Stephanie Arnold’s 37 Seconds: NDE author tells the story of her fatal AFE
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Stephanie Arnold’s 37 Seconds: NDE author tells the story of her fatal AFE

[SIDE CONVERSATION] TERRI OWENS: Hello. Good afternoon, and welcome to
the Divinity School’s Wednesday Community Lunch. I am Terri Owens, and
we have students here. So welcome to those
of you who are visiting, to hear our
best speaker today, Stephanie Arnold. Taryn Wong is not
feeling well, so let’s send good thoughts her way. Otherwise, she would be here. She asked me to step in
and host in her stead. First, we always want to thank
our illustrious Wednesday Lunch crew for another delicious meal. [APPLAUSE] Stephanie, who was
the chef today? STEPHANIE ARNOLD: It’s
Rachel, but she’s in class. TERRI OWENS: OK,
Rachel Inocencio, yay. [APPLAUSE] This meal is always
prepared from scratch right here in our own kitchens. And you get everything for
$5, which is an amazing thing. Don’t forget to sign up, sending
an email to [email protected]gmail if you want to attend
future Wednesday Lunches, just so that we are sure that
we have enough food for you. Any community announcements? Yes. DANIELLE: Hi. I’m Danielle. I’m a third year MA
here in Divinity School, and I’m the co-coordinator
for the 101s. We have a 101 tonight at 7:00
PM in the Divinity Disciple’s House, which is on 57th Street. And it is going to be
a Buddhist Philosophy 101 by Mark Siderits,
who was actually a PR speaker from last night. So it’s no prior
knowledge required. We’re going to have snacks. We’ll have drinks,
and we’re going to get into some
Buddhist philosophy in a very elementary way. [LAUGHTER] Do attend. Do let me know if you’re
interested in hearing our other ones. TERRI OWENS: Great. Any other announcements? Yes. SPEAKER 1: Hi. The Craft of Teaching is
posting the Dean’s Seminar on Friday, next week. The RSVP is due on
Monday, this coming week. So it’s from 12:00 to
2:00, and the guest speaker is Mark Wallace. And he’s going to be talking
about the relationships between pedagogy and
institutional citizenship. So hope to see you there. JAN MARIE PAULSEN: Hi. I’m Jan Marie Paulsen. I’m the coordinator for
Open Space this year. It’s Tuesday, Open Space
in Bond Chapel at noon, a time for reflection and
community and coffee and tea as well. Our speaker will be
Nora [INAUDIBLE], a third year MDiv, speaking on
the quarter’s theme of “What do you plan to do with your
one wild and precious life?” TERRI OWENS: That’s
an awesome theme. Great to see how people
will answer that. Yes. It’s that fascinating, right? Any other announcements? [INAUDIBLE] Well, if nothing else
is needed to be said, I am so pleased to
introduce our speaker for today, Stephanie Arnold. Stephanie has a really
interesting and compelling story. And she contacted me by phone,
I think last spring, maybe? And she has written a
book called 37 Seconds. It is the story of her
basically dying for 37 seconds. But not even so much– we hear
a lot of near-death stories, but Stephanie had visions
about her own death. And she’ll get into much
more detail about that. There’s a movie in the
works about this story. And she’s trying to engage
communities like ours who are interested in dealing
with the big questions of the human phenomena
known as religion. And she was really eager
to have a conversation here at the Divinity School with us. And as you know, we have
all kinds of speakers here at Wednesday Lunch. So I think this is
a perfect place, and Taryn was able to
schedule her in this quarter. Her husband Jonathan
is an alumnus of the Booth School of Business,
although it wasn’t the Booth School when you were here. JONATHAN ARNOLD: No. It was the Graduate
School of Business. So you’re all in
the family here. And we’re just very
glad to have them. So I’m going to yield
the floor to Stephanie. Let’s welcome her. [APPLAUSE] STEPHANIE ARNOLD: Hi, everybody. Is this on? Eh. Thank you so much
for having me here. I felt like I was
stalking Terri. [LAUGHTER] I wanted to come here
not just because I wanted to be– to tell my husband
that, hey, I’m going to get to speak at your alma mater. But it’s most
certainly because I want to hear from your minds
about what the process is that I went through and
your perspective on it. Just a footnote that I
wouldn’t tell any other group that I talk to, that my
husband and I actually got married on this campus. We eloped and got
married at Bond Chapel. So walking through the
halls– and we are now married eight years– and when
I went downstairs to get coffee, I’m like, we’ve
been here before. And he said, yes, this is
where we went before we were meant to go to the chapel. I will give you– I’ll
show you a little video. I was on the Dr.
