I was gravely ill and went to the hospital to have a cardiac consultation and possibly heart surgery. After 2 days of numerous tests, they proposed a valve replacement surgery and a patch to repair a cardiac aneurysm. On surgery day, they wheel me into the surgery room. I was convinced I wouldn't survive.
I was not scared of dying and feel like I've lived a good life, accomplished a lot. So, I was prepared to die. I told myself I want to hold on to the happiest moment of my life and die thinking of that. A year prior, I had gone to China to volunteer at a panda preserve. My happiest moment was hugging a baby panda. So almost in a chant, I was reliving over and over the thoughts of when I was hugging a baby panda. ‘Hugging a panda. Relax, breathe, hugging a panda.’ These might be my last thoughts; I needed to think about my happiest moment.
I'm trying to look around the room; I sit up a bit. Nurse Nate asks me, ‘What's wrong?’ ‘Nothing,’ I reply. I am looking for the heart lung machine (Cardiopulmonary bypass pump). He points to it but it's covered in so much plastic I can't really make it out. He slightly pushes my head back down and tells me to relax. I try. Then I think, 'Ooh, where is the saw?!' You know the sternum saw they will use to cut me open, that'll cut through my sternum. Nurse Nate tells me it's wrapped up and he can't show it to me. "But I want to see it." "No," he says. I can tell he is getting a bit annoyed. He tells me to take a deep breath as he puts a plastic mask over my mouth. I breathe, I think, ‘hugging a panda’. I wake up and I see my gown is off. My chest is exposed. I feel some cold liquid being smeared on my chest.
I raise my head to see and say 'OH.' I hear some talking and I am out. Thinking back, I think they were putting on some iodine or something like that. I didn't get to think 'hugging a panda' one last time. I was out, fast.
I was raised Catholic, but sometime around high school I started questioning this faith. I abandoned this religion after graduating from a private all girls’ catholic school. I hold with me the belief in a higher power, but have a problem with organized religion. I have a problem with open displays of faith, which I believe to be a very personal thing. I get highly annoyed by those who try to push their faith on me. I am not saying this is the other-side, nor am I saying it's a dream. I really and truly have no idea what happened.
While I was having surgery, I experienced the following:
I'm in a park. Green grass was everywhere. It was very pretty and very clean. I see a black cat running up to me. It's my Amigo, my black cat who had passed away 6 months earlier. He runs towards me and leaps into my arms. He feels exactly the same. He was always a solid cat from his years on the streets. I hold him tight, I am so happy to see him. Joy fills me!! I cry a little bit. I hold him, hugging him, kissing him. He's rubbing his cheek on my face. I am so happy to see him. He is so happy to see me. This happiness is as if I've never felt before. I could feel his love and adoration. I have never felt happiness like this before in my life. It was peaceful, comforting, and so fulfilling.
Amigo jumps out of my arms, I see him walk over to a park bench and sit next to an old man. I was about to follow him when I see the old man. Wait, is that Grandpa?! 'Grandpa, GRANDPA!!?' I shout. Amigo jumps up on the park bench and curls up to go asleep next to Grandpa. 'Grandpa!' I keep calling him. He doesn't look directly at me; he motions with his hand for me to go away. 'Grandpa, no, Grandpa it's me!' Why doesn't Grandpa want to see me? Why is he telling me to go away? This hurts. All the happiness of seeing Amigo has gone away. Why won't my Grandpa come to me? Why is he telling me to go away? I can't move towards him. I can't run up to him and hug him. I'm stuck there watching him motion for me to go away: Flicking his hand to me, motioning me to go away. He had a seriously look on his face. I was so sad, so confused. I felt so alone. I look at Amigo, lying peacefully asleep next to him, and ZAP, I am gone.
I am not there anymore. The transition from there to not being there was fast. Literally, it felt like a zap. I wake up a couple hours after surgery. Tick, Tick, Tick. I hear ticking: two mechanical heart valves later. I hear more ticking. Tick, tick, tick, tick. My goodness, what is that loud ticking? I start waking up. I'm forming thoughts; I'm alive, what's that ticking noise? Wait, I just had heart surgery, I'M ALIVE. I'M THINKING! Tick, tick, tick. Oh my goodness, that noise is driving me crazy. I open my eyes. I see the nurse sitting next to me, but she's looking at the computer screen and not at me. How can I get her attention? I can't speak. I have something in my mouth. Tick, tick, tick. I notice the clock on the wall. I can't speak. I need her to remove that clock. It's too loud. Tick, tick, tick. I'm getting annoyed, more like agitated. I try to move but can't. I think I am strapped down. I'm getting hot. I hear a bunch of beeps and buzzers. The nurse looks at me. FINALLY! She explains that I am out of surgery and in the intensive care unit. I have a breathing tube in and I cannot talk. She told me not to even try to talk. The nurse explained that I have two mechanical valves, although I was only supposed to get one, my heart was in really bad shape.
