I came into this experience with a two-year complicated medical history that spun-off from cancer adjuvant therapies. That was regularly punctuated by cancer recurrence scares and ongoing surgeries. Because of these spin-off conditions, I rarely leave home and we just recently relocated back from southern retirement to our northern rural home area.
Prior to this, I had no history of a heart condition and my blood pressure ran abnormally low. For three weeks, I suffered inexplicable chest pains. Twice within a week's time, I sought help through our hospital's emergency room, to no avail. It was clear after the first visit that the emergency room staff regarded me as a repeat hypochondriac who was wasting their time. A polished second opinion further misdiagnosed my chest pains.
The morning of the attack, I'd taken special care for a rare excursion to Wal-Mart. As we pulled in the parking lot, I experienced chest pain so I casually took a Nitro (the only pain medicine the emergency room provided). By the time, we'd walked to the door I stopped for another. By the time, we were back to the car I was taking yet another. By the time, we pulled away from the parking lot I was in dire straits, confused why the nitro pills weren't working? Refusing to go back to our hospital's insulting emergency room, we headed out of town toward home, down this beautiful hilly country highway. It was a perfect weather day, the sun was shining and the air was brisk.
All of my bodily senses began telling me that something terrible was going horribly awry. I writhed in anxiousness and pain, feeling frighteningly out of sorts. The blue sky ahead increasingly turned various stages of an illuminated white, each stage of white becoming more brilliantly illuminated than the last. In total contrast, the lush green roadsides turned just as ominously dark. The darkened roadside seemed to be gradually consumed, as if being diminished by these blinding, progressively enveloping, radiant bright pure white beams of daylight.
With a sense of urgency, I heard myself saying aloud, 'Something is really wrong, everything is turning white, everything is turning white!' Too fearful to look away and in certain awe of what I was seeing, I tried to view my husband through peripheral vision. I literally feared that if I took my eyes from the white light ahead, it might consume me, too. I thought to myself, 'This is it, my time is up, I think I'm going to die now, something is really wrong here, nothing about this is 'right'.'
I envisioned myself dead in the car seat, wondering if my husband could cope with that, what would happen, would he pull off the road safely, would he be able to pull off the road at all, where would they take my body, had I paid bills and could he find what he needed to move on? Rushes of thoughts that I didn't want to think. I guess that's what heart attack medical literature refers to as 'a sense of pending doom?'
From what I could make of my husband's silhouette, panic had glued him to the steering wheel with his own vision fixed straight ahead. He didn't say a word and he didn't need to say a word, I knew what he was feeling. Instead of panicking it was as if I could hear him thinking, 'There isn't time to go home or to emergency room.' I sensed him feeling gripped with helplessness and fear as I accepted there was very little he could do. By then we both knew it didn't matter where we were headed, it wasn't going to be in time for whatever was happening. We were stuck right where we were on that two lane country highway and what was going to happen was going to happen right then and there.
In awe of the consuming brilliant white light and terrified I was dying, I could feel my husband pushing the car to move faster. The white had consumed all but a dark diminishing silhouette of tree line, the tree line lying flat against the light's protruding various densities of gleaming white beams. The light was so bright I felt a need to shield my eyes. I had an intense fear the light would consume me if I looked away and I was in absolute awe of what I was seeing.
A rush of sickness suddenly came over me. For several moments, I lowered my head and regurgitated phlegm. I broke into a cold sweat and turned the air-conditioning vent directly on my head. When I looked up again everything had suddenly calmed - like a raging storm that abruptly subsided - everything faded back to normal (except the chest pain). The blue clear sky ahead looked like a normal blue sky again. The green tree-lined landscape looked like normal green landscape again.
We arrived home. Exhausted from the experience I dragged myself into the house. I took two aspirins and, knowing within moments I had to relent to medical help, I contemplated if we should call an ambulance. I was so worn with fatigue I wasn't sure I could make it back to the car. I was afraid to make 'that road trip' again.
We drove back to the local hospital's emergency room and, that being my third trip in a week's time; they left us sitting in their lobby for thirty-five minutes until everyone else ahead of us was called. They nonchalantly got me to a bed and hooked me up to an electrocardiogram. Then a flurry of new activity escalated. I heard them ordering drugs like morphine and I knew this time they'd found what they couldn't find before.
The emergency room doctor came in and, in an unfamiliar nervous tone, informed me that I'd had a 'bad' heart attack and they were life-fighting me directly into surgery. After landing I lost consciousness only briefly, to then be immediately sedated for surgery.
Date NDE Occurred: 05/25/2007
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Heart attack Other 'STEMI heart attack. Doctors said later my right coronary had, at one point, totally shut down and was 95% blocked when brought into emergency surgery. I assume the shutdown happened at the moment I had my ''white light'' experience, well before making it. I was suffering a ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) heart attack. Once in hospital care, the doctors kept saying, 'You've had a BAD heart attack.' I finally asked what they meant (e.g., are there 'good' heart attacks)? They explained this is the worst heart attack an individual can suffer, that most people who suffer them do not live long enough to get to a hospital.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Mixed
Did you feel separated from your body? Uncertain No
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 As above.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? During the experience of seeing the white light, before I started regurgitating.
Were your thoughts speeded up? Faster than usual
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning I had no real sense of space or time.
