I was in the military for a little over twenty-one years. August 17, 1967, through October 1, 1988. In the 1980s, military health care was not as great as it is today. I had known that my aortic valve was deformed since grade school (sixth or seventh grade). The local small town doctor in a town seven miles away only had fluoroscope back then. I never saw what you could see with his fluoroscope, as he was on the other side showing my mom things. I was told not to run, play, or high school sports. I was crushed and in private would go out in the fields and run as far and as fast as I could. My parents never knew. I finally found a different doctor who signed my sports physical in a far off small town that allowed me to play football in my junior and senior years of high school. I literally begged that doctor to sign my release.
When I joined the military, a doctor told me in 1968 that I would probably have to have that valve replaced in fifteen years, as it would continue to deteriorate and calcify. I asked him how they could replace it and he said he wasn't sure as they hadn't figured that out yet, but they would in the coming fifteen years. I waited one year too many.
I had been working with an old internal medicine guy that worked for the Army for many years. He should have retired. I kept complaining of not being able to breathe or run. I was worried of flunking the upcoming Air Force 'robics testing, as we had to run one and a half miles in a short amount of time. I told the doctor I couldn't even run a block now. He was trying to figure out a way to dismiss it and get me out of his office and he finally said, 'Well what do you think it is?' I told him it had been sixteen years since I was told I would need a valve replacement in fifteen years, and I thought that valve was calcifying and was not opening or closing correctly. He said not to get the cart before the horse and to monitor the valve a while longer. About five months later, I drove myself to the base hospital emergency room and found that instead of pneumonia as I thought I had, I was in full-blown congestive heart failure. My heart had enlarged to an alarming size and had become much weaker and x-rays proved my lungs were filling with liquid. I was drowning, slowly.
I was so bull headed, I drove my wife and I to the civilian hospital. My poor wife was as white as a sheet and cried on the way. I was in congestive heart failure with a very enlarged heart. I was admitted to a civilian hospital in Phoenix to remove as much liquid from my body as possible and was waiting for the military to give the go ahead for the civilian hospital to perform open heart surgery and replace a defective aortic valve that had calcified and would no longer close or open all the way. They removed over twenty-five pounds of liquid or whatever from me. At 140 pounds, I was skin and bones. The civilian doctors were just waiting for word from the military to continue and do the surgery needed. All preliminary tests had been done and they knew exactly what I needed. I had been there for three weeks.
Instead, the Military said I was to be taken by ambulance thirty miles to my home Air Base and I waited, lying on a very short-legged medical cot, that could be loaded on the military medical aircraft and not take up too much room. I was lying on that four inch legged cot, directly on the cement of the flight line and my wife had to fight her way through the military guards to stand over me. It took a doctor to tell the guards she was my wife and showed the sky cops the same ticket she showed them, with her ID and the medical records she was holding that she was my wife and she would be taking the medical flight with me to Texas. I could tell she was already near tears. We watched the plane land, they loaded me in the back along the right wall of the fuselage, and my wife sat up front in passenger seats.
Then we got to the Texas air base of Brooks and they had a bunch of unqualified airmen transferring the patients from the medical plane and strapped the short-legged cots onto a medical bus this time. My wife also said she got to ride in the front of the bus with the patients in the back. She said she was in full tears as she watched how roughly they were handling the cots and how they laughed when the cots banged into a part of the bus or another cot. This was after a very long flight and stops to pick up other patients along the way. I had to keep my concentration strong, as several times I was fading out.
Then the bus drove us, I am not sure how many miles, but it was close to Lackland Air Force Base and to their giant medical hospital - Wilford Hall. This was an eight story hospital completely ran by the Air Force and the Air National guard units came all the time to get their two weeks, or weekend training. It was a good training facility, but the patients suffered from the treatment received from the not fully qualified Air National Guard and Air Reserves.
My wife became more agitated when the doctors at this hospital refused all the test results that the civilians had performed, and that the civilian doctors expressed their opinion of my dangerously weakened condition - I should not walk farther than a few feet and maybe have someone accompany me in case I fell. The first few days they re-accomplished all the tests for open-heart surgery. My wife was steaming and I kept trying to get her to stay calm, because these military folks had their own way of running a hospital, and that was ineptly.
Finally not long before the surgery, I repeated the angiogram test where they put a small catheter into my artery and ran it through my heart and emitted dye that they could measure where the dye went and how strong the heart was pumping and they checked each valve in this manner. After the initial test, I was asked if I would partake in an extra test for research. I was laughing along with the rest of them, as the patient is awake during this test and could watch the constant x-ray machines (fluoroscope included) monitor that allows them to watch where the catheter is going and watch what the dye is doing. They said I just had to ride an upside down bicycle that was attached to the bed.