Oz Show last year. And I’ll give you
an introduction into this story from Dr. Oz’s
package, because I think he did a really nice job with it. And then I’ll fill
in the blanks, but just to start there,
if that’s all right. OK. OK, see it? All right. [LAUGHTER] Yeah, [INAUDIBLE]. Bill? Let’s see, where did IT go? OK, sorry. [VIDEO PLAYBACK] – I was pregnant with my second
child, and we were so excited. And at the 20-week ultrasound, I
was diagnosed with the placenta previa, which means
that the placenta is growing on top of the cervix. – The radiologist
made it sound like it was a relatively
benign issue, at least at that stage in pregnancy,
but my wife’s reaction was decidedly different. – I told my husband, I’ve
got a bad feeling about this. I’m O negative, so less
than 7% of the population has this blood type. There was this overwhelming
fear that I couldn’t shake. When I got home, I
had my first vision of what was going
to happen to me. It was almost like a filmstrip. I saw me delivering Jacob,
everything being fine with him. And then I would see the
doctors slicing me open, blood hemorrhaging. And ultimately, I saw me
die on the operating table. I was convinced
that I was not going to make it past this delivery. Everybody thought I was crazy. – I did hope that it was nerves
and hormones, but it wasn’t. – I was seeing things, and I
was feeling them physically, and calling my husband or my
doctors and saying, I feel it. This is going to happen. Every test that I went into
that I was having visions about came back
negative– everything. There was nobody
left to speak to. And my doctor suggested
I have a consultation with the anesthesia and
told her one last time, this is what I was afraid
was going to happen. And with that
consultation, she flagged my file and
incorporated extra blood in the operating room
at the time of delivery. Brain A week shy of my
scheduled C-section, I looked down at the floor
and blood was everywhere. – When Stephanie
got to the hospital, she was concerned that
something horrible was going to happen to
her during her delivery. – I was 100% positive my
visions were going to come true. We began to make our way
to the operating room. My body went ice cold. I told my doctor,
there’s something wrong. – Right after delivery,
Stephanie had seizure-like activity. – We were calling out her
name, and then we noticed that she had no heartbeat– – –and flatlined
for 37 seconds. [FLATLINE BEEP] – Stephanie suffered an
extremely rare complication of pregnancy. It’s known as an
amniotic fluid embolism, and that causes a
series of events that leads to a very
significant allergic reaction, catastrophic hemorrhage. She lost the ability
to clot her blood. In order to keep
Stephanie alive, during the first 24
hours, she was transfused over 60 blood products. – As a result of
that phone call, we had a crash cart nearby and
enough blood reserved for her. I do believe that that
saved Stephanie’s life. [END PLAYBACK] STEPHANIE ARNOLD: OK. It’s still hard to watch. So as you can see,
I’m put back together. [LAUGHTER] And let me just state
that I had many visions, and I’ll go into much
more detail there. The baby is fine. He’s three years old now. He’s in perfect health,
and a five-year-old who is driving me crazy. So I was diagnosed with
this placenta previa, right? So it’s a– it’s
when placenta is growing on top of the cervix. You can’t deliver naturally. Ultimately, you might
have to have a C-section. But I’d had a baby before. I’d had a C-section before. This wasn’t– I
wasn’t afraid of that. That wasn’t an issue. I am O negative, which is
a very rare blood type. And when the radiologist
came in, I was splitting our time between New York and
Chicago, the radiologist said, it’s not a big deal. It’s 1 in 200 cases
that women have placenta previa– no big deal. And I felt a little off. From that moment
on, I went home. I googled what
placenta previa was. My husband, who– and
again, I can tell this crowd that you understand it–
the PhD, University of Chicago, analytical. The very analytical mind
that he is, said, let’s not rush to conclusions. It’s a 1 in 200 risk. So you have this, but the risk
of anything else happening is very low, low
probability, right? So that did not make me
feel better, by the way. [LAUGHTER] So here it is, I’m saying,
I’m having visions. I am walking my daughter
in a stroller in New York, and it’s winter. It’s February. And I even noticed the
fountain, in fact, at the park, and I’m like, oh, it’s so
beautiful in the spring when the water is flowing. All of a sudden, that water,
in my mind, turned to blood. And it started hemorrhaging,
and I felt it in my body. I felt myself actually
hemorrhage blood. And I called my husband. I said, I’ll meet
you at the hospital. I think we just lost the baby. We get to the hospital,
get to the ER, get triage. Everything’s fine. So those things started
happening on a daily basis. But they happened
during the day. They happened at night. I’d be walking in
the grocery story. Every Friday night,
we make challah and I was grabbing the
flour for the bread. And I have a vision, and
I’m seeing me sliced open on the operating table, dead. And it was– the
feeling was so real that I felt somebody
was screaming in my ear that I needed to pay attention. So with every
vision I’d have, I’d end up going to
the emergency room. I’d go to the hospital. I split my time between
Chicago and New York. So when I was in Chicago,
I would have ultrasounds. I would have– I actually
gave a friend of ours that was at University of Chicago,
and he was a Gyn Onc. He was a Gyn Onc Fellow. And I said, I am
going to hemorrhage. These organs are
going to combine. My placenta and my uterus
are going to combine. I’m going to need
a hysterectomy. And the baby is going to be
fine, and I’m going to die. And he would he be
like, Stephanie, I think you need to relax. You need to de-stress. My husband was– my husband is a
former Air Force pilot as well, so he was not in crisis mode. He was like, everything’s fine. The test results are negative. All the doctors are telling
you everything is fine. I said, I understand
what everybody is saying, but I feel this is
going to happen. So our friend who’s
Gyn Onc said, so what I do if I need a hysterectomy. and I give birth? And he says, first of all,
it’s not going to happen. But if it does happen, you
really want Gyn Onc to do it. Why? Well, because your
obstetrician, your OB-GYN will, if there’s an emergency
