TALES FROM THE DONUT SHOP BY JULES A. STAATS
Copyright 2014, Jules A. Staats; Library of Congress, USA. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. This work may be previewed only.
TO DEATH AND BACK
Jay was enjoying the first day of three, away from work. He had taken an extra day from his 4 on and 2 off duty sheriff’s patrol shifts in anticipation of cruising up and down the Colorado River with his newly acquired ski boat. He had his wife and three of his four children with him. The youngest was too small for a boat ride and the usual expected 100+ degree temperature of the Parker Arizona river area.
He reflected that this was going to be a fun day. The long hot and boring drive across the California desert was almost behind him. While passing one more of many Joshua trees, he glanced at the road sign for the tiny town of Searchlight California ahead. It would not be long now. He was almost there.
Shortly thereafter, he pulled into the private campground on the California side of the Colorado River. This RV facility was a preferred vacation spot for a lot of Deputy Sheriffs and Highway Patrol law enforcement officers. That fact that most of the clientele were cops seemed to minimize problems at the camp. Most of the persons who wanted to get drunk and cause problems stayed far away from all these off-duty cops.
After checking in, Jay wasted no time in launching his boat. It was previously owned, but a great buy. He had found it at a boat dealer in the city of West Covina at a repo area. An employee at the boat store stated that the previous owner had bought the boat brand new, got drunk and stalled the outboard motor. In a drunken and impaired rage, he then ripped off most of the wires at the back of the dashboard. He then later towed the boat back to the store and advised the store to keep the boat and he would no longer pay the payments.
The Engine Hour Meter on the dash showed only 24 hours total of run time. The actual run time of the motor could be even less as the meter starts working with the ignition switch. If the boat outboard motor was not running or stalled, the meter would still count the time.
Jay was aware of that important fact and after looking at the propeller he determined that this boat had hardly been used. The outboard propeller blade had all the original paint still on it.
“How much?” he had asked the sales person. He replied; “How about $600.00?” Jay resisted jumping up and down at the fantastic price. Instead he calmly told the salesman that it was a done deal and that he would write a check for the full purchase price. 
It was two weeks later when he finally got the extra day off and he could head for the Colorado River for some R&R. After a long drive, he was finally at the campground, all the waiting was behind him and now the fun could begin.
Jay’s wife had borrowed a rather large tent from a friend. She insisted that the tent go up first before going anywhere in the boat. It was probably 10 AM and the temperature was close to 90 degrees. It seemed to make sense to get that job done first before the real hot temperatures hit the area.
An hour later a profusely sweating Jay had completed the task. He pulled a soda from the ice chest and gulped it down. It was time to climb in the boat and take off up the river.
The motor had an electric starter, and came to life instantly. He had run the motor previously after the boat shop made the extensive and necessary repairs to the wiring. (There is an adapter that attaches to a garden hose, allowing operation of the motor while out of the water.)
He pulled to the small dock and helped his wife and three children get in the boat. His son took the left seat in front while his wife and two daughters took the rear seats. On an outboard, the steering wheel is on the right side and the power lever is on the right side also. Jay pushed the lever forward, and the boat immediately and positively responded. After checking for traffic, he applied full power. His now 35 MPH speed caused the cooler river air to flow by everybody. The experience was much more comfortable as he headed up river. He was previously advised by the dealer to back off power a bit for a longer run, and did so. He slowed down to 30 MPH indicated on the dash board speedometer.
He continued to the base of the Davis Dam which holds back water for the Havasu Lake in Arizona. After a pause and slow drift down the river with a little small talk with the family about the boat ride so far, he applied power again and headed back down river.
About half way between the Davis Dam and Jay’s starting point there is a large bend in the Colorado River called Big Bend. Nearby on the water is an Arizona State camp ground, Buckskin State Park, and Jay observed a lot of boats parked on the sandy shore. It seemed a good idea to throttle down to a slow speed and just take in the sights.
