I had become seriously ill with osteomyelitis, contracted through what was eventually determined to be a golf ball-sized polyp located behind my larynx that had ruptured. Little pieces of it attached to my spine, creating penetrating abscesses, inward, into my upper spine. I was rushed from one hospital to another larger one.
Once stabilized, I was scheduled for throat surgery the following day to remove the polyp before attacking the osteomyelitis.
I remember surgery prep and entering the OR. The next thing I remember is waking up to a roomful of panic-stricken doctors, nurses and staff. They were all scrambling, moving very quickly about, and all constantly staring back at me with grave looks of concern. A person behind my left side had me propped to about a 45-degree angle.
The doctor directly in front of me told me that I was in anaphylactic shock, that one of my lungs had already collapsed, and that they were going to insert a chest tube to try to prevent the other from going down.
The doctor was literally screaming at me to, 'Breathe! Breathe, God dammit!' I tried to take a breath, realizing instantly there was no air in my lungs. It was at this point that I instantly realized I was dying and that I'd essentially taken my last breath.
Suddenly, I was consumed in a state of extreme peacefulness, and a calmness and serenity that made me feel safer than I'd ever felt in my life. I remember recognizing the beginning of a life-review, but I only vaguely recall any of its details.
The next thing I remember is standing above the room, almost as if I was viewing the medical teams work on my lifeless body from the upper-left hand corner of the back of the room.
I could see the flat-line on the heart monitor, similar to what I have seen in movies, and I could see and hear everything as they prepared a defibrillator to attempt to revive my heart.
Here is the unusual part that I found odd during my NDE. At the time, I was 46 years old and didn't see all that well without my glasses. But I remember watching as new cardiac nurses entered the room to assist. These are nurses who I'd had no contact with when I entered the room for surgery. Oddly enough, from my vantage point I could read the names on their badges, Landers and McCarthy, and I had no glasses on.
After approximately four and a half minutes they were able to get a heartbeat in my body, after which, they hooked me up to life support since I was still unconscious.
I realized that I was immobile and that I was essentially stuck to something I could not pull away from. I kept trying with everything I had to free myself from this force, but to no avail.
While I was attempting to jar myself loose, I heard the doctors say that I needed to be rushed to ICU. In somewhat of a panic, I watched as they wheeled my body to the door of the room. When the doors to the operating room opened, it revealed this blinding white light that relayed to me the most peaceful, safe feeling I have ever encountered. I remember looking to my right and my mother, Phyllis, who died exactly one year prior to this event, 10/27/2001. She was standing there smiling with her left hand outreached. We acknowledged each other. She smiled, I smiled back, but I was too intent on getting back to trying to free myself, and when I looked back, my mother was gone.
As I watched my body being rolled, almost as if in slow motion, into the light, I remember giving one last tug with all my might to free myself from whatever it was that I was stuck to in order to follow my body into that beautiful white light. I wanted to go into it very badly.
The last thing I remember is looking down and seeing my right foot finally pull loose and kick away from whatever it was that was holding me.
The next thing I remember is waking up six days later in the intensive care unit. I was told that I'd been in a coma and kept alive of life support for the six days. I was livid. Still unable to speak from the throat surgery, I was given a fries board on which to write. My first words were, 'Please pull the plug. I want to go back.'
The odd thing is that during my subsequent stay in the unit I became chummy with some nurses who I shared my experience with. I told them how I recalled reading the names of the two cardiac nurses who had come in while I was 'technically' dead. The nurses were able to check the duty roster for the day the event happened and sure enough, the two nurses, Landers and McCarthy, were the two who rushed in to assist with my resuscitation.
One of the two nurses actually dropped by to see me at one point during my hospital stay. She assured me that my body was virtually lifeless when she got there, and at no point in time did I ever regain consciousness, which would have been necessary in order for me to be able to read the name on her badge, never mind without my glasses.
Date NDE Occurred: 10/27/2002
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Illness. Surgery-related. Allergic reaction. Drug or medication overdose. While under general anesthesia. CPR given. Illness, trauma or other condition not considered life threatening
I was in anaphylactic shock.
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 I was a spectator as medical teams worked to resuscitate my lifeless body. And yes, me being able to read the badge names of nurses who entered the room while I was dead was later verified.
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? Normal consciousness and alertness
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? I was at my highest level of consciousness and alertness, most definitely, when I was out of my body.
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
Time basically stopped for me, but I was conscious of the time because there was a person in the room calling out periodically how long I had been dead while they worked on me.
