I had been ill with chest pain, fever, headache, night sweats for about a week, but had not missed work, and I was on-call. I finished rounds and went to the Urgent Care clinic. The chest x-ray showed suspicious nodule in my lungs. A CT scan of my chest resulted in my being flown to a cardio-vascular intensive care unit after being diagnosed with a dissecting aortic aneurysm. After arrival at the tertiary care center, a regular echocardiogram did not support the diagnosis of an aortic aneurysm.
The CT also showed hilar lymph nodes and a peripheral pulmonary nodule, but this was not the primary concern at the time. [Editor’s Notes: Hilar lymph nodes are located in the region of the junction of each lung and its bronchi. Peripheral pulmonary nodule is a common disease of the lung, which can be benign or malignant.]
I was sedated due to erratic Blood Pressure and went to the operating room with plans for cardiothoracic surgery and was prepped for a heart bypass and intubated. They then did a trans-esophageal echocardiogram, which also did not confirm an aneurysm, so the surgery was, thankfully, cancelled. The next morning, I woke up with a very sore throat and an arterial line in my left wrist. There was still some doubt as to whether the aneurysm was present, so they ordered another heart test.
It was on the way to this procedure that the NDE occurred. I was chatting with my nurse, who was pushing me down a long underground empty tunnel in a wheelchair. As we approached an elevator, I realized that I was losing my vision. It worsened and I mentioned it to my nurse. She asked if we needed to return to the intensive care unit. I told her, ‘I think so,’ as I could no longer see and was losing my hearing. I tried to put my head down, but was about to fall out of the wheelchair when she yanked me upright. That is the last thing that I recall.
At this point, I had been off the blood pressure-lowering drip for at least an hour, and the last morphine injection. I had a bad headache that morning with the injection about 2 hours prior. I don't recall feeling sedated and did not have a fever at the time.
My next recollection is being in a vast, seemingly endless, space filled with brilliant white light. I recall no limits on perception, no binocular vision, but panoramic/spherical/360 degrees: hard to describe. I spent what seemed like a long time, certainly not minutes, hours, or days; more like weeks, months, or eons. Time was meaningless. I was with a group of beings that I felt I had known for a very long time. It seemed like more than 12 minutes and less than 25 minutes.
I have a vague recollection of having my Earthly experiences ‘downloaded’, and having a great reunion with these beings, with a great period of relaxation/recuperation. Communication was non-verbal and instantaneous. It involved relaying entire occurrences, concepts, and events with associated emotions, not just words and sentences. Eventually a consensus was reached that I should return to the life I had left, as it was unfinished.
I don't recall how I appeared, but I do recall how the other beings appeared as I departed from them. They were like brilliant jewel bright points of scintillating light. Only two colors, though: emerald green and deep purple. I thought, 'this is weird, why not all colors?' I recall them receding into the distance.
The next memory is being a point of consciousness hovering. I don't recall any sound. I was back to having binocular vision; my entire field of vision was taken up by, what I eventually realized, was a ‘face’. I recall pondering the significance of this ‘thing’, and eventually realized it was a being. I recall feeling pity for ‘it’ and perceiving it as child-like. I watched a little longer and suddenly had the realization that the eyes of the thing were ‘green’ and they looked familiar. I then felt a sense of compassion as I recognized it was suffering. I recall the eyes staring and mouth being open. (I seem to recall an oxygen mask, but not real certain about that).
With the feeling of compassion, came an instantaneous sense of connection and I was suddenly wrenched back into the body and the memory of who ‘I’ was and the circumstances of where I was returned. It was a very rapid transition. I could hear again, and could hear the medical staff yelling orders. I was drenched in sweat and felt awful and very weak and hurt all over. Later, I learned that I had had seizure activity.
I recall a bald-headed man leaning over me. Someone else to my right yelled ‘do you have epilepsy’ and I turned my head and told them ‘no’. Someone on my left was fumbling under my gown trying to put on defibrillator pads, and then asked ‘should I take them off’. Someone else said ‘No, we may lose her again’. At some point, I recall starting to cry and asking them ‘why did you bring me back to this place. It was so nice there. Everyone was so nice and loved each other. It was so beautiful. Why did you have to bring me back here?’ Those nearby seemed to hear me and seemed shocked, but remained professional, as I recall. I was quiet for a while processing what I remembered of the experience while they worked. I recall eventually asking them not to tell my husband that I didn't want to come back. I'm quite sure they thought I was an ungrateful lunatic, but they were relieved I was alive.
The rest I pieced together by asking a lot of questions and my nurse confirmed that my heart had stopped briefly (cardiac arrest) after developing hypotension (systolic to 30) and bradycardia. She also told me about the seizure. Another nurse told me that ‘my’ nurse was one of the most experienced CVICU nurses there. She went home early and I never saw her again to thank her. I was told that she was pretty shaken up. Mostly, no one wanted to talk about it. They eventually chalked it up to the effects of prolonged ‘vasovagal response’ resulting in bradycardia (decreased heart rate) and eventual brief cardiac arrest. [Editor’s Note: Vasovagal response is a rapid drop in the heart rate and blood pressure resulting in loss of consciousness.]
