Experience Description

I was alone in my room in bed the day after the open heart surgery. I was wondering if my adult son was in the waiting room. Immediately upon that thought, my consciousness/awareness was moving down the hallway in Hopkins. 'I' was about five feet above the floor and passed over a gurney. I found myself in the waiting room. I looked around and noticed two little (petite/small boned) black girls around five years of age sitting together in one large chair. They appeared to be twins. They were very neat and had braids. One had a book she was looking at. The other was sitting slightly behind her and looking over the other's shoulder at the book. I looked for my son. When I saw that he wasn't there, I said to myself, 'There's no reason to stay here.' Immediately upon saying that, 'I' was back in my bed.

I died four times waiting for the second open-heart surgery. Those experiences were totally different. I think on those occasions I had cardiac arrest but was not brain dead.

Background Information:

Gender: Female

Date NDE Occurred: 'January 10, 2002'

NDE Elements:

At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Surgery-related Day after 13 hour open heart surgery to correct heart birth defects: Ross Procedure wherein my aortic and pulmonic valves were replaced. Other 'At the time of my first experience, I was alone in my hospital room; don't know if I ''died'' or if the cardiac monitor I was wearing picked up a ''bleep'' or not.' I was certainly in bad shape and needed another open heart surgery for pericarditis two years later. After the second, open-heart surgery in February 2004, I saw my father at the foot of my bed. He had died in July 1981.

How do you consider the content of your experience? Mixed

The experience included: Out of body experience

Did you feel separated from your body? Yes 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 As above.

At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? At all times. Calm. Just observant. Nothing to be stressed about. The same as the four times I died waiting for the second surgery or the time I saw my father after the second open heart. Just observing what was occurring.

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 don't know if the experience of 'going' to the waiting room took seconds or minutes.

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 first experience was totally normal except for my ability to move at will. When I saw my father, he was like a picture on an old black and white TV set with a lot of 'snow'. When I 'died' four times before the second surgery, everything was black. The first time it happened, I remember calmly thinking, 'Now this is different.' I was aware that I could not expand my lungs (found out after the surgery that my pericardium had attached to my heart and my heart could not expand). I calmly thought, I have to make a concerted effort to expand my lungs or I will be 'dead'. I tried and succeeded. I was staying with my son because I was not well enough to be alone. I was in his guest bedroom. It happened again a short time later. I thought, I'd better get up and go down to the living room and sit up because I don't want him to have to find me dead in bed. I made the effort again to expand my lungs and went downstairs. The other two times it happened was the same as this second time.

Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. I did not hear anything - or if I did, I don't remember hearing anything. Even in the waiting room, which is unusual I guess. I think I 'attended to' what was of interest to me and ignored what wasn't.

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? I actually saw them

Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? Yes First experience: people in the waiting room. After second open heart surgery: my father.

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? No

Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? A clearly mystical or unearthly realm Distinctive location: the waiting room.

What emotions did you feel during the experience? Calm. Totally unperturbed.

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

Did scenes from your past come back to you? My past flashed before me, out of my control I did not label the experience an NDE. I had read Dr. Ian Stevenson's research and Dr. Moody's books, etc. I believed these things were possible, especially reading about the experiences of young children, blind people, etc., but that was an intellectual belief. It became internalized and is a part of me. I am sure I react differently to some of life's experiences now than before I was certain of conscious existence after finishing with this physical body.

Did scenes from the future come to you? Scenes from the world's future

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 was your religion prior to your experience? Liberal 'I only selected ''liberal'' because you require a choice. I didn't care what other people believed; that's entirely up to them then as now. I was an agnostic.'

Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Uncertain My religious beliefs have changed, but they have been growing all my life. I have often thought that life should be easier for me now that I know the answers to some of life's biggest mysteries for certain, but life's thorny problems are STILL thorny problems. : )

What is your religion now? Liberal 'What other people believe is entirely up to them. I lean towards Buddhism but I'm not a Buddhist. I do not believe in the Christian view of ''God'' or some Buddhist sects' views of multiple deities.'

Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Uncertain My religious beliefs have changed, but they have been growing all my life. I have often thought that life should be easier for me now that I know the answers to some of life's biggest mysteries for certain, but life's thorny problems are STILL thorny problems. : )

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

Did you see deceased or religious spirits? I actually saw them

Concerning our Earthly lives other than Religion:

During your experience, did you gain special knowledge or information about your purpose? No

Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Uncertain I think I've always been a tolerant person so I'm not sure if knowing for a certainty that we exist without a currently-measurable or discernable 'form' makes me more tolerant of difficult people or not.

After the NDE:

Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes You asked if the experience was Wonderful, etc. It was none of the above. It just was. Astonishing was more the explanation of it. Though I had read of NDEs and OBEs, I had no words for it for a long time. It was only years later when I haltingly described it to a good friend and SHE said 'You had an OBE,' that I labeled it.

Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Uncertain I had ESP types of experiences prior to this. I had Reiki for relief of allergy symptoms in 2003, and I can do Reiki on myself. I can feel my chakras swirling or pulsing and can relieve pain or speed healing by taking a breath or doing Reiki.

Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? Certainly seeing my father at the foot of my bed after the second open heart surgery was meaningful.

Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes It was years before I talked about it. Some people believe it. Some may not. No one has been insulting or said they don't believe me. I assume some must not believe me. Many people are curious about what I tell them. I sometimes share the experiences with people who have loved ones who are dying or are ill. I have had a few experiences in the last year or so where my consciousness leaves my body while meditating. It is something over which I have no control.

Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Yes I a Bachelor of Science with Honors from Cornell University where I studied human development. These types of experiences are of interest to me, as are all human experiences and interpretations of life's experiences. I have read extensively about the topic and especially Dr. Ian Stevenson's work and studies. It still was not something I connected until a friend labeled it. It is just so different from 'normal' life experience that it initially defies description.

What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real The first experience was just so mundane. It was completely vivid and not mystical, foggy (dreamlike), or a 'wishful thinking' type of event. When I saw my father, again, it was very 'concrete'. I was thinking clearly. I looked around the room to see if there was something that could be casting a human form-type of shadow. I was not surprised when I did not see anything that could be casting a 'shadow' because the form was at the foot of my bed, not against a wall such as a shadow would be.

What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real I see no other explanation for them; they all tie together and are consistent. I believe in evolution; that we are evolving. I can see a use for ESP, for instance, and see no reason why we would not evolve the 'skill' or 'ability'. I see nothing 'mystical' in it. I think that's the way it is, and we just haven't developed the science yet to confirm it. Eventually we will find a way to 'measure' it or 'weigh' it or 'follow' it.

At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? Yes I am not on any medications that could produce experiences. I take 5 mg Crestor for cholesterol and magnesium to help control arrhythmia. I have asthma. I cannot take asthma medications because they make my heart race. I cannot take heart medications, because they aggravate the asthma. When I meditate, on rare occasion I have an OBE. In one OBE my awareness went to the ceiling at the top of the staircase of my New York home. It went in circles at the top of the ceiling. I remember thinking that it was very high up and I didn't think it actually was that high. I also though, after having gone around several times and not going 'anywhere' that I did not like it. Immediately my awareness was back in bed. I thought about how the ceiling isn't actually that high at that point and got up to look at it, and sure enough, it actually was that high; I just had not noticed it before. On another occasion, I was meditating with my eyes closed and could clearly see my room. I thought, are my eyes actually open? I reached up and touched my eyes, but sure enough, they were actually closed. I realized then that there obviously are ways of 'seeing' without using one's eyes.

Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience? Just that I have never told anyone any of these things and had them tell me that they've also had experiences.

Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? No.