One Wednesday night in February of 2002, when I was a healthy and active twelve year old girl, I became sick very suddenly with Coccidioidomycosis Meningitis, or fungal meningitis. (Meningitis is the inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, known collectively as the ‘meninges.’ From Wikipedia.) A few months earlier I had been misdiagnosed with pneumonia, but since then, they had changed that diagnosis to ‘valley fever,’ which is caused by coccidioidomycosis. I am not entirely sure how this works, but essentially, the fungus (organisms that live by decomposing and absorbing the organic material in which they grow) had taken over my body, had gotten into my brain stem, and were causing my body to perform incorrectly. For example, I was hypercalcemic, and the protein cells in my brain were over nine hundred. One of the biggest problems was swelling of my brain, but the fungus was also creating excess cerebral spinal fluid, so much so that the pressure was damaging my optic nerve. The pain was quite unbearable, and I was acutely sensitive to both noise and light. To allow me the most comfort, I stayed in an isolation room in the hospital. A couple of months in, the doctors told my mother that if I lived, I would most likely be blind, deaf, potentially retarded, and in a wheelchair. To deal with the pain, I was kept on high levels of painkillers and tranquilizers, which basically kept me unconscious. I did not speak, move, or even react to what was going on around me for days at a time. It was during this time period that I had my experience. My experience may seem a bit weird, as I do not remember much of what I saw, but I do remember exactly how I felt. This is what my mother saw and heard: in the middle of the night, I suddenly sat up and started talking. I had been wearing multiple eye patches and washcloths over my eyes, and I took them all off. I kept telling her how beautiful it was, and saying, ‘Mommy, you have to let me go!’ She, of course, was encouraging me to do the opposite! As for me, I do not recall being out-of-body, as you describe it, but I do remember not having a sense of my body. During my experience, I was surrounded by a brilliant light, warm and pure! I felt completely enveloped by this light. I was cocooned in it! I had been in darkness for weeks, but this light brought no pain. In fact, the very concept of ‘pain’ seemed to not exist. This idea did not occur to me at the time, of course, but now that I am trying to describe it, this seems to be the best way. All fears, all emotional and physical pain was gone. Everything felt so right, so perfect! I also just seemed to know that I was in the presence of God (or Jesus.) I remember experiencing the most indescribable joy! Of the near death experience characteristics you have mentioned, these were present: the wonderful, enveloping light, the intensely joyous emotions, my sensing of God's presence, and finally, my return to my body. (About returning to my body, I do not think I was given a choice.) As I kept telling my mother how beautiful it was and that she needed to ‘let me go,’ I can deduce that I did not want to return. However, I do remember a very warm, comforting, and loving voice telling me to ‘hold on.’ This ‘hold on’ part is important, because it was the very next morning at about five-thirty or six, that my doctor came into my hospital room and announced to my mother that he had just had a dream about how to cure me. This was, of course, the same night as my experience. Only a few hours later, I was on the operating table where they placed an Ommaya reservoir. A dome-shaped container with a catheter leading from it. It was surgically implanted under the scalp at the top of the head. A small hole was drilled in the skull, through which the catheter delivers medication to a ventricular area of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain, from where it circulates to all brain areas. Treatment with an antifungal medication which they were able to introduce into my brain through the catheter, and which bathed the infected meninges and brain stem, is what saved my life.
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