I was at a wrap party following the closing of a show. In retrospect, it was really stupid of me - I had been up and going full speed for about thirty hours and I was exhausted. I should have gone home instead of to the party - but all the actors were more or less obligated to attend because of the presence of the patrons, etc.
I became very ill at the party. I experienced nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, I was dizzy, had difficulty breathing, and felt extremely cold. Extreme cold in April in North Carolina is not that common. It was probably seventy-five degrees out, and downright hot in the room where the party was held, but I was freezing.
Another actor and two other people (I remember the other two people, but I didn't know who they were) picked me up when I collapsed and carried/dragged me to a car and drove me to the nearest hospital. I was able to hear them, but I couldn't move or talk.
At the entrance to the emergency room, two technicians (orderlies, doctors, attendants - two guys in white) pulled me out of the car and put me on a gurney. I remember them asking me many questions. I could understand them, but I didn't know what they meant (at the time). Plus, I couldn't move or talk.
I remember being wheeled into what at the time I thought was an operating room - but I later assumed was an emergency room 'stall' or whatever term they give to those little treatment areas.
I felt that I was having jerking in convulsions, but I know that I was absolutely still. I remember a doctor or technician taking out my contact lenses. The light was intensely, painfully bright. When he shinned a light into my eyes, the effect was agonizing. I tried to scream, and I tried to talk, but I couldn't. I was told later than I was comatose - but I know that I wasn't because I remember everything. I felt everything.
All physical sensations were greatly magnified. People touching me really hurt. The catheter for a urine specimen was incredibly painful. Even the pressure of a mask (which I assume was oxygen) hurt as it touched my face.
I was still very cold, but the pain (internal pain - it still hurt when they touched me) continued. The noise level was deafening. I seemed that everything was overly amplified and that the technicians were screaming over me.
Then suddenly, as I took a breath - perhaps it was the oxygen or whatever they were feeding me kicked in - I felt as though my body was expanding. I started to feel warm. Things became quiet. I didn't hurt anymore.
I felt as though I were floating up toward the rather high ceiling. I felt a breeze on my left side, and turned to look toward that direction. I rolled over and could look down on myself, or my body, lying on the table. I remember thinking, 'Wow! Nancy was right. I AM really skinny!' I weighed about one hundred and thirty pounds at the time. With my height and structure, I should weigh one hundred and forty-five to one hundred and fifty pounds or so.
While I was looking down at my body, I heard a doctor say, 'Oh sh@#! We're losing him!' Everything seemed to be in slow motion. I saw him pound on my chest - I suppose to re-start my heart. I tried to say, 'No! Don't hurt him. Leave him alone.' I realized it seemed a bit strange to refer to myself as 'him,' but at that time, I felt that I was the entity looking down on a man who looked a lot like I used to look - but that it wasn't really me.
I closed my eyes. I didn't want to watch them hurt him anymore. I floated. I turned over so that I was lying (floating) on my back. The intense brightness of the hospital room started fading away and became a gentle 'fog.' I remember thinking it was a pale green and wondered how I knew that because I knew I had my eyes closed. I felt that I was near something wonderful and exciting but I didn't know what it was. But I was gently drifting toward it. The 'nice place' whatever or wherever it was, was down and to the right. That is, if I had been lying with my head to the north and feet to the south, the place would have been southwest, or maybe south-southwest. It wasn't really 'down' but toward my feet.
I sensed that whatever that place was - it was brighter than the green mist. Not uncomfortably bright as the hospital had been, but comfortably bright. I wanted to go there.
I did have the flash review of life. While I felt that everything was moving extremely slowly, the review was incredibly fast. I remembered many incidents from the past - re-performed roles - held 'conversations' with people. I remembered my entire life, almost as if I were re-living life on multiple levels simultaneously. I felt this incredible power to devote my total concentration on several different things at the same time.
Suddenly I 'slammed' back into my body. The pain was back, the bright lights, and overly-loud sounds. But this time I wasn't cold. I was sweating profusely.
I was aware that doctors, nurses and technicians were talking, but I couldn't understand them. Then I drifted away - or went to sleep - or lost consciousness.
