I was on our first trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Both my daughter, age 7, and I had never been there before. My husband wanted it to be a surprise for my daughter until the day of leaving. This created anxiety for me as it's tough to keep a surprise, especially one that big. Plus, I had to pack without my daughter noticing. Moreover, traveling causes high anxiety for me, and we were going to Walt Disney World, which had been a long-time dream for me since I was little.
The other thing I worried about was chronic back pain. I had a spinal fusion in 2014 on S1, L4 and L5, due to chronic pain in my lumbar spine. I did this after trying nearly everything else, and the insurance company told me that I just needed surgery. Subsequently, the surgery put pressure on my SI joints, which the doctor wanted to fix with more surgery. I decided not to get the surgery because it meant 6 weeks healing after each side was done. That was too much time from work, and I believed it would only make my pain worse and cause further damage. I had chronic pain throughout my entire body, that extended to my hands and feet. I took heavy pain medications for it. Adding that to allergies, asthma, as well as, endometriosis since my early 30s, ulcers since I was 16. I didn't want any of my other health issues to interfere with enjoying a Disney vacation.
My husband, daughter and I went with his parents so they could share in my daughter's first experience. Since we were in central Florida, I figured my allergies would act up as they did in Jamaica on our Honeymoon. In Jamaica, we much of the resort was outside in open air, except for the rooms. I had trouble breathing after just being there a few days. I spent most of the time in the room. So prior to going to Disney World, I went to the doctors and asked for a steroid script in the event I needed them down in Florida. I had never been to central Florida, but figured it was jungle-like and lush like Jamaica.
The first day we were there consisted mostly of traveling and settling into the hotel. In the evening we swam in the pool. I felt fine, but my allergies and asthma started acting up. So the following morning, I started the steroids. I didn't want our trip to be bogged down because of sneezing, headaches, and shortness of breath. Both my daughter and I, being huge fans of Disney, were in awe of how magical it was! Since I was so excited, it was a little overwhelming to take in. I did have a little nausea in the morning, along with my allergies acting up, but other than that, I seemed fine. It was a very busy day, but my back didn't hurt too much more than usual. I was happy about that.
The third day, was Mother's Day and we had another full day of Disney. My allergies seemed to be in check from the steroids, but I had nausea again, and ended up throwing up. I kept the nausea and vomiting a secret, because I figured it was my ulcers that had recently come back. I didn't want to dampen anyone's spirits, so I just didn't say anything to my husband. The rest of the day, I had moderate allergy symptoms and back and chronic pain, were doing well, considering all the running around. We ended up going to bed around 10 or 11 and were excited for our fourth day at the parks. We had another two full days at the Parks planned and were equipped with fast-passes.
Around 1 or 2 am, I awoke very nauseous and began vomiting heavily in the bathroom. After about the third or fourth time vomiting, my throat was swollen, my abdomen and chest hurt, I had the chills and was freezing due to a high temperature. By then, everything hurt. I was freezing and attempted to wake my husband to help me. He brushed it off, and figured I had food-poisoning and probably one too many drinks at dinner, the night before. He was of no help and I was on my own. I continued to throw up and my pain level was skyrocketing. I was in so much pain and couldn't take anything to help because it would just come back up. Every minute, felt like hours. I was in so much pain, I couldn't bare it. Finally, around 6 or 7 my husband woke up. I threw up maybe 6 or 7 times and then I was dry heaving. I couldn't move, although I tried. I definitely knew something was wrong. My husband reluctantly asked me if I needed to be driven to the hospital. I told him, 'Yes.' I said good-bye to my daughter and kissed and hugged her. I told her I would be okay. He took my daughter to the room where my in-laws were staying. I explained what was going on. I didn't want to ruin a day at Disney, but I couldn't even get up to change my clothes at this point.
My husband looked up hospitals online and found one 45 minutes away. He told me how long the trip was and I told him that was too far. I didn't know how I would make the drive. So he asked if I needed an ambulance. I told him, 'Yes.' So he called down to the front desk and an ambulance was there to pick me up within 20 minutes or so. By then it was 8:30 a.m. and I was in so much pain. It hurt my body to even lie down on the hard bed in the ambulance. Every bone of my body ached. They examined me and said I had flu-like symptoms and was dehydrated. They tried to start an IV of fluids. I was so dehydrated it took three tries to get an IV going. After they stabilized me, they took me to the nearest hospital. It was a Disney Hospital, and was super close. At first, it didn't seem as though I would be admitted. My mouth was so dry, but they wouldn't allow me anything to drink, so I wouldn't throw up again. Every minute felt like an eternity and my health continued to worsen. They finally allowed me a small cup of ice water.
