January 22, 2013 - Reported at nbcchicago.com. Printer friendly version here. In 1988, Steve Fanning died. Yet, he is alive to tell his story. He was on a business trip to London, when a severe asthma attack landed him in the hospital. Fanning slipped into a coma for two weeks. During that time, Fanning believes he had a near death experience.
It’s been 24 years since it happened, and the former college professor says he has seen the world very differently since. Fanning believes “time is a fiction” because there were no such measures in the blue green world in which he found himself. He recalls a powerful spirit standing to his right and he says that’s when a really awful thing happened. He began to experience many of the key events of his life, especially the conflicts, all over again.
Fanning says he experienced the events not only through his own eyes, but through the eyes of another person and someone he describes as a higher being, with all three perspectives unfolding at the same time. “It wasn’t like watching it on a television, or in a movie. It was actually being there again, and re-experiencing it, feeling everything that I was feeling… and thinking at the time. But simultaneously experiencing it from two other points of view,” explained Fanning.
Fanning and others who’ve described near death experiences call this a life review. It left him with a horrible sense of self judgment as he saw how “I was buying into my own lies” about how well he believed he had lived his life, and how right he had been.
“I felt like a failure as a human being,” Fanning said. The spirit accompanying him offered cold comfort, communicating the message that “it’s alright, that’s what humans do. Humans tell themselves lies and believe them and don’t think of other people,” he explained.
When he emerged from the two week coma, Fanning was in severe pain both physically and emotionally. He was paralyzed and in agony over the way he felt about himself after the near death experience. But his recovery, while slow, amazed neurologists in London and Chicago. Focusing all his strength on rehab, he also drew on what happened during his coma for emotional support. He said despite the self judgment, his strength came from knowing there’s a higher power out there.
Fanning went from being a quadriplegic who could only move his right shoulder, to walking out of the hospital. Now, he says he frequently thinks about his brush with death, and it’s a constant reminder to be kinder and more understanding. “I don’t think a day goes by when I don’t think about it. It’s the bedrock of my life, of trying to keep in mind the lessons I’ve learned and how I want to be.”