in the operating room– and I might be talking too
much to the men in this room, that you’re like,
I didn’t really want to know all
of these details. But when you give birth
and there’s an emergency, they call in Maternal Fetal
Medicine to do the procedure. Maternal Fetal Medicine does
not have as much experience with the emergency of
a reproductive organ. Especially when you’re
having so much blood going to this region, you’d
rather want Gyn Onc to do it, because they have more
surgical experience with this. So trying to get an appointment
with the head of Gyn Onc over at Northwestern when you
are seven months pregnant, you do not have
reproductive organ cancer, and you are telling
them you think you’re going to need a
hysterectomy, you sound loony. So eventually, we got the
appointment, and my husband and I are sitting– and
God bless my husband, because he went with me to
every single appointment. I don’t know whether he
was afraid of divorce, or he was afraid
of something else. But he actually
supported me in that way. So we are in the waiting room. There are women
that are suffering from all types of cancer
with IVs in their arms. They’re struggling. And I ma a healthy, for all
intents and purposes, just a healthy pregnant
woman sitting in there. And when we go into Gyn
Onc’s office waiting room, he’s like, how can I help
you, with the resident. How can I help you? I’m like, I may
need a hysterectomy. I’m just letting you know. I got very mafia-like. I see you. You see me. I’m your patient. You’re my doctor. And he’s like, have you
been on the internet? And I’m like, yes, but
this is going to happen. So everybody again. He’s like, so if you
know what’s happening, why don’t you get an MRI? If the MRI proves that
these organs have combined, then I will book myself the
day of your mandatory C-section at 37 weeks. And we’ll just do a
hysterectomy there under a controlled environment. And I felt better, because
now all of a sudden, I had a homework
assignment to do. I felt there was some sort
of psychological response to something physiologically
happening in my body. And I was like, all
right, this is the guy. This is the guru. I have found my answer. So I go to have the MRI,
and the MRI is negative. And so my husband says,
you should feel better. And I said, I feel worse. I said, because no I’m
running out of people to tell this crazy foreboding story to. Who’s going to believe me? All the tests are negative. So what does one do when
you’re in that position? Well, in my case, I
post it on Facebook. If anybody has my blood
type, I’m going to need it. I wrote goodbye letters. I sent out goodbye letters. If you saw me on
the street getting coffee or something like that,
and you said, oh, [INAUDIBLE], oh, how’s the pregnancy going? I would say to you,
I’m going to die. Startling people left and right,
but I was hoping and praying that maybe somebody
out there would have heard something as
crazy as this and said, I’ve had that feeling before. But nobody did. So I felt very alone. And at one point,
my gynecologist, whether she felt that she
was more my psychologist than my gynecologist,
said, why don’t you have a consultation with anesthesia? And I said, I did have a
consultation with anesthesia before. Can you hear me? Is that all right? OK. And she said, yes, but
maybe by you understanding what’s going to happen with
anesthesia, then maybe that’ll just calm you down. So I call on the
phone, and I have a phone consult.
Anesthesia answers, and she explains
what will happen when you get the epidural, and
what happens during delivery, and where you recover. And I held my breath for
a moment, and I said, I know all this. I said, now, what happens
if this, this, this, and this happens? And she held her breath, and she
answered however she answered. And then I said, you know
what, it is what it is. There’s no other option. If any one of you in this
room have a crazy foreboding feeling, and you’re about
to have elective surgery, you just don’t do it. But this baby was coming
out no matter what, so I have no choice. And 36 weeks to the day– God
works in mysterious ways– my husband was not there. He was in New York at the
time I was in Chicago. And I start bleeding all
over the kitchen floor, like the video said. I get to the hospital. My daughter is there,
who’s a year and a half. My nanny is there, and we
are– everything’s quiet. My husband is on a plane. We’re Skype chatting. And when you– I
know that this is going to be the last
time that I speak to him, and I really don’t
want to be texting. And what do you say to the
love of your life, the person that you’ve created
this world with? What do you say to your
daughter who’s growing, that you know is not
going to remember you, because she’s a year and a half. So I do my best. I tell Jonathan,
thank you for making me the happiest woman in the
world, for loving me this way, please love this child
with everything you have. Love your children as you
do, and know that I love you. And then he still wasn’t
giving into anything. He later tells me he didn’t
want to give any of my thoughts negative thoughts. So he just blotted it out,
compartmentalized it however he did. And he’s like,
where do I get you? And I’m like, eight floor
recovery– hopefully. I kiss my daughter
a million times. And she is– and the
doctor is like, we’re going to be back with
your brother soon. And I held back the tears,
and the maternal instinct kicks in, because
I want my daughter to remember me as strong
and happy and loving. As for me, the
gurney takes me out down to the operating floor. I break down in
tears, because I’m convinced it’s the last
time I will see her. So I go into the operating
room, and they’re preparing me. And I tell my doctor,
there is something wrong. You need to put me under
general anesthesia. My doctor’s like,
I think you’re just nervous Jonathan’s not here. And at that point, there’s
no going anywhere, right? You’re under these lights. This is D-Day. This is delivery day. This is entering the room that’s
going to give life to my son and take mine. So everything is prepared. I just go silent. Jacob is born healthy, happy. And three seconds
later, I’m dead. So what happened? I ended up like the video said. I had an amniotic
fluid embolism. It’s a very rare 1 in 40,000
risk where amniotic cells get into the mother’s bloodstream. And if you happen to
be allergic to it, your body goes into somewhat