They did an x-ray and CT scan on my abdomen and chest. The first time they did it was around 10:15 am, I could barely lie down. They suspected pneumonia and decided tht they were going to admit me. They tried to repeat the test around 2 p.m. I was screaming in pain. I told them that I would lie down for the CT once they were done with whatever they were doing, but that I couldn't lay flat any longer than that. Once the results came back from CT scans, the doctor came in and told my husband how sick I was and that we have to start talking about life support because my lungs were failing and I was in septic shock. My husband was shocked and pained about the news and I was relieved. I wanted to die, I was in so much pain. I figured if I had to go on life support, it made sense. I was immediately rushed to the ICU. On arrival, I was short of breath and in severe distress. My pulse oximetry was in the low 80s on oxygen at 15 L/min. I was initially placed on high flow oxygen system with FIO2 100% only to increase saturation to 88%. I was tachypneic with my respiratory rate more than the 50s. I was then intubated with a mechanical ventilation. My husband was by my side just before they intubated me and I remember him telling me to come back to him and he loves me. After I was intubated, I felt no pain.
It was like I was present at the hospital and watching what was going on. Later than day they did a bronchial lavage and pulled out a mucus plug that was large and had little tiny tentacle from being in my airways. It was so large, the Physician's Assistant saved it to show her medical students. She later told me that she had never seen one so large. She was the very same Physician's Assistant who admitted me to the hospital. They repeated the test on the Friday of that week. I was still intubated, but I remember them doing it twice. I remember there were several people around while they redid the test. The second time, they took several shot glasses size vials full of fluid. During the time, I was intubated I recall my husband by my side holding my had with both hands and almost burying his head in them, while tears filled his eyes telling me to come back and how much he loved me.
It was as if no time was going on but everything was happening at once. I remember seeing my mom, who had passed 7 years prior, and her telling me if wasn't my time. We seemed go back and forth for a little bit. I felt so good. My body wasn't in pain and I felt an amazing sense of love and joy. She said to me, 'Ed (my husband) and Kalli (my daughter) still need you, so get your ass out of bed!'
It was a Monday, the day I entered the hospital and was intubated, and they tried to take me on that Friday. When I woke, I don't really remember that day. I guess I tried to get out of bed, like my mom told me to, and they wouldn't let me. I wasn't going down without of fight though. As I began to get violent, Ed got nervous. His good friend drove from where he lived a few hours away to meet up with him because he had heard the news. Once he got to the hospital, Ed asked the male nurse what he should do. The nurse was attempting to sedate me, and he responded, 'Run Ed, Run!' So he left and the nurse gave me several sedatives to finally get me back down. I slept the night and awoke the next day to hallucinations. I was incoherent and saw weird things on the walls and everything I saw was weird and psychedelic. I was asking Ed why it looked that way and we came to the conclusion I was hallucinating. I had never been through that before, so I didn't know what it was like.
When I awoke, I had many questions. I guess Ed didn't tell his parents I was intubated until they left on Wednesday. They knew I was at the hospital, but he didn't want his mom and Dad to worry about me the rest of the trip. We still had Monday and Tuesday passes to the parks and days planned. So my in-laws and Kalli finished the trip. He told them just before they left. My mother in law felt like she was abandoning her son during the worst nightmare. However, she knew Kalli needed to get back to school.
Ed and I compared notes when I woke. I told him I remembered the bronchs being done and him telling me to come back. I told him I saw my mom and she told me to get my butt out of bed. He figured it was just a dream or the intubation meds. He believes that it was the medications that got me up. He told me that my temperature was so high, they had ice packs all over me. He told the nurses they were lucky I wasn't up. I get cold very easily, and wouldn't like that even in the summer. He told me about this one male nurse that took care of me most of them time I was there. He was a large nurse, who was from ones of the island, as he had an accent. Ed said after a while, that I only responded to that nurse. The nurse was leaving for his 'weekend' on Friday, and wouldn't be there. So he warned Ed that I may not talk or walk when I get up, so not to expect it. He was preparing Ed for what was in store for me. Everyone that had taken care of me came him to tell me how amazed they were at my recovery rate. I was able to walk and talk the second day after being intubated. I was weak, and a little frail. But, I was recovering so quickly. They told me they did not expect me to recover so quickly. They were all wonderful, and I am grateful they were there for me. I stayed in ICU until Monday, where I quickly recovered enough to be put in a regular room. After being intubated, I had not been able to sleep. So when I moved to a regular room, I asked for some Benadryl. That evening, the male nurse from the ICU came to visit me. He hugged me, and told me how worried I made him and couldn't believe I was out of ICU so quickly. He had to see it for himself. I stayed one more night and on Tuesday I was ready to leave. They struggled with the pulse-ox to get my oxygen, but finally got a reading.
I was well enough to leave the hospital. The doctor wanted me to stay in the area one more night, in case anything happened. So my husband took me to Disney where we got a room at one of the less expensive hotels and were able to go back to Downtown Disney for dinner and shopping. We went home the following day.
Since then, I have been to so many doctors and specialists to try to tie all my health information together. It didn't seem coincidental that I had so many health issues and then this on top. I've been to several specialists at the Cleveland Clinic, including a neurologist. I've been diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, Autonomic Autoimmune Dysfunction. It is in the Lambert-Eaton Scale. They still don't have a definitive diagnosis.
