Helga B's Experience

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Experience description:   

      It was the single most joyful and serene experience in my life.  I have been in chronic pain for over five years, and certainly as a fresh post-op patient I was in acute pain- a lot of it.  But there was no more pain. I felt as if I were weightless, as if I could fly from the freedom from the weight that have been surrounding me for the last 20 years.  It was ecstasy!  I was free and comfortable- free from worry, pain, illness, etc.  I felt as if I were perched on a plateau, getting ready to fly.......and wanting to just go ahead and fly out of my disaster of a body and a disaster of a life.  The peace that had descended upon me was total: no more anything but comfort, serenity, love, and the feeling of being enwrapped in the strength/warmth of someone else's arms.

 Any associated medications or substances with the potential to affect the experience:  Uncertain

      Explanation:  I have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue syndrome, collapsed in October 1998, have been more or less disabled ever since.  When I went into the ER for treatment, it was the third attempt that year to seek treatment for my incredibly painful and bloated abdomen.  Once I was ignored completely, the second time, the ER docs told me I had IBS and to take a laxative....the last time, December 19th, I went in because my abdomen was larger than it had ever been, I was in constant pain, had night sweats that soaked through the pillows...I went to the hospital again after telling my husband that I was dying and if I wasn't treated this time, I would be dead by January.  I was fortunate enough to have one of my private docs be at the hospital, so he was called in for a consult and after a bunch of tests, I was admitted. The pain was horrible, my abdomen was so large it was constricting my diaphragm and I couldn't breathe properly.  I screamed in pain all night. the next day I had more tests.  During that time, I was being given generous amounts of Demerol as well as a number of antibiotics, as my tests indicated something wrong- but what my doc didn't know....So Thursday afternoon, he came in and told me that it was time for surgery- which I had expected, so that wasn't a great shock.  I signed a consent for whatever they wanted to do.  I "knew" I was dying without it.  I had a two and half hour surgery, Friday, Dec 21st, and ended up having a Toal Abd. Hysterectomy.  I had peritonitis going into surgery, a dirty wound, which luckily for me, they were able to close with staples.  My abd was still very enlarged, but about half the size than pre-op.  I developed cellulitis following surgery, was running high temps, was on tremendously potent IV antibiotics, a PCA Demerol pump, and was running fevers of at least 101F.  I do not feel that the medications played a part in this experience as I have been a chronic and acute pain pt, and I know the difference between nodding out from pain meds and this experience, which was unlike any other I have ever had.

Was the experience difficult to express in words?  Yes

      What was it about the experience that makes it hard to communicate?  It occurred at night, I believe in the late hours of the night.  the nurses had been coming in and out, taking my temp, giving me Tylenol (I think), hanging all kinds of IV mini-bags, etc....and then, I found myself in a dark, comfortable place.  I was calm, serene, warm, loved, pain free, and knew that I could slip away to that place.  It was so joyful and wonderful that I wanted to stay forever wrapped in that place.  I don't know how long I was there.  It was the most incredibly happy state of being I have ever been in.  Somehow, I came back to the world, back to the hospital bed, nurses flying around, etc. I wonder if I had been left alone for some period time longer, if I would have just slipped away to that place of wonder.

At the time of the experience, was there an associated life threatening event?  Yes
Describe:  As mentioned before, I had peritonitis and cellulitis with associated high fevers.  the doctor told me that he had no idea how long my Fibromyalgia/Chonic Fatigue symptoms had masked the infection, but that I had had it for a very long time.  On my first visit to the office that I saw him post op, he called me his "miracle patient"

 What was your level of consciousness and alertness during the experience?  I am not sure.

Was the experience dream like in any way?  No. It was REAL.

Did you experience a separation of consciousness from your body?  Yes

Describe your appearance or form apart from your body:  Yes. My body was wracked with fever and pain, infection and illness.

What emotions did you feel during the experience?  Noted above

Did you hear any unusual sounds or noises?  No. It was quiet and lovely.

 Did you have any sense of altered space or time?  Yes

      Describe:  There was no time. I just was THERE.

 Did you have any changes of attitudes or beliefs following the experience?  Yes
Describe:  Now I believe deeply in NDE's or OBE's.  Before I was a bit skeptical. Now I KNOW the reality of them

Has the experience affected your relationships?  Daily life?  Religious practices etc.?  Career choices?  N/A

Have you shared this experience with others?  Yes
Describe:  My husband cried, because he has always believed in NRE's and he realised how close I had been to to leaving.

 What emotions did you experience following your experience?  Tremendous disappointment.  I have cried about having to leave that wonderful place and coming back to my body.

What was the best and worst part of your experience?  Best- being there.  Worst- leaving there

 Has your life changed specifically as a result of your experience?  No

 Following the experience, have you had any other events in your life, medications or substances which reproduced any part of the experience?  No

 Did the questions asked and information you provided accurately and comprehensively describe your experience?  Yes

 Please offer any suggestions you have to improve the www.nderf.org questionnaire?  no