The doctors and I both should have known better as my heart was so enlarged and weak - It would not take riding an upside down bicycle. But I said yes and all the people in the room were very excited. When they placed a small bicycle above me that was attached to the bed, it finally dawned on me why they inserted the catheter into my inner elbow instead of my groin, which is the normal procedure. Normal - I say because I have had four of them in my life and only one went through my elbow.
When all was reset, I was told to peddle as hard as needed to get the RPM Gage up into the red zone. I was having fun and said, 'Sure.' I remember just hitting the red zone and my heart stopped. Everything went dark, but then immediately it turned in to a vast place with no dimensions, time or sound. I was alone in this place, or I thought I was at the time.
I could still see and looked in all directions, even under myself and saw only light grey. As years have passed since that 1984 date, I remember there may have been clouds, but not like normal clouds, they were a solid wall of tight knit clouds that surrounded me. They were neither near nor far, as I had no perception of time, distance or space. I just enjoyed the most wonderful peace and unconditional love. I think unconditional love doesn't do it justice, but I can't think of better words unless maybe 'Awe Inspiring'. I thought everything was normal, as I didn't remember my earthly life or ever having a body or ego. I was like a baby wrapped in love. But the love was so intense, I did wonder a little about it I think. It felt new. Like a rebirth.
It seemed I was there for some time, but time really didn't exist there, but I never thought of 'Time' as I did on earth, as it would have been useless I guess, or it just wasn't an existing thing there. There was no sound, which I really loved. It was like being in a soundproof chamber, but without walls. I remember I could see. I could look in all directions. I remember looking under me and over me and I saw nothing but light grey. It never dawned on me that when I looked under me, I was missing my earthly body. I remembered nothing of my earthly self or even that I had ever existed before now. I saw no earthly things such as waterfalls, fields of grass, mountains or streams of water, or big brightly colored butterflies. I saw none of that and that might be why I stayed silent for so long. My story could not come close to what Dannion Brinkley and others on this group described. However, the intense love and peace did match. I always thought that was the most important part.
My heart was stopped for only twenty minutes and then I came back, maybe I would have seen more if I had been there longer. I don't know.
No one came to me or even telepathically told me it was time to go back. I was in, 'Heaven', not knowing what else to call it afterwards; I didn't try to label it while I was there. I was simply there in a wondrous place. I remembered nothing of an earthly life and would never have returned if given the choice. I didn't understand what going back meant. The following is part of the story I don't think I have told because, although was always part of my NDE memories, they just didn't make sense to me until recently.
(Laugh if you must, but this is what I finally determined was my trip back to my body.)
I was in ecstasy just existing in the love and peace. There was nothing really for my eyes (or sight) to be drawn to. Then finally, I heard a noise over my left rear. I turned that way and something a bit lower than me (some could say a floor to where I was, I thought of it as being behind me and slightly lower than my straight on vision.) The slight noise may have been a faint noise from the medical room where my earthly body was. I would never have made that conclusion then. At my non-existing 'floor' I saw something I thought I had never seen before. Something very odd that was moving in place. I later learned in my earthly mind that I was seeing like a chalk mark outline of a human body. But the outline was moving. It even became upright, began to shimmer, and still moved in place like a shimmering cartoon character. It moved in waves, it couldn't be still. I thought later that the moving in place was to draw my attention. When I finally fixed my vision on it, I was drawn closer and closer to it. I had no fear, just a new curiosity. As in, what the heck is this? I was not moving, but something was moving me. I never thought of it as a spirit, and still do not. Maybe the shimmering of light should have given me a clue, but it didn't and I still don't know what to call it except a standing up straight shimmering and moving in place outline thing. At that time, I thought of it as a marker of some kind.
After it, or something, drew me very close to it, we seemed to have merged together and were both sucked down a very clear tubing. I could see the outline from very close up as we went down the clear tubing together. I told you it was weird.
The next thing I knew, I was in a worldly room that turned out to be my angiogram room with my body still there. I never actually saw my body on the table. I was up a little and behind a very dusty set of electronic equipment. My only thoughts were, 'Where am I now and who is going to clean off that dust?' I knew it was dusty electronic equipment, but I knew little else. I heard the ruckus from the other side of the equipment, but each time I rose above the equipment, the blaring noise and the unbelievable bright lights made me hide gain. It was painful to experience. (I still have difficulty with loud noises and bright lights.) I had no idea where I was and still no clear thoughts of an earthly place, so I thought I was reborn again in a different world. This one was not pleasant at all.
