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My Descent Into Death: A Second Chance at Life
 
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My Descent Into Death: A Second Chance at Life [Format Kindle]

Howard Storm

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Extrait

1

PARIS


Paris, the City of Light. What could possibly go wrong in the heart of the civilized world? This was to be the next to last day of our art tour of Europe. Saturday morning began with a visit to Eugène Delacroix's home and studio. The studio contained Delacroix's palette, his easel, the chair he sat in, and his writing desk. Just my wife Beverly and I went to his studio because everyone else in the group wanted to sleep late, as they were getting pretty tired of being dragged around museums and galleries from morning till night. We arrived at the Delacroix Museum at nine, and just before eleven o'clock we returned to our hotel room to get our little group ready to go to the Georges Pompidou Center of Modern Art. This was to be one of the high points of the tour of Europe.

Back in the hotel room there was a feeling of nausea rising up inside me. A few times on our trip I had had indigestion and taken some over-the-counter antacid and aspirin tablets, which always alleviated the discomfort. Now I took two aspirin and washed them down with some stale Coke from the evening before and continued talking to one of the students, trying to ignore the growing discomfort in my stomach.

As I was talking to my student Monica about the day's plan, I felt as though I'd been shot. There was a searing pain in the middle of my stomach. My knees collapsed and I sank to the floor. I held my gut and screamed with pain. Something terrifying was happening inside me, and I didn't know what it was. I was surprised that there was no wound on the outside of my body. In fact, there had been no sound, and as I glanced about, there was no way a bullet could have entered the room. I looked up at the windows that opened onto the balcony. Morning sunlight was streaming through the closed glass of the balcony doors, filtered through the sheer curtains. There was no broken glass where I expected to see a bullet hole in the window, no ripped hole in the pristine curtain. There was only a wound deep inside my abdomen.

The pain was drowning me, like I was sinking into a lava pool of agony. As I thrashed about on the floor in desperate confusion, I searched feverishly for some explanation of what was happening to me. One minute I was talking with Monica about our upcoming museum visit and the next I was writhing on the floor, consumed with pain. I had collapsed at the foot of the bed but had wriggled my way into the narrow space between the wall and the bed. In terror, I struggled into a space where I would be safely wedged into a fetal position. Constricted between the bed and the wall, I struggled to control my rising panic. By screaming and groaning, I knew I was adding to my predicament and making it impossible for my wife to understand what was happening to me.

I screamed for my wife Beverly to get a doctor. She was numb with shock. I cursed at her when she didn't respond. She composed herself enough to call the hotel desk and was told that a doctor would be summoned immediately. From the floor I looked up at the full-length windows in the French doors to the balcony. Through the transparent white curtains, light was flooding into the little hotel room, and outside the sky was a brilliant cerulean blue. Somehow I felt reassured by the beauty of the day. Something was very wrong with me, but I took comfort in the fact that a doctor was on the way. This was Paris, the City of Light. I would be okay. As I waited, the pain kept getting worse. I tried to be stoic. I fought to control the gnawing terror.

In ten minutes the doctor arrived. He was slightly built and in his early thirties. I could resist only feebly as he struggled to pull me up onto the bed. He asked me what had happened as he opened the buttons of my shirt to examine my stomach. His probing fingers on my abdomen aggravated the pain. I fought against him. He said I had a perforation in my duodenum. I must go to a hospital right away.

"Will I need an operation?" I asked.

"Yes, immediately," he said. He phoned for an ambulance and then gave me a small amount of morphine by injection. The intense agony began to subside. He explained that the morphine was just enough to get me to the hospital, but wouldn't interfere with the anesthetic of the surgery that I would be having very soon.

It became possible to think more clearly. The hospital stay would be most inconvenient. Tomorrow my wife and I with the students on the tour were supposed to drive to Amsterdam for the return flight to America. But things would work out. I could manage. I always had.

The two young men who arrived with the ambulance appeared to be very pleasant. They lifted me from the bed and supported me on either side, carrying my weight on their shoulders. We went down the hall and into a tiny hotel elevator that took us down to the first floor. There was barely enough room for us in the little elevator as I was propped up between them. The elevator stopped at the first floor, one floor above the street. From there, a long, winding staircase led down to street level. The ambulance attendants found a straight-back chair from the hotel dining room and carried me down the stairs. The men were straining to keep me aloft and balanced. I teetered and tottered as they struggled to carry me. I kept murmuring, "Please don't drop me." They laid me on a gurney at the sidewalk and then slid me into the back of a little ambulance. For a moment I panicked because I was afraid we were going to leave without my wife. To my great relief, I saw Beverly climb in the front seat beside the driver. The ambulance careened wildly through the Paris streets with its distinctive siren clearing a path through heavy midday traffic. I was reminded of scenes from World War II movies by the siren's sound, wailing mournfully through the congested streets of Paris.

