Yesterday (Thurs, 2/23), I remembered a little more from the recovery room. These recollections came to me nearly simultaneously as fairly severe left incisional pain decreased (? due to placement of ice). It was almost like flipping a switch.
I know I had some trouble breathing on my own there (oxygen saturation was = 77%; should be > 95%) and was nearly put on a ventilator. At first, all I could remember was this nurse (who needed electrolysis on her face badly!) who kept telling me to 'BREATHE!' And, all I told her was 'F*** YOU, BITCH' because I was in so much pain. I didn't realize how potentially bad off I was. After thinking about it yesterday and putting things in better perspective, I realized I really thought I was going to die. My reason for this is that the pain was so severe; I couldn't see how someone could survive it. I don't remember all the details of my thought processes yet. But, I do remember that I didn't want to die -- not really because of me (once I'm dead, it's not my problem anymore) but because of others, like you, Diane, the kids, and other close friends -- I didn't want to die because I didn't want any of you to be hurt.
In fact, I actually remember now making the conscious choice to live. Yes, I had a 'near-death' experience -- it's also been reported in people who were sick (e.g., not breathing real well) but didn't have a true cardiac arrest (I will review my records later to see exactly how bad it got). No tunnel or white light, but clearly out of my body looking at the nurse over me, with a resuscitation bag. I met my mom and dad, then Jesus.
Once I told my parents I wanted to go back, there was a white, bright fog, then my parents were gone and Jesus was there. He appeared and communicated the same way that my parents did. He struck me as made of the same 'stuff' as my parents -- which is compatible with my personal beliefs re: JC [Jesus Christ] -- that he lived on earth as a man who manifest the potential of humankind to the greatest extent ever done. He even said that we were capable of performing 'these things and more...' I never got the sense that I had to first see JC before seeing G_d -- G_d just wasn't part of my recollections to this point.
During both visits (my parents, Jesus) I was told that I had a choice -- stay in heaven or return to Earth. It was the most peaceful I have ever felt in my life. There was unconditional/nonjudgmental love there -- they were truly 'OK' with whatever decision I made and didn't try to convince me either way. At that point, I didn't really think of the pain I'd have over the next few days if I returned to the 'living.' I simply choose to live to avoid hurting those who were left -- period.
Though my decision, in 'real time,' had to be relatively quick (i.e., seconds), I never felt rushed. I first had a discussion with my parents, then changed locations and talked with Jesus. The content of both conversations was identical, as was the tone and feeling of peace. The presence of my parents and of Jesus was clear but I don't remember seeing them as definite figures û I heard their voices in my head. I can't remember if I actually spoke or just communicated with them in thought waves. Either way, they were clearly there - very real, very loving, and totally accepting and understanding.
I find it extremely interesting that in the past I've thought about and considered suicide so many times. Yet, this time, I REALLY had to make an 'on the spot' decision whether to live or to die. This time, the metaphoric gun was in my hand, loaded, and cocked. And I choose to live -- I did not think of me at the time, but of everyone else. I would have been fine if I stayed in Heaven, but you all would not have. My priorities were obvious. And, though I felt as though I had all the time in the world to reach my decision, when the question was posed to me, I instantly responded: 'I want to live,' and then went on to give my reasons. These are personal and referred to promises I made to people close to me that I would always be there for them, and that if I died, I knew that they would be devastated.
I haven't (and am not ready yet) delved into this more. I did, however, want to share this with those close to me. I know, because I've been there, that:
1. There is a Heaven
2. The love, it goes on forever
3. When push comes to shove, I chose life over death
4. My choice was not based on me alone, but on my concerns for those close to me.
5. Though time did not feel to be 'of the essence,' the decision for me came quickly and was a 'no-brainer.'
Before I was put to sleep, I asked the anesthesiologist to not give me Versed, a drug like Valium that causes amnesia. Before my 'revelation' yesterday, I thought that I was very stupid to not take this medication since my initial memories of the PACU (Post-Anesthesia Care Unit) were not pleasant. I now realize that if I had taken the Versed, I would not have recalled any of the experiences noted above. None of this would be remembered û and the valuable lessons I learned (and will continue to learn in the future) might have been lost forever.
