Experience Description

I recognized that I was slowly awakening from what must have been sleep. I felt terrible, horrendous pain all over my body, but especially in my chest and arms. I tried to open my eyes but they would not open. I heard footsteps approaching from my right, and then someone was stood beside me fumbling with something. I could hear a steady 'beep, beep, beep'. It seemed oddly familiar. Then I felt fingers stroking my hair. A beautiful voice said my name. The voice was vaguely familiar, but only recently so. It was a woman's voice, and she said my name with a heavy Mexican accent. She asked if I could open my eyes. I tried again. This time my eyes obeyed, but there was bright light, and I closed them tightly because the light hurt them. The woman beside me was still stroking my hair, and I heard her say, 'Do you remember me?' Although I couldn't say how I knew her, I tried to say the name, which came immediately into my mind, 'Maria'.

The name came out in a croaking whisper, and I began coughing ferociously. At the same time, my eyes popped open long enough to see hands in front of me holding a paper towel. Maria told me to spit, and I did. I wondered why there was all this mucus in my throat, and why my throat hurt so badly. The coughing was very painful in my chest. Maria threw the paper towel in the waste bin and told me not to move, that I was hooked to a machine. She said she would be back with the doctor shortly. I watched her leave, trying to adjust my eyes to the light, and I was vaguely aware of another figure standing in the doorway, facing me.

Squinting, I began to look around the room. I could just barely make out my surroundings, as I was almost legally blind without my glasses. I was in a hospital bed, propped up with pillows or something holding my contorted body in place. I could make out a very large window looking not out onto the outdoors but into another area, with a very large desk or other partition and many hospital personnel scattering about it. There were voices everywhere, lots of beeping sounds, almost everything seeming to be at a distance. To my left was a tall metal cabinet, like a locker; it seemed very relevant to something, somehow. I closed my eyes, listening to the steady beeping sound coming directly from my right. Suddenly, I realized why the beeping and the cabinet were very familiar to me, and I saw in my mind what could only have been a dream, or so I thought at the moment of recall. It went like this:

I was lying on my stomach, perfectly comfortable, up high on what felt like a metal cabinet, my elbows on the cabinet beneath me, my chin resting on my hands. My body felt so light that I knew that if I fell off my high perch I might simply float in midair. My vision was extremely clear even though I was not wearing my glasses. This discrepancy didn't seem to matter. I was looking down on my own sleeping body in the bed below. Perhaps I was at home. I must have been, but where there should have been my green sheets and red plaid coverlet there were simple white sheets. Also, there was no tall metal cabinet in my bedroom at home. That too didn't seem to matter at all. I could hear very, very vividly (through both ears, although in reality I have hearing loss in the right ear; again, this didn't seem to matter) the 'beep, beep, beep' sound, which was growing faster, plus another sound. This sound was like a steady 'whooooosh, thunk, whoooosh, thunk', over and over. I was just below the ceiling, and my toes behind me were just brushing the ceiling. I was moving my legs to brush my toes against it. I was not at home, but didn't really care where I was. I did not question this in the least. I simply observed without curiosity. I noticed how my body was crumpled up in a fetal position, lying on my back below me, propped up with cushions I couldn't see, as they were under the sheet. I noticed a tube coming out of my mouth. I was listening dispassionately to the whoosh thunk, which remained steady as the beep beeps, which had been quickening, became a steady 'beeeeeeeeeep'.

Suddenly, the room exploded with activity. People came rushing in, and there was a lot of chatter. A man called out 'Maria!' and a woman answered 'I'm here!' as she ran into the room. People moved the bed. I noticed then that the tube coming out of my mouth was no longer there. For whatever reason, this didn't concern me. I wasn't confused. I wasn't excited in any way. There was just total acceptance of all the discrepancies, dispassionate observing from above. My view of the body on the bed was being partially obstructed now, but I saw my head being bent back and something metal in my mouth. I distinctly heard a word amongst all the chaotic chatter. That word, which I had never heard before, was 'aspirated'. It didn't concern me at all that I didn't know the meaning. I saw some sort of machine being wheeled into the room. I saw a man rub two oblong shiny things together. The people around the body moved slightly back, and I got a better view as someone yelled and then it became quiet. I heard a sort of buzzing sound over the whoosh, thunk and the beeeeeep, then the shiny things were placed on the chest of the body on the bed, and it arched upward. This repeated until the steady beep became separate beeps again. I noticed the tube was back in my mouth, the metal thing that had been there before gone. After a time, I have no idea how long, the people were becoming calmer, and as some of them began to leave, I floated fluidly from my perch atop the cabinet down to the bed. I simply moved without questioning why. As I lay back into my body, my awareness began to fade. That was the end of the 'dream'.

