Here is his account of his close call with death. If he didn't have health insurance, he could have been saddled with medical bills of several hundred thousand dollars.
About Those Rumors
by Edgar J. Steele
January 15, 2010
"The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated."
--- Mark Twain
Life is funny. Death isn't. Trust me on this one. I died on November 21, 2009. Ironically, just two weeks prior to my death I sent a message out to this list that said, in discussing my sabbatical from any sort of public speaking or appearance during the latter part of the year: "It actually has grown kind of fun to watch the speculation over whether or not I died this summer." It seemed amusing at the time. Little did I know.
On November 21 I was sitting in my study, reading, when I felt a little "pop" in my chest. I sat there for 15 minutes, fearing that I would pass out if I dared try to stand. Finally, I staggered to my feet, got help and rushed to the local hospital emergency room, where I was quickly diagnosed with a condition serious enough to justify being "choppered" to the nearest cardiac specialty hospital unit. In fact, they told me that I very likely would not live long enough to get there. Fortunately, there just happened to be a helicopter parked on the roof at that very time.
The surgeon's team met me in the elevator at the receiving facility and began work then and there, so far gone was I. My blood pressure had gone to zero - technically, I was dead. Nip and tuck, as they say, but somehow they managed to snatch me back. "Seconds," the surgeon later told me, was all that then separated me from eternity. I spent several hours on a heart-lung machine that day, then 9 days unconscious and on a respirator, then another two weeks in the ICU, barely able to move. It has been a long, slow, painful journey back.
Turns out that the 15 minutes I spent sitting at my desk when this first occurred likely saved my life. My surgeon remarked upon the extensive clotting at the point of rupture that served to direct the blood for a time, clotting that would not have occurred had I been moving around immediately.
I didn't have a heart attack, but what is called an "ascending aortic aneurism." The main artery, the aorta, blew out just where it exited my heart, kind of like a garden hose suddenly failing right at the faucet. The surgeon replaced a large section, together with the main heart valve, and has pronounced me "good as new." The odds of my survival were very, very slim - on the order of 3 or 4 per cent. No explanation as to why this happened. Some things just happen.
It wasn't my time, apparently. All my life, I have known that something important is coming - something I just have to live to see. It hasn't happened yet. I had a very significant dream about this when I was 4 years old. Big things are coming. I've told you this repeatedly.
So I have a good excuse for having been silent all this time, folks. Thank you for the inquiries and the kind words expressing support. Will I be back? Yes, eventually. Will I be just as acerbic? Probably worse. Familiarity breeds contempt. After I beat prostate cancer 12 years ago, I became very unimpressed with the disease when others contracted it.
Now that I have visited the land of the dead (sorry - no touchy-feely "near-death" experiences for me, not a one), I find that I am unimpressed with a good deal of the suffering that takes place in the world. Let me illustrate my lack of sensitivity for you: Have you noticed the similarity between the aftermaths of the Katrina hurricane and the Haiti earthquake? TV films show hordes of Blacks just standing around or looting and hurting each other, doing nothing except complaining about the lack of aid forthcoming from the rest of us. They could be cleaning up, digging out bodies, burying their dead, helping each other, just as seen in similar disasters at other times and in other places. But, no. Ask yourself why. Read my book for a detailed explanation.
Yes, I will be back eventually.