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Act 3 : A stroke under the sign of grace

stroke-and-grace
You can read Act 1 : A storm in my meninges and Act 2 : Nothing impos­sible to the valiant heart before rea­ding this article. This will give you a bet­ter pers­pec­tive on how pre­sence mani­fes­ted itself during the menin­geal hemor­rhage I expe­rien­ced.

                 

Letting go

Life doesn’t work against us, even if some­times it feels like it does. It’s just a mat­ter of pers­pec­tive : on the one hand, men­tal feels per­ma­nent­ly threa­te­ned and closes itself off to life, on the other hand, pre­sence says « yes » to life.

                

« Always say « yes » to the present moment. What could be more futile, more sen­se­less, than to resist inter­nal­ly to what is alrea­dy ? What could be cra­zier than oppo­sing life itself, which is now, always now ? Surrender to what is. Say « yes » to life and you will sud­den­ly see it wor­king for you rather than against you. » [1]

                 

Being into this pre­sence releases unsus­pec­ted poten­tials because, since then, ener­gies of life can serve us free­ly, total­ly and open­ly. What they’re real­ly made for. Then grace can appear.

The expe­rience I had on 19 December is of that order for me. I can­not explain why – or rather I can only explain it by the serene pre­sence that mani­fes­ted itself in me – I sur­ren­de­red myself to what was. I real­ly let go, and even if it was just for a moment, that moment was enough to change eve­ry­thing.

               

« Letting go is a pure­ly inter­nal phe­no­me­non. This does not mean that, in terms of the concrete exter­nal dimen­sion, you do not take action to change this or that situa­tion. In fact, when you let go, it’s not the whole situa­tion that you have to accept, but just that tiny seg­ment cal­led present moment. » [2]

                 

For me, it was as if this « upda­ting » of conscious­ness reor­ga­ni­zed eve­ry­thing.

                  

Between two states of consciousness

A new dyna­mic was crea­ted, forces were acti­va­ted out­side, which could then serve me by exer­ting a bene­fi­cial influence on the situa­tion. Thus, eve­ry­thing fol­lo­wed one ano­ther in the most favo­rable way for me, in a most unfa­vo­rable context. Indeed, we can’t real­ly say that sta­tis­tics were on my side : at the time the menin­geal hemor­rhage star­ted, I had only a 50% chance of arri­ving alive at the emer­gen­cy ser­vice, and about a 30% chance of coming out of it in good health [3].

Finally, what pre­sen­ted itself as an obs­tacle – the aneu­rysm rup­ture – tur­ned into an ope­ning, giving way to grace. This grace that only mani­fests itself in the present moment, that knows how to bring the right amount of ener­gy at the right time, that rhymes with power, confi­dence, balance and love. And miracle too. But at the time of the facts, I can’t ima­gine that I need miracle…

8:00 pm I am sit­ting on the side­walk and I exist, so to speak, bet­ween two states of conscious­ness. In rea­li­ty, I can’t be out­side of the only state of conscious­ness there is, pre­sence. But my men­tal, which believes itself to be the stron­gest, creates the illu­sion of its own state of conscious­ness. That is to say the exact oppo­site of let­ting go : resis­tance. And this one is not long in coming. I’m trying to get James on the phone. No ans­wer. Even though I know he’s going to be here soon, I’d pre­fer that he knows what’s going on as soon as pos­sible. There is an emer­gen­cy. So I call again – maybe ten times – and final­ly he ans­wers. In front of my insis­tence to come near me, he drops the pur­chase of his sand­wich.

                  

The right timing

time-clockThis momen­ta­ry resis­tance reflects a fair­ly recur­rent theme bet­ween the two of us : my men­tal, belie­ving that time is time, often clashes with its, which draws its power from repea­ted delays. Of course no one is right in this sto­ry, espe­cial­ly from the point of view of pre­sence, which is out of all tem­po­ral concep­tion. But that eve­ning, in this case, I should almost have to thank him for being late, because who knows if I would have expe­rien­ced that moment of « pre­sence to me » in his own pre­sence ?

