I had always believed that there is a scientific explanation for any "odd" experiences people have. I always knew it was just people's beliefs making these things happen. I had always considered myself sensible enough to know that there is a reasonable explanation for anything until I went into the hospital for a routine operation and had an out-of-body experience. It was the most frightening, perplexing and amazing thing that has ever happened to me.
I woke up as I was being wheeled back from the theatre and told the staff I had been awake. I described their conversations while I was meant to be asleep with my eyes and mouth taped. I had also tried to join in, not realising that I wasn't actually "there." I would have been very willing to try to find a reasonable, scientific explanation for what was happening until the staff realised I was actually reading their thoughts. They were all scared and I was also. At first I didn't know I was doing this. It seemed very natural and like real speech. I kept getting upset by their comments until they pointed out I shouldn't have heard them. We (me and the staff who came in and out of the room) must have had one of the weirdest conversations on the operating suite that week! I could see my days stretching out in front of me for the next three months (very frightening) and could describe personal details about the staff. There was also a blue light around my hands. The staff saw it. I'm not sure exactly how long the whole experience lasted, but it ended when I eventually managed to have proper sleep.
During this, I felt as if I was two people; I think that's the best way to put it. It was as if one person was lying on the trolley and one was sitting up, but both trying to work together simultaneously. I could see my arms and legs, but it felt like I was inside a large boiler suit. I actually had to move my jaw with my hand to get my mouth to work. I felt as if I had to do my utmost to let the staff know I was awake. I was scared they couldn't see me, and felt enormous fear. I know I had been trying to talk to them during the procedure. I was struggling to understand why they couldn't hear me at the time. I think it was this "awareness" that was speaking to them immediately afterward. It felt very natural until I saw how scared they were, and then I got a bit scared too.
I think the main thing about my experience is that for three months it wasn't just a memory. This is for several reasons, I think. While I was talking to the staff and trying to establish why I felt danger, I was also (as if being in two places) looking in quite close detail at my daily life in the weeks and months ahead. So I think the potential for paranoia was quite big for some time. Afterward, at times, it felt as if there was a constant dialogue going on inside my head with the hospital staff that had been in the room. A bit upsetting but not too bad; it felt like a strong memory.
Luckily I sort of "knew" there would be a cut-off point, if I could just get to sleep. Unfortunately, I fell out a bit with one of the doctors (the one helping with the anesthetic) so the process of getting to sleep wasn't smooth. The cut-off point has now passed and there are no "triggers" or things I recognise in my daily life as being directly connected to the time I was in the recovery room.
At the time I was trying to dismiss it as a reaction to the anesthetic because I was terrified by what was happening, but one of the surgeons said, "That doesn't explain why you are reading my mind." We went on to have a discussion along similar lines. It's just not possible. It's my beliefs and associations making this appear to happen. We took the opportunity to put this to the test. I'm not sure how wise this was, but I felt it was necessary because I still felt in a lot of danger and needed to let them know why. I gave the doctor some details about his personal life that no one else knew. He was shocked and embarrassed. I picked words out of his head and said them back to him. He confirmed accuracy. I did this to all of the staff and asked them to say out loud if I was correct. This is when they started to look a bit nervous. I got them to acknowledge, out loud, that it's very unusual for a patient to wake up from the anesthetic with the ability to read minds.
Still, all of that can be explained in a rational way. As this was going on, I described some of the events that I was seeing. One of them was the cover from the New Scientist (two months prior to publication) with a description of the cover and the date. Another was the News Headlines from BBCNews24 for 7th January. I asked the doctor (the surgeon) to write this down and look out for it. I watched the events come true on the day (one month after I had seen them). It felt like a very strong memory.
There was a strong feeling of disbelief among everyone there, including me. I also took the opportunity to get the hospital staff to confirm some of the things I had seen. I was scared that they were going to dismiss my fears about the situation.
My descriptions (which were confirmed at the time to be correct) included:
There was a breathing tube being put through a black bung, which had been placed between my teeth, then fed into my mouth. It was soft rubber, flat like a tapeworm, and full of tiny holes. It was held in place by tape.
The conversation between the staff (the anesthetist wanted to know what time the shops closed). The doctor (the one helping the anesthetist and the one I didn't like) said, "Why, to buy more shoes and handbags?" I tried to join in, but apparently I couldn't because my eyes and mouth were taped.
Then there is the anesthetist who took my false tooth out, even though I had asked her to leave it in and she had agreed. I saw the nurse put it back in later in the recovery room (when I was still apparently asleep).
A description of the operating theatre -- the whiteboard just inside the door, but I couldn't read the writing for some reason.
I watched the doctor tape, unwrap, and re-bandage my leg as the dressing had slipped. I saw bits of plaster stuck to his fingers. Additionaly, he didn't put in any stitches, just a small piece of tape to cover the two tiny wounds in my knee.
I heard the "ting, ting, ting" of the oxygen alarm going off just behind my head. This happened all the way through and I wondered why they didn't just unplug it (if it didn't serve any useful purpose). I think this is why I fell out with the previously mentioned doctor. So some of the facts were easy to confirm, and some became more confusing as this weird conversation went on in the recovery room.
There is much more to add, because as I recall it, I can see that I managed to take in an enormous amount of information both during the operation and during the half hour afterward. This was still during the altered state before I went to sleep. I could go into a lot more detail about the actions of the people in the room (one in particular) as it seemed I had a general overview or a birds-eye view. Plus I had the ability to focus quite closely on where I needed to (or where there was danger). It was as if my mind was a television camera with the ability to focus in at close range. Essentially, I had the sensation of experiencing the events from various perspectives. The feeling of looking forward in time ended when I went to sleep. When I woke up, I was no longer seeing ahead, but I had an odd sensation that I had seen and heard certain things before. It was as if I was reliving them. This lasted for three months.
This was last year, December 2008. The experience is gradually fading. It was amazing and perplexing. I feel that in some ways I'm altered forever, but it had also answered quite a few questions for me. I feel that it has affected me on many levels, and that it will continue to do so for some time. I took in so much information while it was happening that it will take me a lifetime to cover it. But on a positive level, it makes me feel quite small and insignificant and reduces my previous worries and anxieties to nothing.