I was taken into surgery for routine spinal reconstruction after a severe injury. I was prepped, made small talk with anesthesiologist, nurses and surgeon. I was given an IV, and then gas. I counted backward to ten and then was sedated. At some point, while still unconscious, I heard the surgeon telling the staff, ‘What happened? Why does he not have a pulse? Is he getting oxygen? Where is his pulse? Get him going again.’
Then, I got up off the arena-operating table and stepped around my surgeon to his left, looking over his shoulder, at my draped body and the opening in the surgical drape surrounding my incision, running down my lower back to my coccyx. A nurse was handing the anesthesiologist a syringe with what I heard was adrenaline. He injected it into the IV over my left arm. I saw the monitor and it was flat-lined. Then things got busy.
At that moment, all of the drama and apparent life-saving activity became unimportant. I walked toward the Operating Room Door and I stopped. I looked back over my right shoulder; saw the staff preparing more aggressive instrumentation to get ‘the body’ to respond and I felt bored by their activity. I, almost simultaneously, had an overwhelming peace, a feeling of warmth and love, a presence of kindness and acceptance, wash over me. When I say ‘over me’, it was more than that. It was an infusion, or a complete submersion, of these ‘feelings,’ not really feelings, but a natural, seemingly familiar, returning to familiarity. It’s really hard to describe this part, sorry.
It was very, very, very, good. Better than the morphine, I had been given shortly after my injury, much better, if that helps. Still at the door, with the subsiding noise of the medical staff efforts receding in my ears, I was given a choice. I could stay, or I could step through the door. It was my choice. If I stepped through the door, I was not staying where I was. And that decision was okay. If I stayed, and did not go through the door: that was okay too, but it wasn't going to be where I was at the moment. Where I happened to be at that moment was really, really, nice.
I knew I had more to do by staying. I knew I still had to raise my children, to educate them and there was something more. I couldn't quite understand what this ‘thing’ was that I was supposed to do, but I was given complete freedom to make the choice to stay or not. Whatever I decided, it was okay. I had a presence, or a feeling, that by going through the door, this ‘other thing’ would not be fulfilled. I can't say ‘get done’, that's not the feeling I had. It would not be, somehow, complete. My staying was at the same time crucial to this matter and at the same time important, but not to me. That I would in no way benefit from this undone thing and that its level of importance was not of my concern. Just that it would not happen without me. There was no pressure to stay.
I did sense, however, I had an obligation to a person who was going to be affected by this undone matter, and that this obligatory feeling was entirely self-imposed and not influenced by any outside source. But it was the purest form of ‘choice’ I have ever had or felt. Almost like a diamond in its essence: Clarity. Pure. Clean. Beautiful. Mine. I knew I had to stay. I did not want to stay. I badly wanted to move through the door. I was content. I felt good. I felt at peace. I felt loved. I felt consumed by the awareness around me. I felt completely accepted and not judged. I felt complete. I did not want to stay. I knew I had to stay. I knew whatever this ‘thing’ was that needed me to be here to happen, was as important to another, as was this desire on my part to leave. I knew it. I felt it. I knew I would not feel right about myself, if I left and this other ‘thing’ did not happen, for whomever it was supposed to happen.
That I did not know, would probably never know, who or what my part of this matter affected, that was unimportant. I almost felt obligated to ‘do the right thing’. I know that sounds trite, but that's how it felt. So, against my greatest desire, I walked back to the table, and I lay back down into the ‘thing’, the body, the meat that was not really me, knowing that I was not going to get all the ‘stuff’ from what I was leaving behind. I lay back down, not unhappy or sad, but with a resignation that what I was doing must be done. I was the one who had to do ‘it’. That my choice to do so was freely made, with no reservations. I also knew it was not going to be pleasant. I knew that over time, some not-so-nice life experiences were in store for me. I knew staying was going to be hard, really hard sometimes. I also knew I would physically and emotionally suffer. Somehow, someway, this was communicated to me a split second before I lay back down into the body that was me on the table. I did it anyway. I simply had to. It was the right thing to do.
Now, I sometimes wonder if I did the right thing. But I've made the choice. The difference is this: and it's a very big difference. I know. I know. I know. This is not life, as I know life will be. I know. Because I know, I am different now. It changed me: A lot.
Date NDE Occurred: 1991
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Uncertain Surgery-related. Clinical death (cessation of breathing or heart function or brain function)
Evidently, it was not supposed to be life-threatening but it seemed to go that route. I watched the physicians giving me advanced life support while my spine was exposed.
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? Uncertain I neither saw, heard, nor physically touched anything or anyone. I clearly knew what was going on in the operating room, particularly at the table where I lay. I also was able to see everything. What gave me wonderment, though, was that ‘the body’ was on its side (right side), and I could see everything behind it. I knew I wasn't in there anymore, and it did not matter.
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 Okay, how to do this? Dead consciousness is a total surrounding of all things and their interaction with you and everything else. You are an integral part of everything there is. Live consciousness is a pain in the ass, at best.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? As soon as I moved from the operating table toward the surgeon's left side, I was fully aware I was leaving ‘the body’. I lost all interest in ‘the body’ almost immediately. It was insignificant. I was alert, I was awake, and I was in no pain. I was alive as I had never been.
