The November 1987 myelogram test was being conducted in St. Francis Hospital, in Santa Barbara, California and my neurosurgeon and my orthopedic surgeon were present. They were scheduled to do a discectomy/laminectomy the following morning on my L5-S1 blown disc, but because I had lost seventy percent of the power of my left leg after I blew the disc, they had decided to do the myelogram test to determine if I had any spinal cord damage, prior to surgery. Also present in the room were a male x-ray technician and at least two other people, presumably support staff.
While lying on the x-ray table, the iodine dye was injected into my spinal cord, at a point located in the back of my neck. I was instructed to hold very still. The technician initiated movement of the table, and began talking to someone outside my range of vision. I had been told that the table would be positioned to raise my head, allowing gravity to move the dye down my spinal cord. X-rays would then be taken to allow the physicians to determine if the spinal cord was damaged before they performed surgery the next day.
On the x-ray table, I immediately began to feel strange and out of control. I felt as though I was going to lose consciousness, and realized that I could not move or communicate, and I fought to stay alert and present in the room. I wanted to alert the x-ray technician, but couldn't. I began hyperventilating and he turned from his conversation to look at me. My eyes were rolling back in my head and I fought to look at him and not lose consciousness. I saw him look startled, lean back and check his placement of his finger on the control buttons, and then look shocked. I lost consciousness.
It seemed to me as though I had just shut my eyes, and when I opened them again, my viewpoint had changed. I was now viewing the room from above the x-ray table and I actually felt as though the back of my head was pressing against the ceiling. I could hear and see everything in the room, and there was pandemonium below. Some of the people present were huddled around the x-ray table, someone was on the phone - calling for assistance, and the room seemed very loud and a feeling of panic emanated from the people present. My death was an event the x-ray room was ill-equipped for it.
Up on the ceiling, I felt absolutely calm and extremely unworried, and the thought that I immediately had was, 'I'm dead. If I'm up here, and my body is down there, I've died.' There was no angst, fear, or anger; it was just a statement of the situation as I watched the people below working over my body. I actually felt nonchalant about my own death.
I calmly began talking to God, as I usually do, and I simply said that I needed to go back. I said that I needed to return to raise my three month old baby daughter and my eight and a half year old son. I knew that I would soon be leaving my husband, as I was in an emotionally and physically abusive marriage, and that the children would need to be raised by me. I asked to return to my body to be the support for my children. I strongly wanted to return to my body, I calmly requested God to return me.
In the room below me, an oxygen cart was quickly wheeled in and an oxygen mask was placed on my face. A heart monitor was also wheeled in and was connected to my body. I remember looking down from the ceiling at the small screen as it showed a flat line and emitted a loud monotone buzzing noise. I don't know how much time passed as I talked to God, watching the scene play out below.
I heard the orthopedic surgeon say, 'Stand Clear!' and he swung his fist in a high arc and it landed on my chest. He swung it over his head and it landed on my chest again. It didn't hurt me, I watched passively from above, but the second blow caused my view from above to go dark, as if my eyes had again shut.
I blinked opened my eyes again and was startled to be looking up into people's faces and what was obviously the view from my own body. I was wearing the oxygen mask and then could hear the bleep, bleep sounds of the heart monitor registering my heart beating! I immediately wanted to tell them all that I had been up on the ceiling! I started talking into the oxygen mask. They advised me not to talk, saying that they needed to stabilize me. It was almost too hard to wait to tell them what I had experienced. I felt elated and so excited! I felt immense joy in that I had returned!
When they removed the oxygen mask, I related to the two doctors, and everyone else present, that I 'had been on the ceiling - and I watched you bring me back!' I continued by saying that I could hear and see everything that had been happening below. The neurosurgeon is well known for his amazing surgical expertise and also for a rather abrupt, no nonsense attitude. He looked immediately skeptical, so I began relating the details of what had happened while I was on the ceiling, saying, '...and you said..., and he said... and then...' Both doctors looked startled and the neurosurgeon then said, 'I'm not going to stand here and listen to this!' and stormed out of the room. The orthopedic surgeon held my hand and I remember him comforting me, but no one would allow me to talk about what had just happened.
