When I was in my early twenties, I had something resembling a 'cancer scare'. I had precancerous cells on the cervix of my uterus, and I required a procedure called a 'cone biopsy'. This is typically not a dangerous procedure, but afterwards, one must take care to avoid interfering with the surgery site - no baths, no sex, and no heavy lifting.
The prohibition I had difficulty sticking to was the 'no heavy lifting’. I had a toddler. We heated the house by wood. Seven days after the surgery, I was hitching the baby on one hip, and loading the wood on the other.
I went to bed that night, and awakened in a small pool of blood. When I stood, the flood of red grew. I held sanitary pads to myself, but they were spent in a very short time. I held baby diapers, then towels, and then glasses from the cupboard to myself, to catch the flow. I realized I was bleeding to death. I called the ambulance, set out a flashing light on the rural road, and awakened a neighbor to watch my child.
The emergency folk arrived, took my story, and we set out for the one-hour drive to the hospital. On the way, I lost about half my blood before losing consciousness.
Dying or dead? I don’t know. All I know, is I went from being terribly, bone-deep, chatteringly cold and bleeding in an ambulance, to the brightest and warmest place imaginable. These are not facile descriptors - the light was like an explosion of golden yellow, accompanied by the most exquisite warmth. It is not enough to say it enveloped me – it ‘was’ me - a mellow sun, a languorous day, a paradise of contentment. All was one. It was the most sublime pleasure I have ever felt. I basked in this place; even as I thought ‘I am dying’.
I thought of my death at the same time at the same time as I thought of my life...but I was not thinking. Everything was happening at the same time; the sensuous basking in this beautiful light, my death, my life. I was afraid for my daughter.
When the emergency medical technician waved an ammonia ampule under my nose, I came back to the ambulance, and I gave them the phone number for my parents. We arrived at the hospital, they repaired the erupted cervical artery, and took me off the oxygen. My blood was drawn and tested. My blood values were low, so they gave me two units of packed cells via a blood transfusion.
I think of this as the time I almost died, or the time I decided not to die.
I am fascinated by the near death experiences of others. The random firings of an under perfused brain or Heaven? Tales of the light, the tunnel, and the beckoning figures. And even as I vote in favor of the 'lack of oxygenated blood to the brain' vs. 'Heaven', I wonder. What benevolent thing makes our last minutes like this: welcoming, light, warm, and full of joy?
Date NDE Occurred: 2/4/1986
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes hemorrhage after surgery Life threatening event, but not clinical death I had lost a considerable amount of blood, and had lost consciousness. Both my levels for hematocrit [percentage of red blood cells in blood] and hemoglobin [count of the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to the body] were taken after the repair of the ruptured artery and they indicated I had lost approximately half my blood volume.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Positive
The experience included: Out of body experience
Did you feel separated from your body? Uncertain I did not feel my body, which was very cold and shaking. I was filled with blissful warmth, but had no awareness that this warmth was in my body. I did not have the sensation of looking at my body, or any awareness of events taking place in the ambulance. I was in another place.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? I was unconscious. I thought it was unconscious for several minutes, but apparently it was less than a minute’s duration.
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning Everything was happening all at once. Time was immaterial. I thought I was at this place for some time, but was not 'out' for that long, tens of seconds, maybe.
Did your hearing differ in any way from normal? I heard my own voice say ‘I'm dying’.
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? No
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? No
The experience included: Light
Did you see an unearthly light? Yes Gold, yellow and white, like the sun. It was very beautiful.
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? A clearly mystical or unearthly realm I perceived the place I went as being somewhere else, but it had no landscape as such.
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Peace; warmth; wonder; joy; concern for the fate of my child, who was very young at that time.
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? Everything about the universe I know that I am meant to be here. I no longer fear death.
The experience included: Life review
Did scenes from your past come back to you? My past flashed before me, out of my control It was not sequential or linear in any way. It was like being aware of everything all at once. I have difficulty describing, or understanding, it.
Did scenes from the future come to you? No
The experience included: Boundary
Did you reach a boundary or limiting physical structure? Yes The boundary was more a decision-making boundary. I chose to return to my life so I could be a parent to my daughter.
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 Concern, leading to certainty. I did not regret my choice. I still don't.
God, Spiritual and Religion:
What was your religion prior to your experience? Conservative/fundamentalist I grew up in a Catholic household, but I was not a practicing Catholic at that time. I'm still not, I guess.
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes I was more committed to making a happy life, to not get disappointed if things weren't perfect, to take things easier, to be kinder to other people, to pay more attention, to appreciate the beauty around me more.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes Because words are so limiting. Words like 'wonder' and 'joy' and 'love' seem inadequate to explain what happened.
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? The best part was the peace, the joyful warmth and the clarity of deciding to come back. The worst part was returning to my body, as I was in severe shock and so very cold.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes Not until recently, when I posted it to an online diary I've had for a year. I don't really know why I never wanted to discuss this with anyone. I certainly thought about it frequently. Perhaps I was waiting until my daughter grew up.
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? Shock sucks.
Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? Thank you for providing a place where I can read about the experiences of others and share my own story.