My family doctor was dumbfounded with the pain sensations I was describing to him. Try as he may, he could not find the cause for what I had described as a burning pain that went from my abdomen to my lower back where it was worse. He was frustrated that his extremely thorough examination, he was conducting on me, was not giving him any answers. He ordered, ‘Have your son drive you to the emergency room, and I will be there a few minutes later.’ The pain and burning sensation were getting so strong I was doing everything possible not to scream. It appeared that my condition was obvious to others because of their ‘you look green’ comments.
A few minutes after my arrival, my family doctor arrived and I was immediately admitted to the hospital. I spent that night turning and twisting in pain because no test could tell the doctors the reason for the pain. The following morning, my doctor had brought another doctor with him, and he introduced him to me as Doctor W, who was an internal organ surgeon. Doctor W told me that he believed my problem was caused by my appendix and that he needed my permission to do surgery immediately. I used my right hand to grab him by the necktie, and I pulled him down until his face was less than an inch away from mine and yelled at him that I didn't care what he did with me because I was in too much pain.
Still grabbed by the necktie, Doctor W started barking orders and I was taken to the operating room without hesitation. The operating room was around 20 x 20 feet with the table in the middle. All kinds of machinery were above, below, and around the operating table. Besides Doctor W, there were two males and two females in the room. The anesthesiologist looks at my eyes and said, ‘I bet you can't count back from a hundred after I put the mask on you.’ I told him he was wrong and I didn't get past 98 before I passed out.
Without any signs or warning, I found myself looking down at the whole operating scene. I will not say I was floating because I did not feel like floating. It was more like observing a television screen. The sound of the machinery in the room and the conversation between the doctors and nurses was clear to me. I knew something was wrong with my body and the moment I thought that I heard the surgeon say ‘I lost him, I lost him.’ I heard these last words in that room before finding myself somewhere else. Only an extreme non-blinding white light surrounded me. There are no words in the human language to do justice to this light while trying to describe the love I could feel all around me. I knew that there were others there. I knew that they were all happy and loving each other and me. My mind was with theirs and theirs were with mine as if we all could communicate instantly with one another. Others were there, but I could not see them. It was as if the white light was acting as a curtain that didn't let me see anything else.
Suddenly, I noticed two hands coming out of the light in front of me and I knew instantly that those hands were my dear Grandfather Juan's hands. When I was a little boy, I used to sit on Grandpa Juan's lap to talk with him. I was always fascinated by the size and roughness of his hands. The joy in my heart and soul were so strong, when I saw Grandpa Juan that I just grabbed him and hugged him. He told me that he was very happy to see me and that he loved me. He then added, ‘But Claudie it is not your time, and you must go back. Don't worry because we will see each other again very soon.’ He was the only person in my life that called me 'Claudie.' I told him I didn't want to go back because I wanted to stay with him, but to excuse me a moment because somebody was calling my name.
The voice calling my name got very loud, and I opened my physical eyes yelling at the nurse that was trying to wake me up ‘WHAT!!!’ She was taken aback and asked me if I had a bad dream. I just stayed silent. I could still feel the warmth and love of the white light, and I could still smell my Grandfather. ’NO! I told her again. I had a great dream and you woke me up at the worst time.’ The nurse just looked at me like saying to herself something like, ‘be patient, he is just waking up from anesthesia.’ I was rolled to my room and slept until the next day.
The following morning I learned that the operation had lasted hours because my appendix had burst more than 24 hours before I was admitted to the hospital. Somehow, the appendix ‘stood’ up and went behind my colon where it burst. The incision on my abdomen is 7 inches long and the reason for that is that the surgeon had to wipe my insides clean of the burst appendix infection that was all over my internal walls and organs. I was in the hospital for nine days with an IV in place. All nine days, the IV could only dispense the medication needed to combat the infection.
On the ninth morning in the hospital, I was ready for the surgeon's morning visit and checkup. I asked him to sit down, cautiously and slowly. I knelt in front of him and begged him to release me from the hospital. For the first time I confessed to him that I knew he had ‘lost’ me during the operation. He told me that he had ordered everybody to stay quiet about that because I was not out of the woods yet. When I finished describing to him the scene in the OR when he lost me, and my visit with my Grandfather, he clearly understood me when I said that I knew that I would die if I stayed in the hospital.