of an anaphylactic shock. And in most cases,
women don’t make it. There’s a nurse here in the
room that’s actually had, in her 20-year career as an
obstetric nurse, has had two. One did not make it. The majority don’t make it. And the ones that do
survive, don’t survive well. The first phase of an
AFE is cardiac arrest, lungs shutting down. My body went into just a
complete seizure and shock. And then the second
phase starts, which is an anesthesiologist’s
worst nightmare. It’s called DIC. And it’s Disseminated–
how is it? Disseminated– SPEAKER 2: Intravascular STEPHANIE ARNOLD:
Intravascular Coagulate– SPEAKER 2: Coag–
yeah, Coagulation. STEPHANIE ARNOLD: Thank you. [LAUGHTER] And so– memory isn’t right. What it is, it’s a bad thing. [LAUGHTER] So some anesthesiologists,
I’ve heard, have nicknamed it
“Death is coming.” Your normal body has
about 20 units of blood. I was given 60 units of
blood and blood product. That one phone call
I made two weeks before I delivered, to
that anesthesiologist, she later told me
something in my voice, when I was telling
her that story, she said, she had never had
a patient speak so clearly before about what
was going to happen. I’d had a baby before. I’d had a C-section before. I had sought out specialists
to help save her life with that one phone call. Out of everybody I
spoke to, she flagged my file and
incorporated extra blood and a crash cart in
the operating room. That is one purpose
on why I’m alive. I also found out later that
she’s a very spiritual doctor. She does not rely solely
on the tests and the data. She relies on a feeling,
that intuitive feeling that I guess I had and she had. And the day that I
went in for delivery, she actually– that flag
came up, and she was on call. She was in the operating
room at the time. She didn’t need to be there,
because there was an attending anesthesiologist there. She goes to the anesthesiologist
right before I deliver, and she said, I’ve
got a bad feeling. So all of this happens. Jonathan shows up. I am– my kidneys
failed, lungs collapsed. Everything was in
total disarray. And then they stabilized me,
and they put me into ICU. I can’t even imagine what
my husband was feeling while he’s watching
me on life support and seeing everything happen. And as he is processing
this, the anesthesiologist comes out and explains to
him what happened to me, and something hit him. He doesn’t say that it came
from a spiritual place, but I say it does. [LAUGHTER] But he said, in the middle
of the conversation, apropos of nothing, he says,
if she needs a hysterectomy, this is the doctor we met with. The anesthesiologist said, she
won’t survive another surgery right now. And I think we’ve got
the blood stabilized. So we’re going to
move her to ICU, and let’s see what
happens overnight. Everything is calm in
the operating room. All right, everything
is calm in the ICU. And about seven hours later, all
the bells and whistles go off. They rush into the room
to take me, and they say, she’s still hemorrhaging. She needs a hysterectomy. We called the doctor she
met with two months before. And he’s scrubbing in to
perform the hysterectomy. When they did the hysterectomy
and they did the pathology on the uterus, they saw that
those organs had combined. It was just a microscopic
hole that was created, and it was undetectable
over the MRI. So I had this conversation
with my husband. And interestingly enough,
this week, we just discussed the science
spiritual aspect. And I said, what part of the
story is really hard for you to grasp? Because I’m very much
interested in every single mind in this room and how
you’re processing this. So I look at the
intuitive side and the– I don’t have another word for
it, other than intuition. I believe in the sixth sense. I believe that it exists. There are so many examples you
can have with maternal instinct and gut instinct. However, any doctor could
say, well, the premonitions are interesting, because
people can have a heart attack, and they can have a sense of
foreboding before the heart attack, right? There’s something happening in
the body, and you can feel it. Now could they,
three months before, detect that this, this,
this, like all six of the premonitions I
was having would happen exactly the way I was saying? I don’t think so, but maybe
science can explain it. What my husband and others
like him have problems with is this next part of the story. So I go through a recovery. I’m in a medically
induced coma for six days. When I come out of the
coma, aside from saying, I told you all so– [LAUGHTER] –I had a hard time. And everybody is like, OK,
through recovery, dialysis, everything that I was going
through, I kept asking people, how is it that I saw
everything three months before it happened? And I went from therapist
to therapist to doctor. My medical team practices
medicine differently since this case. But I will explain a
little bit more about that now, which I am
completely grateful for. So through this process, I go
from therapist to therapist and I say, I need to
know how it is I saw it. And they’re like, let’s not
worry about that right now. Let’s just worry about
getting you out of the trauma. And I said, see,
I can’t do that, because what happens if I
have another premonition? What’s going to happen then? Am I going to freeze? And what– I’m not
going to you anymore. [LAUGHTER] So ultimately, I had a friend
of mine recommend regression therapy. And I don’t know if any of you
are familiar with regression therapy. But what regression
therapy does is it uses hypnotherapy
to take you back into the moments of trauma. And using that,
what they try and do is that they give you a new
perspective on the trauma. So this already happened
to a part of you. this already
traumatized part of you. But when I take you
back, this is not going to be as traumatic,
hopefully healing you, and you move forward. And you can go
visit the hospital. And you can go connect
with your child and be a wife
again and a mother. What I didn’t expect was
what was going to happen. So I am going to show you–
OK, one thing about me is my background
was in television. So I am as cynical a
person as possible, and I always do my research. And I always want– when I
was casting shows or anything like that, I would always
at– your interview process is really intense. And you have to have your–
cross your Ts and dot your Is. You have to make sure
the person you’re talking to is not so crazy, right? Because they can do crazy
