90 Minutes In Heaven – by Don Piper 2004


When Don Piper’s car was struck head-on in 1989 with an impact of 110 miles an hour, that should have been the end of his earthly life. And for ninety minutes, his spirit was absent from earth, and present at the gates of heaven. The paramedics declared him dead and covered his lifeless body with a tarp. But one man passing by felt God telling him to pray over Don. For more than an hour, the man prayed and sang hymns. Then the unimaginable happened: Don came back to earth.

Although a sliver of the book is devoted to the attempt to describe heaven, the majority of the book focuses on the unbearable pain and long recovery of Don Piper. It was difficult to read this book, as so many parts reminded me of my son’s accident, recovery, and ongoing pain. The detailed description of the fixator Don wore for many months was especially familiar.

Some people who read this biography will say it’s proof of the power of the human spirit. But I say: it is a testimony to the power of God to bring life out of death. This book is one that everyone who battles pain – or has someone in their life battling chronic pain – should read.


Excerpt from page 73:

I was in Hermann ICU for twelve days. Then I stayed four to five days in Hermann Hospital before they transferred me down the street to St. Luke’s Hospital. Both hospitals are part of the world’s largest medical center. I remained in St. Luke’s for 105 days. Once I was home, I lay in bed for thirteen months and endure thirty-four surgeries. Without question, I am still alive because people prayed for me, beginning with Dick Onetecker and other people around the country, many of whom I’ve never met.

Excerpt from page 83:

At night they gave me additional medication to try to make me sleep. I write “try” because the additional medicine didn’t work. Nothing they did put me to sleep – not sleeping pills, pain shots, or additional morphine. I had no way to get comfortable or even to feel relieved enough from pain to relax.

I’ve tried to explain it by saying it this way: “Imagine yourself lying in bed, and you’ve got rods through your arms, wires through your legs, and you’re on your back. You can’t turn over. In fact, just to move your shoulder a quarter of an inch is impossible unless you reach up and grab what looks like a trapeze bar that hangs above your bed. Even the exertion to move a fraction of an inch sends daggers of pain all through your body. You are completely immobile.”


All Those Hospital Hallways…

2017-03-23 hospital hall a

Over the past fourteen months, I’ve walked hundreds of miles in hospital hallways. There is no end to the maze of fluorescent-lit hallways joining different departments and even different buildings. They pull together lobbies and patients’ rooms and doctor’s offices and physical therapy areas. Several weeks ago, after dropping my son off at the pain clinic, I did some indoor walking since the weather was nasty outside.

As I walked from the outpatient area into the actual hospital area, memories started flooding back. I started by the front lobby.

2017-03-23 hospital hall b

Ah, I remember this hallway, which is also a ramp to join two different floors. More dependable than elevators that can break down. I saw an orderly pushing a bed with a patient uphill more than once here.

2017-03-23 hospital hall c

Turn left to go toward the Hauenstein Center, where the Intensive Care Unit is.

2017-03-23 hospital hall d

2017-03-23 hospital hall e

There’s the odd little vending machine area I would always walk past. Their selection of junk food seems an odd thing to be selling in a hospital.

2017-03-23 hospital hall f

The floor slopes downhill past the vending machine nook.

2017-03-23 hospital hall g

I take the elevator up to the second floor. When I get off, I can see the “quiet room” with its frosted windows that patients’ families can use when they need somewhere quiet to pull themselves together.

2017-03-23 hospital hall h

Just around the corner is Intensive Care, where Ben’s room was for sixteen days, before going to another part of the hospital for a month. Just go right, past the unit secretary, left to the end of the hall. Ben’s room was the last one, right by the conference room the doctors went into every morning after examining their patients. His room was large, large enough that the plastic surgeon was in there the first night, working on putting his face back together. It looked like a surgery room the first time we were allowed to peek in. My heart is pounding by this time, and I stop myself. Why am I here?

2017-03-23 hospital hall i near intensive care

I say a prayer of thankfulness that my son is still alive, get back in the elevator, and meander back through the hallways to the pain clinic.

2017-03-23 hospital hall j