Anyway, that’s the way it tur­ned out. Paradoxically, the help I nee­ded, the most appro­priate sequence of events for me, mani­fes­ted itself first and fore­most through him.

8:10 pm – He’s final­ly here and takes me to sit on the ter­race of the nea­rest cafe. He asks me what my symp­toms are. At that time, I still have an unbe­lie­vable hea­dache, as well as a slight nau­sea and tin­gling in my hands, which are symp­toms of menin­geal hemor­rhage. In view of my condi­tion and my obvious lack of assu­rance to get moving, he consi­ders two options : take a cab, go home and moni­tor the situa­tion, or call the emer­gen­cy direct­ly.

                 

The middle way

My men­tal doesn’t give up, it has alrea­dy resi­gned to the fact that the eve­ning is rui­ned, it doesn’t want to consi­der that some­thing serious might hap­pen to me and that I might be in dan­ger. It doesn’t want to consi­der it, it is its way of kee­ping control. In fact, it is loo­king for an expla­na­tion and a solu­tion, and to do so, it needs to have clear ideas. This is why it clas­si­fies the expe­rience of pre­sence as « I didn’t unders­tand any­thing, but I’ll see that later », while belie­ving, without real­ly kno­wing why, that « it’s going to be all right ».

So, on the one hand, I’m not so sure it’s neces­sa­ry to call emer­gen­cy. But on the other hand, wis­dom tells me that some­thing is real­ly wrong and that maybe I’d bet­ter pay atten­tion to what’s right in front of me, James’ intui­tion in this case. Which also hap­pens to be a pret­ty good coun­sel­lor in gene­ral. Then I consi­der a third option in order to cla­ri­fy this sto­ry : cal­ling Madeleine [4].

                

logs-on-fire

« When a log that is just begin­ning to burn is pla­ced right next to ano­ther log that is bur­ning bright­ly and after a while they are sepa­ra­ted, the first log will heat up much more fier­ce­ly than it did at the begin­ning. After all, it is the same fire. Playing the role of fire is one of the func­tions of a spi­ri­tual mas­ter. Some the­ra­pists can also per­form this func­tion, pro­vi­ded they have gone beyond the men­tal plane and are able to create and sus­tain an intense state of pre­sence while they are taking care of you. » [5]

                

Madeleine

How do I intro­duce her ? At the time, I’ve known her for almost twelve years, and even after all this time, she remains a bit of a mys­te­ry to me. She is a the­ra­pist, clair­voyant and prac­tices ener­gy medi­cine. She has a deep and sin­cere com­pas­sion for human beings. I have immense res­pect for her, for her patience, wis­dom and love. Kindness, dis­cern­ment and vigi­lance are per­ma­nent states for her. She pro­ba­bly arri­ved in this world having alrea­dy pas­sed the men­tal plane, having alrea­dy been in pre­sence. She helps people to iden­ti­fy all facets of men­tal, to become aware of their pat­terns and to go beyond them, to enter the space of the heart.

I very rare­ly call her out­side of our appoint­ments because I know that she is very much in demand and has a lot of work to do. For me, only a real emer­gen­cy can jus­ti­fy that I soli­cit her. On that night, we could be in this situa­tion. For her part, she rare­ly ans­wers the phone, « unless it’s urgent, » she often says. That’s why, at this point, as much I would like her to ans­wer me, because I would like her clear-sighted, fair and full of love opi­nion, as much I hope she won’t pick up the phone, because if she do, it will real­ly mean that I am in an emer­gen­cy.

I call. She’s not picking up. I leave her a mes­sage, in a voice I bare­ly reco­gnize, so much so that I feel like it belongs to someone else. As a result, James final­ly decides to play it safe by cal­ling the fire­men. So deter­mi­ned that I sur­ren­der.

               

Between Being and appearances

8:25 p.m. – The fire­men coming and get­ting us into their truck. They ask me a series of ques­tions. They check my blood sugar and blood pres­sure, which are com­ple­te­ly nor­mal.