things on television. You want that, but
you don’t really. [LAUGHTER] So I videotaped my therapy. And my husband says, why would
you do something like that? I said, well, first of all, I’ve
never been hypnotized before. And I’m with a quack that’s
making me do something that I don’t– and that, in
the middle of the night, I’m going to bark like
a dog, I want to know. [LAUGHTER] So I’m going to show
you know a clip that basically broke the glass
ceiling for my therapy. It took many, many hours
to get to this point. If my husband gets
up and leaves, I’m going to give him permission
to get up and leave, because he can only watch
this for a second, because it’s quite
traumatizing for him. But I will show that to
you, and it’s up to you if you want to stay. OK. You’re going to stay? OK. JONATHAN ARNOLD: [INAUDIBLE] STEPHANIE ARNOLD:
So on the screen, you will see my
therapist on the right. Let me see. And then you will
see me on the left. And so I, surprising, my
therapy was done over Skype. Shocking that it worked, but
I think for me being in my own home and doing this
therapy– did I– SPEAKER 3: There we go. SPEAKER 4: Yeah, it’s on. STEPHANIE ARNOLD: It’s on? SPEAKER 5: Now it’s fine. STEPHANIE ARNOLD: OK. Doing this therapy over Skype, I
was a little bit more confident that I wasn’t going
to get hypnotized and that I also wasn’t
going to get hurt, that if something
was bothering me, I could shut down the computer. So I just sat back. I probably relaxed a lot more
because I was in my house. OK, so my therapist
is on the right, and this is the moment
she takes me back into the operating room. And then I discuss what I see. [VIDEO PLAYBACK] – –very quickly, and
I’m going to embrace you. And I’m going to hold onto you,
and I’m not going to let go. – [SOBBING] It came off. When my eyes rolled back in. [SOBBING] My chest is out. I stopped breathing,
and I had a seizure. And I heard that screaming,
because they said they [INAUDIBLE]. And Nicole ran to
head of the bed. [SOBBING] And they said, isn’t
she turning blue? And the EKG machine went
flat, and I was done. And my body just collapsed. And I turned and
say, hit the button. Call the code. Hit the button. Hit the button. 40 doctors and persons just
rushed in, and get the cart, and they got it up. One of the nurses that’s
very strong and big started the compressions. They later were pounding
on my chest and doing CPR. Once they heard– and Julie–
Julie was to the right, she said, this
can’t be happening. And Nicole said today
that it’s the only way they could do this. [INAUDIBLE] She
cried [INAUDIBLE]. And they’re getting
the blood ready. Bring in the cart. And the first cart they had
revved up wasn’t working, so they had to get
a second cart out. And they were
pounding on my chest. And they did the compressions
two or three times. I think it was three times. Oh, god, and then it’s been OK. [END PLAYBACK] STEPHANIE ARNOLD: OK. You can see why my husband
really can’t watch it. That was just a little
glimpse into it. I go on for a good 40 minutes,
describing what is happening in the operating room,
where the doctors were, what was happening, what
was happening down the hall, what was happening in
the nurses’ station, where he nurses’ break room,
which nurse actually gave me CPR, that the first
crash cart didn’t work. The second crash cart did. Things that wouldn’t be in
medical files and things that I wouldn’t know. And as the brain
is shutting down, hearing is the last to go, and
I absolutely give that to you. When you’re having
a C-section, there is a curtain in
front of your face. So you can’t see anything
that’s going on below your neck, right? And then when you’re
in the middle of this and they’re intubating you,
they tape your eyes shut. My husband looks at
this briefly and he says, how do you
know this is not a recalled episode
of Grey’s Anatomy? Right. So I say– after
I’m done calling him a few names– you
know, one thing I can tell you is I feel better. And the therapist
did tell me, you may never be able to prove
what you saw is real. But if you feel
better, then you’re purging the trauma
from your body. That wasn’t good enough for
me, because I have witnesses. I have doctors
that were present. I have nurses that were present. I can actually map out the back
rooms of labor and delivery, where I’m not allowed to go. And I can tell you what was
going on during that time. So my husband says, I want to
watch the doctors’ answers live when you play this video again. I said, no problem. So I gave these
tapes to my doctors. And they said, I don’t know
how you know any of this. I didn’t go to medical
school for this. but it’s accurate down to
exactly where we were standing. And I said to my
doctor, I said, did you say, this can’t be happening,
this can’t be happening? She said, I did, but in my head. So that’s the big question
mark in my husband’s head. So what happens then? And I saw many more things. I write about it in the book. I write about some instances
that happened as a child. Once I had all this
information, I was like, maybe this can help people. And so I wrote everything down. HarperCollins bought
the book rights. And the book released last year. We became a bestseller. It’s in 12 countries,
and it’s growing, and we have a move in the works. And I’m realizing,
outside of all of that, that I survived
for many reasons. But there are a couple of
key messages outside of we are not alone, because I know
every person in this room has probably felt something
a little coincidental, so to speak, that
something happened at exactly the right
time when you needed it. But you need to be
your own best advocate. If you sense something,
you need to say something. I don’t care how many
people tell you no. And I don’t care how many
doctors say, that’s impossible. That can’t happen. I talked to a lot of people,
and ultimately, one listened, and that’s why I’m alive. And the second thing
is, doctors are changing the way they practice
medicine because of it. My doctors listen to
patients differently. And that is the most
that can help– wish for through this process, that
the medical institutions listen differently, that
spirituality belongs in a place when you’re dealing
with health and wellness. And I’m just grateful that my
family could stay together. I am alive and so, so
incredibly honored to be here. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] TERRI OWENS: We do have
