I was going into surgery, for the third summer in a row, to try and correct a failed spinal fusion. This attempt was with larger screws and BMP (bone morphogenetic protein) instead of stem cells that didn't work in the previous surgery. The last thing I remember is being in the operating room, joking with the surgeon as the medication began to take effect.
The next thing, I remember vividly is looking around at what appeared to be the recovery room, but hearing the doctors and nurses saying, 'She's not breathing!' and, 'We're losing her!' I could see the nurse patting my hand and repeatedly insisting, 'You've got to breathe for me, honey.' I remember at that point thinking quite clearly, 'I'm either having a really messed up dream or I'm dead right now.' Once I had that epiphany, I felt the greatest sense of calm, peace, and love (greater than I ever thought possible) wash over me and then it felt as if I was everywhere at once seeing multiple things happening at the same instant. I could see my surgeon talking to my parents about how the surgery went and getting a call and running back to where I was telling them, 'If I'm not back in five minutes, it's a good thing.' Then it was like being sucked back into my body and waking from a dream. I was in the recovery room and everything, though hazy, felt sound. I didn't talk about it at first, sort of writing it off as a strange dream. It wasn't until two weeks later, as I was recovering at home in a hospital bed, when I heard my mother, on the phone with my grandma, telling her that I had stopped breathing when the doctor was telling them about what he had done and found. I immediately realized it wasn't a dream.
After my mom got off the phone, I called her into her room where my bed was. I told her my experience, what I had seen and heard. She, having had her own near death experience as a teenager, immediately recognized and understood what I had been through and we still discuss our experiences to this day.
Date NDE Occurred: July 2007
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Surgery-related. Clinical death (cessation of breathing or heart function or brain function)
After the breathing tube from my third spinal surgery was removed, I stopped breathing. This was the third of six major spinal surgeries
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? Yes The facts have been checked out. I could see the different technicians and nurses around me, each of them seeing to a task, checking vitals, brain function, the various noises of the machines: the sound of the flat-line, the pressurizing and depressurization of the breathing mask, various medical terminology and pleas of, 'You've got to breathe now, honey.' The conversation my surgeon was having with my parents, 'The procedure was successful, though it took longer than expected.' The call and yelling back to my mom for her cell phone number was verified by my mom when I told her about it.
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 It was more of an awareness of the connectivity between all things in existence. There is so much more to experience than we can possibly understand during our brief time as humans.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? After I had the realization I was dead, it was an omnipotent feeling of connected-ness to everything, while also retaining thought processes and awareness.
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 could see both the scenes of the recovery room and the discussion with my parents simultaneously, but without the constraints of only being able to focus on one at a 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. The best way I can explain it is it was like being in a dream state, where you are conscious and have the ability to see and think, but do not have a physical form connected to that consciousness and there is so much more than we can possibly conceive. Everything was ultra-clear and it was like seeing everything at once. Before the incident I was a very questioning person, I wanted to believe but I felt I needed proof. As soon as I had it, it changed everything.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. It was clear voices and I could understand what was being said. The noises of the machines around me were all very clear, but I was able to hear several conversations simultaneously and understand each and that they were separate from each other and also happening in more than one place. Prior to that, it was regular.
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
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
What emotions did you feel during the experience? At first there was the 'waking up' the becoming aware of what was going on around me, then there was the epiphany, followed by a feeling of calmness, love, serenity, and connected-ness I had never experienced before. Pure love, unadulterated bliss, acceptance, understanding, the feeling of more.
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 the universe It was overwhelming feelings that we are all connected to everything in the universe and beyond, in a realm of being that we can’t even begin to comprehend. That everything in existence is connected and we all are a part of each other and everything from plants to planets.
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? No
God, Spiritual and Religion:
What importance did you place on your religious/spiritual life prior to your experience? Not important to me
What was your religion prior to your experience? Unaffiliated- Agnostic Grew up Catholic, but questioned dogmas and studied various religions
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes See above
What importance do you place on your religious/spiritual life after your experience? Greatly important to me
What is your religion now? Other or several faiths Spiritual and open to many ways of thinking after my experience and am certain of a greater presence or "God"
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 wasn't sure about exsistence after death before, I wanted to believe but I also wanted proof, but since it happened it was something you can't even begin to understand unless you have been through it, because you can only express in words something that truly has no words to describe it.
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes I came to believe that there is something much grander than our short time here on earth. There is a force greater than we can conceive and that life continues after death, just on a different realm of consciousness.
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? Yes The feeling that I had been to this other realm of existence before was incredibly strong, like the feeling of returning home and that I had done this before.
During your experience, did you gain information about universal connection or oneness? Yes It was as if I was a part of everything and everything was a part of me, akin to puzzle pieces being put together and all of the engery of the universe was connected to me and I to it.
Did you believe in the existence of God prior to your experience? I was uncertain if God exists
During your experience, did you gain information about the existence of God? Yes It's not the God as classically defined in religious texts, it's more of a supreme energy that set this all in motion with no judgements cast, a force of pure love and acceptance.
Do you believe in the existence of God after your experience? God definitely exists
Concerning our Earthly lives other than Religion:
During your experience, did you gain special knowledge or information about your purpose? Uncertain There is more than we can ever comprehend, there's so much more to existence. It wasn't as if someone told me: it was just a knowing feeling.
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Are possibly meaningful and significant
During your experience, did you gain information about the meaning of life? Yes We are here to learn and grow from our experiences during life to become more awake and aware spirituality, or consciously.
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 It was a knowing that there is more than just the human experience on earth, that it was only a stop on a much greater journey.
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? Unknown
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Are possibly 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? Yes The hard things are what make you grow as a person and teach you inner strength and the awesome power of the human spirit if you are willing to learn and grow from them.
Were you compassionate prior to your experience? Moderately compassionate toward others
During your experience, did you gain information about love? Yes Love is the most powerful force in the realm of creation and beyond.
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 have come to understand compassion, how to put myself in another's position, not be quick to judge, understand that there are grey areas between right and wrong, as well as learning to listen and be empathetic. As well as always looking at the bigger picture, not seeing ‘us versus them’, but that we, as humans, are all connected and should work towards coming together as a species or risk destroying our species out of fear. Large changes in my life. I have come to understand compassion, how to put myself in another's position, not be quick to judge, understand that there are grey areas between right and wrong, as well as learning to listen and be empathetic. As well as always looking at the bigger picture, not seeing ‘us versus them’, but that we, as humans, are all connected and should work towards coming together as a species or risk destroying our species out of fear.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? No
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? No
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 remember the experience more accurately than other life events that occurred around the time of the experience
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? No
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? The confirmation I felt and the absolute understanding that there is more than my time on earth.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes Two weeks after my experience, I shared it with my mother and confirmed what I had thought. I have since shared my experience with many others to spread the joy and love you feel after death and that it's not a scary thing but a new chapter of existence.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Yes My mother had a near drowning as a teenager and she had told me the story of how her life had flashed before her eyes and how she had felt as if she had spun around in a circle and in that instant had seen everything that happened in her life up to that point.
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was probably not real I had written it off as a dream until I heard my mom say, 'When she stopped breathing...' I immediately recognized it wasn't a dream.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real After telling my mom my experience and what I had seen and getting confirmation that it indeed happened like that, I knew for certain.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? No