I had just come out of a very difficult surgery with necrotic small intestines, peritonitis, and listed in critical condition. I woke from anesthesia between actual end of surgery and recovery room. Woke and sat up abruptly, choking violently. One nurse came to me and pushed me back down onto the stainless steel table I was lying on, and simultaneously pulled a ventilator from my throat.
I instantly flew out of my body and found myself standing outside of myself at my right shoulder. I watched as another nurse grabbed a bottle(s) off a shelf. Next recollection I have was a presence (dark with wings?) enveloping me from behind and telling me 'NO.' Then I felt suspended in some sort of colorless void without any senses, but a feeling of peace (or absence of fear). Slowly over the next two days I had a dawning awareness of being enveloped in a warm white light, cocooned in that golden white light, safe.
Eventually I came to and everything in the room was white. I had a narrow window high on the wall of the room that allowed light to stream into the room. My nurse was a gay man, very loving and attentive. It was a very slow process of days before I was fully awake and present.
Prior to the surgery, during the diagnosis phase in the emergency room (day two in an emergency room - the first emergency room missed the obstruction totally) while suffering with gangrene in my gut, if I was allowed to be left alone, I left my body somehow and felt no pain. When the hospital staffed touched me at all and brought me back to consciousness, the pain was way beyond unbearable. I was at peace with dying. No fear, no pain so long as I could be left alone.
I didn't have any way to understand the void until I heard someone on Donahue describing their near-death experience and the 'void' at which point I had a way to understand what I had experienced. I confirmed with the surgeon that in fact my heart stopped when I woke in the surgery room and began choking. This incident greatly complicated an already dire situation.
Date NDE Occurred: 'May 9, 1978'
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Illness. Surgery-related Clinical death (cessation of breathing or heart function or brain function)
Small bowel obstruction that had gone undiagnosed for thirty-six-plus hours and had become gangrenous with peritonitis.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Mixed
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? Less consciousness and alertness than normal As above.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? When standing beside my right shoulder when I first left my body, I think. This is a difficult question to answer.
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
I know the entire process was over forty-eight or so hours but my experience of it was not bound by the limits of earthly time.
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. I just don't know how to answer these questions. The consciousness was qualitatively different from what I have in my everyday life. The void is difficult to adequately describe.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. Only heard the 'NO' as a strong sort of whisper. After that don't recall sound in the void or the warm white light space. As I came back to consciousness in the white space, the voices and sounds of the hospital were at first seemingly far away. Over a few days sounds normalized.
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 Don't recall any tunnel, only the void first, and then the cocooning in warm white light.
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 The sort of winged presence behind me as I entered the void that told me 'NO'.
The experience included: Void
The experience included: Darkness
The experience included: 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? Uncertain After the void, I don't have any timeline really for how soon I felt the warm white light, or how long that lasted. I only know it took a couple of days before I returned to consciousness (as was reported to me by my family and the staff).
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? A clearly mystical or unearthly realm The void was nothing like I have ever imagined and there are no earthly words to adequately describe the space.
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Peace, no upset whatsoever. Sort of matter-of-fact like.
Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? Relief or calmness
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? 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
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? Liberal 'Raised as mainstream Methodist. Resided in Buddhist country from ages 15-17. Father was polytheist, mother non-religious, went to UMC with cousins until age 14.'
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes Broadened immensely.
What is your religion now? Liberal
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes Broadened immensely.
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? Uncertain Not until months later, and it's continually a discovery process all these years later. I've always had a sense of peace since then.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes Much more meaningful.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Uncertain Stronger intuition and acceptance of a larger universe. I am not sure how to answer this in a meaningful way really.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? The experience of being cocooned in warm white light (kind of golden white). The void concerned me for many years, as if I didn't do something right or wasn't permitted the tunnel, and I didn't understand what the void was (and still don't).
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes I didn't share the experience with others openly until more than five years later when I was around people who were open to hearing it. When I first shared it with my MD, he seemed a bit freaked out or distanced himself from me.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Uncertain I don't recall ever thinking about this kind of thing prior to the experience.
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real I just had no way to understand it. It confused me.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real It has stabilized me, given me a sense of peace. I don't fear dying, but I do fear leaving. I've had other catastrophic illnesses since then (including gangrene in my small intestines a year later, and three years ago lung cancer). I was able to find my purpose in life. None of this absolutely takes away all my fears, but it has changed me forever. I love the work I do. While I want to live and fear leaving, I know if I do there will be no physical pain or fear.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? Uncertain I just am not sure about this. Definitely not as clear as the experience of 1978, but during lung surgery I felt some sense of knowing and peace.
Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience? No, thank you.
Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? It seems thorough. Thank you.