time for questions, about 10 minutes or so. So I know this is what Stephanie
is really anxious to do, is to interact with you. So– STEPHANIE ARNOLD: Yes. SPEAKER 6: Thank you. First, thank you to
you and your husband for sharing your story and
your experiences with us. It’s very moving. I’m curious if this was
the first time in your life that you’d experienced some
sort of sense of knowing? And it that– and
if not, I guess, how you would address or
make sense of the confidence you felt. Because
I think so often, maybe we have had those
experiences of knowing, but the confidence in telling
others and pushing forward is sometimes lacking. STEPHANIE ARNOLD:
It’s a great question. I did have feelings as a kid. But as a kid, half of
the time I was wrong. But when they were right,
they were so right. But I’d had these feelings
about other people. And I’d say that
this person is going to die in the next two
days, and then they die, and I was 10 years old. And I’m like, I am
wishing this for somebody, and I– you shut it down. So maybe the intuitive side of
me can pick up things, right? The premonitions
still keep coming, so it is not something that
has shut down just because of this experience. It continues to. And my husband listens
differently now. But the way that I
describe the premonitions versus a casual thought
is that, if the hair on the back of your
head is standing up, and if something is screaming
at you so that it’s incessant, it does not give up. You have this
overwhelming feeling like something bad
is about to happen. It doesn’t mean that
exactly what you think is going to happen. However, what is the
worst thing in the world? What’s the worst
thing in the world? I would have been wrong? So I would’ve sent the
doctors a fruit basket, and I would’ve apologized. And I would say, a crazy,
hormonal, pregnant chick here. But you know what? I’m cool. But on the off chance
you could be right, it’s not worth staying quiet
if you can save your life. You asked? SPEAKER 7: Well, that was
just a riveting story. Thank you. And I’m so touched that you
feel comfortable sharing this publicly, and
hopefully, it does a lot of good for woman and for
men who feel that they’re not being listened to by traditional
medical practitioners but understand their
bodies intimately well to have a sense that
they need something additional in their care. So I’m a sociologist, and I
love evidence-based research and lots of things like
randomized big data sets. And I also know that there’s a
lot of important study on how it is that the
history of medicine shows women, at different
times, have been demonized or categorized as witches
or as evildoers often in relationships to their
bodies in pregnancy. So now that you are
out with this story, I’m interested in how you’d
had positive but also maybe negative responses. Is there people who say this
cannot be true, or again, chalk it up to hormones. And then the second part of
this rather long question is what are some
specific ways that you see your doctors changing
their relationships to their patients? STEPHANIE ARNOLD: Excellent. This is why I can’t [INAUDIBLE]. So, as far as the negative,
the negative when people read the book, what I found is, in
a small percentage of people, they’ll either– I’m
Jewish, so they’ll be like, this is Jewish rhetoric. Or this is just kind
of shrugging off. Nothing– it’s
really been grasped. Like, say the core audience
has been the hopeful agnostic, if you will, right? So the people that are reading
the book, that feel or hear the story or share the
story are saying, well, what she saw in 37 seconds
and what she wrote about, argued about. So that’s the kind
of negative feedback I’ve been getting on it. I’m like, well, if you
want me to tell you that I rode a unicorn through
a rainbow, and everything, but I can’t prove it,
that’s all well and good. But I limited
everything in the book. And I had a scientist by my side
saying, you can’t prove this. Don’t put this in. So I limited the book to
everything that I could prove. So no, I haven’t gotten that
feedback of really anything negative in that respect. In fact, it’s been the opposite. I’d say 80 plus percentage have
grabbed hold of it and said, this is just proof that there’s
something else out there that science can’t explain. And then from– the second
part of your question was? SPEAKER 7: Yeah,
what are some ways that you do see that
medical team now responding? STEPHANIE ARNOLD: So
my anesthesiologist became an anesthesiologist
because she didn’t want to talk to patients. [LAUGHTER] Most anesthesiologists
put people to sleep. You meet your anesthesiologist
five minutes before. She said, now when a
patient has a fear, even if it’s not
warranted for anything, she’ll actually hold their hand. She will listen to them. My doctor, who has a
very good bedside manner said, I take an extra
beat if that person wants to talk a little bit
more, because had I known that anesthesiologist
flagged my file, which I did not, but
had I known at the time that she flagged
my file, I probably would have relaxed
slightly more than I– I was all tensed up
prior to going in. Because I would
have felt that they were prepared in the event
of a worst case scenario. And so now they
listen differently, at least the doctors that
I’ve been encountering. Yes. SPEAKER 8: First, thank
you for presenting this. I’ve got a comment
and a question. So as I was listening to this,
I was reflecting on myself/ And I’m a thoroughgoing
rationalist, naturalist, kind of skeptical of
anything supernatural at all. And part of my own
engagement with religion, as a practitioner and
otherwise, is figuring out how to reconcile my intellectual
rejection of supernaturalism with a very tangible experience
that I had, similarly, around a car accident and
the death of my father, and a premonition that I
had, me being able to survive to the last second. It’s a very similar
but different story in a different context that I
have yet to process that fully. And so I’m really interested
in the regression therapy that you’ve talked about. But I’m interested in how
you’ve experienced people who do have a scientific
rationalistic mind, who aren’t necessarily just
given to conversation about the supernatural or
things happening outside of scientific reason, how
they’ve responded to this. And then related to
that, in your engagement with the whole
regression therapy, how have you found
public acceptance of that type of therapy
