Prior to my heart attack I was at a hotel venue, ready to give a talk to fellow teachers. I had been feeling ill the previous night but as I have other existing medical conditions, I began to feel worse, was sick and began sweating profusely, and felt very dizzy. I realized that I was not in any condition to continue so went to the organizers and told them. I was seated and given a drink of water. A hotel employee came, said they'd called an ambulance, and gave me an aspirin. At this time, I felt ill, but more embarrassed because I thought it was a fuss over nothing.
When the paramedics came, I was quickly taken in an ambulance. I have to say that with hindsight, my recollection of time must have been distorted because although events seemed to me to be continuous, more time must have passed. I was told I was going in and out of consciousness. I remember gasping for air, really gasping, and an oxygen mask, and a woman saying 'keep calm, Lin. You're having a heart attack but we're taking you to the best hospital in the country'. I only have a recollection of the journey taking a few minutes but it must have been more. I'd say about 15 minutes.
I was conscious when I arrived at hospital and a number of staff was waiting. I remember that I was put on a trolley. People were running while pushing me. Someone was shouting out a countdown of numbers. I was taken in a room and remember being asked if they could cut my trousers off. I was then wheeled into another room. *this is the important part*: I can remember the room and what was happening very clearly, even now.
It was a very big (huge) room and I was in the middle. I could hear someone telling me what they were doing and that I had nurses keeping me still. I was looking up at the ceiling, which was like a cloudy glass dome. There was a balcony, and on the balcony, looking down at me, were dozens of people in long white gowns. I'm not sure why, but I thought, medical students. Although I was in great discomfort before, I felt calm and in no distress.
After the procedure I was told that I had to lay perfectly still as pressure had to be put on my groin for about 30 minutes to 1 hour to stop bleeding from the artery they had gone in through. And that was it.
I was taken to intensive care, and thought nothing more about the procedure until about 6 months later when I had to have another operation to have a further 4 stents put into my heart. I went to the same hospital, and was prepped (you need to be awake but they give you a sedative).
I was in what I thought was a side room. A young male nurse came over to me and said, 'Lin? I said yes, and he told me that he remembered me 'from last time'. He told me I was his first major emergency and that he also remembered because the medical team was so happy they'd saved me as I had virtually no chance of survival. He said the surgeons had said they needed a miracle as I had a clot that had totally stopped the blood supply to one side of my heart. I asked when I would be going into the big room, and he said, 'you're having the operation in here, just like before'. I was confused and said, 'but where's the glass ceiling and the balcony?' He just looked at me very oddly.
Then the doctors came in and I had my stents put in. So there I was, in a very ordinary room full of equipment. The only person higher than me, operating a machine with a screen talking to the people who were restraining me and the one guiding the tube. As it was being done, I began to realize that the images I had in my mind were all: well what were they? I also realized that the perspectives I could remember were all wrong, my field of vision would not have allowed me to see things I can remember clearly seeing. I'd never actually questioned it before, but how could I, on an operating table, see a panoramic view of the room both looking up and looking around it, as if from on high.
I also realized that the white gowns the 'students' were wearing were just that: gowns, not white coats. Again, I'd not questioned it before. I'd told lots of people about my life saving surgery, because at the time there were only 4 hospitals in the country that could operate as someone was having a heart attack. I told everyone the same thing about the room, the students, but thought nothing at all of it.
It was when I told my mum, and sister, both of whom are religious, that what I'd told them was totally incorrect that my sister said, 'OMG you saw angels!' I'm not religious. I have no idea what happened. I know with the incorrect details, I can remember things that did happen, enough so that I was convinced at the time, and for months afterwards, that it was a genuine experience. I can very clearly still see that room now, and the people watching me. Had it not have been for that chance meeting with the nurse, I would have continued to believe my version of events.
Date NDE Occurred: May 25 2006
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Heart attack. Clinical death (cessation of breathing or heart function or brain function)
I had suffered a massive heart attack and was undergoing surgery whilst having another heart attack. The surgery involved passing a fiber up through my groin into my heart to attempt to remove the clot. I was not anesthetized but had been given morphine and oxygen in the ambulance because I could not breathe. I was told I was in the operating theatre for approximately 3 hours.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Neither pleasant NOR distressing
The experience included: Out of body experience
Did you feel separated from your body? Yes I remember seeing nurses and hearing someone saying to 'keep still', also I have a recollection of medical staff talking to each other but I can't remember what they were saying.
I lost awareness of my body
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
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? During the time I was being operated upon, this is very hard to explain, I could see everything very clearly, but with hindsight, I was not wearing my glasses and should not have been able to see more than a blur. I was aware of everything going on around me, although hindsight has shown what I believed was going on was actually not. I was told I had lapses in consciousness but to me it felt like one continuous happening.
