My family and I had just arrived at a hotel in Minneapolis, Minnesota. For the last hundred miles I asked my wife to drive, I was feeling ill but did not tell her. While she was checking in, I felt clammy with an overwhelming pressure on my chest. The son of a physician, I knew what was happening. I went into the hotel, told her and the clerk that I was having a heart attack and needed to get to a hospital soon. Help came quickly. I was taken by ambulance to a hospital. In the emergency room, I felt a little better. The emergency room physician gave me antacids and said that maybe it was nothing more than this. The cardiologist called took one look (I could see them) at the electrocardiogram and started talking angrily with the emergency room physician. That cardiologist then came and told me I was having a heart attack. A whole slew of people descended and began doing all sorts of things, mostly with IV lines and monitors. About the time, he told me I was having a heart attack, the pain and the pressure grew worse.
The cardiologist in the emergency room told me that I was having a heart attack. He said that they were going to administer a 'clot-buster,' a nurse told me they would be very busy over the next few minutes, so that if they seemed preoccupied and unresponsive to my questions, not to worry, they just had to get everything right and coordinated, that I would be alright. But I remember feeling sick and embarrassed and a feeling that everything was out of my control. I closed my eyes while they were working on me.
Suddenly, I was floating in a blackness, but I felt no pain and no fear. I had the impression I looked to my left and saw in the distance two pillars, each with a Greek lamp on top, between them and beyond them was a glowing light. Somehow, I knew intuitively I would not travel up and through them, so I turned my face back into the blackness.
Suddenly I was awake and there were people standing around me who seemed happy. A nurse asked if my family could come in and see me. But I said no, I hurt, I was nauseated, and I just wanted to be left alone. The physician said we could take care of that, something must have been injected into the IV I guess, because very quickly I felt no pain and what I later came to realize (two bypass surgeries later) was a drug-induced euphoria. But I did not want to tell anyone what I had experienced. I just wanted to think about it for a while. When I tried to talk about it, it seemed to frighten my wife and children, so I said little until much later.
Date NDE Occurred: May 10, 1990
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Heart attack Life threatening event, but not clinical death
Heart attack at age forty-five when I thought I was in good health.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Mixed
Did you feel separated from your body? Yes I was in darkness, a void, just me, no body.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? Hard to say. I always felt I was me during the experience.
I can compare that to the aftermath of my first bypass surgery: I saw tornados, the building of the pueblos and the coming of the Spaniards. Leaves tossed on the sea. But when I would become lucid, I knew these to be hallucinations.
I do not think what I experienced in the emergency room was a hallucination. It felt too real.
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning
Later it seemed to me that where I was there was neither time nor space.
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? Uncertain Darkness all around.
The experience included: Void
The experience included: Darkness
The experience included: Light
Did you see an unearthly light? Yes Two pillars with a lamp on each.
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Peace, freedom from the pain and anxiety.
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? No
Did scenes from the future come to you? No
The experience included: Boundary
Did you reach a boundary or limiting physical structure? Yes I saw the path between the two pillars. I think now I had the intuitive sense that passing between them would mean a fundamental boundary would be crossed.
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 Somehow I knew that I was not to turn to go between the two pillars, and so I had the feeling of turning away from them towards the darkness. Suddenly thereafter I was awake in the emergency room.
God, Spiritual and Religion:
What was your religion prior to your experience? Liberal Secular Theist: belief in That Which Is, somehow personal, but not what much in Southern Protestantism seems to think it is.
What is your religion now? Liberal Quaker
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Uncertain I went through depression, clinical and medicated. I lived with fear every time my heart skipped a beat.
After the NDE:
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? Best: being free form pain and anxiety while floating in the dark. Worst: coming back into emergency room, nauseated and hurting.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes A little. They were cautiously sympathetic, talking about it made them uneasy, I think. My youngest daughter asked several times to hear about it. She says that this is what happened. She talks of experiences considered paranormal by others and seems to understand what I was saying.
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? Yes, since then I have had another heart attack, two bypass surgeries, and numerous hospitalizations for cardiac arrhythmia. I have not had another similar experience. I have been afraid of the surgery, but not in the same way as before. When I was told that my first grafts had failed and I was to have surgery as soon as it could be arranged, I had only a brief moment of weakness and then was calm (relatively). I was able to comfort my wife and children. Now I think there were, and are, presences close by, full of help and humor and reassurance, but coming near only when requested.