shifting or changing as you’ve engaged people? STEPHANIE ARNOLD: Well, I’ll
take the regression therapy first. So the regression
therapy is definitely considered parapsychology. It’s not as widely accepted. And my therapist had done work
doing past life regressions. She’s like, oh, you want
me to send a past life? I’m like, I’m not interested in
that, because I can’t prove it. If I was a prostitute
in a past life, or I was whatever, I
mean, how can I prove it? So that was not what
I was interested in. I was interested in the six
days that I lost of my life. And I wanted to be
part of the society. And what was everybody doing? So the proof is in that
I was able to recount– and I talk about it a lot– of
what happened in those days. And there’s no way
I could have known what was happening
outside of the hospital, and what people were wearing,
and what they were doing during that time, down
to such little details and the people
that I saw and what was surrounding without some
other explanation, right? I couldn’t get up and walk, so
it wasn’t like I [INAUDIBLE] to do it. So it’s becoming more and more
accepted, because the proof is extremely well-documented. And then the doctors are there
backing me up as a witness. And my husband is backing
me up as all of that. I think my husband is better
suited, if he wouldn’t mind, answering your question
regarding how scientific minds are responding to this story. And I’m not– I like playing
on the spot every now and then, but you guys are pretty good
if they go on the spots. But I think that he can
answer, because he’s been a witness to many
people coming up to me and having a conversation
from an outsider looking in and seeing where the change is. Sweetheart. SPEAKER 8: Sorry to
put you on the spot. [LAUGH] JONATHAN ARNOLD: Sure. I mean, I can’t speak
for everybody, of course. I can only speak from
my own experience, but I would describe myself
as being an agnostic. But certainly prior
to this experience, I think that people that are
true believers and people that are hardcore atheists are
making the same common mistake, if you will. And that is, they are drawing
a definitive, conclusive conclusion based on
what is fundamentally partial incomplete information. So I think that, we as
scientists, or those of us who consider ourselves part of the
hard science or social science arena need to remind ourselves
that the whole process of science is that of discovery. And you don’t want to
prejudge a conclusion. You don’t want to preach. You don’t want to exclude a
certain possibility from a set of possible outcomes. Nor do you want to
necessarily include a possible state of affairs into
what the possible outcomes are in a particular social science
experiment, if you will. So I think that actually
is fundamentally connected with the principles
of the University of Chicago and our overall approach
to analysis and research. So I would urge everybody
to keep an open mind, whether you’re predisposed
toward the existence of God, or against the existence
of God, or just the existence of
some additional sense that we haven’t yet discovered
using the scientific method. And that there are
just incomplete data sets that we’re
trying to fill in. That’s what we’re
all trying to do whether we believe in
the existence of God or the opposite. So for me, the
regression experience, I’m seeing the reactions by
the doctors and the nurses from what my wife
saw, particularly during her regression therapy. For me, that is a
“problem,” quote. unquote, if your prior is that
God doesn’t exist, and there’s no additional
sense or dimension to life. I think it actually
supports the view that there is this additional dimension. And I say that even though
when my wife was in the ICU, and I was told that there’s a
1 in 40,000 chance of having an AFE, and Northwestern
delivers 12,000 babies a year. What do I do as a PhD economist? I’m thinking to myself, well,
if there’s a 1 in 40,000 chance, and they’re delivering
12,000, what’s the probability of having
0 AFEs in a given year? What’s the probability
of having one or two? And you, and as other
people in the audience probably know that that’s a
hypergeometric distribution that’s well-defined. But ti’s very hard to calculate
when you’re using numbers like 40,000 and 12,000,
because it sort of gets to the limit of
computers, because they’re using factorials. But– [LAUGHTER] –it’s a really good way to
pass the time while your wife is on life support. [APPLAUSE] TERRI OWENS: I think we
have time for just one more? Or, let’s say a couple. It’s 1:15. If you have to leave for
class, we understand. But we’ll try [INAUDIBLE]. STEPHANIE ARNOLD: Yeah, and let
me just add to your statement, because you’ve had your own
personal experience with it, you need to open it
up a little further, because standing– towing the
line with that is not possible. It protects you
from the impossible. SPEAKER 9: Hi. Thank you for your story. I’m visiting here
to determine if I’m going to get a PhD here or not. So I’m a historian of magic and
new religious movements, so– STEPHANIE ARNOLD: An
historian of magic? SPEAKER 9: Magic. STEPHANIE ARNOLD:
That is so cool. SPEAKER 9: But it’s not
very lucrative, though. [LAUGHTER] So I’ve had to deal with a
lot of very fantastic claims. And insofar as your
story goes, it’s relatively actually
normal in comparison. Like you you’re not experiencing
[LAUGH] bleeding virgins and things like that. But what– but you
mentioned some of the things that you couldn’t include,
because you couldn’t prove it. What would be the most
supernatural claim that you did, but
you haven’t shared? STEPHANIE ARNOLD: There
were things in the book that, actually, I was
able to prove that I saw. So when I flatlined, and I
did the regression therapy, there are moments
in my therapy where you see– where I talk about
seeing hundreds of spirits. OK? So I was not– I didn’t see God. I didn’t see what
heaven looked like. It as a very warm, just
comfortable environment, like you’re in a cloud,
standing on the sand. That’s what it felt like. I didn’t look down at
feet, because I didn’t want to know exactly where I was. But there were hundreds
and hundreds of spirits. And I saw people that I knew. And that’s OK. You can make up in your head
that when– I’ve read stories about when people are
traumatized or going through a near-death experience,
they reach out to the people they love the most,