It was a couple hours before they removed the breathing tube. I immediately started thinking about my experience, seeing Grandpa and seeing Amigo.
Date NDE Occurred: 'May 18, 2011'
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? No Surgery-related. While under general anesthesia. Other: During open heart surgery, while on heart/lung bypass machine, and under anesthesia.'
How do you consider the content of your experience? Both pleasant AND distressing
Did you feel separated from your body? Uncertain
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
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? The moment I saw my Grandpa. Specifically, the moment he told me to go away. I knew I was with him in that realm. It's as if you can have a thousand thoughts within a millisecond. As if you know how you feel, registering it and you just accept it.
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 feel like it all happened so fast. Also, emotions and thoughts traveled so fast.
Were your senses more vivid than usual? More vivid than usual
Please compare your vision during the experience to your everyday vision that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. I could see everything clearly. It was just very vivid and clear.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. Don't remember hearing anything other my voice in my experience.
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? No
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? Uncertain No tunnel. Just a zap. Imagine an electric shock and how sudden and fast it is and that spark is what transported me.
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 My cat, Amigo who had been deceased for 6 months. My grandpa who had been deceased since 2007.
Did you see, or feel surrounded by, a brilliant light? No
Did you see an unearthly light? Uncertain The zap that I mentioned above. It had a spark to it.
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? No
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Happiness, peace, love and disappointment
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? No
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? No
Did scenes from your past come back to you? No
Did scenes from the future come to you? No
Did you come to a border or point of no return? No
God, Spiritual and Religion:
What importance did you place on your religious/spiritual life prior to your experience? Not important to me
What was your religion prior to your experience? Christian- Catholic I was raised Catholic but stopped practicing at age 18.
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes I am more tolerant or open-minded. I still am not a fan of people who try and push or recruit for their religion.
What importance do you place on your religious/spiritual life after your experience? Slightly important to me
What is your religion now? Christian- Catholic Raised Catholic, but do not practice.
Did your experience include features consistent with your earthly beliefs? Content that was entirely not consistent with the beliefs you had at the time of your experience I really had no expectation of ever seeing them again. Prior to this experience I didn't really believe in afterlife, or the otherside. Now I question it and wonder.
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 heard a voice I could not identify
Did you see deceased or religious spirits? I actually saw them
Did you encounter or become aware of any beings who previously lived on earth who are described by name in religions (for example: Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, etc.)? No
During your experience, did you gain information about premortal existence? No
During your experience, did you gain information about universal connection or oneness? No
Did you believe in the existence of God prior to your experience? I was uncertain if God exists
During your experience, did you gain information about the existence of God? No
Do you believe in the existence of God after your experience? God probably exists
Concerning our Earthly lives other than Religion:
During your experience, did you gain special knowledge or information about your purpose? No
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Are probably meaningful and significant
During your experience, did you gain information about the meaning of life? No
Did you believe in an afterlife prior to your experience? I was uncertain if an afterlife exists
Do you believe in an afterlife after your experience? An afterlife definitely exists Uncertain Well seeing my deceased cat and Grandpa in physical form.
Did you fear death prior to your experience? I did not fear death
Do you fear death after your experience? I do not fear death
Were you fearful living your life prior to your experience? Not fearful in living my earthly life
Were you fearful living your life after your experience? Not fearful in living my earthly life
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Are probably meaningful and significant
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant after your experience? Are probably meaningful and significant
Did you gain information about how to live our lives? No
During your experience, did you gain information about life's difficulties, challenges and hardships? No
Were you compassionate prior to your experience? Greatly compassionate toward others
During your experience, did you gain information about love? No
Were you compassionate after your experience? Greatly compassionate toward others
What life changes occurred in your life after your experience? Moderate changes in my life Moderate changes in my life. Well, I still wonder what I saw. I wonder if it was a dream. I now have an interest in reading/hearing other’s NDEs. Also, where was I that I saw Grandpa and Amigo? Was it heaven? So now I am slightly more tolerant to religions, and open to the idea.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? No No
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes It's hard to find the words to express the amount of emotions I felt in that moment.
How accurately do you remember the experience in comparison to other life events that occurred around the time of the experience? I remember the experience more accurately than other life events that occurred around the time of the experience I wrote it down in detail and think of it so often it still makes me emotional, 2.5 years later. I remember every detail and feeling as if it just happened.
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? I feel that my Grandpa was shooing me away because it wasn't my time.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes I told my mother about it within 24 hours of waking up from surgery. She cried. I have only shared it with people who would be supportive. I do not feel like justifying, nor could I explain what it was, whether it was a dream or not.
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 probably real Well, I know what I saw. What I question is whether it was a dream or was it the other side. I wish there were a way to definitively know. I think my lack of beliefs and religion in my life are what make me question the reality of the experience.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was probably real I maintain a more open-minded belief.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? No