Were your thoughts speeded up? Faster than usual
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Time seemed to go faster or slower than usual
Were your senses more vivid than usual? More vivid than usual
Please compare your vision during the experience to your everyday vision that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. You know, it's only having to think about vision has made me realize I could see clearly but as I'm extremely short sighted I should not have been able to see.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. I would estimate about the same.
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? No
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? Yes I encountered medical staff but also the group of people on a balcony. (My having said it was a balcony, I can remember them being in full white gowns, not obscured by any balcony, so it must have been a platform?)
The experience included: Unearthly light
Did you see, or feel surrounded by, a brilliant light? No
Did you see an unearthly light? Uncertain The glass ceiling that I saw was lit up by what I think was sunlight.
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? No
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Very little emotion. I was very calm.
Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? Relief or calmness
Did you have a feeling of joy? No
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? No
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- Nothing in particular- Secular unaffiliated
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Uncertain I have researched various beliefs of different religions as a result of this. I do think I am more spiritual, though not necessarily religious.
What importance do you place on your religious/spiritual life after your experience? Slightly 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 both consistent and not consistent with the beliefs you had at the time of your experience I'm a very logical person, and this is consistent with the way I interpreted both real and imagined events. I rationalised the experience and explained the events in terms of what I could understand. Part of me still does this - I think that I might have lost consciousness and my mind was struggling to work out what was happening.
This does not fully satisfy me however, as alongside things I believed I saw but did not, I also remember things that did happen. It all seemed intertwined. The experience has made me think more openly about alternatives. I think my mind is less closed than it was - I thought you die, you decompose and that's it. Your chemicals convert to other things. Now, I'm not sure at all what is 'consciousness' and who 'I' am. By this, I mean the thoughts inside my head, not my physical body. I wonder if the two can exist separately.
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes I now believe that there could be consciousness after death.
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 I saw a balcony upon which were standing a number of people dressed in white gowns.
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? God does not exist
During your experience, did you gain information about the existence of God? No
Do you believe in the existence of God after your experience? I am uncertain if God exists
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? An afterlife probably does not exist
Do you believe in an afterlife after your experience? I am uncertain if an afterlife exists Uncertain I'm not certain now who or what the people were looking down on me. I have a feeling, don't know why, they were concerned about me.
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? Moderately 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 possibly 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? Moderately compassionate toward others
During your experience, did you gain information about love? No
Were you compassionate after your experience? Moderately compassionate toward others
What life changes occurred in your life after your experience? Moderate changes in my life Moderate changes in my life. I have become much more open to different explanations of what may happen after death. Before, I regarded all religions as a sort of safety blanket people needed. Now, I'm more undecided.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? No No
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Uncertain Initially, I would have said no. I could and still can recount what I believed happened in detail. I have clear images in my mind. However it is hard now, as I realize what I am saying happened did not. What I experienced is still very clear though. It is only now that I realize how things I took for granted could not have happened, and that makes it harder, too
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 need to qualify this. I 'remember' everything that happened very clearly from the time I was taken ill to when I was brought back to intensive care. I can still see the images in my head as if they had only just happened. I have less clear memories after I came back to the intensive care room; things were very blurry then. The qualification is that what I remember did not all happen. I was in a different room to what my mind even now remembers... there were no people watching from up high etc. So on one level my remembrance is very accurate. On another, it is anything but.
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 glass dome and the people in white gowns have made me think about it again and again.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes I told people about what happened when I was still in hospital. As detailed previously, I thought I was just describing a medical procedure. I described it in their terms, and told about a huge operating theatre with a glass-domed ceiling with medical students watching me. When I learned the truth, I told my sister and mother, and subsequently others in my family and friends. Reactions have varied.
It has reaffirmed my sister's belief in an afterlife. She isn't aligned to a particular religion, but is religious in that she believes in some sort of God and in life after death. My husband believed me but said I must have been unconscious and imagined it all. No one dis-believes me. Other friends/family have varied from interested but perplexed, to having views similar to my husband. I work in a Catholic school and people there suggested that I did have an experience of approaching heaven but not reaching it. I think the person most affected has been my sister. It made her feel a lot better, particularly when she was diagnosed with cancer. She has thankfully recovered but she said often, that knowing she would be going somewhere pleasant, helped her.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Uncertain I have read /seen articles but had no knowledge of anyone personally experiencing anything. I don't think my limited prior knowledge affected me at all. It wasn't like I was hoping or expecting something.
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real I thought that I had undergone a real experience of a complicated medical procedure because I did. The specifics weren't something I questioned as I had medical proof of what I had undergone.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was probably real This is hard. I know the procedure I underwent was very real. I also know that what I thought I saw during it was not all real. What I cannot properly explain is how my mind still has very accurate images of a room I was never in, and have never to my knowledge been in, and how I remember the people so clearly.
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? Unlike many people, I think what is significant about my experience is that I did not realize what it was until months later when that nurse told me details of the room, and I saw the room in which I had been. Had this not happened, I would have not thought there was anything unusual, and continued to rationalize events.