The middle finger on my right hand was broken between the last and middle joints. It happened when I was in the Navy, at age nineteen. I was standing on the fantail of the destroyer escort, the U.S.S. Hammerberg, all by myself. We were docked at our homeport of Newport, Rhode Island, and doing normal ship maintenance. Someone had roped off part of the fantail to paint the deck. The rope was attached to the deck hatch, but the brace for the hatch wasn't in place. I unintentionally leaned on the rope, then felt it give, then noticed the hatch start to fall. In a panic, I imagined someone coming up the ladder with the hatch coming down on their head. I raced for the hatch and tried to catch it. It was too heavy. My fingers on both hands were caught between the hatch and the combing. The hatch bounced and I quickly withdrew my hands. The fingers on both hands hurt real bad. I decided no one had been coming up the ladder - or they were back down on the bottom. I decided not to raise the hatch and inspected my fingers instead.
There was a curious new joint in the middle finger of my right hand. Instead of following the curvature of the other joints, it went in the opposite direction. I now had a v-shaped appearance between the last two joints. Placing my left thumb under the bend and one finger on either side on the top, I gently eased the finger back into a straight line. Yep. It was broken. And it hurt less than the joints on all the other fingers, which were now a little swollen. What I deduced was that the hatch separated all the joints but broke this one bone.
I went down to Sick Bay gently playing with my broken finger, watching the new 'reverse' joint in action, more fascinated than scared. When I got to Sick Bay, I playfully put my finger up to the corpsman's face, straightened it and let it fall again a couple of times, and said, 'I think my finger is broken.' He panicked. I chuckled to myself as I saw him dart one way and then another in the small Sick Bay as though looking for something to do. He told me to sit down and wait. I obliged, and continued to play with my new joint, which now was starting to pulse a little.
The next thing I remembered was that I was somewhere in a grey void. No discernable light could be seen anywhere, and there was no distance to anything. No other thing in sight. But I heard a voice. 'Why can't he stay?' I heard a woman's voice ask.
I looked around for the source of the voice. Around? Foolish imagery. There was no 'around'. Out there? Close? Far? Where?
'Because it's not his time,' I heard a man's voice say. Then I saw them. There were five heads with no bodies. They were all in a row about 'fifty' feet away. Distance was only relative; because all I can recall was that they were some 'short' distance away. Maybe sixteen paces, if I had any 'legs' to walk with. Although I didn't really care or pay much attention, I was only a 'head' out in 'space' myself. The woman was on the far right. She had long, dark brown hair and a beautiful face. She might have been in her twenties or thirties. She was definitely a little older than I was. The look on her face was near pleading. Next was a man, also a little older than me. The look on his face was like jealousy. Odd, I thought, that he wouldn't want me here with them. Was he concerned I might get all the woman's attention? That was something I could certainly look forward to, I thought. There was a white-haired gentleman with wise-looking wrinkles but yet with a young attitude. Lastly, two more young men who looked for all the world like caretakers in a sanitarium. Waiting silently.
'He can't stay here,' I saw the old man say. It was his voice I heard earlier. 'He's got to go back.'
Go back? Back where? It seemed that the woman and old man were engaged in a conversation about me, but all I could think about was where I could be going and where I came from. It seemed all I had to do to be with those people was 'project' or 'wish' myself there. But this 'back' business bothered me to the point of distraction.
Then I heard another voice, faint and seemingly far away and 'behind' me. It mumbled two short words at first. I listened intently in case it would come again. And again it came. 'Stand up!' it said. Another man's voice. Still faint and far away but this time quite clear. 'Stand UP!' he shouted again, much clearer this time. Stand up? I asked myself. How? I have no legs, no feet? I'm just a head. No body! 'Stand up!' This time it sounded like it was right behind me. All sense of the other 'heads' had gone from my attention now. It was just this new strange man's 'voice' and me. I tried to look around to see him, but everything had gone almost black around me. All that seemed left to do was to obey the 'voice'. Okay. What would it be like to stand up, I asked myself. What would it feel like to have legs? Where would they be? What would I be standing on? In a desperate attempt of some strange kind of imagination, I suddenly discovered that I had legs. I could feel mass and circulation through muscles, strong bones and a floor under my 'feet'. Well, I could stand up after all. Gleefully I tried, but found that something was pushing against the back of my head and forcing me down. Now that was surely odd.