He had just reflected to himself that the jagged mountains were beautiful to look at, and then glanced down at the water for an instant to observe the currents. The bend in the river made the water swirl in circles. The unusual movement of the water captivated him for just a moment.
He then heard the sound of an un-muffled V8 boat engine under full power in front of him and just to his left. He saw a person standing up in the boat at the steering wheel, looking backward as the boat surged toward him. His first reaction was to apply full power and get away from the danger of collision.
However he felt as if two hands were firmly holding his arms. He could not move! He could not overpower whatever was seemed to be holding him. No, he had not frozen in fear, but felt physically restrained. His observation of the other boat just before impact was an image never to be forgotten.
Everything went black.
Jay awoke upon hearing twin engines of a Piper Aztec airplane. He rose up from a stretcher like device noting that his feet were toward the tail of the plane tried to look at the control panel but his vision was blurred. Yes, it was a Piper Aztec Model 23-250 with two 250 horsepower engines. He knew this since he was a qualified and licensed Commercial Pilot and rated for this very type of aircraft. The propellers were not fully synchronized and were making a “Drum-drum-drum” sound. The sound actually irritated him.
Then the past came back to him and he remembered what had occurred before. He knew there was a collision but
just what happened and most importantly; how was his family?
He found that he was lying on his stomach, there was no pain, he could taste blood in his mouth and his vision was becoming even more blurred. He felt his upper and lower teeth collapse in his mouth as he attempted to speak. “How is my family?” he attempted to say. The noise in the cockpit and his serious condition of his destroyed mouth made the request impossible for the flight crew to hear. There was no reply from the pilot or the co-pilot. With no response from the pilot and co-pilot Jay felt that his family was gone and that they all had died in the crash of his boat. His feeling of remorse along with the shock from his traumatic injuries caused his being to completely shut down and that was the last thing he knew.
Jay had been transported by ambulance to a small medical center in Parker Arizona. His condition included massive head and face trauma when he smashed into the dashboard of the boat during the impact. The facility just could not handle this major trauma, and subsequently had another ambulance transport him on a long trip to a Blythe medical center in California.
His jaw had been nearly torn off; bone fragments and teeth clung to the muscles and jaw tissue. There was no one that could repair this terrible damage to Jay’s face. Doctors there could only attempt to further stabilize him and have an Air Ambulance transport him to a Trauma Center in Fontana California which was close to the Ontario Airport.
His wife arrived in the family car, hours later at the Fontana hospital. The doctors and staff had tried to stabilize him and had also completed a diagnosis on his condition. It was not good. Jay’s wife was informed that his condition included severe cerebral edema or swelling of the brain due to the extreme impact shock of the head injury. Multiple skull fractures, as seen on the x-rays indicated that some bone fragments had invaded the cranium.
He was now on life support. His shattered and mangled jaw was untouched, and the numerous lacerations on his face had not been sewed up. The reason—per the doctors--was that that they had carefully performed an EEG or Electroencephalography scan to determine his brain activity. There was no activity, his brain was flat line.
Jay was pronounced by the doctors to be brain dead. A severe impact to the skull can cause bruising damage to the brain. The severely injured brain swells up from major trauma but has nowhere to go and is trapped inside the skull. Today, doctors can operate and open the skull to allow the swelling. Otherwise the brain compresses upon itself. The brain cells die. When that happens the patient dies. 
After a very long day and night with this final arrival at the California hospital, his wife was passed being stressed out. Upon hearing the doctor’s prognosis that he was brain dead, she went numb. After listening to the advice of the Attending Physician she finally authorized the hospital staff to terminate all life support, feeding and treatment. A necessary oropharyngeal airway was left inserted at this time.
Jay was removed from life support. However even without life support he somehow continued to breathe through the airway. His shattered nose and tissues would not allow air to pass. The doctor promised his wife that she would be notified when he passed away.