I had closed my eyes as I was recalling the experience. I was very, very confused. I started when I heard a male voice near me introducing himself, Doctor _________ something, I don't recall his name. The doctor told me I was in Mission Hospital and had been in a coma. He looked at my eyes with a flashlight. It was impossible to focus my vision without my glasses. It then occurred to me, I had seen perfectly well without glasses in the 'dream'. The doctor and Maria talked, but I wasn't really listening. I was trying to make sense of the 'dream'. The doctor was leaving now, and Maria was at the door. I called her name. She came to me. I said I needed to pee. She said she had to remove the tube from me. She removed it (it went to a bag attached to the bed to catch my urine). I watched as she disconnected the wires, which went from my chest to a machine by the bed from the machine. She pulled a bag from off a pole at the head of the bed, which I realized was connected by a long line to a needle in my arm. She brought me a wheelchair, and I held the wires while she held the fluid bag as she helped me to the bathroom.

When I was back in bed and the wires reconnected to the machine and the bag back in place, she told me I was such a beautiful young lady and asked what could be so bad that I had tried to kill myself. I couldn't answer, although I knew. She told me how lucky I was to be alive. She said 'they' had 'lost me' three times in the ambulance, that the emergency medical technicians had told her so; the 'paddles' had been used three times. I had no idea what paddles were. Upon the emergency medical technicians' arrival, I had been breathing weakly on my own, she related, but not for long. They had a terrible time 'getting a vein', Maria said, and had to beat my arms. I suddenly had a real-time vision of being on my knees in a swirling sea of black. I didn't know what it meant until Maria happened to tell me of my ordeal several days before, that my stomach had been pumped of the twenty or more Vicodin I had taken; I had been taking the Vicodin for severe pain ever since my 1995 car accident. I had taken them all, because I could no longer take the pain. Following the pumping, charcoal had been pumped into my stomach, and then I vomited, then more charcoal, more vomiting. Maria said that 'we almost lost you again' first thing when she arrived yesterday morning, and that I had had to be intubated (I know now this is the word, but at the time I heard 'incubated') again. I didn't know what that was and was too confused to ask any questions.

I left the hospital very worried about what I now knew was no 'dream'. It's how I knew Maria's name, and how I knew that I had been breathing with the help of a machine, why my throat hurt, why I immediately recognized the tall metal cabinet. When I finally examined my chest and arms, they were as black as coal, bruised beyond anything I had ever seen. I would be diagnosed four years later with severe fibromyalgia, and would grow to accept that I would need very, very strong painkillers (much stronger than Vicodin) for the rest of my life, and even then, the pain, though duller, is always present.

I also learned only recently from a friend who is a former nurse what a defibrillator is, what it does and how. She also told me about the heart monitor and it's beeping, and what a flat line is, and what the words 'aspirated' and 'intubated' mean. After all the questions, she urged me to tell her more, and I told my story for the first time. She said I probably had a 'near-death experience', to look up some information on this, which led me to this website. I see similarities with others' stories.

Background Information:

Gender: Female

Date NDE Occurred: Autumn of 1997

NDE Elements:

At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Suicide attempt. Clinical death (cessation of breathing or heart function or brain function) I was told later that 'we lost you' once at the hospital and three times in the ambulance.

How do you consider the content of your experience? Mixed

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 As above.

At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? Looking down on my body from atop the high metal cabinet, I could see perfectly without glasses, and my hearing was greatly enhanced; I could hear just fine from my right ear, which in reality has some hearing loss. I felt no pain at all, I was perfectly relaxed, and nothing mattered at all.

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 I was in a state of hyper-awareness, and time seemed to move slowly.