Were your senses more vivid than usual? Incredibly more vivid
Did your vision differ in any way from normal? CLARITY was at a peak while first watching the white light with its contrasting darkening tree line and despite the white light itself consuming clarity of other things in its path. FIELD OF VISION, as I gazed into the white light, was definitely limited. But when I made a conscious effort to view my husband's silhouette with peripheral vision, it seemed normal. COLORS in the white light drastically graduated from white to various degrees of brilliant white to illuminating white, as the green roadside equally digressed from a light green to dark forest green into a green that was almost black. There seemed a distinct visual difference depending on whether I was watching the white light or making a conscious effort to see elsewhere around me using peripheral vision. If I hadn't made a conscious peripheral effort, I would not have noticed that I had any peripheral vision because the white light was so all-encompassing.
The white light drastically lost DEPTH PERCEPTION as it gained in contrast between white and dark, that becoming a screen with high depth variations of white brilliance versus a flat diminishing darkness. Similarly with SOLIDNESS/TRANSPARENCY, the tree line becoming more and more solid and flat with the rays of light beaming in great varying depths. At one point, I feared the darker roadside was going to be totally swallowed by the consuming white light. But peripheral vision remained relatively normal and intact when I made a conscious effort to use it. Otherwise I didn't see anything peripherally.
Did your hearing differ in any way from normal? I don't recall hearing one way or the other. It seemed like the experience was so visually consuming that hearing fell by the wayside.
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 My opinion is, I was so intent to Not Pass anywhere that the 'tunnel effect' often referred to did not take place. But I do believe, had I experienced this for a much longer period of time, the tunnel is likely where I was headed.
Did you see any beings in your experience? I actually saw them
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? No
The experience included: Darkness
The experience included: 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 See main narrative.
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? A clearly mystical or unearthly realm The vision was beautiful and distinctive but I didn't feel that I'd "entered" anything. More like it was just unfolding before me. But there was the distinct feeling that if the light unfolded much more, I would be entering another plateau.
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Fear. Tremendous fear of not knowing if I was dying. Awe. I was in absolute awe of the white light that I was seeing. Acceptance. Acceptance of my circumstances regardless of the fear. I recall wondering if this was the white light that precedes death then thinking, in response to that, my white light experience felt more like my body was shutting down than a spiritual experience? Until I thought about the uniqueness of the experience later (the awesome unearthly brilliance of that white light), I did believe, at the time it was happening to me, that my body was simply shutting down.
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 came out of the experience feeling like God alone kept me alive and that He had a purpose for keeping me alive. Especially so after learning from doctors that most people don't survive these kinds of 'bad' heart attacks and given my white light experience.
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? Conservative/fundamentalist Christian believer but not a regular church goer.
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes You can't have experiences that bring you close to death and NOT change your perspective on your religion. At least I couldn't. In particular, this experience has made me keenly more grateful for my life and I feel closer to God, Who's granted me extended life time.
What is your religion now? Conservative/fundamentalist Christian believer but not a regular church goer.
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes You can't have experiences that bring you close to death and NOT change your perspective on your religion. At least I couldn't. In particular, this experience has made me keenly more grateful for my life and I feel closer to God, Who's granted me extended life time.
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 My relationships already began a dramatic transformation two years ago because of all the death scares I had with cancers. But, yes, this definitely enhanced that experience. Through these combined experiences, I am a considerably more compassionate individual than I was two years ago. Going directly to this experience, I am now acutely more aware than I've ever been as to my tomorrows being limited and how easily I could not be here today. This all brings with it new appreciations for each moment of life and clearer understandings about how I want to live my life as well as a sense of blessing that I'm able to come to these realizations.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes It's hard to find words to describe my 'white light' vision. It was so one-of-a-kind unique that I'd never seen anything like it before. For example, 'how white' the white light was. It's hard to describe an experience that's this unique, which is one you've never before had and will never forget.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Uncertain I keep an almost daily journal (have for years). Perhaps just paying more attention to cosmic things now, I've noticed that my written generalities about a particular issue will oddly surface a few days later in real life. Even issues that I thought were long past settled. It seems to happen so frequently anymore; it's a little eerie, seeming more than 'coincidental.' I sound Looney now, don't I?
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? Living through the experience was especially meaningful. Behavior of the white light was especially significant. The reaction of accepting my circumstances, believing I knew exactly how my husband was thinking and feeling, was definitely notable.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes I spoke of it, in more clinical terms, as soon as I awoke from surgery. My father, an optometrist, chalked the white light off to being a lack of blood supply to the eyes. My husband, a shy man (who also felt guilty for not making quicker decisions on the road), doesn't say a word. My daughter, a staunchly spiritual woman, believes I'm a walking miracle. Friends whom I've spoken to look at me with curious silence. As soon as I was released from the hospital, I wrote in my journal in detail about the experience because I wanted to put it into writing before I forgot the particulars.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Yes Through the course of my adult life I've seen a few television documentaries and I've read a couple of magazine articles on the subject. It was intriguing, but other than what an average individual garners through these everyday curiosities and sources, I have no fundamental knowledge. That's one reason I've come to you, to ask if my experience was really an NDE?
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real. When it happened I immediately viewed my reality as a physiological result of my body physically shutting down. In the days immediately after (learning from doctors just what a deadly circumstance it was), I viewed my reality as it being a God Send that I did not die. Regardless of how I come to view my reality, I will forever feel this was a most unique experience and I will never forget the exceptional brilliance of that white light. It was real then and it is real now.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real. I view it as definitely real because it was definitely real. This happened. There is no doubt about it.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? No
Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience? I'd like to know if what I experienced does qualify as an NDE?
Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? It's frustrating to find words to describe this experience. None of them seemed to work. I don't know what help can be offered and I suppose that would be too leading in a questionnaire, but offering descriptive words is the only helpful thing I can think of. This questionnaire seems very comprehensive.