He ordered my release with incredibly difficult restrictions for home care. Obviously I survived the whole ordeal, but as the years passed I started doubting my own memory of the events from that surgery. Five years later, and while walking to my table at a restaurant a man at a table I was passing stood up and grabbed/hugged me. I had no idea who the loon was who took my breath away with his hug. The man then released me and with tears in his eyes tells the other man at the table, ‘This is the patient I have told you about all these years. Yes, the one whose appendix burst behind his colon. He died in surgery and his Grandfather sent him back!’ Doctor W then proceeded to tell his friend and me that when he released me my prognosis was not good. He said that the after the nine days in the hospital I would not suffer more by going home as long as I followed his instructions. He finished by saying that when I knelt in front of him and told him my side of the surgery, that he could see in my eyes that my Grandfather was right and that it was not my time.
Date NDE Occurred: 'June 20, 1986'
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)
Peritonitis caused by appendicitis. My appendix had burst behind my colon more than 24 hours before diagnosis.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Entirely pleasant
The experience included: Out of body experience
Did you feel separated from your body? Yes I was aware of everything going on in the OR. I was looking at it from above until the doctor said that he lost me.
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
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? Right after the anesthesiologist put the mask on me and I was looking at my surgery below me. I can still recall conversations, and the fact that I understood perfectly what was wrong with my body. It was like my brain opened up to receive knowledge. Although in this plane of existence my brain is limited, the experience left me with a thirst for knowledge. There were no limitations in what we call time and space. The mind is opened to receive and to send information. There was no pain, problems, negativity, or anything else driving me away from the information given me. The information during my experience was exchanged in pictures and not in words if that makes any sense.
Were your thoughts speeded up? Faster than usual
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? No
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 brain was recognizing many more things around me than in physical form. Colors of clothing or nails, hairdos, position of instruments are just a few of the things seen and remembered around the operating room.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. My hearing was very crisp. This means that I was very sensitive (and I still am) to high pitch noises. That is the reason I screamed at the nurse that woke me up. Her voice sounded like a screech to me. Don't worry, I apologized later on.
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? No
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? Uncertain Maybe, but it was more like appearing instantly elsewhere.
The experience included: Presence of deceased persons
Did you see any beings in your experience? No
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? Yes My Grandfather.
The experience included: Unearthly light
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 The white light explained above.
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? A clearly mystical or unearthly realm I was completely encased by a white light. I had no sensation of a floor below me.
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
What emotions did you feel during the experience? I felt love, peace, and oneness.
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
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? No
Did scenes from your past come back to you? No
Did scenes from the future come to you? No
The experience included: Boundary
Did you reach a boundary or limiting physical structure? 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? Moderately important to me
What was your religion prior to your experience? Unaffiliated- Agnostic I am a very SPIRITUAL person not a religious person.
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? Unaffiliated- Agnostic I have always known that I am very spiritual, but not religious.
Did your experience include features consistent with your earthly beliefs? Content that was entirely consistent with the beliefs you had at the time of your experience
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? No
Did you seem to encounter a mystical being or presence, or hear an unidentifiable voice? No
Did you see deceased or religious spirits? No
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? No
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Are 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 definitely exists
Do you believe in an afterlife after your experience? An afterlife definitely exists. Yes Please see description above. It's self explanatory
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? Greatly fearful in living my earthly life
Were you fearful living your life after your experience? Slightly fearful in living my earthly life
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Are 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? Greatly compassionate toward others
During your experience, did you gain information about love? No
Were you compassionate after your experience? Greatly compassionate toward others
What life changes occurred in your life after your experience? Large changes in my life Large changes in my life.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? No No
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes How does one explain or describe perfection in human terms so that others can feel its meaning the way one does? After more than 25 years I can still feel the warmth of the white light around me, but I can't express it in words.
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 My memory of the events is still very clear and I recall it all easily. I remember many things about those 9-10 days as if they are happening right now.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? No Although my answer is NO, I might observe that the question is not fair. I already had some kind of ‘gift’ before the experience. If anything the experience attuned that gift to be better.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes I shared my experience with all who cared to listen right after the operation. Pardon me, but I do not care if I influenced anybody with my story or not. I strongly believe that the listener has the free will to listen to my words, take any part of it, and use it at will, or simply to ignore me. I am not seeking conversion of others. I am only seeking the exchange of knowledge.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Yes Absolutely. My personal experiences guided me to seek information on the matter of NDE.
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real Let me summarize here, more than 25 years after my NDE I still feel my Grandfather's embrace and his smell.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real Eventually, I will return to that white light, its love and my loved ones. I think about this every day.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? No