Apparently, when the nurse ran back to the intensive care unit, she had her chin holding me into the wheelchair while I was having a seizure. Folks came out of the unit to meet her when the telemetry showed the blood pressure and heart rate drop. Several doctors and nurses picked me up and ‘threw’ me onto a bed. This resulted in a return of spontaneous circulation, apparently. I remained in the intensive care unit for several more days, had the heart test, and was told my heart and cardiovascular system was in perfect shape. I was still having erratic heart rate and blood pressure issues, so I was sent to a cardiac step-down unit for about four more days. I underwent a pulmonary work-up for bronchoscopy and CT guided biopsy of the chest for the other lung related issues. There were some arrhythmias, but no further major issues. Presumptive diagnosis of Sarcoidosis, but not fully confirmed. [Editor’s note: Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that can affect multiple organs, but mostly the lymph nodes and lungs.] Sarcoidosis can affect the heart conduction system.
Date NDE Occurred: 5-27-13
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Illness Clinical death (cessation of breathing or heart function or brain function)
I was in route to a procedure. I lost vision, then hearing, then consciousness. I had an arterial line in wrist and the telemetry from the line was being monitored back at the intensive care unit. I was later told that my blood pressure dropped, and then my heart rate dropped. It was described as ‘Brady arrest’ in my records. I had seizures after I stopped breathing, apparently, then my heart stopped.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Both pleasant AND distressing
The experience included: Out of body experience
Did you feel separated from your body? Yes Not in the disembodied state in the white light, no. But in the out of body state, hovering over the face, yes, in that I saw my own face from a perspective above my actual body.
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? That depends on which ‘You’. From the standpoint of the ‘me’ that I am in my current reality, (this is so weird to discuss!), I would have to say it was immediately after I returned to my body. If from the standpoint of my out of body self, and then I was at the point that I was re-integrating my awareness of my physical self with my non-physical self. If from the standpoint of my totally disembodied self in the white light, I would say, that the part I recall the most distinctly was the point of withdrawing from my ‘friends’. In that state, I believe I was my true, eternal self, not the mortal self that I am as I type this: which is a small subset of my ‘true self’. Words can't express, and it is just so bizarre! Again, it varies as to which ‘me’. As my disembodied self, I had greater degree of perception: visual, mental, conceptual. Communication was telepathic and instantaneous. Communication was in entire concepts. You did not have to convey a story one abstract at a time, but could just ‘plop’ the entire occurrence into another's consciousness, complete with the sensory input at the time and the associated mental and emotional gestalt. As my out of body floating-self, I had less sensory input: my entire awareness was visual perception of the face in front of me. No sound, taste, touch. When I re-integrated back into my body, I felt awful, but was pretty much ‘myself’ with normal sensory input.
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
Subjectively, it seemed I was there for ‘a long time’. Time seemed irrelevant or meaningless there.
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. It was a sphere of perception rather than binocular vision. Colors were more brilliant. There was complete surround awareness.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. I don't recall hearing anything in the conventional sense while in the bright light or in the Out Of Body state, following. There was communication, but it was mind to mind, not auditory or involving vibrations in the conventional sense.
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? Yes I encountered beings, but there was no sense that I had any mutual relationship to them while on Earth. I do not think they were relatives or any known historical figures. More like they were my ‘real family’ and friends from long ago (before Earth) and we were reunited.
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 Everywhere was brilliant white light. Not dazzling or painful to behold, but very bright. The beings I re-united with appeared to be points of colored light: like emeralds and deep purple amethysts lit by a brilliant light which radiated outward from within.
The experience included: A landscape or city
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? A clearly mystical or unearthly realm
What emotions did you feel during the experience? I felt intense joy and happiness in the disembodied state in the white light. There was a sense of ‘I’, but I was also a part of a group consciousness, and that was blissful. I don't recall a lot of other emotions, certainly no sorrow, guilt or regrets. In the out of body hovering state, I recall mostly a clinical detachment, almost a cold/emotionless assessment of what I perceived. At least initially, I felt no sense of connection to the ‘thing’ I was studying.
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
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 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? Do not know Raised in a fundamentalist religious community. Agnostic for a while after reaching adulthood. Then became "spiritual, not religious".
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes I talk to ‘them, God, Creator, whatever’ a lot more and express gratitude for many things that I used to take for granted.
What importance do you place on your religious/spiritual life after your experience? Greatly important to me
What is your religion now? Do not know Not religious. Recognize the Oneness of All Things. Open to most religions I have encountered when you get to the basic core and past the dogma.
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 l have had some non-typical experiences in my life that have taught me to have an open mind, release dogma, belief (and disbelief) and to just (try) to observe. I am always trying to make sense of these experiences using logic, reasoning and the scientific method, but they usually defy such analysis. This experience, also, was just bizarre.