After an amazing ride traveling at high speed, with the little ambulance swaying dangerously around each corner, we arrived at the emergency room of a large public hospital in Paris. I was immediately met by two young female doctors who began a thorough examination. One of the doctors looked like a young Jeanne Moreau. The other was thin and pale, with the saddest eyes. The intimacy of the examination they were doing was embarrassing. After consulting the X-ray films, they told me I had a large hole in my duodenum due to unknown causes, maybe an ulcer, maybe a foreign object. I must have an operation immediately or I would die. I asked if this could be done in America and was told I wouldn't survive the trip. They assured me that this was the best and biggest hospital in Paris. They were completely convincing as to the urgency of the situation and the necessity of the surgery.

They needed to get a tube into my stomach, but failed to tell me about the procedure. A big man straddled me and began to force a large aquarium-type tube down my nose. It slammed against the back of my throat, forcing a gag reaction. The more I gagged, the harder he shoved. Through the tears filling my eyes, I saw the thin doctor with the sad compassionate eyes make swallowing gestures with her hands, and I swallowed as hard as I could and the tube slid down.

I was still feeling the pain, but the morphine had taken the madness out of the terror. It was manageable now. As part of my effort to stay in control, I forced some weak laughter and made lame attempts at jokes. I was scared. I told my dear Beverly it would be okay. The doctors talked about a hospital stay of three or four weeks. Then there would be a couple of months of recovery at home.

Following the examination in the emergency department, I was taken by gurney out of the emergency building and rushed several blocks to the hospital building where the surgery would be performed. Every time the wheels banged against an imperfection in the concrete sidewalk, pain shot through my stomach, but I was comforted by the beauty of the surroundings. It was noon, the sun was shining, and it was the first day of June in the beautiful city of Paris, France. What could possibly go wrong?

We rode by elevator to a double room on the upper floor to await the operation. My roommate was a handsome elderly gentleman by the name of Monsieur Fleurin. He spoke English and was in his late sixties. His wife was visiting him. Her father had been an American who had come to France as a soldier during World War I and stayed. Her English was excellent. She immediately tried to reassure me and comfort my frightened wife. Madame and Monsieur Fleurin were exceedingly handsome people and gracious to us frightened foreigners.

It was about noon and, after a flurry of activity, everything became calm. The bed I was given had no pillow, so Beverly made a roll of sheets to support my head. This was the beginning of the wait for the surgery, and the acute pain was gradually increasing. Jolts of stabbing, throbbing pain spread out into my torso. They took my breath away. The doctors told me to lie as still as possible, so as not to provoke the leaking hydrochloric acid and other juices that were digesting my insides.

At that time, what I did not know was that on weekends, Parisian hospitals are understaffed. Most doctors vacation on the coast of France or in the country. I later learned that there was only one surgeon on duty in the entire hospital complex! Only he could operate; only he could authorize any kind of medication. I never saw the surgeon that day, and since nurses in France have no authority to give medication, they were powerless to do anything for my increasingly grave condition.

In the emergency room they had inserted the large rubber tube through my nose and down into my stomach to suction out digestive fluids. It was very difficult to talk and my mouth became very dry; my mouth tasted like rubber. I wasn't allowed to drink anything to relieve the dryness. The pain in the center of my abdomen grew worse. The torment radiated out into my chest and down to the pelvis. Staying curled in a fetal position felt like the only way to keep the fire from ...

Revue de presse

“This is a book you devour from cover to cover, and pass on to others. This is a book you will quote in your daily conversation. Storm was meant to write it and we were meant to read it.”

—From the Foreword by Anne Rice

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Amazon.com: 4.3 étoiles sur 5  199 commentaires
107 internautes sur 111 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Intense Glimpse into the afterlife! 30 mars 2005
Par S. Ward - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
I was surprised at the small size of this book, but what a powerful message for those who will understand it! I started reading it and finished it in just under 3 hours. I was a licensed Baptist Minister in the early stages of my life, but became disillusioned by many of the rituals and views that were imposed by many in the church. Through it all, I kept my belief in God according to what I believed the Bible taught, and not according to what was being taught by man. This book describes my understanding of God and the afterlife as I personally believe it to be. Excellent reading for those who are searching for a glimpse of what is to come, or those who have lost a loved one and look forward to being re-united after life on this world is over.
103 internautes sur 109 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Powerful and Hopeful Message for All 30 janvier 2006
Par stkevin - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
Howard Storm's NDE is one of the most uplifting and persuasive NDEs that I have read. There is much there for the confirmed Christian and much for someone of any other faith. Parts of Howard's experience fall right into accepted Christian doctrine and parts don't. Those reviewers that rigidly "apply" Christian doctrine to reject Howard's story simply miss the point. So do those who reject Christianity and therefore reject stories such as Howard's. The message is one of hope and love, not doctrine.

