I had been operated on for a gastric problem and awoke from the anesthesia in the intensive care unit. They told me I was connected to a respirator and that I had bled a lot and had a cardiac arrest during the operation. They had been able to revive me but I was still in serious condition. Since I had the respirator in place, I had to turn my head in order to cough and signaled to the nurse to bring me something to write on. Shortly, they brought me a little notebook and I asked them through writing and scribbling if I was still at risk for death. I needed to know whether to talk to my notary. They told me that I was and if I desired they would tell my husband what I wanted. I had a pair of IV's connected to my veins. I later found out it was plasma, heparin, and pain medication. From time to time, I went to sleep and I was able to distinguish PERFECTLY from when I was asleep and when not. Towards the middle of the afternoon, I heard that my heartbeat was erratic on the monitor and this caused me to cough. I tried to sit up, but my wound hurt and I fell back on the bed. The nurse took my head and turned it, yelling at me to be still and not try to move. He tightened the cuff on the blood pressure monitor that was around my arm and I heard him call to someone saying that I had no pulse and that I had fainted.
More nurses came but I was unable to see them, I could only see black, absolute darkness. I thought I had blacked out but I didn't feel at all faint. Their voices seemed to travel off and this sensation lasted for about thirty seconds. I suddenly recovered my sight and I found myself in the middle of the room, but I saw everything from above as if I were on the next floor and the floor was made of glass. I seemed to have exceptionally sharp vision and could see my bed and three other beds, the whole room, a partition and laboratory on the side, and several wardrobes. The intensive care unit seemed to be illuminated by the sun, but this was incorrect because, on the contrary, I remember it being pretty dark. I saw the doctor taking notes and two nurses checking all the tubes and electrodes. And I saw my nude body on the bed while they spoke among themselves. The curious thing was that I couldn't hear their voices, rather I just knew what they were saying as if reading their minds and knowing what they were going to say even before they did.
I remember trying to look at myself but I didn't have a body, yet I had the sensation of having one. I was really taken by the fact that my legs didn't hurt. Let me explain: For many years, I had suffered from a severe lack of vein and artery function and the pain and heaviness in my legs were chronic, no matter what position I was in. I had learned to live with this pain but now I didn't feel it and I wondered if my legs had gone to sleep. But I looked at myself and didn't see any legs or arms or anything. This made me realize, 'That's it. This passage wasn't so traumatic. I'm on the other side,' and I started worrying who would take care of my blind husband and my brother who was psychologically disabled. The thing is, I felt completely relaxed, with a feeling of weightlessness that reminded me of the abrupt changes of feeling experienced in a fast elevator.
It was something like the moment before orgasm. Like that instant that only lasts a fraction of a second and that we want to prolong before climax (forgive me, it is the closest I can come to what it feels like because there really are no words to describe it), except in this case it was continuous, everlasting, the natural state of my being. It was pure pleasure, without heat or cold, without pain, without itching, without muscle tension, without heartbeat or larynx restricted breathing. Everything was joyful, and I felt guilty because I had inconsiderately abandoned the idea of returning to this life despite knowing my family was completely dependent on me. I felt much sadness and solitude. There was nobody to tell what was happening to me nor to tell me what was going on although I ALREADY KNEW WHAT WAS HAPPENING. It's a mental state where we just know - and that's all there is to say about it. But I felt as if going through withdrawal symptoms, which made me very sad, although this feeling didn't last long.
Suddenly, it seemed like the light surrounding everything got even brighter, if that's possible, until I could no longer see the hospital equipment, nor the intensive care unit, nor the partition, nor my body or hear anything any human being said. Only light existed, without limits or dullness or anything to contain it, without point of emission, light upon light that didn't come from any source nor go to any place. Light filled everything and everything was light, including me. I then felt accompanied by others, as if I were the protagonist of the universe, as if every living being had all at once decided I was their focus of love. I thought, 'I have asked myself my whole life what pure love is, and it turns out that love is light.' I wanted it never to end, and it occurred to me that something so great couldn't have an end. But I thought I heard, 'Maria, Maria?' continuously. This bothered me because it was my husband who was calling me. Hearing his voice in my mind was bothersome. It interrupted the marvelous trance state I was experiencing. I thought I saw the face of my mother at my side, but without features. More than just her face, it was a type of memory, of the security of her presence, of certainty. It was a kind of faith that told me it was she. My mother died when I was four years old. It felt like she caressed my head, combing my hair with her fingers. I looked for her hands and, as with me, she didn't have any. I knew that she also heard my name being called. I remember thinking: 'Don't let me go.' And she stopped caressing me and said, 'They are calling you. You can't leave them now. Stay calm. We shall meet again and they will also be here.'