I know that I spent the night in the hospital, and my friend took me to his house later because he couldn't find my keys. I wasn't aware of that. All I remembered was that I awoke in a strange bed in a strange house. He told me to go back to sleep - and I did. I'm told I slept for forty hours. I doubt that. I think that it might well have been forty hours from the beginning of the incident until I awoke - but I was told I slept for forty hours.
I went to my doctor for a follow-up the next day. His reaction was more or less, 'Well, I don't see anything wrong with you now.' So I left - someone drove me to get my car - I went home and felt fine.
I was angry that the doctors were 'hurting' that skinny little guy I was watching. And I resented being cheated out of finding out what the wonderful place was like.
Nothing comparable has happened since.
Date NDE Occurred: early April of 1976
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes If I had been rich and famous, I suppose it would have been fatigue. Being a poor actor at the time, it was just a case of getting too tired and passing out after a performance. I'm not really sure. I remember hearing an ER doctor say, 'Oh shit, we're losing him!' A friend, who had taken me to the hospital, told me he 'understood' that I had died. Whether he was told that, or just assumed that, I don't know.
I was exhausted at the time. I was also in intense pain, had difficulty breathing, experiencing extreme dizziness and blurred vision.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Positive
The experience included: Out of body experience
Did you feel separated from your body? Yes I didn't really feel a form. I didn't think I was 'really' me while I was looking down on my body, but my essence was there. I don't know what I looked like.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? I felt very alert. I was told I was 'out cold,' but I knew I was paralyzed and mute.
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning
To me, it was an incredibly long time - in actuality it was only a few minutes.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. No sounds were unusual - just normal sounds were incredibly loud.
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? No I was 'near' some place, but it wasn't any sort of tunnel or enclosure.
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? No
The experience included: Light
Did you see an unearthly light? Yes I sensed that it was brighter 'there,' but I didn't see any intense or otherwise abnormal light.
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? A clearly mystical or unearthly realm It was beautiful in the sense that it was pain-free and comfortable. I had no visual impression of the place.
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Pain, anger - then a relaxed restfulness - then brief pain as I 'went back' into my body.
The experience included: Special Knowledge
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? Everything about the universe I knew that the answers to all the questions were 'there,' if I could just get there.
Did scenes from your past come back to you? My past flashed before me, out of my control I just reviewed. I didn't learn anything new.
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? I came to a barrier that I was not permitted to cross; or was sent back against my will I'm not sure I understand this. I knew they were trying to bring me back. It wasn't my idea. I didn't want to go back.
God, Spiritual and Religion:
What was your religion prior to your experience? Liberal I'm a Reform Jew. I think of that as fairly conservative, although most people see it as fairly liberal. I'm old enough to be confused because the words seem to have flip-flopped over the years.
What is your religion now? Liberal Same. Reform Jew.
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? No
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes I've tried for years to figure out a way to explain it to someone, and I can't. It was simultaneously pleasant and frightening. I was also sort of angry at the time - first that I was dying (I thought) then that they had the gall to drag me back.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Uncertain I think I am more aware than I used to be. That could, of course, be a function of age. That was almost half-a-life ago, so I certainly should be more aware. If nothing else, at least I cherish life more without fearing death.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? Best: Feeling the incredible comfort of being near that place. Worst: The pain of being slammed back.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes I've told a very few people. The reactions ranged from 'You are so full of it!' to 'Oh, wow! Really?' I don't think I have influenced anyone in particular. Well, there was a crazy graduate student who used to stalk me. She decided to have a near death experience, too. But she was just a Looney. She later attacked an actor I had spoken to after a performance - just a general 'Good job, buddy' type encounter. I had never met him before. She attacked him, tried to kill him because, as she said later, 'He was coming between us.' I guess in her mind a stranger could well come between us since we had never been together.
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? I don't think so. I don't know what you need to know for your research. I would be happy to answer any question(s) you might have - but I'm not sure I have anything else to add.
Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? I'm sure there are questions you could ask which would help me. But I'm not sure what they are. It isn't that I'm asking for help. If my experience means anything to you research, or can help someone else, great. I am not looking for anything myself.