A totally exhausted woman, she gathered her two daughters, aged 4 and 5. To cope with this disaster to her family, she told the two children they were leaving and to go to the car. When the elder child asked for her Dad’s condition they were both told; “Your dad is dead. We have to go home now.”
It was 4:40 in the morning. It was still dark but the sun would be coming up soon. A morning advection fog had descended on the parking lot as the temperature dropped below the dew point. As the mother walked quickly to her car, wanting to finally get this nightmare over with, she inadvertently left her two daughters behind. They began to hug each other in the parking lot as they cried for the loss of their father. They could not see their mother or find the car as their sight was completely blurred with tears of grief.
Out of the fog, a woman appeared. She asked in a soft voice. “Why are you crying children?” The elder daughter replied, “My dad is dead, we will never see him again”
The answer burned into the memories of both daughters, shocking, vivid, never to be forgotten; “Your dad is not dead; he is with us for a while and we are with him. He will be coming back to you soon, and he will be just fine.”
The two girls looked into each other’s teary eyes wondering in their young minds if this was true? The girls now regained their hope to be with their father again. Simultaneously they now had questions to ask of this woman that had appeared out of the fog.
They both looked back where she was standing, but the woman had disappeared. Even when older, years later, both daughters could not remember the age of this woman. She appeared ageless. However they never forgot this person that appeared out of the mist. They also did remember that this woman stated that her name was Helen which was the name of their great grandmother.
A few hundred feet away from this encounter, the body of Jay was transported to a gurney. He was placed in a room pending his wife’s decision to use his organs for future transplants if he continued to live for a while. All wounds were still left untreated as there was no reason to sew up a dead man’s lacerations. He still continued to breathe and a doctor decided to add an intravenous bag of D5W, a mixture of dextrose sugar and water. Four days passed. He still lay in this room as the donor issue had not been settled yet.
It was absolutely medically impossible but Jay regained consciousness. At this time the hospital staff had accepted his presence as a dead body that was still breathing. Coming out of a coma with such serious head and brain trauma was sort of a pleasant surprise but tempered by the realization that the severe injury to his brain would only result in a living person who was a conscious but non-sentient vegetable.
This theory was borne out when the staff doctors tried to speak to him. As expected his perception was that he was in an area that he could not see very well. When the hospital staff and even his family eventually spoke to him he did not reply or even respond as if he could not understand their words.
Jay vividly recalls to this day that he was like a newborn child at this time after waking up. He only heard sounds and had no concept of his being other than things that moved around him were making sounds. It was as if he had never experienced another human being in his presence before. Was this was a severe case of total amnesia if not dementia? It was not merely forgetting past things; his mind could not process or understand anything including the spoken word or recognize family members.
Reflecting on this condition after many years, the author’s theory is that at this moment in time God had healed what was a dead mass of fatty brain tissue. However at this moment in time it was analogous to a technician who had just replaced a failed hard disk drive in a computer. A new hard drive from the store contains absolutely no data, much like the brain of a new born baby. The hard drive needs to be fed information or data so that it can again function as a useful computer. Jay’s brain had been rebuilt or healed, but there were no memories, personality or even muscle experience.
The doctors could not believe that such a brain damaged—brain dead person--could ever come back to life. However, the obvious and final conclusion of the doctors based on their education and experience was that he would continue to be in a totally vegetated state for the rest of his natural life due to this severe irreversible brain damage. No question, there were a lot of problems ahead for this injured young man. A severely brain damaged person would require a lot of future care and assistance. It was definitely a bleak life experience ahead for a person who once was a Law Enforcement Officer.
He was now laying in his hospital bed, having been moved into intensive care. As he was now awake and conscious, the lacerations were finally closed and sewed up by the hospital physicians. The open wounds needed to be trimmed first, due to the several day delay in stitching the open lacerations shut.
