CARMEL Thannhauser was given a new lease on life when she was struck by lightening nearly 30 years ago.
The Hepburn Shire resident was clinically dead for 23 minutes but came back fighting and with a fierce determination to make a difference to the lives of others around her.
Ms Thannhauser is well-known in the Hepburn Shire for her work with various community groups including Daylesford and District Food Aid and the Daylesford Community Op Shop.
“For me, religion is community and nature,” she said.
“So if it’s about nature or community then I’m in it.”
While Ms Thannhauser is renowned for her community spirit, she said she’s best known for having died.
“In 1985 I was struck by lightening at our mud brick house that we had at the time,” she said.
“So all the nursing staff, who still come into the op shop, say things like, ‘You shouldn’t be here’. I’ve got a scar on my heart and my feet were burnt.” Ms Thannhauser remembers the storm, seeing a blue flash and waking up to her dog licking water off her face.
“We were really really poor and had a mud brick house and I had to put the plastic over so the bricks wouldn’t disintegrate,” she said.
“I was in a window alcove and I pulled the plastic over and I remember a blue flash, the brightest light and a bang.
“Then I woke up with the dog licking the water off me.
“I couldn’t move.
“I thought, ‘Oh, I’m going to die out here’.”
Ms Thannhauser managed to roll under the plastic she’d been laying out and waited for her husband Paul to arrive home from work.
“It was about 3.30pm and Paul got home at 5.10pm every single day, like clockwork,” she said.
“When he came in I said, ‘Don’t come near me, I’m tingly and I don’t know whether I can shock you’.
“Anyway he picked me up and threw me into the car.”
Ms Thannhauser said she had an outer body experience and remembers watching the medical staff trying to revive her.
“My internal temperature was 27 ... they were just ready to call it all off,” she said.
“I watched one of the nurse’s be mean to Paul and say, ‘move away’, and he couldn’t cope.
“So when I woke up I really told her off which freaked her out.
“But I was not in my body. That’s why I do all my community stuff.
“When I came back I said to Paul, ‘We’re going to really make a difference’.”
Ms Thannhauser describes her husband as her “soul partner”.
The couple are in the process of building an eco-friendly house in Newlyn.
“We share life together – we live life and love, and laugh.
“We actually met at a prayer group in Ballarat and its theme was sharing today to live tomorrow so that’s been the theme of our whole married life which is fabulous.”