me that day.

Get well cards from 2010

The blow by blow

Over the next week the story of last year becomes a lot clearer in part due to my caringbridge site/blog, which was setup by my ex-wife Sarah, who at the time I was not on speaking terms with at all.

Ian had been feeling very unwell, and his flatmate and his boss convinced him to go to the hospital to get checked out. We were called on Monday 17th May and told Ian was in hospital. Originally they suspected meningitis. However, all we know at the moment is that he had a bleed on his brain. He had surgery that day to put a drain in and has been heavily sedated in the ICU at Salford Royal (aka Hope Hospital).

It all felt like a lot longer, it almost felt like I was in hospital months, but I guess thats the powerful drugs effecting my judgment and memory. I assume looking at the dates I was only in ICU for about 2 weeks.

I do remember this moment

I spent most of the afternoon and evening with Ian today. They have taken him off the medication that was keeping him asleep and his condition is fair. He’s opened his eyes and is able to communicate with me by nodding. He is still on the ventilator but he is starting to breathe naturally. They want to keep the ventilator in for the moment in case he isn’t responding properly.

He had tears in his eyes while I was reading all the get well messages to him. So far he will only open his eyes when I ask him to, but he will not do it for the nurses.

I could hear my mum calling my name… And I woke up in a strange place mainly of white. My mum, dad and sister were standing over me. My mum asked do I know where I am? I shook my head and she said hospital. They read out a few messages I had gotten and I fell a sleep with tears in my eyes.

The next day (Saturday)… I remember slightly more.

Ian wanted to know what happened as he cannot remember falling ill; his sister has explained it to him. He then wanted to know what the doctors said so I’ve told him about having the bleed on his brain. He was listening and nodding to say he understood.

By Monday my mum certainly knew me very well because she wrote about my recovery, she did say to me later in the year that she knew I wasn’t going to be physically disabled because my legs and arms kept moving now and then while I was under…

I still feel very confident that Ian is going to make a full recovery. Today he smiled and squeezed my hand, and he laughed when we told him a joke. He knows where he is and recognises his family.

He is still quite tired and drowsy, but I am reading him your get well messages when he is awake enough to listen. Alvin and I had no idea how well known Ian is until we saw the messages coming from all over the world.

Yes I certainly remember trying to stay awake and learn more about what was going on around me but struggling to stay awake even during guest visiting hours.

I am staying at Ian’s flat in Manchester and am pleased that I have figured out how to turn on his television!

Good for my mum… I kind of forgot how alien it must have been for her, shes so use to just turning on the TV and sound coming out. While I had it setup so all the sound on the TV is muted and comes out to the cinema amp instead. Luckily I changed the Sherwood amp to the Onyko amp sometime before otherwise it would have been impossible to work out.

Tuesday, and I’m wondering about Google IO 2010 and was in tears to hear about what Jeremy Keith did for me

I held up some of his cards and messages for him to read. Ian wrote on a piece of paper asking for an article about Google, and one had been sent to him so he got to read it (thanks to the sender!).

The doctors are hoping to to take him off the ventilator again tomorrow and see how his breathing is doing.

On Wednesday Ant/Adrian posted this blog post on the Backstage blog. While Thursday…

Ian’s ventilator was removed again this morning. To avoid having the ventilator back in, he has had a tracheotomy to help him breathe. This is just a temporary measure until his breathing is stabilised. The drain has been removed from his head, so now it is just the feeding tube in his nose.

I remember the tracheotomy, in actual fact I’ve still a year later got the scar from where the hole in my throat was. The Feeding tube in my nose was very strange. I remember when the nurses would change the feeding stuff to something sweeter and my nose would almost tingle as it slowly got pumped down the back of my nose.

By that weekend (last weekend of May)… I think Ross and Carly came up to see me and my mum wrote this.

Ian’s dad, sister and I have been back in Manchester with him since yesterday afternoon.

The trach tube had to be resited and Ian is still having some ventilation through that just until his breathing improves. They are reducing use of it and he is mostly breathing on his own.

Ian’s sister has been reading him messages from the guestbook which are much appreciated. However, at the moment we would still like visitors to be limited to family. Ian is having ups and downs in his recovery, but on the whole is improving. We want to make sure he rests and does not get frustrated with not being able to speak (this is temporary due to the trach tube). He is communicating with us by blinking, nodding and occasionally writing, and he does understand everything that is going on.

The messages and cards were overwhelming… They really helped me. I remember thinking I can’t believe the amount of peoples lives I’ve touched. Not being able to speak was a nightmare… my sister (bless her) came up with a system for communicating but what she missed was the fact it was based on speaking language and so required far too much effort to make it useful. My frustration was clear but I was able to somewhat laugh with Ross and Carly.

I’ll leave the walk down memory lane there for now… but its worth poping along to Thank you part 1 and Thank you part 2 which cover my thoughts and thank you’s when I left Hospital.

Time to pack away the cards

Life goes on

Now one year on, my life has totally changed around. I’m doing a lot less but also going deeper in certain areas. I’ve decided to leave the open data movement to its own momentum. I’m now full of creative ideas which I keep writing down in Evernote for future use. Some of those ideas are to do with the BBC and some to do with other aspects of my life like djing. I’m also less likely to hold on to them, which fits nicely with my need to use less brain cycles.

I’m living much more of my life publicly, trying to hold back requires effort and brain cycles so unless there’s a very good reason, I tend to share it. I’m also less guarded with information about myself, heck I’ll pretty much tell anyone about my experience with the bleed.

I also have a total new appreciation of our brains and the system which keeps it ticking over. I’ve of course taken advantage of mine to trick it into thinking giving blood and injections are not as bad as they should/could be via hypnosis. Also a better understanding of the need to stay fit, healthy and have a very positive outlook. I really hate to see life being thrown away, even more so than before.

Generally my brush with death has changed me in many positive ways and I never want to end up back where I was. Although I’m thinking about popping back into the hospital to see some of the nurses to see if the changes I complained about have actually happened or not… But thats for another blog post later in June.

Its certainly time to stop the #mybrushwithdeath thread. Archive and move on but never ever forget…

This was almost the last night of my life

About one year ago, I went to sleep after trying to stay up watching the National Elections of 2010. It must have been about 1am. I remember watching the election show on BBC one and falling a sleep a few times. So in the end I went to bed, not knowing who had won the election. Who would have thought the Liberal Democrats would have teamed up with the Conservatives to create a collation government?

When I woke up the next day, the bleed on my brain had already started to cause damage to my memory because the only thing I remember is the cleaner knocking on the door and me thinking well my flat mate will get up and let her in.

No doubt May will be a time for reflection for myself…

As always its great to be alive