Medical Tuesday Blog
A Cardiologist’s Encounters with Death and Living Proof of an Afterlife
By Dr. Chauncey Crandall
Dr. Crandall begins his story of being a hospital orderly since he was interested in going into medicine. He has a number of interesting experiences with various phases of working with patients. He particularly enjoyed talking to Karl, a tattooed veteran who told him a number of war stories which he enjoyed.
He was interested in observing as much of medical care as possible. He had never worked in the morgue. So he asked a pathologist if he could accompany him on his work sometime. He got the call from him on a Saturday morning. He became excited about this new experience he was about to have. He got dressed in his “morgue” gear and proceeded into the cadaver table area. There was one table that had a man with outstretched arms and his insides had already been removed. “As I came close, I saw the lifeless face belonging to that human shell . . .and instantly nausea grabbed me.” As he turned around to leave, the pathologist asked what was wrong. “I said I know this man. I have to go.” He said this man was Karl with whom he had visited recently. He was a gentle warrior and a family man. A good man. And now, the way I saw it, he was not only dead but empty of everything that had been him. He felt like a naïve kid just walking into that postmortem examining room and things were colliding in his mind and as desperate words tumbled out, “Is this all there is?”
As he stood in the basement hallway, his emotions went into overload and his stomach continued nauseated. He came face to face with a futility and finality in his foggy mind thinking of Karl, a decorated soldier with a loving family now reduced to a lifeless cavity on a metal gurney in a room the sun never sees. Death seemed so decisive, so horrific and wicked—and he was terrified as he decided he never wanted to attend another autopsy. He resolved to prevent death as he advanced to his specialty of cardiology where he felt he would be most effective in treating hearts avoiding flat lines on the monitor which would reflect life.
This began his spiritual concern of whether there was more to life than this life.
He found evidence of the answer while treating patients at home in the United States, and while ministering in the battlefields of Third World countries abroad.
He also found evidence while sitting by the bedsides of the dying, and while standing over those who were once as good as dead—and yet still live. He even saw proofs of this life when he lost his own son. This changed how he practiced medicine and helped him realize the heart—and the reality—of heaven.
In his prologue, he states that he became a Christian within a year of that autopsy awakening. Shortly thereafter he started medical school. He heard many tales that dead men and women told once they’ve returned from the brink. He witnessed impossible recoveries. He witness peaceful passing of those who were confident of heaven, as well as the sometime fearful transitions of those who scoffed at it.
He began to picture this world as a sort of pre-op room where we are prepared for the real healing to come—on the other side.
Dr. Crandall begins his first chapter with Gary, a Vietnam veteran, with dark eyes, looking desperate, his unshaven face an angry red, as he rushed out in a hospital gown. He had recognized Dr. Crandall as he was walking by on his rounds. He appear as a giant out of the forest as if he were a gang leader as his six feet, five inches’ worth of full-body tattoos appeared. He grabbed Crandall by his collar to his tiptoes in the hospital corridors as if wanted to shove the doctor through the wall, yelling, “Why did you bring me back?” He glared as Dr. Crandall asked, “What do you mean?” “I was fine where I was! I was okay!”
Gary, in his mid-forties, was having a cardiac procedure and sustained a cardiac arrest. As they were preparing the defibrillator paddles, they found the machine was dead. They were unable to recharge it and so they air bagged him with full CPR to keep him alive while searching for another machine. As medical personnel descended into the room the normal controlled sort of chaos was more chaotic than usual. Before a replacement arrived from the radiology department, the ECG leads came off, and someone tripped over the IV line. As Dr. Crandall crawled under the operating table to reconnect the IV, the new defibrillator arrived, the paddles were placed and the patient was shocked. Gary’s normal sinus rhythm was restored.
Gary subsequently reported what he had experienced during that time in the surgical theater. He stated, “I was out of my body and looking down. I saw you underneath the table…” And despite the chaos in that room, he had been perfectly at peace. A peace he didn’t want to leave. He seemed almost anguished to have been brought back into this world out of the sublime serenity of those few critical minutes when his life was in the balance.
Rather than dismissed this experience as “he’s seen one too many near-death reports. . .” Gary went on to describe in detail the entire scene right down to the emergency exchange of equipment—an exchange that had never previously been experience. And for Gary to have known that Dr. Crandall crawled under the table, he could not have possibly known with such accuracy unless he actually saw them somehow.
Dr. Crandall was stunned. This happened in the final year of his cardiology fellowship and he didn’t know what to make of it. Was this a God-moment to reveal to the doctor that there could actually be peace on the other side? Was he glimpsing the calm of heaven amid the complexities of life?
Dr. Crandall then describes his career journey up to that time much as Grisham describing a killing of a minister in the opening scene of his recent mystery and then detailing the events of the veteran’s life that more likely than not produced this event.
His chapter ten describes “A place like no other” and the situations that brought him to his conclusions.
Touching Heaven is readily available from Hachette Books as well as from Amazon.
Read more about Dr. Crandall at www.chaunceycrandall.com
This book review will be posted at http://delmeyer.net/physicianpatient-bookshelf/
The Book Review Section Is an Insider’s View of What Doctors are Reading about.
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