A former Korean War Combat Surgeon was summoned to try to restore the broken jaw. It was crushed in numerous places and some of the jawbone was in several small pieces. It was a gruesome sight for the doctor to see, but he had seen this severe damage to soldiers who had been badly wounded on the Korea battlefield. Using pins, stainless steel wire and his field experience, the doctor crafted the remains of Jay’s lower jaw. The left joint of his jaw no longer existed and would be supported only with muscle tissue. After that, the lower jaw was wired against his fractured upper jaw or mandible. The still attached teeth and jaw were put together like a jigsaw puzzle. The repair process took hours but the reconstruction was impressive and would probably function well for a lifetime albeit with constant discomfort while eating.
The left cheekbone was crushed and pushed inward. It had to be popped out. This required another surgery to pry the cheekbone out. This surgical procedure was also successful.
Another week passed. Jay lay on his bed on his back. It was not possible to lie on either side of his broken face without causing intense pain. He found himself looking at the ceiling for hours, unable to even ponder this existence. He did have any idea who he was, and only knew that his entire world was this room. His condition was called by some as to be similar to the advanced onset of Alzheimer’s disease and Jay never forgot those moments of existence with absolutely no past, memory or dreams of the future.
It was 2:00 Am the next night. Jay had a vivid, and in full color, dream. It was like a high definition movie with clear and exact details. Today we would equate this with a computer download. He again re-lived the boat collision just before the impact, up to the actual crash. The experience of the memory restore event caused a profound reaction and Jay almost jumped out of the hospital bed—fortunately he was restrained by the bed railings. The realization was as if his brain was being formatted and reloaded with data as the details of his entire life flowed like a flood of information. All this happened in what seemed to be an instant. His memory rushed back, and he knew who he was! He had once again returned to life and was once again--a sentient human being. He observed his surroundings and immediately was aware that he was in a hospital bed. Help had to be summoned at once but there was no device to notify the hospital staff. Feeling around with his hands to augment his still foggy vision, Jay had determined that he had to find the wire that connected to the Call Button. He pulled at the thick white wire, found the button and pressed it, causing a response by a now absolutely amazed hospital staff. Even his family was shocked when they found out that he had come back from being a mental vegetable and was actually talking albeit through a wired jaw.
This was the second phase of the miraculous restoration of a brain dead person. This was the insertion of memory, reflexes, gifts, and even the identical personality to a brain that previously was just a mass of supernaturally restored tissue. True, Jay wished that the Lord had fixed at least part of his personality, but His Will was that Jay was to return to the world and continue to live with full choices of his destiny.
His family showed up later that morning and advised him that his son also had been admitted to this hospital with a cracked lower jaw but was going to be ok and had been released to go home.
A few days later Jay had asked to be helped from his bed so he could use the bathroom by himself. He could not believe what he saw in the bathroom mirror. His face was worse than the most beaten-up prizefighter he had ever observed in his life. His face was destroyed, discolored, stiches everywhere, eyes blood red and a massive bruise around each eye. (It took years for the black eyes to go away.)
He still had another two weeks of confinement in the hospital. During this time he learned to anticipate the terrible pain of the numerous anti-biotic shots in his side and backside. Scheduled pain medication was also applied to these very sore areas as computer-dispensed pain meds were in the future and every application of pain medication was a needle stick. Meals were only in liquid form and were awful, as he only had a small gap in his teeth which were wired closed. Through this gap he could slowly suck the various liquids. The stainless steel wires that clamped his teeth tightly together would be there for a while.
After what seemed forever, he was finally released from the hospital. His vision was getting a little better but he still could not read print on forms or books. The long stay in the hospital now felt more like a prison as he longed to return to his familiar home.
The drive home was about ten miles. Jay observed the landmarks, and realized that he still knew the way home. He felt the sharp pain in his face and jaw, knowing that he needed more pain medicine soon. At last he was on his street, he was finally home.