I felt a push and I saw darkness once again. I felt pain in my chest. I also felt the wound and my legs again, and I coughed hard, very hard, and thought I was going to cough out my insides. I again heard voices (this time real voices, spoken aloud, close to me) asking for oxygen. They said to me, 'Breath, breath.' I felt them insert a catheter into my bladder, and the pain was so great I thought, 'Okay, I'm back once again.' Shortly, I raised my head up a bit and saw my feet. When the nurse came, I asked her what had happened and she said, 'Girl, you've got nine lives like a cat.'
What was the most surprising? When they took me into the operating room to do the surgery, they tied my hair badly in a ponytail with a piece of gauze. In the intensive care unit, I felt the knots in my hair, they pulled, I touched them and felt the snarls of my hair that no comb could ever fix in years. After my 'return' I remember that the doctor asked the nurse, 'Who undid the gauze from this girl's hair?' She answered, 'Nobody. It probably fell on the floor.' The doctor continued to chide saying, 'And her hair combed itself, right? Move the bed and look for that gauze. I don't want any crap on the floor in here. This is an intensive care unit.' They moved the bed and all the apparatus and there wasn't a nurse or maintenance person who didn't ask another who had combed my hair. The gauze was never found, nor did anyone comb my hair apparently (it would have been difficult without moving the bed because the headboard was fixed to a wall with a skylight above). The fact was that my hair fell free and untangled toward the back, upon the pillow. From time to time, I have run into one of them in the hospital hallway and they ask who had combed my hair, as if I was an accomplice to the act. How could I explain to them that it had been my mother.
Date NDE Occurred: 2 de Julio de 1998
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) . The 'beep' of the monitor was no longer audible and a nurse said to a doctor, 'She's gone. It would have been hard for her not to go. What could we expect.' And they took me off the respirator.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Wonderful
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? More consciousness and alertness than normal I have already explained this. I seemed to have a far greater field of vision. I could see several rooms with their partitions. It seemed to me everything was very illuminated and nothing cast shadows. The voices I heard formed in my mind before I heard them. It was like hearing the ideas before they were translated into spoken language and formed into sentences. I also had the feeling of knowing everything. It was like if I wanted to be unaware but I couldn't because I already knew everything.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? When I saw myself from above.
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 lost the notion of time and space because there were no physical limits to show that both these dimensions exist. There was only the desire for eternal existence.
Were your senses more vivid than usual? Incredibly more vivid
Did your vision differ in any way from normal? I seemed to have a much greater field of vision. I could see several rooms with their partitions. Everything seemed very illuminated and nothing cast a shadow.
Did your hearing differ in any way from normal? The voices I heard formed an instant beforehand in my mind. It was like hearing the ideas before they were translated into spoken language and formed into sentences.
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? Yes Not a tunnel, but I did see darkness for about half a minute more or less.
The experience included: Presence of deceased persons
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 My mother. I have already described this.
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 Light that at first allowed me to see myself and the medical team and afterwards it grew and engulfed everything.
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? No
What emotions did you feel during the experience? The loss of pain and I didn't feel my breathing nor my heartbeats, nor normal muscle tension.
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
The experience included: Special Knowledge
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
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? No I was educated as a Catholic although I was never really a practicing Catholic. I haven't seen anything that shows me there is a superior being. There is a superior energy, but I still haven't seen a superior being.
What is your religion now? Liberal
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? No I was educated as a Catholic although I was never really a practicing Catholic. I haven't seen anything that shows me there is a superior being. There is a superior energy, but I still haven't seen a superior being.
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? Yes Here we are limited. The body is a prison and the real world is a nest of germs and filth, of smells and volatile substances that now make me nauseous, but it didn't used to be that way before my experience. I have an excessive obsession for cleanliness, especially for clean bodies. Over there, everything was sterile, unpolluted.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes My conceptions about family and marriage have completely changed, as well as the emotions of relationships. Of course, I now see the whole world as much more egoistic.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes The sensations, my ability to see clearly.
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 change of dimension, the sensation of emotions, cleanliness and pleasure that in this life would be impossible to find.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes A few months afterwards. I told a friend, but just part of the experience. She believed me, but I felt if I had told her everything, she wouldn't have believed me. So I didn't tell her more.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? No
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real. I was conscious from the moment I began to feel physical pain once again and to smell things. I didn't wait longer because I was still in the hospital and knew for certain the difference between being asleep, being awake, or being passed out.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real. Exactly the same as when I experienced it, although I have reflected on it and have arrived at the conclusion that this life is a kind of test. That this isn't really life but rather what comes afterwards is.
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? What has shocked me the most is to find there are other people who have experienced the same thing. This erases once and for all the suspicion that I dreamed it.
Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? Ask what the experiencer would compare the sensations with. Perhaps by presenting various points of view the experience can be explained in such a way that those who haven't had an NDE can understand it better.