Strange Coma Experiences / Open Lines

Hosted byRichard Syrett

Strange Coma Experiences / Open Lines

About the show

Journalist Alan Pearce said he never had any intention of writing a book on comas. Then, he told host Richard Syrett (Twitter), Covid happened. He and his wife and co-author Beverly, a former private investigator, were stuck at home. They were also seeing a lot of reports about people on incubators being placed in medically induced comas. Curious, they began looking into it and found that the common practice, which, according to Pearce’s research, has been “an essential tool in critical care for the past 50 years,” was being “massively overused.” But what started as an investigation into the impact of medically induced comas on patients and their recovery turned into something more when they began hearing the stories of what people experienced when in a coma – both the medically induced kind and those caused by accident or illness.

For instance, one of the individuals interviewed in the book, Nick, was placed into a medically induced coma for sepsis that developed from a bout of pneumonia. For the two weeks he was in that coma, Nick, “lived an entire life, minute by minute, with clear consciousness,” Pearce said. This included working a job. Getting married. Raising a family. Even fighting in a war. Eventually, he became unwell and potentially had a heart attack in that other life, but when he woke up in the hospital – surrounded by people who were excited to see him – he was confused. He didn’t recognize them. He wanted to tell them they had the wrong room, but he had been on a ventilator for two weeks and couldn’t speak. Nick was surrounded by his friends, family, and fiancée, but he didn’t recognize any of them, and he longed for the wife and daughter he left behind.

While he did eventually regain his memories of his life before the coma, Pearce said that in many of these cases, those memories are filtered through others. “What often happens is that memory is very, very patchy. So, what they do remember is what they’ve been told, as it were. They don’t have natural memories. They’ve been recreated, as it were, to fill in the blanks.” By contrast, his memories of that other family, his job, and his friends in the mid-century American Midwest are still strong. Nick, in this life, runs a pizza restaurant. In the other life he had a completely different lifestyle. The other Nick was very good with his hands, “a mechanic, a top gardener, and all the rest,” as Pearce described it, and those skills have carried through. Before the coma, Nick was not very handy. Now, he does his own car and home repairs, as well as helping out neighbors.

The old life still has an emotional hold on him, too. “He told me that, in many ways, he had more in that life than he does in this life. He had great friends. He really enjoyed his job. And it’s just unbelievable that he finds himself in this world, having lost another world.” It’s a pattern Pearce found over and over in his work. One man remembered his life as an architect, with a wife and three children, and couldn’t recount the memories without breaking down in tears each time. “Here, he’s in this world, with a wife who he can’t explain to that he’s in love with this other person who, for all intents and purposes, does not exist.”

Other folks interviewed for the book had experiences of lingering near the afterlife, waiting to move on, or a sense of unity with the universe. While still others had nightmarish experiences, including some who continued to experience everything around them without being able to respond or interact.


In the second half, callers on Open Lines discussed their own experiences under anesthesia, out-of-body experiences, UFO sightings, and more. The first caller related a benevolent entity visiting her while she was ill, after her resignation to death, and how it changed her life. Other callers in that period, inspired by the previous segment, also shared their near-death, out-of-body, and related experiences of going under anesthesia.

Later, callers expressed concerns about the upcoming eclipse, with one concerned about eye damage and another wondering about the direction of the shadows during an eclipse. Another shared his UFO and close encounter experiences.

Bumper Music

Last Night

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