On July 17th, 2019, I was on vacation in Deadwood, South Dakota. My husband, our three sons and our friend began our day with breakfast and decided to explore Deadwood's many attractions. We had driven from Saskatchewan, Canada, the previous day.

I had woken with a bit of a niggle in my chest and thought maybe it was heartburn.

As the morning wore on, my breathing became laboured, and the pain in my chest became worse. Still thinking it was caused by heartburn, I went to a local pharmacy and bought some medicine to help. The lady at the pharmacy suggested that I go to the emergency room and be checked over. I told her that I was sure I would be fine and thanked her. The pain began to worsen more, coupled with an overwhelming feeling of dread. I even said to my husband, "I am going to die today." His reply was like anyone else, and he told me to stop being over-dramatic.

The pain began to radiate down my back and in my right shoulder. If I tried to lean back, the pain would be unbearable. I can only liken it to an ectopic pregnancy I had had when I was younger. The boys were enjoying themselves. There were intricate carvings of animals made from wood on the main street, haunted attractions which my son had been longing to see and great little stores and restaurants. I could not take my mind off the pain but not wanting to spoil my family's day; I asked my husband to drive me back to the hotel so that I could rest. My eldest son decided to stay with me (mostly to waste all his money in the hotel gift shop!). They would carry on with their day, and I would meet with them in the afternoon.

I was still unable to lie flat on my back. My breathing was worsening to the point of tiny little breaths in and out. I was sweating and in terrible pain. The feeling of dread wouldn't go away. It was time for me to call it and go to the hospital. I went to the lobby and asked the receptionist to call me a taxi. I next called my husband and told him what my plans were. As it was, he was already on his way back to check on me. I cancelled the taxi and got into the car with my husband and two youngest sons. My eldest son stayed back with our friend. He was not old enough to take care of our younger boys and our friend has MS and is handicapable.

We arrived at the hospital, and I was rushed to a side room. My vitals were being checked, and my blood pressure was shallow. My breathing was extremely laboured, and the pain was off the scale. I was looking at the wall in the room; it was blue, and I thought to myself, this is not the last thing I want to see before I die. The blue wall had opened up to bright light. I looked at my husband and sons and told them that I felt like I would pass out. I heard the sounds of machinery bleeping and saw my husband shouting at the bottom of the bed for the hospital staff.

I found myself standing, looking at a merry-go-round that my two youngest sons were playing on. To the left of me was a tall, slender man with shoulder-length grey hair. He stood with his back to me, with his arms held out by his sides in a gesturing motion. I never saw his face. Behind my sons was the brightest blue sky I had ever seen, with cascading clouds coming in front of flawless sunlight. The ground I stood on was white and soft. I could not see my physical body; I just knew that I was all there. And I felt an overwhelming feeling of painless, fearless calm. I was not worried about where I was. Nor did I know what was happening; I was glad to be there watching my boys and looking at the strange man who would not look at me.

It felt as if I was being sucked at high speed through a waterslide when I woke up. The nurses and doctors stood over me. I told the nurse that I had had a dream, and she told me what had happened. I had gone into cardiac arrest. Sinus arrest is the most severe type of cardiac arrest, and only 2% of people are said to come back. After numerous scans and tests, it was determined that I had been suffering from mild pneumonia. This infection had caused pericarditis (inflammation of the pericardium), causing me pain and causing the cardiac episode. Upon returning home to Canada, I had more tests and discovered a small aneurysm on the left side of my heart. I have been monitored since and have had no further issues. However, the side effects of my NDE have had a significant impact on me and my life.

Since the NDE, I have suffered from memory loss, extreme fatigue, insomnia, a diagnosis of PTSD, ADHD, bipolar disorder and depression and anxiety. According to my doctors, these mental health issues have always been there but have never been treated or been taken seriously in the past. After therapy to deal with the NDE, I started to remember things from my past that I had locked away. As a child, I suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a family friend. At the ages of fifteen and twenty-eight, I was raped. These attacks resulted in my diagnosis of PTSD. Not everything after the NDE has been terrible.

Quite the contrary. I could never draw, paint or do anything having to do with art before. Now I can draw freehand and produce beautiful paintings (not without some awful attempts, of course!). I am more in tune with nature and the universe. As a child, I had many paranormal experiences. Some of these continued into adulthood and had died off. I have a woman who follows me from house to house, and she will occasionally show herself. Since the NDE, I have seen her more. I hear her and can smell her. She smells like tobacco. I can feel a presence in my environment. Good and bad.

Most bizarre is that I look different from what I did before. My skin is clearer, my eyes are brighter, and my sense of self is the polar opposite of what it was. I can express myself in ways I never would have before. I am finally the person that I am supposed to be.

I became an extreme empath, and at a point, I was unable to be in crowded public spaces because I would feel everything that everyone around me was feeling. I stayed at home lots and couldn't handle being outside. I have since learned to put up boundaries and can cope with my empathy.

An interesting aspect is that I stayed at home with my children before. I now work in a funeral home and have had some unexplainable experiences there. The one that sticks out most was a First Nations woman who had died unexpectedly. As I was dressing her, I could feel that she was lost. I spoke to her and told her that where she was headed was the most beautiful place she could ever imagine. The Elder blessed her casket and her body with sweetgrass and cedar the following morning. At the end of this ritual, I saw her spirit released from her body and disappear into the sky.

I have often told my husband that if I could go back there, I would go in a heartbeat, as long as I could come back again. I believe that I am fortunate to have survived my cardiac arrest and incredibly blessed to have experienced what I did.

There are probably many things I have forgotten that I am sure will come to me. I hope that my experience helps others and is enjoyed as much as I enjoy telling it.