When I was transferred to my room, none of the support staff would answer any of my questions during my four day hospital stay after my successful back surgery. My husband scoffed at the story, saying that it couldn't have happened since no one at the hospital would admit that it did. Even on my post-surgery follow-up visits, neither doctor would discuss what happened with me in the x-ray room, presumably because they feared legal repercussions. When pressed about it, the neurosurgeon explained away the situation by saying that I had experienced an allergic reaction to the iodine used for the myelogram. I knew that it had actually resulted from human error, but since I did not intend to pursue any legal action and couldn't get anyone to give me any confirmation of the NDE, I just eventually chose not to speak about the experience with anyone.
I never forgot about the NDE. I actually cherished the experience and felt happy that I had gotten to experience it, but I just never talked about it with anyone until about ten years later. I realized that telling my story would help someone whose mother was dying, and I told the story to a Christian nurse friend of mine. It did comfort her, and as we discussed the NDE she confirmed that some physicians are taught to use a pre-cardial thump as a last ditch effort to save a life if they don't have access to a defibrillator unit as the blow can shock the patient's heart into beating again. I knew then that I had truly seen the orthopedic surgeon arc his fist to restart my heart, and it verified, for me, that the NDE had truly happened.
I have always felt a strong connection to God, even when I was a young child, and this NDE experience definitely strengthened it further. I do not fear death and now look forward to passing out of this life and into whatever is beyond it. I felt the calm peace and bliss of what is beyond death. I believe I was given a gift from God, the opportunity to return to my body and to live out my life further, to raise my children, to work out many of the kinks in my life path, which, happily, I have successfully accomplished over the past twenty years.
I believe that I am here for many reasons, some that I currently realize and others that I will be shown by God when the time is right. I focus on being a positive presence on earth, and in the lives of my family and friends, as well as in my community and the world. I am thankful I was given the gift to be here. I enjoy living my life every day. I am recognized as a positive, optimistic and happy wife (I divorced two and a half years after the NDE and was married two years later to my current husband, who's truly a wonderful gift!!), mother of five (his, mine, and ours!); businesswoman and employer; community volunteer; Rotarian (Rotary Club motto: 'Service above Self'); and most importantly, joyous Christian! 'Life is Good' and I'm happy to be here until it's my time to move on and fully experience the 'life after life'!
Date NDE Occurred: November 1987
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Surgery-related Clinical death (cessation of breathing or heart function or brain function)
During a myelogram/x-ray exam, prior to back surgery, the x-ray technician erred by pushing the wrong button on the x-ray machine. This resulted in my head being lowered, instead of being raised. The iodine dye that had just been injected into my neck quickly flowed into my brain, resulting in a very fast clinical death.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Wonderful
The experience included: Out of body experience
Did you feel separated from your body? Yes
I clearly left my body and existed outside it
How did your highest level of consciousness and alertness during the experience compare to your normal everyday consciousness and alertness? More consciousness and alertness than normal As above.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? After I found myself out of my body. I felt very calm, wonderful and blissful.
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
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. Possibly, I think that I may have been able to focus on things that I normally would not be able to see at a distance. Example: I saw the room from my ceiling vantage point, yet I clearly remember seeing the screen on the heart monitor as if my face was just a foot or two from the front of it.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. Everything seemed loud and obnoxious below me, even though I knew they were trying to save my life.
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
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
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Calm, peace, bliss, and the desire to return for the sake of my children.
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
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
Did scenes from the future come to you? Scenes from the world's future Certain future events, yes. I have had a few very clear premonitions that were proven true. One was where I was seven months pregnant with my last child and 'saw' that I would give birth to an 11 pound baby. I spoke with my gynecologist on three separate occasions and he was extremely dismissive about it and refused to take me seriously. On February 16, 1994, I gave birth to a 10 pound 13 ounce baby boy that was one week early. Because of his size and the resulting birth complications from the doctor being unprepared to deliver such a large baby, he almost died at birth. Today, he's a happy, healthy six feet 3 inches thirteen year old eighth grader, and he plays competitive water polo and loves creating stop-action videos! Of course, we changed gynecologists immediately after his birth! Another very strong premonition I had in September 2001, involved knowing that much of the city of Santa Barbara would be destroyed by a tidal wave generated from an earthquake. It hasn't happened, but I still feel concerned about the possibility of it occurring in the future. I don't routinely 'see' the future though, so I'll answer no to question 35.