                  

tree

« Mental can­not grasp the rea­li­ty of the tree. It can only know facts and infor­ma­tion about the tree. Mental can­not grasp the rea­li­ty of who you are ; it knows only labels, judg­ments, facts, and opi­nions about you. Only the Being appre­hends rea­li­ty direct­ly. » [6]

            

Armed with these controls, labels and facts, fire­men make the deci­sion to take me to the emer­gen­cy room. My phone rings at the same time : it’s Madeleine cal­ling me back. Seeing her first name on my phone screen makes me less opti­mis­tic about how things will turn out.

At the very moment that I enter into com­mu­ni­ca­tion with her, the pain due to my hea­dache decreases signi­fi­cant­ly. While explai­ning the situa­tion to her, I know from the reac­tion in my body to our simple phone contact that she has an idea of what is going on. She knows what is hap­pe­ning because her Being direct­ly appre­hends the rea­li­ty of mine.

                    

A strange coincidence

I also know that, as wis­dom and dis­cern­ment dic­tate, she will not spon­ta­neous­ly tell me what it is all about. She always pre­fers to have people in front of her to check what she feels. But we’re not there yet : I just cal­led her to get her opi­nion. I don’t think my condi­tion requires her to come, she may not even be in Paris. And she must have more essen­tial things to do any­way.

So I conti­nue quiet­ly with my inven­to­ry of the situa­tion, and tell her that we are on our way to St. Theresa’s Hospital [7]. While not rea­li­zing at all that the said hos­pi­tal is on the same street as her consul­ting Cabinet, 200 meters fur­ther. It’s 8:30 at night, she’s still here and she offers to come see me in the ER. That’s when I remem­ber this sen­tence she once said to me : « I am where I am nee­ded. » Of course I say yes. Of course I tell myself – I don’t believe in chance – that it’s a very strange coin­ci­dence that I go near her home and soon in her com­pa­ny. And of course I’m thin­king that the situa­tion must real­ly be worse than I rea­lize.

I’m han­ging up, the hea­da­che’s coming back. And always, somew­here, that real cer­ti­tude that « no mat­ter what hap­pens, it’s going to be okay ».

                 

A tailored intervention

meningeal-hemorrhageWe’re in the E.R. I’m sit­ting on a gur­ney. At 10:30 p.m., I still haven’t moved, I haven’t seen any doc­tor, nor Madeleine for that mat­ter. I send her a SMS about the situa­tion and tell her that the pain is still unbea­rable. She imme­dia­te­ly ans­wers me : « I am close to you and try to calm your pain ». Having alrea­dy expe­rien­ced this, a real bodi­ly relief mani­fes­ted itself when I soli­ci­ted her without her being phy­si­cal­ly by my side. I won­der what that pain would be like without her help. At that time, I don’t know that « this pain » is cau­sed by the recur­rence of the blee­ding, so it’s bet­ter I feel it with some inten­si­ty, other­wise I risk mis­lea­ding the doc­tor on his diag­no­sis. Nevertheless, I am wai­ting in confi­dence. If she’s not here yet, she has good rea­son.

At 11:00 no one’s come to take care of me yet. She has just arri­ved. Even though I wai­ted for her with impa­tience and relief, when I see her coming towards me, the anxie­ty is overw­hel­ming : if she is there, it’s because the hour is real­ly serious.

                  

A small weld…

presence

Looking back, one of the most beau­ti­ful things I expe­rien­ced that night was to rea­lize that the Presence I tou­ched inside me was lite­ral­ly and almost ins­tant­ly reflec­ted out­side. Madeleine real­ly embo­died for me that « some­thing infi­ni­te­ly more power­ful [that] takes over”.