Date NDE Occurred: 05/11/2015
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Illness. Other: Post-acute respiratory failure due to right upper lobe lobar pneumonia from Streptococcus pyogenes. Septic Shock
How do you consider the content of your experience? Neither pleasant NOR distressing
The experience included: Out of body experience
Did you feel separated from your body? Yes My husband figured seeing my mom was a dream, but it felt so real.
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. I could see things that were happening outside myself
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? toward the beginning
Were your thoughts speeded up? Faster than usual
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning. There didn't seem to be time and everything happened at once.
Were your senses More vivid than usual? More vivid than usual
Please compare your vision during the experience to your everyday vision that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. I saw things as if I were watching a movie and I was in it
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. I could hear my husband and others while I was intubated
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere, as if by ESP? Yes, and the facts have been checked out
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? Uncertain. I don't think I did. I remember the lightness but not a tunnel
The experience included: Presence of deceased persons
Did you see any beings in your experience? I actually saw them
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? Yes my mom, see question 18
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? Yes It was whiteness, and bright. It was not a light, but all light and bright
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? A clearly mystical or unearthly realm. It was like watching a brightly lit movie where I felt things
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
What emotions did you feel during the experience? pain free, love, Happiness, perfection, ease, peace
Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? Incredible peace or pleasantness
Did you have a feeling of joy? Incredible joy
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 or purpose
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? Everything about myself or others. I felt a sense of peace but had more and still have more questions than answers
Did scenes from your past come back to you? No
Did scenes from the future come to you? No
Did you come to a border or point of no return? No
God, Spiritual and Religion:
What importance did you place on your religious/spiritual life prior to your experience? Slightly important to me
What was your religion prior to your experience? Christian- Catholic. I only attend mass a few times a year, agree with much of Catholicism 'rules', but didn't really believe in any other faith
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? No
What importance do you place on your religious/spiritual life after your experience? Greatly important to me
What is your religion now? Do not know. I believe that there is one God, universe, source, but believe Jesus was a son of God, and lived a more 'realized' state. I believe that I too am child of God and have a piece of God or awareness as well. Church is a place to be with other spiritual beings, and much of the bible's teachings honor what I believe to be true
Did your experience include features consistent with your earthly beliefs? Content that was entirely not consistent with the beliefs you had at the time of your experience. I always believed in a heaven, but there was no judgment; only love and peace.
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes more spiritual and search for more
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. I saw my mom who told me it wasn't my time and to 'get your ass out of bed, Kalli and Ed need you!'
Did you see deceased or religious spirits? I actually saw them
Did you encounter or become aware of any beings who previously lived on earth who are described by name in religions (for example: Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, etc.)? No
During your experience, did you gain information about premortal existence? No
During your experience, did you gain information about universal connection or oneness? No
Did you believe in the existence of God prior to your experience? God definitely exists
During your experience, did you gain information about the existence of God? No
Do you believe in the existence of God after your experience? God definitely exists
Concerning our Earthly lives other than Religion:
During your experience, did you gain special knowledge or information about your purpose? Uncertain. I feel I came back for a reason, but not 100% why.
Did you believe that our earthly lives Are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Are possibly meaningful and significant
During your experience, did you gain information about the meaning of life? No
Did you believe in an afterlife prior to your experience? An afterlife probably exists
Do you believe in an afterlife after your experience? An afterlife definitely exists. Yes it seems we are spirits in a body, not the other way around
Did you fear death prior to your experience? I slightly feared death
Do you fear death after your experience? I do not fear death
Were you fearful living your life prior to your experience? Slightly fearful in living my earthly life
Were you fearful living your life after your experience? Not fearful in living my earthly life
Did you believe that our earthly lives Are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Are possibly meaningful and significant
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant after your experience? Are meaningful and significant
Did you gain information about how to live our lives? No
During your experience, did you gain information about life's difficulties, challenges and hardships? No
Were you compassionate prior to your experience? Moderately compassionate toward others
During your experience, did you gain information about love? Yes I felt love and peace and no pain
Were you compassionate after your experience? Greatly compassionate toward others
What life changes occurred in your life after your experience? Moderate changes in my life. I have done much soul search and reading of a more universal God. I believe we are part of God, just as Jesus, Allah, Mohammed, etc.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes things and people mean so much to me and nature amazes me.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes time didn't seem relevant and it was like no time had past. I felt euphoric and pain-free and surrounded by love
How accurately do you remember the experience in comparison to other life events that occurred around the time of the experience? I remember the experience more accurately than other life events that occurred around the time of the experience.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? No
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? my mom, because she told me it wasn't my time and that I was still needed her for my family
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes right away, most people were shocked about it all
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? No
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real. I knew what I saw, and I felt what I felt. It was more real than a dream
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
Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience? no