and that they’re there to support them and help them. The kicker was that there
were people I didn’t know. And there were people
that I didn’t know, including my husband’s
father, whom I never met, and my best friend’s
little brother, who was seven when
he died at the time. And there were detailed
messages that they gave me. Now I don’t– like I said, I
got the messages, and I called– the little boy said to me,
when you see my sister, tell her that I miss
how she twirled my hair. So very specific,
twirled my hair. I said, OK. What do I do with
that information? I’m like, I don’t
even know, and I don’t want to disrupt her life. And I don’t even
know what I’m seeing. And how could I
possibly be seeing this? Whatever. So I tell my friend this. I’m like, does this
mean anything to you? She dropped the phone
and started crying, and she’s like, why
would you say that? And I said, I don’t know. I don’t even know what I said. I don’t even know how I find it. I don’t even know how
I say it, whatever. And she’s like, I
used to twirl his hair every night to put him to sleep. And so, something I
didn’t know, right? My husband’s father was there. He was dressed in
a tweed jacket. It was a very specific
color, lining, and there was a
coin in his hand. And I go into great detail
about the coin in his hand. And he had passed away in 1998. I had never met him. And I go to my husband, I’m
like, I saw your father. He’s like, tell him I said hi. [LAUGHTER] I said, OK. I said, did your father
have a tweed jacket? It was yellow mustard. It had patches on the elbows. It had a green stripe in
the lapel or anything? My father never
had a tweed jacket. I said, OK, fine. So I go from family
member to family member. One family member says to me,
what is Jonathan talking about? That yellow mustardy one that
had yellow– like beige patches on the elbows, and
it had a green lapel, and it had this and that. And I said, yes. And she was going
into more details. She says, that’s
his favorite jacket. And I go to my husband. What are you talking about? That’s his favorite jacket. And he then says, well, if
you would’ve said herringbone. [LAUGHTER] So me, the idiot that I am,
I’m like, what’s herringbone? It’s like the stitch
in a tweed jacket. I’m like, I’m going to kill you. [LAUGHTER] Because you’re making me crazy. And so then I said, OK,
what about the coin? I said, it’s not a US coin. The coin is shaped misshapenly. And it’s not silver. It’s not gold, I said, and
it’s got this insignia on it. It’s not this. And I’m like, he was
twirling it in his hands. He’s like, I don’t know what
the heck you’re talking about. So I go from family member to
family member to family member. Nobody knows about the coin. I’m sitting with
his younger brother, and he’s like a [INAUDIBLE]
regression therapy guy. And he’s like, oh, she saw Dad. And so then I’m like, let
me ask you a question. I said, do you know
anything about a coin? And he’s like, what
are you talking? I said– he says, well,
I was cleaning out one of Dad’s suitcases
the other day, and behind the zipper in
the crevice of the suitcase was a coin. I said, can you describe
that coin for me, please? And it was almost
verbatim about this coin. So I look at my
husband and I say, FU. [LAUGHTER] And then I come back and I said,
I now understand the message, because what I’m given is
just like the premonitions. I’m given little video clips. and maybe that’s because my
profession was television, and they are little clips. Maybe if somebody
was into music, they’d hear it in a musical
instrument, or what have you. But for me, the
medium is television. So I see these three-second
clips, and then all of a sudden, I’m like,
I know what the message is. But I was having to
smooth it to figure it out His brother was there
the day his father died of a massive heart attack. That coin is from Croatia. So the coin signified a really
beautiful memory of the two of them together having
enjoyment and vacationing. He wants his son to remember
that moment and the fact that he couldn’t
do anything to help save his life when he was in his
care, when they were together. And I was like, all right, and
they get all pieced together. So those were the
kind of things. But I was able to follow through
and get those documented, because there’s no way
I would have known it. TERRI OWENS: I think
we’re– just one more. We’re running out of time. SPEAKER 10: I just want to
ask about regression therapy. STEPHANIE ARNOLD: Sure. SPEAKER 10: Because
most of the people I know who’ve done it have been
victims of sexual assaults, unfortunately. And it’s been very useful– TERRI OWENS: Don’t forget
to bus– excuse me. If you can you just take–
I forgot to mention this. Take your dirty dishes back to
the table and your silverware into the sink in the back, that
would be a great help to us. Thank you. SPEAKER 10: So, I
mean, for them it’s more of a meeting, like you
just mentioned, a place, or if it’s a person being
able to be in an environment where you’re not going
to experience the trauma and have a breakdown
or something. Have you been able to
talk to other people who have done regression therapy
who either notice premonitions or have some weird sight that
they didn’t realize previously until they come to therapy? STEPHANIE ARNOLD: I have not. SPEAKER 10: OK. STEPHANIE ARNOLD: I have not. I mean, I went through a not
so typical version of therapy, because typical therapy
was in the clinic. So nothing about my
story was typical. So all right, we may as well
try something totally off, avant garde in that respect. But no, I have not. TERRI OWENS: Great. Well, that’ll have to be it. Let’s thank Stephanie Arnold. That was great. [APPLAUSE] If you haven’t read
the book, I highly recommend it if you found
her talk interesting, and look for that movie.

4 thoughts on “Stephanie Arnold’s 37 Seconds: NDE author tells the story of her fatal AFE

  1. Thank you so very much for posting this video. This is evidence that we simply STILL do not have "all life's answers" regardless of the 13.8 billion years of human evolution that it has taken for us to get to where we are on this planet. There really is something else "out there" that medical science just cannot explain to us. PROGRESS TAKES TIME. I hope this story, book, video, testimonial……all of it, just encourages us all to keep searching for ANSWERS to the unexplainable mysteries of our human experience.

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