First, Howard Storm was not a "Christian" when he had his NDE. Instead, he was totally indifferent to God, and became a Christian only after his NDE. Howard's NDE begins when he dies and finds himself in an existence with countless other loveless/godless beings who did nothing but attack and dismember him (and worse). In the depths of his despair, Howard the atheist remembered a line from a song to Jesus from his childhood and began to sing it. Jesus rescued him. Howard learned the hard way that Jesus was his best friend. Yet if Jesus can save an avowed atheist, and be "best friend" to such a person, then Jesus can also save anyone, including other atheists, Hindus, Catholics, Presbyterians, Moslems, etc. Second, when Howard asks one of the "Angels" with whom he visits "what is the best religion?" he's told that it is "the one the brings you closer to God". This is hardly Christian doctrine. In fact, those defenders of Orthodox Christian doctrine will find much to condemn in Howard Storm's NDE.

Incidentally, I had to chuckle at the irrefutable logic of Jesus when he pointed out to Howard that there really were no atheists because it is impossible to believe in nothing.

One of the main messages set forth in Storm's book about his NDE is that your life matters because of the way in which it affects others. This is a common thread in most NDEs, Christian and otherwise. As you affect others, so do you also affect yourself and God. If you choose to live without concern for others, you've chosen to live without concern for God as well. As it was pointed out to Howard during his NDE, the opposite of the love for God is not hatred of or anger at God, but indifference. The opposite of love for others is indifference as well. It is possible to "reject" God's love by your actions, whether you are an atheist or a Christian.

Howard Storm's book contains a great deal of hope, love, inspiration, as well as some warnings about how you live your life, its effects on others, and the effect your life will have on you in the afterlife. It is these warnings, coupled with Howard's bedrock belief in Jesus as his Lord and Savior that some reviewers find disturbing. Many NDEs are non-threatening because they affirm that God is all loving and will love us no matter what we do. Most NDEs (at least the popular ones) assure us that we will all be saved and in heaven with God when we die (or at least reincarnated to try again) because God is all loving and all good. NDEs that reject this concept (and there are just enough to cause you to pause and think about it) are usually ignored.

I believe God's love will save us all. Howard Storm's NDE reaches the same conclusion, but warns us that God gave us free will and we are free to reject God's love. Storm's NDE points out that in the spirit realm of the afterlife, your spirit cannot lie to itself about whether it accepted or rejected God's love in this life. You will judge yourself truthfully and accurately in the afterlife. And there are consequences. I highly recommend this book.

Howard Storm closes the book with this line: " Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. He is the best friend you will ever have." Amen!
48 internautes sur 52 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A MUST read for anyone who's ever wondered, "Why . . . " 21 mars 2005
Par J. Baker - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
I chose to buy this book based in part on a passing interest in near-death experiences, and also because Rev. Storm is a pastor in my city. I started reading the book last night and literally could not put it down for the first 70 pages. I'll likely finish it tonight. In just that short time, this book has already changed my perspective on life. I'd considered myself a spiritual person, if not a religious one. This book makes God real, and drops away all the pretenses and exclusions that had somewhat turned me away from organized religion. I'll be sharing this book with everyone I love. Whether you believe in any kind of God or not, just try reading this book. It's very short, and you have nothing to lose by reading it. It just might change your life.
40 internautes sur 43 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 This book changed my life. 11 juillet 2005
Par Seeker - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
I was led to buy this book, I feel. I literally could not put this book down. I started reading it in the bookstore, purchased it, read for 20 minutes in the car before leaving the parking lot, came home,and did not put it down until I finished it. Since then, I have gone back and re-read the parts where Howard converses with the angelic beings and Christ. It is compelling, and rings true to me. I cried as I read his account of his life review. My heart changed during reading this book, and I am grateful that I still have time to change my life.
34 internautes sur 37 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Heaven and Hell are real 26 août 2005
Par N - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
This is a very good book that you will not put down untill you finish. And when you are finished you will either say, "that's what I thought" or "is he telling the truth?" depending upon your preconceptions. No matter what though, there will probably be something rather disturbing and provoking the Rev. Storm's encounter with the afterlife.

Conservatives will be disappointed in some things that Jesus had to say, though they might be surprised to know how much they agree with Storm's Jesus. The question, "What religion is best?" (or something to that effect) was answered as " the one that brings you closest to God". It is not clear if the term religion was referring to Christian denominations or world religions. You do not get a sense of religious pluralism in the book. It seems to confirm that Jesus is the Way to salvation.

I heard Rev. Storm on the Art Bell show not too long ago. The host asked Storm about the truth of other religions, say Buddhism. Rev. Storm said that he did not ask the angels that question when he was there so he does not know how they fit into the big picture.

Some of the more progressive Christians may be surprised that a thing like Hell exists at all.

One must also keep in mind that Rev. Storm, at the time of these encounters, was an atheist more preoccupied with secular issues of the world and less so with spiritual. Is it possible then, that these notions influenced how he retold his story? Just a thought.
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