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 wear glasses, and didn't have them on during the event. Yet I was able to see with pinpoint accuracy things I cannot typically see, even with my glasses.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. I've always had good hearing, but during the event I was able to hear every word that was said in the conversations that were taking place amid the chaos. It was almost as if I was standing directly next to anyone who spoke, and yet I estimate that I was standing at least 15-20 ft. from where the action was taking place. And none of the conversations ran together, even though there were several taking place simultaneously.
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? No
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? No
The experience included: Presence of deceased persons
Did you see any beings in your experience? No
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? Yes My mother was to my right. She had died of cancer exactly one year to the day prior to my event.
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 It was pure white and it penetrated every fiber of my being, spreading warmth, comfort, and a feeling a safety. I felt strangely familiar with it. I felt very much like I was very close to being 'home.'
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? No
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
What emotions did you feel during the experience? I felt it to be the most pleasant and joyous event in my life. I did, however, feel pangs of panic and despair when I realized I might not be able to follow that comforting white light.
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? Everything about myself or others I clearly understood that I was safe, and totally devoid of any fear or apprehension.
The experience included: Life review
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? No
Did you come to a border or point of no return? No
God, Spiritual and Religion:
What importance did you place on your religious/spiritual life prior to your experience? Slightly important to me
What was your religion prior to your experience? Unaffiliated- Nothing in particular- Secular unaffiliated
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? No
What importance do you place on your religious/spiritual life after your experience? Greatly important to me
What is your religion now? Unaffiliated- Nothing in particular- Secular unaffiliated
Did your experience include features consistent with your earthly beliefs? Content that was entirely not consistent with the beliefs you had at the time of your experience I din't believe NDEs were credible before my event. Admittedly, I'd had a couple paranormal encounters, but I'd honestly never given much thought to NDEs.
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes Since I no longer fear death I view every day as a gift that is leading up to that day when I will once again embrace that warmth and comfort of that white light. Being dead was by far the most enjoyable experience I've ever had. While I don't preach, I do try to relate to others, in certain circumstances, what they can expect. I have found that to be comforting to others. I also have a sharpened value system now when it comes to being able to recognize the 'good' in everything.
Did you seem to encounter a mystical being or presence, or hear an unidentifiable voice? No
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? No
During your experience, did you gain information about universal connection or oneness? No
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 not 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 No
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? Slightly 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 not 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? Slightly compassionate toward others
During your experience, did you gain information about love? No
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 I am much different. My life before kept a frantic pace, with a limited tolerance for others and very little compassion for people, certain circumstances notwithstanding. I still keep a busy schedule, but now I take the time to revel in both the ups and downs of life, for now I see that they all have meaning. Exactly what that meaning is, I still don't know, but I feel that if I take the time to embrace every aspect of life, every emotion I encounter, then maybe that 'meaning' will become clearer. I'm a much better 'listener' now too than I ever was before.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes Yes I've been able to 'lay those bodies down.' All my baggage is gone. My life is now an open book and the humility that comes with this just makes me appreciate being around other people I wouldn't have typically been around before. I totally embrace every aspect of life now, something I didn't do before.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes I had a very difficult time conveying what happened to others because I was struggling mentally trying to process what had actually happened. I was very conscious of how others might react to what I was telling them. In fact, from that day forward, and even now, I am still always very cautious about who I tell. It's hard to explain, but I now almost have this internal barometer that scrutinizes who is capable of comprehending what I relate from my NDE.
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 I'm over a decade later and I can still recall with remarkable vividness the event.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Yes I can sense emotions coming off people now almost instantly. Pain, anger, joy, and happiness were always easy to spot, but now I can sense things like hopelessness, disappointment, confusion, etc.; things you can't typically deduce by the look on someone's facial expression. It's hard to explain.
I've also become very involved in the spiritual and paranormal worlds, and I'm learning how to have my own OBEs and do remote viewing. I find it fascinating. My goal is to see how close I can come to that feeling I had when I was dead.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? The enhanced ability of my senses while I was dead still has me baffled. And I guess the most meaningful thing is that, since I've gone through death already, I'm now committed to trying to trying to take in even more of the process of death the next time around.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes I've come to learn that there are two camps when it comes to NDEs. The first camp wants to know nothing about what I experience and shuts me out immediately. On the flip slide, some folks want to know every detail and have endless questions, many of which I cannot answer. But I must also note that among those who are curious, there's still a fair amount who remain completely skeptical.
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 I was hesitant at first because I didn't think people would believe me. Then I concluded very quickly that what happened was very real. The verification of things I saw while dead went a long way to helping me come to terms with that.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real There's no question in my mind it was real. The more research I do on the topic, the more I find people with similar stories, too similar for any kind of coincidences.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? No