He watched the garage door of his home power itself open as they arrived. The open door now revealed what was inside. He observed that the remains of his nearly-new 16 foot boat and trailer were parked in the garage. A kind and helpful person had towed it home right after the accident. He walked past his boat without a second glance and crawled back in his own bed. After taking his pain medication he finally got a full night’s sleep without the constant hospital wake-ups and painful shots. The mending at home would take several months. His condition improved and the wires in his jaw were finally cut but very painfully removed. His jaw refused to open after removal of the wires and physical therapy was necessary to restore his ability to eat solid food again.
One day that kind man and his wife who were nice enough to tow the boat to the house came by to see him. Jay neglected to ask them for their names. They related that they were on the Arizona side of the river on the shore of the State campgrounds and had seen the accident. The man related to him that he saw the two boats crash, as the other one had accelerated without the driver even looking. He stated that a lot of persons were extremely upset about the young man that caused the accident. The Arizona Authorities had responded and determined that the offending boat driver had a blood alcohol content of .22. This young man also admitted to taking drugs when barbiturates were found on him. Jay never looked into this criminal case but that is another story.
The man related how he had seen the collision and that when the crash occurred, the bow of the other boat tore through the front of Jay’s idling craft. What was almost 20 gallons of high octane gasoline then sprayed into the air from the front mounted gas tank, looking like a large cloud or fog. He expressed he thanked heaven it did not catch fire or worse—explode.
After the visit, Jay felt up to taking another look at his totally damaged boat. He was now strong enough to climb into the boat without any assistance.
His inspection with a flashlight behind the dashboard was both revealing and startling. Apparently one of the main wires, which Jay identified as a #10 gauge, which is very heavy, was obviously burnt on both severed ends. The mechanic who repaired this circuit did not install a fuse or breaker for this main wire from the battery. In fact the fuse holders had no wires attached to it at all. When the other bow tore through and split the dashboard of his boat, sparks had to fly in a cloud of gasoline.
Somehow and against the laws of physics, the boat did not catch fire. Jay also vividly remembered how he had felt very strong hands holding him back just before the crash. There was no way that this entire incident could ever be explained in usual terms. His survival was next to impossible. That he did not only live through the entire crash and trauma, but eventually completely recovered, was even more impossible, unless you believe in miracles.
Over the years since that terrible injury Jay has never had a seizure or suffered any significant problems after his miraculous recovery. No, he did not “see” any light at the end of a tunnel, nor are there any fragments of out of body memory as to what happened while he was lying in the hospital diagnosed by doctors as brain dead. However, to the present day, he knows that he experienced something during that time. He was apparently re-programmed not to remember any of what he may have seen and experienced while his brain ceased to function and he was on the Other Side. And yes, all the vivid details of the actual boat crash and even his impressions when he was a vegetable and could not even understand the spoken word; remain vivid in his mind to the present day.
As his life unfolded over the years Jay began to notice the active advice, protection, blessings and intervention that God does for people that acknowledge that He is their Creator and Jesus is his Son. It took an actual miracle to get his attention and finally realize this. He still cannot open his mouth fully and occasionally receives a reminder of his past trauma in the form of an Ocular Migraine or shimmering diamonds of light. There is no Migraine discomfort or headache with this reminder. The repair of the entire brain mass, the downloading of the memory and even his old personality will always be a mystery and a real miracle.
Jay returned to patrol duty as a Sheriff’s Deputy several months later after the accident and continued to work in a patrol car on the streets and as a watch deputy in the sheriff’s station; until he retired 12 years later. Many significant incidents occurred in his presence that he handled through God’s Hand proved that his time on earth was not over. However his understanding and subsequent walk with his Creator and His Son have improved greatly as he then realized full well—and never to forget--that he had gone to death and back.
These verses written below, now have meaning to Jay up to the present day, because he has “been there:”
 Back in 1966 a brand new sixteen foot boat with an outboard motor could be bought for less than $2,000.00. That cost has risen by a factor of ten plus at the present day.
 A minor case of cerebral edema caused by a concussion can cause a coma and subsequent recovery but brain damage is always a possibility. Extreme brain trauma is usually a fatal event.