It seems I hid behind that equipment for some time, then the paddles must have been used on my body again, and I was in my body. I was in such unbelievable pain, I remembered where I was and was so sorry for myself, but then determined to stay alive.
They brought me back with chemicals and liberal use of the electric paddles. When I came back to life, I thought maybe I had died and gone to hell, which I do not believe in anymore. Nor was I afraid of death. I remember there were several nurses trying to get me to relax (my back was maybe six inches off the table after the last paddle blast) and they were pumping a type of sedative in me to get me to lie back down. I also noticed a very needle large sticking out of my chest with no one holding it. It was planted deep, to the hilt of the syringe. There was another large syringe coming out of my neck. I figure the one in my chest was in my heart and the one in my neck was in the carotid arteries to my brain to prevent stroke.
I tried relaxing and did finally lie back down but then I started to dim out several times. I focused on one small screw that was on the light above my table and I concentrated on that single screw very intensely. When I would start to dim out, I would concentrate even harder until everything came back into focus. I know someone said they wouldn't have fought so hard to live again and would gladly have gone back to that wonderful place with all the love. However, for me it felt as though it was my duty to stay alive. I didn't realize at the time what for, but I was challenged to stay alive somehow. So I fought hard.
One nurse was beside me. She was talking like a Chatty Cathy doll telling me that she kept me breathing or at least forcing air into my lungs with a portable respirator. I told her thank you and asked her how long I was out? She told me twenty minutes, but then one of the new doctors who wasn't there before I was gone cursed her and told her to get the hell out. She left in tears and everyone else except the screaming doctor were very quiet. I would have thrown something at him if I had had the strength and an object to throw.
I was back in my body and my ego had taken over again. It did not want to die. My ego started to think of my family and thought I had to stay alive for them. So I fought and I guess you could call me, 'The Winner'. But that was just the start of some terrible times afterwards. I started hallucinating about two to three weeks after the operation. I had been off pain drugs for some time and the doctors insisted that I keep taking 'Tylenol 3' just to calm the pain some. The hallucinations were when I was truly awake and walking down the halls of the hospital, even down to the main entrance where doctors and visitors arrived.
When I first saw a crowd in the hall, all looked normal, but within a couple seconds, a third of the group would change into what I expected new corpses would look like. All the skin on their faces, hands and even their arms and legs when wearing shorts changed. All exposed skin turned very white. There were patches of no skin and freshly dead muscle or whatever was exposed. I don't think I ever saw a medical person turn into such a walking dead person. But the others scared me so bad I tried to continue my walks with my eyes looking straight at everyone's feet. None of these newly dead ever turned to look at me, thank God. I didn't tell any of my physicians about the hallucinations as I was afraid I would be moved up to the top floor, which was the mental ward.
I was moved off the cardiac floor before these hallucinations started. I finally stayed in my ward and my bed during the night, but every day after the doctors made their early rounds, I would shower and put on as much hospital garb that I could, even those little slipper socks and real slippers and a hospital robe over hospital pajama bottoms and tops. In my state of mind that made me look like a civilian and I could go anywhere I wanted and the hospital staff would think I was a civilian visitor. A weird state of mind.
After rounds, I would eat whatever breakfast they brought and then plan my escape from the hospital. Back then, they still had outside smoking areas. I checked them all out, I could not stand the stink of the smoke, but I was just looking for the best escape route out of the hospital without being caught. I figured out later that they were all the same as no one from the hospital cared or looked in on you after you left the cardiac floor and being up on a regular open ward with maniacs running wild.
But my mind was very busy and finally I found the perfect escape route and followed it as it was on a back corner of the hospital and led back into grassy fields and lines of very large oak trees. It was so peaceful out there, that I would spend every day out there after rounds and either daydream or just sit with my back against one of those giant trees and be as calm as I could. No one could see me from the other side as the trees that were so large around that it hid my body fine. Because the patients were not allowed back there, no one ever bothered me. I stayed another three weeks for some reason and the only time my peace was intruded upon was by a medical person walking by on his way to the hospital. He asked If my doctor knew I was out this far from the hospital. I lied and told him it was my doctor's idea so I could rest and rediscover my mind. I had no idea where those words came from, but it was good enough for the medical intruder.
Many more things happened during that six-week stay in Texas and nine weeks total of hospital stay. I only got to go home after signing myself out. I started wondering if that is what the doctors were waiting for. They brought out many types of releases, releasing all medical care and medical doctors for anything that happened while I was in the hospital.