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes Don't ‘sweat the small stuff’, because in the big scheme of things, much of our reality is ‘small stuff’ and we are here to learn. Don't beat yourself (or others) up for mistakes. It isn't like we come here with an ‘Idiot's Guide to Earthly Living’ or anything. We figure it out (or not) as we go along.
The experience included: Presence of unearthly beings
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 No voices or sounds. Mind to mind communications. Beings encountered were intelligent points of consciousness with which I seemed to have had a prior long-term relationship. We seemed to be like a group mind, but yet separate individuals. It was more like we were united in a common purpose and came to decisions by consensus. It was wonderful to experience the reunification. Yet looking back, the setting where we existed was very simple. There was only the white light everywhere. No other additions to the backdrop, except the beings. We were highly intelligent and had vast stores of knowledge, but were as uncomplicated (and as incomplete????) as our environment. I'm not sure if we had ‘free will’.
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 was welcomed back to a group of intelligent beings that knew me before this lifetime. Information flow was instantaneous and reciprocal, so they knew all about the life I had left and I recalled my prior existence with them. We did not "discuss" it -
During your experience, did you gain information about universal connection or oneness? Uncertain The bright light seemed to be the connection and it was all pervading. We were a subset of the infinite light.
Did you believe in the existence of God prior to your experience? Unknown
During your experience, did you gain information about the existence of God? No
Do you believe in the existence of God after your experience? Unknown
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 probably 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? I was uncertain if an afterlife exists
Do you believe in an afterlife after your experience? An afterlife definitely exists Yes Recollection of hovering over my body as a point of awareness, but separate from it - physically, mentally, and emotionally
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? Slightly 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? No
During your experience, did you gain information about life's difficulties, challenges and hardships? No
Were you compassionate prior to your experience? Moderately compassionate toward others
During your experience, did you gain information about love? Yes Love was as all pervading in the experience as was the Light.
Were you compassionate after your experience? Greatly compassionate toward others
What life changes occurred in your life after your experience? Moderate changes in my life Moderate changes in my life. I have shared my experience with colleagues despite the fact that it could result in professional criticism or concerns about my sanity and ability to practice medicine. In fact, they have been amazingly supportive and have been quite open to discussing the possibility of life after ‘death’. The whole experience (my first hospitalization, procedures) has made me a better doctor. The NDE has made me a better person. I have less fear overall, and feel that I can now experience a different level of material existence, now that the fear of death has been laid to rest.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes Yes Some folks (family mostly) look disturbed when I talk about my experience. You quickly learn who is open to discussing it and who isn't. Such a profound experience requires discussion, though, or at least sharing.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes You don't have the paradigm to make the translation unless you have been there, I suspect. Once there, there is no way to associate some aspects of the experience with ‘normal consensual reality’ on this side. No interface or correlation.
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 was a pretty profound experience- I doubt I could ever forget it. I am astonished (as a medical doctor) that my memory of the events leading up to the experience were intact afterward. I am also amazed at how quickly I re-intigrated my mind/memory with my physical body once I "returned". I recall being oriented to person, place, date, and present situation as soon as I opened my eyes.
Time......not so much. I did not know that less than ~ 5-10 minutes had elapsed from my initial loss of consciousness to regaining awareness. Only when my sister returned from a brief lunch and, unaware of what had occurred, asked how the MRI went, did I realize the time frame involved.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Uncertain Would rather not. Just too weird.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? The conscious recollection of two distinct disincarnate states. Knowledge (not just a suspicion or belief) that ‘I’ don't end with this body.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes The same day. Husband, sister, friends, nursing staff, doctors: anyone who would listen. Not sure how well they heard it though, or how well I stated it. I was still processing it all. It was probably a lot of babbling.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Yes I’ve read an Elizabeth Kubler-Ross book and a few others. My experience was not like any NDE I had read about in the past. No tunnel. No dearly departed, no guides, no religious figures.
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real It seemed as real as everyday life experience. Not unreal or dreamlike. The problem is that some aspects do not translate from there to here, so some parts seem vague.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real I am a scientist at heart. I am aware that nothing in my experience is ‘provable’ using the Scientific Method. It sure seems like the recollection of a real memory. If it was not real, then how can I have certainty that any of THIS existence is real?
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? Uncertain Once, during childhood, I was quite ill with a fever. I recall having a vivid ‘dream’ where I had total surround 360 spherical perception. I was encompassed and embraced by a seemingly very powerful, but loving entity, like I was a beloved child. I recall being surrounded by darkness and being shown various incredible and wonderful things. I had perceptions/senses that I do not have in this body. I recall crying when I woke up because I had lost so many abilities by being ‘here’. I have forgotten many of the details over the 50 or so years since then. But I have never forgotten that memory of total love and acceptance and being cherished.
Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience? Thanks for the forum to discuss it. It is therapeutic.