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 Christian
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes I know that God exists and has complete control over my life. I trust him entirely.
What is your religion now? Moderate Christian
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes I know that God exists and has complete control over my life. I trust him entirely.
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? No Well, in a sense, I guessed that God wanted me to lovingly care for and support my children, since I had asked to return because of them. I know this may sound incredibly strange, but this story is absolutely true. I have recounted it in front of hundreds of business people in my community and almost daily to people who ask me why I opened my store in March 2003. I experienced what I can only describe as an incredible epiphany that occurred in my living room at about 6:30 am, on a regular work day, after I had awakened my children in preparation for school. I heard what I believe to be God's voice, and my head felt as if it was being tightly gripped, and I felt a strange sensation like honey sliding down over my neck and shoulders. I clearly heard a voice and I believe that God spoke to me and instructed me to create a retail store (scrapbooking and paper arts), when I knew nothing about either scrapbooking or retail stores, and was very happily working as a secretary at a local university. Six hours after the epiphany, I heard a different voice while driving my car home and I was directed to stop and asked about a business loan at my bank. It was two blocks away and I stopped there and obtained approval for a $250,000 loan within fifteen minutes of walking into my bank. I then found a location, built the business, and opened the store just three months later. I was named a 'Businesswoman of the Year' by Women's Economic Ventures in Santa Barbara, California in October 2004 and I frequently talk about this amazing epiphany experience in front of local groups.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes I found the strength to get myself and my children out of an abusive marriage. I spent two years building a list of attributes that I wanted to find in a suitable spouse and then was introduced to the person whose character wonderfully matched my list of attributes. I married him and still adore him fifteen years later. I supported, guided, and loved my children and step-children through their childhood, teen years, and into adulthood. I volunteer constantly in my community, and raise funds for non-profits (I just single-handedly staged an event that raised $4,000 that was split between our local Cancer Center of Santa Barbara and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation in Dallas, Texas. I am pretty much known for my outgoing, upbeat nature and for being kind to others. I'm not perfect, and I definitely have flaws, but I do feel blessed to be alive and living my happy life. 'Life is Good' and I'm happy to be here until it's my time to move on and fully experience the 'life after life'!
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? No
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Yes I've outlined one of them (knowing my son's extreme birth weight) above, and could actually give quite a few others, as well, but wouldn't mind being contacted directly about them rather than writing them here. One story involves saving the life of my daughter and it was a pretty neat psychic experience. One interesting thing about me is that I constantly win things in raffles, drawings, etc., so much so that my friends and family think that it's quite weird how often I win, but are happy that I win!
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? I felt that I was speaking directly to God when I asked him to return me to my body. Not that I saw him, but I just felt him and I just strongly knew that he could hear me. Now I always feel that he can hear me talking to him. I realize there is no barrier between us.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes After the NDE, no one would talk about it, so I simply cherished it and didn't discuss it for approximately ten years. Since I began talking about it, I've had the opportunity to tell it to people who were facing death or had someone close to them facing death. I feel that it helps people to understand that the experiences that happen to us after death are something to look forward to, and that they need not fear death.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Yes I knew that people had said that it happened, but I didn't have any interest in them or researching them. I didn't know anyone who it had happened to, and since I don't watch TV (since about 1976), I didn't really know much about the subject.
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real I held onto the strong memories and emotions of it for years, until I began talking about it ten years later. It was always a real part of me, of my life experiences, and I quietly cherished it. It is a very real experience, and I was happy when one of the doctors that was present at the NDE confirmed, over fifteen years later, that I told the story accurately to one of his employees, who then reminded him about the experience. It is interesting to me that my NDE was impacting enough on him for him to remember it quite accurately fifteen years later.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? No I would like to state that I never tried marijuana or any other drugs throughout my teens and twenties (my mother was a police officer), and do not drink alcohol to any real extent (I've had perhaps one or three mixed drinks per year since I was twenty-one). I've never suffered from any type of hallucinations and I am a very healthy individual.
Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience? I wish everyone could experience an NDE like mine! The world would be so radically different if everyone did!