'Stand up!' I heard him again. This time there seemed to be some kind of emergency in his voice, almost a bit frightened. Okay. I'll show this voice I can stand up despite what's holding me down. I pushed between the 'floor' and whatever it was holding me down, as though I was Atlas and this 'thing' on my neck was the world.
Right then the darkness began swirling away. Light was clearly visible on the other side of my closed eyelids. There was 'distance' between my head and the floor and that distance was increasing as I found myself standing straight up. I opened my eyes to see the Sick Bay and noticed that the corpsman was the one shouting at me to stand up while all the time holding his hand against my neck pushing me down. I put it all together in an instant. I had fainted while sitting in the chair.
When things had settled down again and the corpsman was satisfied that I was in no danger of fainting again I asked why he did what he did.
'I have been taught that people who faint from shock can die while in shock. That technique has worked to bring them back from their fainting spell.'
Did I 'die'? Had I gone to the 'other' side? Is that why the old man said I had to go 'back', back to this world? I think so. And if I didn't actually 'die', I was one decision away from death. In my state, it would have been easy for me to stay in that nothingness. It was very peaceful in a quiet sort of way and there was no concern of being a body. I think it rather strange, though, that I had emotions and desires, a sense of wanting to belong with others. That part still doesn't seem to agree with the widely held concept that on the 'other' side there is no pain. Well, I didn't feel physical pain, and maybe the sense of wanting to be with others wasn't painful as in being despondent, but there was a yearning nevertheless.
Narrative from http://www.jrcarter.com/monograms/finger.html.
You might also enjoy reading about a special memory I have, that of choosing my mother before I was born. Read about it here: http://www.jrcarter.com/monograms/mother.html.
Date NDE Occurred: Circa 1958
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Accident Broken finger. 'Life threatening event, but not clinical death'
I fainted as a result of trauma - a broken finger. It was explained to me that had I not been immediately revived I might have died. The corpsman who revived me was extremely fearful for my life.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Mixed
Did you feel separated from your body? Uncertain
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? What does that mean? I was clearly aware of myself as an entity throughout the experience, but not ever aware of myself as an Earthly entity in a strange place. It was just a 'place', and I felt comfortable and secure.
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
Regarding #25 above, I was not aware of being in a 'place', which would have meant some awareness of 'other places', and there was no awareness of 'time', which would have meant an awareness of a past involving memories and a probable future involving expectations.
Were your senses more vivid than usual? Incredibly more vivid
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 I did not know them. They were heads floating in the void. Five of them. They weren't talking to me but about me. They just appeared to my consciousness and seemed to be a short distance away from me. At first I heard the voices, and then I saw the heads.
The experience included: Void
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? No
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Regarding #10 above, I had no experience of being a body and no awareness that I ever had a body. As to emotions, I felt no emotions before the talking heads showed up and a yearning to be with others after they showed up.
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
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 Strong belief in Jesus as God
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes I can no longer accept that I must be 'saved' to enter a 'heaven'. Life is eternal. There is nothing to be 'saved' from.
What is your religion now? Liberal 'Not church-going anymore. Once a lay minister with Unity. Jesus was a man just like me, but with special abilities.'
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes I can no longer accept that I must be 'saved' to enter a 'heaven'. Life is eternal. There is nothing to be 'saved' from.
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
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? No
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? No
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? I was confused when I heard the command to 'stand up' because I was not aware that I had a body or that there was even anything to put 'feet' on. When I chose to believe that I had a body and that there was something to stand on, I was fascinated that such things actually existed.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes I may have shared the experience with others immediately after, but do not recall.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Uncertain Probably, but not sure. At some point in time before this happened I recalled a memory (more like having an experience rather than recalling a memory) of choosing my mother before I was born.
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real I came to realize (not 'believe' - there is a difference) that life is eternal, that after leaving this 'body' there is a continued existing of 'self'.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real Same as above.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? No
Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? As I said, you need to provide text boxes with each question.