I had been ill with chest pain, fever, headache, night sweats for about a week, but had not missed work (we were too short staffed, and I could walk and think, so just wore a mask around the patients. Tested negative for TB.) and I was on-call.
Finished rounds and went to the Urgent Care clinic. CXR showed suspicious nodule in my lungs. A CT of my chest resulted in my being Medi-flighted to a CVICU after being diagnosed with a dissecting aortic aneurysm. After arrival at the tertiary care center, a regular Echocardiogram did not support the diagnosis of an aortic aneurysm. (The CT also showed large hilar lymph nodes and a peripheral pulmonary nodule, but this was not the primary concern at the time).
I was sedated due to erratic high BP and went to the OR with plans for cardiothoracic surgery and was prepped for heart bypass and intubated. They then did a trans-esophageal echocardiogram which also did not confirm an aneurysm, so the surgery was (thankfully) cancelled. The next morning, I woke up with a very sore throat and an arterial line in my left wrist. There was still some doubt as to whether the aneurysm was present, so they ordered a MRA/MRI of the heart, etc.
It was en-route to this procedure that the NDE occurred. I was chatting with my nurse, who was pushing me down a long underground empty tunnel in a wheelchair. As we approached an elevator, I realized that I was losing my vision. It worsened and I mentioned it to my nurse. She asked if we needed to return to the CVICU and I told her "I think so" as I could no longer see and was losing my hearing. I tried to put my head down, but was about to fall out of the wheelchair and she yanked me upright by my hair and gown. That is the last thing that I recall. [At this point, I had been off the Esmolol (blood pressure lowering) drip for at least an hour, and the last morphine injection (bad headache that AM) had been about 2 hours prior. I don't recall feeling sedated and did not have a fever at the time.]
My next recollection is being in a vast, seemingly endless, space filled with brilliant white light. I recall no limits on perception - no binocular vision, but panoramic/spherical/360 - hard to describe. I spent what seemed like a long time - certainly not minutes, hours, or days. More like weeks, months, eons. Time was meaningless.
I was with a group of beings that I felt I had known for a very long time. Seems like more than 12 and less than 25 beings. I have a vague recollection of having my Earthly experiences "downloaded," and having a great reunion with these beings, and a great period of relaxation/recuperation.
Communication was non-verbal and instantaneous. It involved relaying entire occurrences, concepts, and events with associated emotions, not just words and sentences. Eventually a consensus was reached that I should return to the life I had left as it was unfinished. I don't recall how I appeared, but recall how the other beings appeared as I departed from them - brilliant jewel bright points of scintillating light. Only two colors, though - emerald green and deep purple. (Weird - why not all colors?) I recall them receding into the distance.
The next memory is being a point of consciousness hovering. I don't recall any sound. I was back to having binocular vision and my entire field of vision was taken up by what I eventually realized was a "face." I recall pondering the significance of this "thing," and eventually realized it was a being, but recall feeling pity for "it" and perceiving it as child-like. I watched a little longer and suddenly had the realization that the eyes of the thing were "green" and that they looked familiar. I then felt a sense of compassion as I recognized it was suffering. I recall the eyes staring and mouth being open. (I seem to recall an oxygen mask, but not real certain about that.)
With the feeling of compassion, came an instantaneous sense of connection and I was suddenly flipped 180 degrees and sucked back into the face/body and the memory of who "I" was and the circumstances of where I was, returned. It was a very rapid transition. I could hear again, and could hear the medical staff yelling orders. I was drenched in sweat and felt awful and very weak and hurt all over (later learned I had had seizure activity). I recall opening my eyes and seeing outward as if looking out of a narrow tunnel, central vision only, and looking up to see a bald-headed man leaning over me above the tunnel. Someone else to my right yelled, "Do you have epilepsy?" and I turned my head and told them, "no," and my vision returned to normal.
Someone on my left was fumbling under my gown trying to put on defibrillator pads, then asked, "Should I take them off?" Someone else said, "No, we may lose her again." And about the same time I was thinking that I had just died and that defibrillator pads were a good idea and why were they worrying about my modesty, I mean really????
At some point, within a few minutes, I recall starting to cry and asking them, "Why did you bring me back to this place? It was so nice there. Everyone was so nice and loved each other. It was so beautiful. Why did you have to bring me back here?" I was angry and those nearby seemed to hear me and seemed shocked, but remained professional, as I recall. I was then quiet for a while processing what I remembered of the experience while they worked. I recall eventually asking them not to tell my husband that I didn't want to come back. I'm quite sure they thought I was an ungrateful lunatic, but they were relieved I was alive.
The rest I pieced together by asking a lot of questions, and my nurse confirmed that my heart had stopped briefly -cardiac arrest- after developing hypotension (systolic to 30) and bradycardia. She also told me about the seizure. Another nurse told me that "my" nurse was one of the most experienced CVICU nurses there. She went home early - I was told that she was pretty shaken up - and I never saw her again to thank her. Mostly, no one wanted to talk about it. They eventually chalked it up to the effects of prolonged "vaso-vagal response" resulting in bradycardia and eventual brief arrest.
Apparently when the nurse ran back to the CVICU, she had her chin holding me into the wheelchair while I was having a seizure. Folks came out of the unit to meet her when the telemetry showed the BP and heart rate drop. Several doctors and nurses picked me up and "threw" me onto a bed. This resulted in a return of spontaneous circulation apparently. I remained in the CVICU for several more days, had the MRA/MRI (the journey this time was flat on a gurney with two CVICU nurses, and took at least 10 minutes to get to the MRA suite and they moved quite quickly, so I have to think that the total time of my arrest was at least 5 minutes).
I was eventually told that my heart and cardiovascular system was pristine - no aortic aneurysm, no plaque from my "carotids to femorals".I was still having erratic HR and BP issues, so sent to a Cardiac step down unit for about 4 more days. Underwent pulmonary workup for with bronchoscopy and CT guided biopsy of the chest for the other lung related issues. Some arrythmias, but no further major issues. Presumptive diagnosis of Sarcoidosis, but not fully confirmed. Sarcoidosis can affect the heart conduction system. Later at Cleveland Clinic, told it was not Sarcoidosis. Felt to be some type of atypical infection. It was never determined as I refused the recommendation for a posterior thoracotomy to obtain more tissue for analysis, and at this point hilar nodes and peripheral nodule have resolved.