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. My vision was perfect, although I didn't have glasses on during the experience and I wear glasses (in fact, I was almost legally blind at the time without my glasses).

Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. Sounds were greatly enhanced, and I could hear perfectly well out of my right ear, which in reality has some hearing loss.

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

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? No

Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? No

What emotions did you feel during the experience? Perfect acceptance, no confusion, although what I was experiencing should have been very confusing. No curiosity when there should have been. No emotions other than perhaps being content and calm.

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 none

Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes I began to believe in a 'life' after death that my consciousness does not disappear with death, but simply takes on a different reality, free of a physical body and physical limitations. In those brief moments of the experience outside of my physical body, THERE WAS NO PAIN. My living body is wracked with pain. I look forward to a new 'life' without pain.

What is your religion now? Moderate 'No religion, but I am very spiritual, with a belief in a loving Transcendence, Sacred Mystery, Higher Power, I'm not sure what to call it.'

Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes I began to believe in a 'life' after death that my consciousness does not disappear with death, but simply takes on a different reality, free of a physical body and physical limitations. In those brief moments of the experience outside of my physical body, THERE WAS NO PAIN. My living body is wracked with pain. I look forward to a new 'life' without pain.

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 Ever since the incident, my relationship with MYSELF has changed. I have often questioned whether I am real. I still feel quite unreal. In therapy several years ago, I realized that, actually, I have ALWAYS felt unreal. The therapist helped me to uncover a dissociative tendency, and family has confirmed this.

After the NDE:

Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes The many confusing and changing details of the experience; I was not confused at all DURING the experience, only after.

Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Uncertain In recent years, I was finally able to put words to something my father and I began doing when I was around age four: 'astral projection'. My father worked on an oil platform in the North Sea at the time, and our family lived between Edinburgh and Texas. While in Texas, I talked to my father on the phone one day, and he said he would visit me that night. I 'awoke' in bed that night, came out of my body as I saw Dad standing in my bedroom, holding out a hand as if to beckon me to him. Now out of my body, I looked down and saw myself sleeping. Then I heard bagpipes, and Dad and I broke into the Highland Fling. After the song ended, he told me to go back, and I crawled back into my body. Dad said goodbye, and I said goodnight, and he faded away. The next day he called and asked if I saw him last night. I said yes. He asked if I heard the pipes. I said yes, very excitedly. He said it was my turn to come to him and that I would have to go to him at 4:00 pm, my time. I watched the clock, went to bed after school, and 'flew' to see my Dad in a tiny grey room with bunk beds. He came out of his body on the bottom bunk and we danced to the pipes again. Later Dad called and asked what his room looked like. He was excited as I described it. I saw a tape recorder in the room. He said I was right, that the tape recorder was there so he could record messages to our family. He said to expect a tape soon. This 'astral' travelling went on for perhaps another year, but I have never been able to do it again since age five. The experience in the hospital was the only time following that I was able to leave my body.

Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? The only significance relates back to my early childhood and what I now know to have been astral projection. I always wished I could do it again.

Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes I am now forty, this happened when I was twenty-seven. I have been married almost twelve years and only recently told my husband, after having told a friend who urged me to tell my husband. I told a third person, a close friend, two days ago, who gave me the idea to start reading others' experiences; and so I decided to contribute this.

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 realized immediately after remembering the experience that it was no dream. How could I know Maria's name, and all the other unexplainable details?

What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real It was absolutely real. Although I had died three times in the ambulance and have absolutely no memory of it all, I know from Maria that I died again in the hospital the previous morning just as she arrived, confirming that this was no dream. I had to be intubated AGAIN, she said.

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? I have learnt the value of acceptance by remembering what it was like to observe without judging, putting aside all discrepancies which should have led to confusion, allowing life (death?), to pass before me with total acceptance. At the same time as I came also to accept my dissociative tendency, I learnt to pay special attention to remaining in the moment, to accept without question what IS, including my pain.

Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? Time seemed slower, not faster, yet the question dealing with this did not allow me to express that it was slower. Also, the question dealing with the content of the experience and the attached emotion likewise left me with no suitable answer, because it was neither wonderful nor frightening, not even a mix of the two; I seemed dispassionate, contented, calm instead.