It has been nine months since my NDE, and even though I don’t dwell upon the experience ... it is never far out of my mental “field of vision”. I don’t consider myself to have experienced the “normal” NDE ... with all of the bells and whistles attached. And, after having read some of the more lurid accounts posted on the net, I’m glad I didn’t. But, for what it is worth ... here goes.
My NDE occurred during an angioplasty procedure. I had suffered a heart attack, my third, on 4/14/98 ... emergency angioplasty saved my life then, but further work was required. The further work took place a few weeks later, in May. The placement of two stents in my coronary artery went well, I remember the doctor telling my wife after the procedure that I could return to work next Monday, jokingly of course. However, after I had been returned to my room, something went haywire and I suffered another heart attack ... and I was rushed back to the catheterization lab for another round of angioplasty.
I was “under the knife” for what seemed like hours. And, despite the drugs, I was in intense pain ... yet the thought of dying never occurred to me. I had complete confidence in my doctors ability, and in my own indestructibility. Towards the end of this latest round of angioplasty ... from out of nowhere, I felt a strange electrical “pop” resonate through my body, originating in my heart probably. I was immobilized ... unable to move, breathe, or even change my field and depth of vision.
I recall my panic at being unable to breathe. I knew I had to, I wanted to, but I couldn’t ... and there was no pain. Unable to move my eyes, I caught only glimpses of the medical team working to save me. I could see my doctor’s fist rising and falling as he pounded on my chest, I could hear the empty “thudding” sound of the contact ... but I felt nothing. I never felt like I was “out” of my body, but I wasn’t exactly “in” it either.
Somewhere, during these seconds that seemed (and still do seem) like an eternity ... it dawned on me. I was dying. My vision was fading, along with my awareness of what was happening around me. Primal feelings of fear for my family and utter sadness that I would never see my wife and daughters again are all of what I can remember before everything went black. I didn’t want to die, I didn’t want to leave them!
The next thing I can remember is convulsing on the table ... gasping and clawing for breath. I was in pain again ... extreme pain, in all parts of my body. I can’t define how, or why, but in the middle of my fight to live, I couldn’t escape the awareness that I had been “thrust” back into my body from “somewhere” else. I remember nothing of the time I spent in that “somewhere” ... only that it wasn’t time spent in the shell (body) that I’ve always known as me. I remember thinking that this must be what it feels like to be born.
To date, I seem to have made an effective recovery from my cardiac problems. The heart damage I suffered during the April/May episodes has forced me into retirement at the age of 42. My doctor says that I must avoid all stress, physical and mental, on my heart if I am to live ... effectively ending my career as a materials management professional. I’m now a full-time father to my daughters, and hopefully a better husband to my wife. As long as I take my pills, and mind my “Ps & Qs” I should be OK.
I am not afraid of death ... I know there is no pain, and when the time is right there may even be a feeling of release. I have no extraordinary visions to report, and I’m certainly no closer to canonization than I was before my NDE. At times I tend to get wrapped up in the “world”, and I feel myself slipping back into my old “Type A” mindset. But I always return to that feeling of clarity I had in my hospital room after the worst was over ... a hard to define sense of knowing who we are, why we are here, where we are from, and where we are going.
John Lennon was right... all you really need is love.