That eve­ning, she walks towards me, takes my hand, with that look I know her so well, the one that scans. I’m asking her if she thinks it’s serious. She replied by gent­ly pas­sing her other hand over my head at the site of the blee­ding : « We have to make a small weld. We’re going to do a small weld, and eve­ry­thing will be alright. » No mat­ter how hard I think, I have no idea what that ans­wer means

11:10 pm — A doc­tor final­ly comes to take care of me. I tell him what hap­pe­ned and esti­mate my pain at 7/10. I pass a scan­ner and an intern comes in and tells me the result : menin­geal hemor­rhage. At the time she tells me, this diag­no­sis doesn’t mean much to me, and cer­tain­ly not stroke. In front of my pro­ba­bly inter­ro­ga­tive air, she tries a more down-to-earth expla­na­tion : « There was a small bleed in the head and we’ll have to inter­vene to ‘repair’ the dama­ged ves­sel… « Ah, okay, they have to do a small weld » I said to myself…

                     

…and two scanners

1:00 am — Five hours after the blee­ding star­ted, so we just have a scan­ner. I mean, the medi­cal team has a scan­ner, I have two ! The second confirms Madeleine’s. 

I have no memo­ry of my trans­fer to the second hos­pi­tal except that James fol­lo­wed the ambu­lance in a taxi. I don’t even know that Madeleine stayed with him. She won’t leave until around 3:00 am, and he won’t leave the hos­pi­tal until around 4:30 am, because I’m asking him to go home.

I only remem­ber the neu­ro­sur­geon from the second hos­pi­tal. That man ins­pi­red me confi­dence. He calm­ly explai­ned to me what he was going to do, before star­ting the gene­ral anes­the­sia. I also remem­ber the nurse who was there when I woke up. She told me that it is « very rare » for a bleed of this nature – i.e., recur­rent – to stop spon­ta­neous­ly.

                 

Warning signs of meningeal hemorrhage …

Vessel blee­ding can occur in seve­ral stages, during which it will stop spon­ta­neous­ly. As far as I’m concer­ned, the first step pro­ba­bly hap­pe­ned 48 hours before. On December 17, I felt an unu­sual hea­dache. It wasn’t very intense, but it went down to the right sinus and didn’t look like a usual hea­dache to me in that sense. I didn’t wor­ry, I just took para­ce­ta­mol and the pain went away.

In fact, this hea­dache was cer­tain­ly a sen­ti­nel hea­dache, i.e. a brief blee­ding from the cra­cked aneu­rysm, heral­ding a more or less immi­nent rup­ture. The same thing hap­pe­ned again, with much more inten­si­ty, on December 19 at 8:00 pm. In other words, the aneu­rysm was not com­ple­te­ly rup­tu­red and there was still time to take action to limit the damage. But a recur­rence, this time per­ma­nent­ly dama­ging the aneu­rysm, occur­red later that eve­ning. By the time I was exa­mi­ned, the blee­ding was beco­ming too severe to stop natu­ral­ly this time.

                  

Another reading of events

Hearing the nur­se’s words, I rea­li­zed that if eve­ry­thing see­med to go rela­ti­ve­ly easi­ly given the urgen­cy of the situa­tion, it was because the blee­ding that was not sup­po­sed to stop… had actual­ly stop­ped. Or that someone or some­thing made it stop

heartbeatI remem­ber the day when Madeleine said to me : « That’s it, I figu­red out how to stop my heart bea­tings ».  I think three things went through my mind at that point : first­ly, I didn’t know it was pos­sible. Secondly, I have no idea how to do it (and I’m not sure I want to know). And third­ly, even though it is com­ple­te­ly beyond my men­tal, I have lear­ned and expe­rien­ced so many « irra­tio­nal » things with her that I know it is true beyond a sha­dow of a doubt. I would add that this is the kind of chal­lenge I’m loo­king for any­way : to go beyond the men­tal and its struc­ture.

At this point, if you wish to conti­nue your explo­ra­tion of conscious­ness, three paths are pos­sible. You can read :

              

                

                  



Notes and references


[1] TOLLE Eckhart, Le pou­voir du moment pré­sent, Québec : Ariane Editions, 2000, p.31, free trans­la­tion
[2] Ibid., p.40, free trans­la­tion
[3] See the web­site of the French Society of Neurosurgery.
[4] The first name has been chan­ged.
[5] TOLLE Eckhart, Le pou­voir du moment pré­sent, op.cit., p.34, free trans­la­tion
[6] Ibid., p.40, free trans­la­tion
[7] The name of the hos­pi­tal has been chan­ged.

         




 

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