I have heard of others who went into deep depression after an NDE, and I think I did too and finally came to grips about it last year or the year before. I was becoming more and more paranoid and frightened because I had no means of protecting my family or myself. I was very weak of body, but fought back hard enough to pass the Air Force 'robic test and remained on active duty.
I told my wife I was buying a gun for self defense. That scared her and my grown children silly. I was forbidden to buy a gun. I wasn't used to being told what to do and started shopping on the Internet. My wife must have always been watching as she set up an appointment for me with a shrink and later with a therapist.
The first thing she told the shrink was that I needed better treatment for depression and anxiety, and 'He wants to buy a gun.' The shrink didn't cotton much to that idea. He spent an hour with me and said I had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I knew that no one in Arizona could legally buy a gun if they had ever been diagnosed with PTSD unless they lied on their registration of the weapon and the state didn't catch my lie through investigation.
So I honored my family's wishes and followed the shrinks advice and was set up with a therapist who specialized in PTSD. It was the best thing that ever happened to me other than the afterlife. My nightmares and flashbacks of hallucinations have stopped for now. I still saw the therapists for many months and the MD shrink still manages my medications. I still had nightmares from time to time, but that is probably fairly normal. The dreams usually ended when I had two scalpels and was to fight a whole village of men in Thailand I guess. The villagers had three scalpels apiece and I had only two - one for each hand. I watched the right hands of the villagers too much as they had the two knives in their right hands and their left hand with only one knife would cut me deeply. I always made it to the last villager where I lay on the ground bleeding out and dying. I could still feel the awful pain of the knives still sticking into my shoulders. When I became fully awake, I realized I had Charlie horses in my shoulders around the back of my neck. Stress from my sleep the Shrink said. It just resembled the pain knives would make if they were in the back shoulders. I always bled out to death. So I guess that dying in your dreams does not really mean you will die then, as some have suggested.
My shrink and therapist spent many hours with me convincing me I was not really in unfair knife fights each night and I have drifted toward normalcy. The last time I was in I was asked by the therapist how the knife fights were going. I told her I improved greatly, as I still have the knife fights, but I kill the rest of them and I am fine at the end, as I no longer die at the end. She wrote on her pad that that was an improvement, but I had a ways to go. I haven't been back since, but my file is still open if I really need to go talk to her. All knife fight dreams have passed now. I sleep in peace.
Date NDE Occurred: Sept 4 1984
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Incompetance of Military Hospital staff Clinical death (cessation of breathing or heart function or brain function)
My heart stopped during a cardio-angiogram. I was told for twenty minutes.
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 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? When I arrived in the afterlife I was immediately extra alert. I was not on the same plane as before. I had not memories of the past at all.
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
It was altered as it did not exist. None of them existed or at least I was not aware of them.
Were your senses more vivid than usual? Incredibly more vivid
Please compare your vision during the experience to your everyday vision that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. There was really no depth perception. Distance didn't seem to apply. Nor did the past or future. I had no knowledge there was a past or future.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. All was quiet and peaceful till the end and then I heard a muffled noise or maybe just felt the vibration of something behind me. That something brought me back to this world.
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? Uncertain Not when I went to the afterlife, but I did seem to go down a clear tube of some kind with whatever took me back. It seemed we blended together.
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 An outline of a human form. It brought me back. I was not aware it was of a human form when I was in it's presence.
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 It was not a bright light. It seemed light grey where I was but was brighter the higher I looked.
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? No
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
What emotions did you feel during the experience? See main narrative.
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? Conservative/fundamentalist
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes More spiritual now. Trying to learn how best to treat others. I no longer think of the future. I have no fear of dying.
What is your religion now? Conservative/fundamentalist
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes More spiritual now. Trying to learn how best to treat others. I no longer think of the future. I have no fear of dying.
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? Uncertain I went into depression maybe twenty years later. Doctor says I have PTSD. I was never in combat.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes I didn't understand half of it until recently. The memories were in my mind with my other NDE memories, but they did not seem to fit until I read Dr. Moody's book recently.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Uncertain I thought I could sense when others were close to death. Never mentioned it to anyone.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? Just the lightness and unconditional love. It seemed to come in an unending wave of warmth. Love warmth, Love and Peace were what were most memorable.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes Six months for wife, twenty-four years for most others.
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
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real I still see it in my mind and have flashbacks in feeling the love and peace. Just being a spirit.
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? Just that it was glorious. I saw nothing earthly. Many others seem to think the earthly vivid sights mean they have had a higher experience. I think if they are seeing worldly things, they haven't let go of their ego. I never remembered the earth or any earthly things. To me, I never existed until then.