Friday, April 30, 2010

My Near Death Experience in 1978

In 1978, when I was 25, I had a small stroke followed by a Near Death Experience. Though Dr. Raymond Moody's book had come out 3 years before, I had never set eyes on it, and had never heard about Near Death Experiences.

My experience was as follows.

I was soundly, pleasantly asleep, and having a very nice dream.

Suddenly, the dream began to turn very dark and horrible. In short order, I awakened from my dream in a kind of in-between place -- next to my body in the bunk, but at the same time in a dark tunnel.

I was aware that I was dead. I think that I was naked, where I stood, but that was completely irrelevant to me (which is why I say, "I THINK that I was naked...").

The tunnel was dark, very comfortable, and about 200 feet wide -- 100 feet in all directions. The sides, though apparent, were indefinite. It tilted up at about a 45 degree angle. The only thing bad about the place was the sound. It was filled with the noise of music played by what I describe as a "schizophrenic orchestra."

I had a quality which I might describe as "extreme there-ness." The tunnel and my presence there was more "real" than life here, on Earth. I can't remember that sensation, now. I only know that I always said this, and so should continue to say this.

As I realized that the tunnel went "up," I began to physically float up the tunnel, "eyeballs first."

As I flew up the tunnel, faster and faster, I was utterly calm. In the distance, about 2 miles ahead, I saw a brilliant light, and I stared at it intensely. When I was a few hundred feet away from the light, I began to slow down, and I saw that the light was a doorway, about 3 x 7 feet, such as one might find on a house. I thought to myself, "What???!!! What is a doorway shaped like that doing here in the afterlife?"

As I slowed almost to a stop, anxious to get a good look at what lay beyond the door, poof, my memory of the experience simply disappears.

The memory begins again when I am still inside the tunnel, but, while still at the top, moved over into the "down lane," slowly moving feet first toward the bottom. I remember feeling that I had just been "told things," I think by a monk-like guy, and his words had made me viciously angry in a good way, a determined way. I was repeating to myself, again and again and again and again, "I'VE GOT SO MUCH TO DO! I'VE GOT SO MUCH TO DO!" It was clear to me that I was like this because of what I had just been told -- the portion of the memory wiped-out.

I am certain that that memory was intentionally wiped-out. I was not allowed to know the future.

As I began accelerating down the tunnel, feet first, faster and faster, screaming to myself, "I'VE GOT SO MUCH TO DO! I'VE GOT SO MUCH TO DO!," I realized that I was closing-in on my dead body. At the bottom, z-z-z-z-ip-p-p-p, I zip into my body.

The "landing" into my dead body jolted me awake, in my bed. I immediately knew that something terrible had happened in my brain. I TRIED to say, with words in my mind, "What is the matter with my head?????" but my mind generated words something like this: "Ter-mat deah ym thaw si the tiw" -- the words hopelessly and efficiently jumbled-up.

The effect of this jumbling shocked and amused me, as I sat up in bed in the dark. For the pleasure of enjoying the phenomenon, I tried other sentences, but out-loud, while my brothers slept. My tongue jumbled words just as efficiently, and I remember wanting to laugh. But then it dawned on me that I had been struck dumb, probably by a stroke, and that if I didn't get better I was going to be a lot of trouble to other people.

Then I realized, with wonder, that I was thinking without words -- efficiently "apprehending" concepts, now that my mind had been freed of the burden of language, without nouns, pronouns, verbs and adverbs and such.

When I got over my joy and amazement, I laid back down in bed, apprehending to myself that my mind might be better in the morning.

The following morning -- I believe that it was a Saturday -- as I awakened I could immediately tell that I was still "struck dumb." I felt a deep sense of shame. (A psychiatrist in one of my cases later told me that shame is commonly a symptom of stroke.) I went downstairs and my father asked me if I wanted bacon and eggs. I grumbled, "Humph!" to my father, since if I said anything it would have come out absurdly jumbled! He assumed that I was in a bad mood, and just fixed me the eggs.

Instead of being in a bad mood, I was apprehending to myself (without words), "How can I get out of here and up to a doctor without my parents knowing?"

Just then, my younger brother Brian injured himself, and my parents rushed him to the hospital.

I ran upstairs, showered, dressed, and took the Route 59 trackless trolley up Castor Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia to Dr. McLaughlin's office. On the trolley, I felt a slight shift in my mind in the speech area. I tried to say "thank you" to the trolley driver as I left the trolley, but it came-out sounding like "f--k oo"! The trolley driver looked very puzzled. Lo and behold, Dr. McLaughlin was in. I still couldn't talk, but I could write. I explained in writing what happened. He drove me to Nazareth Hospital in Philadelphia where they gave me a physical and some tests, and they agreed that I had had a small stroke.

They prescribed some drugs for me, but no one -- neither Dr. McLaughlin nor Nazareth Hospital -- billed me.

I avoided talking to anyone for two weeks! By the end of that time, my speech was perfect, again.

But I never forgot the experience.

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