My experience happened more than twenty years ago, June of 1988, but the details remain as though no time has passed.
My twin (identical) sister and I were two months premature, and as such suffered from severe asthma. I took a medication for my asthma and somehow, at age 19, it reached a toxic level in my system. Doctors were not able to identify the reason for it, but the toxicity is the source of my NDE. Here is my story.
It was an unusually hot day for June in Minnesota and I had spent some time in the sun before joining a friend for lunch. We went out to a restaurant and ordered our meals when I started to feel sick. I felt feverish, my hands began to tremble, and I felt nauseated. Our food arrived but my symptoms increased so much that I wasn't able to eat. I asked my friend to take me home and on the way, we had to pull over because I had to vomit. Having been out in the sun, I thought it might be related. We arrived at my home and my mom, upon seeing me, called the hospital emergency room for advice. They treated it like heat stroke and instructed my mom to have me take a cool bath, which seemed to help. I was exhausted so I went to my room to sleep. What happened next is difficult to put into words. I felt as though I was in a timeless place. I felt incredibly peaceful and surrounded by an essence that was beyond "love" as we know it in human form. Then chaos, I was being taken to the hospital by ambulance. I would learn later that my twin sister (we shared a room) was awoken by a gurgling sound coming from me. I was having a seizure. My back was arched, head drawn back, rigid, with mucus coming out of the sides of my mouth, gasping for air. Then I apparently choked on mucus, stopped breathing, and turned bluish grey. Somehow my sister had the wherewithal to administer the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge the mucus. Upon dislodging the mucus, I inhaled deeply and continued seizing. My sister yelled to my mom who called 911 and off I went to the hospital.
I don't recall much of the seizing, just the next phase of things. Apparently it was difficult to control the seizures. My heart rate and blood pressure were dangerously high, causing me to go into cardiac arrest. I entered back into the timeless, love-filled void. They shocked my heart and obtained a pulse, but my blood pressure and heart rate dropped to dangerously low levels. I slipped into a coma for 3 1/2 days. I was in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, and I remember leaving my body. I felt like a light, buoyant ball of energy. I was in the corner of my room looking diagonally down at my body. I recall thinking about how strange my body looked, just lying there hooked up to all of the machines. It didn't look like me. At one point my supervisor (I worked at the hospital where I was being cared for) came in to see me. She gasped and covered her mouth at the sight of my lifeless body. I wanted to comfort her but she couldn't hear me and ran out of the room.
I'm not sure what happened next. I just remember being in what I can best describe as that timeless, expansive void. It was as though I was hanging out there. It was incredibly peaceful, and though I didn't see a light, I felt the energy of love, a powerful, amazing sense of peace and love. That image/sensation comes into full view as I type. I didn't want to leave it, and yet somehow I knew I couldn't stay, either. I had no sense of time.
I learned later that my sister had laid her head on my chest on what would be the last day of the coma. She shared with me that suddenly she saw an image of me, in full hospital garb and equipment with bright light behind me. Apparently I said, "Don't worry, I'm going to be okay. I have a lot to tell you." I don't recall communicating with her, but I'm exploring hypnosis to see if I can retrieve more of my experience. At that point she sprung up and ran to tell my family that I was going to be okay. I came out of the coma shortly thereafter.
Waking up: Because of all the IV's and various lines going into me, I was medically paralyzed, and my hands were restrained at the wrist to prevent me from pulling out equipment/central lines. I recall hearing what I refer to as "the echo in my head," meaningless words bouncing around in my head: "Mary Jo, if you can hear and understand me, squeeze my hand." I could feel my chest rising and falling on its own. I was on a ventilator. I couldn't move my body, and yet somehow I managed to squeeze the hand as requested. I opened my eyes to see a woman crying. I eventually realized it was my mom, but it was a few hours before I would recognize it was her. I was incredibly confused. Balloons and cards surrounded me. The colors, sounds, and smells were overwhelming as where the emotions of those around me. I didn't understand what had happened and my body ached terribly. It was surreal.
I was discharged after a couple of weeks of speech, physical and occupational therapy. Amazingly I walked out with no damage to my heart. I was aphasic but the seizing didn't cause permanent brain damage. I experienced a full recovery. The toxicity of the medication was lethal, sending enzyme levels sky high, and though my muscles were sore, there wasn't any permanent damage to them either. My doctor would later tell me that there was nothing they could have done to save me, that something intervened and that it was a miracle I had survived. She said that because of that, I had a purpose in this life.
I went home feeling lonely, angry, confused and unsure of what my mission was or what had happened. Although, I did go on to study speech pathology, which subsequently led me to my current career as a Sign language Interpreter. I had a deep desire to serve and help others heal as I had. There wasn't any follow-up so I mostly kept my experience to myself. Two decades would pass before I would finally tell my story. The sense of peace and love has always stayed with me, but I was so open that I suffered from depression, and at times anxiety. I wanted to return to that peaceful place, and yet I also had this deep sense of knowing I needed to fulfill my experience on earth. I became extremely sensitive. I experienced what I referred to as "movies" that show me what people are going through, especially in terms of healing. I learned quickly that telling people what I saw wasn't a good idea; it just upset them, so I kept what I saw to myself. Eventually I would learn to manage what I was seeing by working with my guides/Spirit world.
I remain very sensitive, so much so that if I don't keep it in check, my productivity at work and in life is impacted. I can feel easily drained and tired. My experience has continued to unfold. Meditation, Reiki, and exercise help, as does talking to like-minded spiritual friends. It is as though I'm being shown bits and pieces of what happened and what I need to know to carry out my mission here. I have a deep sense of a mission, just not a clear sense of what it is. Well, I did go on to obtain a masters degree in Negotiation, Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding. Peacebuilding feels very much in line with my mission, but I'm not sure of exactly what to do. I trust things will continue to unfold, though.
And so onward I go. Thank you for the opportunity to share my story. It is helpful and healing to have a platform to share it.