I was injected with the gadolinium contrast agent during my magnetic resonance imaging scan. As soon as I was put into the scanner I began to feel as if I from the waist to the top of my head were burning, burning, on fire, on FIRE, burning, BURNING, BURNING not just 'burning' but BURNING alive. How can I communicate this? Throat swelling; itching inside; arms and hands swelling; burning everywhere; even my eyes; my tongue thickening; agonizing abdominal pain; vision fading. However, I was afraid that if I pushed the 'panic button,' that they would stop the test and I would never find out what was wrong with me. This was more important even than dying or the inability to breathe - because inability to do my job and get my degree was death inside of life and already I could barely see, could barely walk and could barely think. I held still, as one must during a magnetic resonance imaging scan, although I know my eyes faded out and blackened and nothing was important anymore and I was no longer I but was - I just existed somewhere - until they pulled me out of the scanner. I don't recall much else, except being a little annoyed that the technician was trying to prevent me from losing consciousness again and also simultaneously a concern that he would somehow get in trouble.
I would give just about anything to experience that feeling again, and to be in that place again, but I was not supposed to be there just yet. Prior to this experience, I had been suicidal many times. I no longer believe that this state can be achieved through suicide. This was a natural situation and the most amazing experience of my life. I was entirely in the present. There was neither past nor future. No expectations, no judgments of my situation. I was aware that I was dying but there was no sense of regret, for there was no sense, as I said, of past (to regret) or future (to despair for). I just existed, and it was beautiful. As I was, in pain, and suffocating, but none of it mattered, for I was transcending eternity and in the void and I was the void and the void was me - and I would be in this place where I was forever - and if forever were to be an instant or a thousand years was immaterial and irrelevant. I felt, 'Abide with me, here, now, for I am at peace, and we are one'. I felt a oneness with whoever was in the room with me, and whoever was unconscious with me, and I was dying, and it was good.
It was just that - good. Nothing fabulous, miraculous, or brilliant. Just 'good'. Perfectly, clearly, good. I could have spent a trillion years right there, with that presence, whatever it was. But the hard thing to explain is that there was no 'trillion years'. There was just NOW. I had no sense of future. It's only now that I am alive that I know that I could have been content with an eternity like that. At the time, any concept of 'eternity' was beyond my experience, for 'time' was beyond my experience. The glorious euphoric peace, the presence, and the empty, falling, now-ness with no past or future - I can't recapture it, and it has changed my life. I need to talk to others about it, and as a scientist, I know that it was probably 'just anoxia' - but there is so much more to it that cannot be explained - and yes, it has changed my life. Not what I saw, or heard, but what I felt.
My priorities lined up, my values came into focus, everything in that void where one would think 'Nothing' existed - the only reason it is called 'Nothing', I believe, is that there is no Time, and existence is purely Being. That was my experience. Perhaps this is what the existentialist philosophers tried so hard to communicate, this 'being-in-the moment', this awareness of self - what they stated was paltry compared to this. What I felt was powerful and intense and life changing. It transcended any mere 'moment'. When I die, if this is what I will feel for all eternity, I await it.
But with this experience, I know (and I don't know how) that I can't force it, or rush it. But I know. This is how it will be, and it is the truth. This pure, perfect psychological state, that I achieved by accident. I can only recapture this state in memory, is real, and a genuine capability of the human mind. Would that we could figure a way to capture this as a daily state, even for five minutes. The world would be at peace. I do not refer to 'world peace', but to inner peace. I was in physical agony, alone, desperate, scared - and such was this peace, this contentment, this timelessness, that I would willingly do it all again, tenfold. I believe. I need to talk about it. I did a bad job, just now, of communicating what happened. I made it seem trivial.
Date NDE Occurred: 5/10/2008
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Allergic reaction 'Life threatening event, but not clinical death'
I was experiencing anaphylactic shock due to pseudo allergic reaction to gadolinium contrast during a magnetic resonance imaging scan. I was unconscious and had stopped breathing. They told me had I not become incontinent (substance metabolized by kidneys), I would have died. I'm very surprised that I did not. All my research since then tells me that I should be dead. Although rare, one in a few tens of thousands have a severe allergy. Only two or so in a million have a fatal allergy. I asked to use the restroom twenty minutes earlier, and the technician said, 'No, can you hold it?' Which I thought was odd, as if I were in kindergarten. Had he not.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Wonderful
Did you feel separated from your body? Yes
I lost awareness of my body
How did your highest level of consciousness and alertness during the experience compare to your normal everyday consciousness and alertness? Less consciousness and alertness than normal As above.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? There was a point, when I realized that I wasn't just 'falling asleep' but was unconscious and more, that I felt that I was in sync with the heartbeat of the universe. Bizarre, huh? You'd think that I would have cared that I was alone with a stranger, rather than with people I loved, but it was all one to me. I had a moment where I was with this man who was the magnetic resonance imaging technician, and he was 'humanity', and it didn't matter that I didn't know him because he was everyone and everyone was the same and I was perfectly at peace having just he and I, right there in the room together. Remembering that it was all 'NOW' and there was no past or future sense.
Were your thoughts speeded up? Incredibly fast
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning
There was no past and no future, only the present.
Were your senses more vivid than usual? Incredibly more vivid
Please compare your vision during the experience to your everyday vision that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. My vision had definitely faded to black, so any visuals were in my mind.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. I do not recall. I seem not to have heard anything, and it took a long time for me to hear them trying to call my name.
