It was about 10:00 p.m. and I was lying on an emergency room bed at the hospital in New York. My wife drove me to the hospital while I was experiencing severe chest pains.
The medical team had me on a monitor. They had given me nitro and whatever other things they normally do to a patient clearly experiencing a heart attack.
There came a point where I began feeling faint. I kept pleading with the doctors to relieve my pain. My wife was standing nearby. As the feeling of near fainting grew more intense, I called out to a nurse or someone, saying that I felt like I was about to pass out. Later, my wife would tell me that the waveforms on the patient monitor were 'all over the place,' totally erratic, and that she saw my eyes roll back in my head.
I could feel myself slip into unconsciousness. I'd fainted a few times in my life before, due to non-serious things like a phobia I used to have of hypodermic needles. Once I even passed out when my second daughter was born, after seeing the large needle they brought out to administer whatever they gave my wife to help facilitate the birth.
Anyway, on the night of September 25, 2006 - ironically my wife's birthday - I called out to alert the emergency room staff that I was about to pass out. Then I did. Well, actually I was in ventricular fibrillation, which as I understand it is virtually always if not literally always fatal, if defibrillation doesn't occur very, very soon thereafter.
The next thing I experienced and was conscious of was being in a very, very dark space. All the sort of stereotypical terms are inescapable as I describe this, but it indeed seemed otherworldly. It was intensely dark and very quiet. I felt no pain and didn't necessarily have a concept of my own physical self. What I mean was I knew I was observing something, but I didn't necessarily look down at my own person to see, say, what I was wearing.
What I observed - and what I'm about to say was CORROBORATED later by the hospital emergency room nurses (two of them) - was myself lying on the emergency room bed, then quickly sitting straight up, and screaming. I saw myself as vividly and clearly as anything, I've ever seen before.
I was surrounded by a very, very intense white light, and it seemed to crackle, almost 'electrically,' so to speak. The light encircled my form; it wrapped around the contour of my body, as I recall. All this was against an extremely dark background.
It was unclear where I was or what kind of room or space I was in, other than the darkness, then the bright light surrounding my form, sitting up at ninety degrees and screaming loudly. I cannot say with certainty if I was positioned slightly higher than the view of myself on the table, but I think I might have been. I was certainly not below that level, and definitely not 'floating' above my body. I was seated comfortably in a chair, simply dispassionately and objectively observing what was taking place.
I remember thinking, 'Hmmm, that's me. Why am I sitting up and screaming, with an amazingly intense white light around me?' It didn't necessarily disturb me, and I had no real sense of when this was taking place, nowhere, and of course nor why. I just knew that suddenly there I was, in an ineffably dark space, watching myself sit up and scream.
When the medical team brought me back, they told me they had to shock me with the defibrillator. I was still in tremendous pain. The hospital did not, and still doesn't have facilities for angioplasty, so they put me on a gurney to prepare me to travel by ambulance to the city of Buffalo.
While they were placing me on the gurney in the emergency room, I heard a nurse (though I didn't see her) say to me, 'Did you know you screamed when you woke up?' I was in too much distress to respond to her, but her words struck me as rather remarkable, because of course I had seen and heard myself screaming while I was in the throes of sudden cardiac death.
There is more to the corroboration of all this by the medical staff, however, which I'll explain shortly.
They rushed me downtown and did angioplasty, inserting two arterial stents. I was in the hospital about a day and then was released and have been feeling fine.
About a year later, my daughter Kristy sustained an injury that necessitated my taking her to the same Emergency Room. Ironically, two of the key nurses that attended to me during my ordeal on the night of September 25, 2006, were tarrying about the emergency room area. I remembered them vividly: Lynn, and Don. They remembered me.
Indeed, Lynn explained that I was 'her first,' meaning the first time she was on duty in the emergency room when a patient had a heart attack and essentially died on the emergency room bed. Don also recalled that evening, and we engaged in a little bit of small talk.
Then Lynn said, 'Oh, yeah, I'll never forget you sitting up and screaming.'
WAIT! I said. Could you say that again? She repeated her statement.
Oh my God, I thought, and I explained it to her and Don. I knew that night in 2006 that my screaming was corroborated, because shortly after I was revived by defibrillation, a nurse said to me, 'Did you know you screamed when you came to?'