Were your thoughts speeded up? No
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning
Time was not an issue. Time did not matter. I was not rushing nor was I taking my time. I simply was. I simply was being given a choice to make.
Were your senses more vivid than usual? No
Please compare your vision during the experience to your everyday vision that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. I didn't need glasses. I could see. Hell, I could sense the feelings of those around me. I became empathic. I could feel their emotions: but only for a few seconds. Then they too became unimportant. They were, after all, working on ‘the meat’.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. I heard everything that was happening. I knew the staff were stressed that I was not responding. I simply didn't care. ‘The body’ was no longer important. I felt sorry they had to go through the stress.
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? No
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? No
Did you see any beings in your experience? No
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? No
Did you see, or feel surrounded by, a brilliant light? No
Did you see an unearthly light? No
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? No
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Calm. Decisiveness. Love. Acceptance.
Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? Incredible peace or pleasantness
Did you have a feeling of joy? Happiness
Did you feel a sense of harmony or unity with the universe? No
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? Everything about the universe I don't know about the Universe. I seemed to understand life. That what I knew to be life was not really the life I had at the moment.
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? Yes The Operating Room doors
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 made the choice. I can't say I was ‘allowed’ to make the choice. I simply knew the choice was mine to make.
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? Christian- Catholic Far fallen Catholic
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Uncertain I believe my core Catholic teachings: The ‘real’ words of God and Christ.
What importance do you place on your religious/spiritual life after your experience? Moderately important to me
What is your religion now? Christian- Catholic Catholic but different. Conviction of faith no longer an issue. I know. It's more than a belief.
Did your experience include features consistent with your earthly beliefs? Content that was both consistent and not consistent with the beliefs you had at the time of your experience I was stymied that I did not "feel" emotion, pain, normal sensory stimulation. I "felt" other things. Good things.
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes I really have a strong desire to learn and to live this life. I want to know everything about everything. It drove me to do things I would NEVER, EVER, have done. I created new academic degree programs in Universities. I made films. I wrote books. I create new practical experiences for others. Everything tastes great.
Did you seem to encounter a mystical being or presence, or hear an unidentifiable voice? No I knew I was not alone. I knew someone else was leading me through this process.
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? Uncertain I felt like I was home. More than anything like this I have ever felt.
During your experience, did you gain information about universal connection or oneness? Uncertain Well...I feel like this experience is like a ripple in a pond. What I do does have an impact on other(s). What kind of "others" is what I am unsure about.
Did you believe in the existence of God prior to your experience? God probably exists
During your experience, did you gain information about the existence of God? Uncertain There IS more than what we know. Is it God? I don't know. Maybe. The life after death, the eternal life of my training, does make sense now. I don't fear death. At all. It's made me hard to live with sometimes.
Do you believe in the existence of God after your experience? God probably exists
Concerning our Earthly lives other than Religion:
During your experience, did you gain special knowledge or information about your purpose? Uncertain H-m-m-m: serving others is a good thing.
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Are probably meaningful and significant
During your experience, did you gain information about the meaning of life? No Only that my decision was going to affect someone(s).
Did you believe in an afterlife prior to your experience? I was uncertain if an afterlife exists
Do you believe in an afterlife after your experience? An afterlife definitely exists Yes There IS more.
Did you fear death prior to your experience? I moderately feared death
Do you fear death after your experience? I do not fear death
Were you fearful living your life prior to your experience? Moderately 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 probably 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? Uncertain I don't know. What can I tell you? We have a purpose. We should strive to fulfill it. Whatever we do, does impact others.
During your experience, did you gain information about life's difficulties, challenges and hardships? Uncertain I knew going back was NOT going to be what I had right now.
Were you compassionate prior to your experience? Moderately compassionate toward others
During your experience, did you gain information about love? Yes Total acceptance. Non-judgmental. Love.
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: I had kids. I changed my life entirely. I went back to school. I had a new purpose and a drive. I lost all fear of pain and death. It is sometimes uncomfortable to know what I know to be true.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes Yes Marriage suffered. She could not understand why I don't get upset anymore. I quit fighting with her. I quit being confrontational.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes I'm a fairly educated guy. I've actually read Webster's Dictionary. The only way I can explain this is like this: There are words and phrases in Spanish and French, which do not translate well in to English. But they have deep meaning to those who understand. It's like that.
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 It has had a profound impact on my life.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Uncertain I seem to read what others really want to say. I can open those doors now. Sometimes they cry in front of me and hug me. I don't understand it very well. I don't see it.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? My decision. I can't explain why I would make a choice like that. Especially knowing what I knew at the time. This damn life is hard. It's getting harder for me all the time. What was I thinking? But I did it and I'm sticking to it.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes I confronted my surgeon. He was very surprised by what I told him. He said other things. But that's enough about that.
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 There was never a doubt in my mind that it happened.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real It matters. It changed me. It made me change others. I do it all the time now. It's normal for me. It upset my wife a lot. She is divorcing me. I am not angry or sad for her. She must do what she must do. She has to do this for herself. I understand. My kids are affected by it. I love them. All the time, I tell them so, every day. It's important they know.
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'm feeling kind of relieved I did this.