In what seemed like a blink of an eye, Robin O’Hagan went from a typical and pleasant
day with her husband to a chilling and defining moment in an empty chapel inside Virtua
Memorial Hospital in Mt. Holly, N.J. It would be within the quiet chapel walls that Robin would
ask the question, “What am I praying for...?” This crucible of crisis would test her faith in the
universe and reinforce her life-long spiritual journey. A professional psychic, medium, and
Reiki Master from Bordentown, NJ, Robin O’Hagan had witnessed many unexplained events.
However, none of these events was as life altering or as personal as this one.
It was on January 6, 2015, in the middle of the night that Robin’s harrowing ordeal
began. Robin had just finished her nightly meditation. She tapped her snoring husband who was lying in bed next to her. Tom picked himself up as the sound of air escaping came from his mouth. “What’s wrong?” Robin asked.
“I don’t know,” Tom replied and then collapsed.
Robin immediately jumped into action and dialed 911. A fortuitous visit from her
stepdaughter Lauryn provided Robin with the assistance she would need. The dispatcher
instructed Robin to perform CPR in an attempt to revive her husband’s listless body. Robin
threw the phone to the side and pulled her large and muscular husband Tom to the floor. Lauryn placed the call on speakerphone to allow Robin to follow the dispatcher’s instructions. Robin then heroically and without hesitation, performed chest compressions on Tom for over seven minutes; a time that seemed an eternity as she fought to restart her husband’s still heart.
Meanwhile, Lauryn attended to Chloe, the family’s dog a very large and worried Newfoundland while she stood watch for the ambulance. Robin was thankful for Lauryn’s unexpected visit during what must have felt like a scene straight out of a TV drama.
When the EMTs arrived and took over the life-saving effort, there was still no sign of a
heartbeat. Tom had gone into cardiac arrest. As the minutes continued to pass, thoughts would swirl in Robin’s head. How much longer could Tom survive without a heartbeat? Tom was a healthy forty-six year old man on no medications, with no prior medical history, and with no symptoms. None of this made any sense; yet, Tom was fighting for his life. After over another twenty-minutes of heroic effort from the EMTs, shouts of, “We got it!” came from Robin’s bedroom. Still unconscious and unresponsive, at least his heart was now beating.
The EMTs quickly transported Tom to the emergency room of Virtual Memorial. At the
hospital Tom was surrounded by nurses and doctor that provided him with exceptional care but none of them had any answers as to what happened and whether or not he would survive. The doctors told Robin that she would have to take each moment one at a time; an approach very similar to her own spiritual practice. However, this was not a practice but a life-altering situation that would determine the fate of her husband.
Robin received tremendous support and love from her family and friends with as many as
forty people packed in the Hospital’s waiting room at one time. Unfortunately, each CAT scan
and update from the doctors reported a worsening situation. The CAT scans had revealed that Tom’s prolonged period without a heartbeat had brought on anoxia, which had caused, what seemed, irreparable damage to Tom’s cerebral cortex. With the passing of hours and days, the news was not getting better. After eight days, the doctors told Robin that they would have to remove the tubes from Tom’s throat that were helping him breathe. They would need to perform a tracheotomy so that the medical equipment could continue to help him breathe. Robin refused to allow them to perform the tracheotomy. To this day, Robin still doesn’t understand why she refused to do it. “It was intuitive for me…” she said. “I don’t even know why? Cause, why wouldn’t you trach him?”
With the dilemma of having to remove the tubes and not wanting a tracheotomy, Robin
asked the neurologist what was the likely outcome if they simply removed the tubes and allowed Tom to breathe on his own. The neurologist told Robin that he was breathing some breathes on his own so he could potentially continue breathing without the tubes. However, considering his brain damage there was the possibility that over time he could grow tired and stop breathing all together.
Robin wanted to know what Tom’s life would be like if he did survived. Whatever
physical limitations he would have, she would take care of him. “I just want him to enjoy
himself, I want him to be able to watch NASCAR, play video games, brush his teeth, feed
himself…,” she told the neurologist who simply shook her head and said, “I’m sorry, I just don’t
see it…I feel he is going to be in a vegetative state.” Crushed by the harsh and bleak outlook of the situation, Robin was now left with an excruciatingly painful conundrum. For this decision, Robin relied on her faith. Born Jewish and converted to Christianity, Robin no longer views herself as affiliated with a particular religion. She simply sees herself as a spiritual person having faith in a universe that aligns to what each of us needs regardless of the outcome. That faith would now be tested. With the support of Tom’s family, Robin decided to remove the tubes and sign a DNR --- a do not resuscitate order to withhold any attempts to revive his heart in the case that it should stop. She would now put her trust in the universe and Tom to make the decision that was best for him. “I want you to stay,” Robin told an unresponsive Tom who was in a medically induced coma, lying still in an ECU bed with tubes and lines, and medical apparatus all around him. “But if you‘re not going to come back whole and this journey is going to be too hard for you then you need to go. We are going to be ok...” The medical professionals then stepped in. Robin would now have to wait for the results of her decision.
Robin made her way to the hospital chapel wanting to pray for Tom. “What am I praying
for…?” she asked herself. All around her, friends and family were praying for Tom to live but
for Robin it wasn’t that simple. She reflected on this defining moment, “I definitely didn’t want
him to die.” However, praying for him to live seemed wrong “…all those prayers for him to live
and he would breathe and be a vegetable...” Robin said, “…He deserves to be happy.” A choice, with seemingly no good answer, Robin wrestled with her conflicted feelings until she finally submitted and gave into her situation. She decided to selflessly pray for, “…what’s going to work for him; not for me.“
With no machines helping Tom to breathe, it could take days before Tom’s condition
would be known. Robin needed rest and had been sleeping in the hospital for days. Her father-in- law insisted she go home and take a break to tend to her business while the family stood watch at the hospital. Robin would return early the next morning to an excited family all talking at once, “We’ve got a story to tell you,” they all said. “He said, Hi dad!” Robin stood in disbelief thinking they were all insane.
An incredible amalgamation of pragmatism and optimism, this remarkable woman knew
that a miraculous recovery was not likely. She was hopeful and had faith but she was also
realistic. Robin was not going to irrationally alter her expectations for what seemed like wishful thinking on the part of a desperate and loving family. Robin made her way to Tom’s room and looked inside to find her husband sitting up in bed with his bright blue eyes staring back at her for the first time in nine days. “Hey,” she responded.
“Hey beautiful.” Tom responded.
“Oh my God! Oh my God!” she exclaimed. It would take weeks of hard work and rehabilitation before Tom would be back to his usual self; but it eventually happened. To this
day, doctors are still unsure as to what happened or why he recovered. A recent CAT scan
would return a picture of Tom’s healthy and completely normal brain. Even before this difficult episode, Robin knew all too well about the excruciating heartaches that life can sometimes inflict. As a psychic and medium, her clients would often seek her advice on the loss of a loved one. She would tell her clients that everything happens for a reason. However, for many who spend years uttering such affirmation, a sudden and painful tragedy can cause them to buckle and turn bitter and angry. Looking back on her experience and reflecting on her reaction to such a seemingly hopeless situation Robin said, “I never gave up hope; I never gave up faith.” The words she had spoken all those years were not just words but they were part of Robin’s very being. Robin discovered something amazing about herself, “I realized that I truly am that person.“