But nobody had ever corroborated the OTHER thing I did - the sitting straight up! Now, a year later, Lynn and Don both assured me that, oh yes, I was screaming loudly as I SAT STRAIGHT UP!
This was absolute confirmation that what I saw while I was clinical dead actually took place - and I saw all this from a dispassionate position and perspective, while it was happening to me. It was AFTER I saw it all that I 'came to.'
I'm a very practical person and generally skeptical of anything even marginally relating to psychic phenomena and that sort of thing. I know without even the slightest shadow of a doubt that what I saw and experienced that evening was real. It was intensely vivid and clear.
I have a strong interest in reading about OBEs and NDEs because of my own astonishing, very real experience. I have virtually no fear of death and absolutely know there's an afterlife. I felt that way from my religious beliefs and from reading and listening to great religious-scientific people like Pastor Rick Warren, Dr. Francis Collins of the human genome project; Lee Stroebel and others. My belief was totally locked in when I had my own out of body, near-death experience.
I would swear to the complete and total truthfulness and accuracy of this account in a court of law and on a stack of Bibles.
Date NDE Occurred: 'Sept. 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 went into ventricular fibrillation as a result of a heart attack.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Mixed
The experience included: Out of body experience
Did you feel separated from your body? No
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 As above.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? I don't know that I can answer this, except to say I felt fully alert and aware of what was going on throughout the entire experience.
Were your thoughts speeded up? Incredibly fast
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning
A general feeling that it just wasn't clear where I was, why I was here, or WHEN I was here. It wasn't clear how long I was here before I returned to consciousness in the emergency room. Something told me I was somewhere else just moments earlier; i.e., where I was 'supposed' to be, but I'm afraid it's impossible for me to describe just how time and space factored in. I just felt like the normal sense of time and space had changed. I think I was aware that I could be dreaming, or at least I think I briefly considered that I might have been dreaming. But I clearly was not.
Were your senses more vivid than usual? Incredibly more vivid
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
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: Void
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 The light was behind me and around my sides; essentially it encircled or wreathed my form. It was very, very bright and white - blinding, in a sense, yet not to the point where I felt it disturbed my vision. It was just extraordinarily bright and 'electric,' so to speak.
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? No
What emotions did you feel during the experience? This is hard to say. No real emotions, other than the puzzlement of why this was happening. I remember thinking, 'Gee, that's an image of me there, wrapped in intense light, sitting straight up and screaming.'
Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? Relief or calmness
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? Moderate
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes I tend to attend church more regularly than before my near-death, out of body experience.
What is your religion now? Moderate
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes I tend to attend church more regularly than before my near-death, out of body experience.
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 My wife and I are closer, and I think I've gotten others in my life to have a greater respect for life and the ultimate meaning of it all. I often share my experience with others, and it seems to bring them and me a bit closer. They're intrigued by and grateful for my sharing my experience.
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
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? Just the fact that both details - the screaming and the sitting up - were confirmed by two nurses.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes I told people fairly soon after I returned home after the angioplasty. People were very intrigued and seemed to believe me pretty much without skepticism - perhaps because I was so genuinely convincing, since I know what I saw. It wasn't something I THINK I saw - it was indeed what I saw, what actually occurred, very, very vividly.
I think some of the people with whom I shared my experience seemed perhaps a bit encouraged that, well, the notion of an afterlife was now more real, more 'pragmatic' to them than ever before.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Yes I've read some books and magazine articles about NDEs. As a journalist, I read 'everything'. I'm curious by nature. I like staying informed about a disparate array of things, including fascinating phenomena like NDEs. Did it affect my experience in any way? No. Not in the least. What happened to me on the night of 25 September 2006 happened: it was real, vivid, clear, and life-changing.
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real Again, the reality of the experience covers two things: (1) the absolute vividness of what I saw and heard; and (2) the later corroboration, confirmation, of what occurred, by two other totally disinterested parties (i.e., the two aforementioned nurses, both of whom can be separately and independently consulted on this matter).
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real Nothing has changed. What I saw, and what the two nurses verified, was as real as anything I've ever seen or heard in my lifetime.
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? It has inspired me to ask my doctors and other medical professionals (and others) what their thoughts are about the afterlife; about whether they believe there's a Grand Designer behind life, etc.
Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? I don't believe so.