ANSWERS TO ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS
I note you encountered Jesus in your experience. Are you Jewish? If so, anything further you would like to add about your encounter with Jesus would be especially interesting. It took a remarkable amount of courage to share your experience so soon after it happened.
Hi, Dr. Long (Jeffrey) and thanks for writing. Yes, I grew up in a Jewish home but have not practiced ritualistic Judaism for years. My wife (not Jewish) and I have attended a Unity church for over 15 years, where Jesus is viewed as a Man who manifested the potential of man on earth to the greatest extent of anyone who has ever lived. In the New Testament, Jesus clearly states that we are all capable of doing what he manifested and more. Jesus is not viewed as the 'son of G_d' per se -- for if he is the son of G_d, then we are all children of G_d. And we don't believe that to 'get to G_d' you must go through Jesus. For this reason, I don't have a problem accepting Jesus in my life as a way-shower -- if all human beings lived their lives as did Jesus, I think even the most agnostic/atheistic of persons could agree -- the world would be a better place ('turn the other cheek,' 'love is everything,' etc.). In my particular NDE, I never felt that Jesus was a stepping stone to G_d -- for whatever the reason, G_d just wasn't in my experience -- at least that I remember for now. Also, I don't know if I mentioned it in my original questionnaire, but I specifically asked my anesthesiologist NOT to give me benzodiazepines -- I'd had bad experiences with them in the past. Had I received Versed, I may have never recalled the NDE.
Feel free to add this material to my 'bio' on the Web site. Thank you for writing. I have always been fascinated by NDEs -- as an Intensivist and Emergency Physician for over 30 years, I have talked with a few people who had them. I NEVER expected that I would ever be one.
All my best,
Date NDE Occurred: 2/17/2006
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Surgery-related Life threatening event, but not clinical death Severe respiratory depression in Recovery Room following surgery combined with severe pain (the worst I have ever felt).
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? Less consciousness and alertness than normal Whole thing, from a visual point of view, was slightly foggy, though the communication (parents/Jesus to me and vice versa) was 'crystal clear.'
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? When I first woke up in the Recovery Room. However, please note that my fullest awareness of the NDE occurred several days later -- Thurs 2/23/06.
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 Seemed like both my parents and Jesus allowed me 'forever' to decide whether or not I wanted to go back. Intellectually, I know that this must have taken place in seconds.
Were your senses more vivid than usual? Incredibly more vivid
Did your vision differ in any way from normal? Whole 'scene' mild to moderately foggy.
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
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 Both parents, Jesus (parents together, then Jesus).
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 Once I told my parents I wanted to go back, there was a white, bright fog, then my parents were gone and Jesus was there.
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? A clearly mystical or unearthly realm My entire surroundings, though visually "foggy," were beautiful and peaceful.
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Peace, love.
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
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? No
What is your religion now? Liberal
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? No
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? Yes When I told one woman that the major reason I chose to return was so that she wouldn't be hurt, it appears that she has withdrawn from me and refused to return my phone calls. Another friend told me that she had always been interested in NDEs and has started sending me information.
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
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes Initially shared with my wife and close friends -- hours. All found it interesting. No one argued that I was 'on drugs,' or crazy. All remarked that they felt I made the right decision by deciding to return to earth (to live).
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Yes I have read several books and had a few NDE-patient contacts during my clinical practice of medicine. I don't think that this knowledge prospectively affected my NDE. Afterwards, it helped me recognized what had happened due to both the presence (seeing dead relatives, Jesus, feeling of peace) and absence (tunnel, life review) of events that are often described.
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real. I felt the presence of others and clearly heard (whether telepathically or otherwise) their messages to me.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real. Time frames for responses to questions 40 and 41 are essentially the same at this point.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? Yes In the past) almost as peaceful: 'Cuddling' a close female friend. No sex involved.