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? Yes, and the facts have been checked out
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? No
Did you see any beings in your experience? I actually saw them
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? No
The experience included: Void
The experience included: Darkness
Did you see, or feel surrounded by, a brilliant light? A light clearly of mystical or other-worldly origin
Did you see an unearthly light? No
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? No
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Euphoria, clear, perfect happiness, contentment. I know not how to call it. It was the most perfect emotion imaginable. Neither too great nor too small, not manic, not placid, but perfect, the ideal psychological human state, and I would give anything to regain it. The emotional state was the highest point of the experience, and the key of the memory. I lie awake at night going over the emotional state, trying to analyze it, to figure out how to regain it, to find a way to recreate it in real life in a natural way. The best way I can explain it is this: It was a purely experiential happiness without judgment, without time sense (neither past nor future), and perfectly mindful (even though I was in pain, there was no 'positive or negative' awareness of the pain), and with a clear, glorious, euphoric happiness that was not clouded by any negativity or agitation. No negative emotions at all, in fact. None at all.
Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? Incredible peace or pleasantness
Did you have a feeling of joy? Happiness
Did you feel a sense of harmony or unity with the universe? I felt united or one with the world
The experience included: Special Knowledge
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? Everything about the universe
Did scenes from your past come back to you? My past flashed before me, out of my control I learned that one cannot attain perfect happiness in the afterlife, or while dying, through suicide. I have been suicidal in the past, seriously so, and learned that one cannot attain the blissful aware perfect euphoric state that I experienced through suicide. I don't know how I know this. I just do, and I learned it during my experience.
Did scenes from the future come to you? Scenes from the world's future I'm trying to learn what abilities I have enhanced through this. It is a little creepy.
Did you come to a border or point of no return? I came to a barrier that I was not permitted to cross; or was sent back against my will
God, Spiritual and Religion:
What was your religion prior to your experience? Moderate
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Uncertain I am still thinking about this part. It was less than three months ago.
What is your religion now? Moderate
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Uncertain I am still thinking about this part. It was less than three months ago.
Did you seem to encounter a mystical being or presence, or hear an unidentifiable voice? I encountered a definite being, or a voice clearly of mystical or unearthly origin
Did you see deceased or religious spirits? I actually saw them
Concerning our Earthly lives other than Religion:
During your experience, did you gain special knowledge or information about your purpose? Yes I learned my priorities, and how what I have been taught by society is not what matters ultimately, while what matters ultimately is not what has been taught by society. It was more important that the technician not get in trouble that it was that I save my own life. I can't explain it. It sounds trivial. But it is not. My ethics went up a notch. I learned to listen to others. Fear of death IS ludicrous. It's not a matter of courage. This implies that death is something to be feared, and that those of us who do not fear death are brave. Fear of death is beyond that. It is like fearing milk, or fearing the color blue. Death is often beautiful and sometimes mundane, but not fearful, and living your life fearing death is wasting your life. Also, people who said that you will have a reward when you die, whether Christ, or whoever (and I am not that religious), well, they are right. Choose who you want to listen to. But I know that those who say that there is something phenomenal waiting on the other side - they are correct. Stop living your life in fear, and listen. You don't have to believe the rest of it, but glory in that part. It is glorious. It is true. It is amazing. The hard part is waiting. I learned that death is the best part of life the same time I learned that you have to die naturally in order to get 'the best part' part. (Got it?)
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes I'm having trouble talking to a couple of people. I need to talk about this, and I know they would not believe me.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes I'm not sure that my brain was entirely working at the time, and there are so many paradoxes. In extreme pain, yet no longer judging it as such - that sort of thing.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Yes YYYEEESSSSSSSSSSSSS.
Enhanced telepathic senses and greatly enhanced empathy, to the point where I can tell a person what their physical problems are, where their pain is, what emotions they are feeling, and many times, what they are thinking. I need to learn the ethics of this. It is frightening sometimes.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? The certainty that suicide can't get me back to that place, and the amazing emotional state, which I can still recall and call to mind at will.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes I told my husband, and a few others, but I didn't know that it was NDE until I heard another person say, 'I would give anything to have that feeling again.' He was a patient. I listened to him tell his story. His story was just like mine. I couldn't share my experience with him for professional reasons, but I realized that I didn't just have a run-of-the-mill allergic reaction. Well, I didn't think I did in the first place, but I now had confirmation. I still don't have anyone to really talk to. I need people to talk to. Preferably scientifically-minded people who are also spiritual.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Yes I didn't know that I had stopped breathing until they called me later, and since I didn't see the light or a tunnel or those things it didn't occur to me. I just knew that it was amazing, which I did think was a little odd, but I'm not fearful, so I figured I was just brave.
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real I'm a skeptical scientist. If something happened to me, I've ruled out all other explanations for it, and it's still there, it is a real experience. This, therefore, is a real experience.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real Same, only more so. I've run it past a couple of other scientists who I trust, and who know me as another skeptical scientist.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? No There are no medications or substances that could do so. I know that intuitively. I'm not into drugs, either, but I know people who are, and I've surreptitiously asked a couple of them, and they agree - it's not in a bottle or in a hit of weed.
Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience? There is probably a scientific explanation for all of it, but that changes nothing at all about the spiritual significance. I see no incompatibility. In fact, this experience itself simply enhances my belief in that fact.