Lucid Thought in Dark Void

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I was playing Gaelic Football which is similar to Soccer but handling and catching of the ball by all players not just the goalie is permitted. It is a fast game (some would say more exciting than soccer) and I was perhaps getting a bit too old for it. It is also supposedly a limited contact sport, shoulder to shoulder bumping is allowed, but if one is picking the ball up off the ground then one is not allowed to be bumped. However, it seems a large athletic young man playing for the opposition in his second game had forgotten or not been told that. I have no recollection of the impact but am told I was hit by his hip in the left side of my head, near my left eye as he was running at full speed to kick the ball off the ground - presumably motivated to do so before I managed to pick the ball up, and I was stooped over about to collect the ball. The impact reportedly lifted me off the ground and I spun in the air and then landed fully limp on the ground hitting my head again, clearly having been knocked unconscious by the initial impact.  Witnesses from my team, including my nephew, say I was unconscious for around 30 seconds to a minute.  They were very worried. I had some brief fitting (which is common in concussion with loss of consciousness) and there was bleeding from the side of my head. I looked very still for a brief time and some were starting to worry if I was still alive. I then started moving and groaning and then anxiously started asking about my eye, which I thought had been knocked out of place. I was carried to the sidelines and it took about 45 minutes before I seemed fully lucid again.

My own internal experience is what interests me and is I think of some relevance and hence submitting it to IANDS. I should add that I am a psychiatrist by profession and used to self-reflection which may or may not have been of some assistance in recalling what perhaps others who are knocked unconscious don't seem to.  The alternative is that I started to have an NDE and was perhaps closer to death than I'd like to think. \At 43 years of age I probably should not have been helping my son and nephew and their team make up numbers in a fast young man's sport! I also am prone to supraventricular ectopic heart beats and occasional brief arrythmias - which is of note given my team-mates said I looked too still even for being knocked out. A psychiatric colleague later suggested I analyse my motivation for playing as a mid-life age denying defence. I did hang up the boots after this.

My experience was I suddenly found myself in a black void. I felt very comfortable but very surprised. There was no sense of vision, including no colour or light (not even a hint of visual stimuli as one may see even when eyelids shut in a dark room), complete silence - except for the hint of a memory of a "click" having come from the left side just some moments previously, no sense of temperature or pain or touch or smell/taste whatsoever. There was a sense of enclosed space, like this black void was within a container that was not very large. There may have been a sense of being suspended - of floating but not moving - or there may have been complete stillness - at this stage of writing I cannot be sure which.

There was full powers of logical reasoning and language. I found myself thinking "where am I? what's happened? what was I doing?...I think I was playing football...hmmm...that's it, I was playing football...so now.. I must be knocked out...(a feeling of relief - but only slight because I was not really feeling any worry, the experience was quite pleasant and interesting up till then)...it's going on a bit long..(slight anxiety)..I should 'come to' soon...it's still going on a bit long.."

Then something started to happen. I felt myself moving and then a sense of rapid acceleration backward and upward as though I was travelling a huge distance and all around me a sense of small spots of light that could be stars blurred by the speed with which I was flying past them. I had a feeling of excitement and a sense of going somewhere wonderful. I then thought "but no! this is leaving my life like in those near-death experiences..I can't, I'm not ready, I've got to go back." Those thoughts were compressed into a moment. But they seemed to do something. I had a sense of sudden change of direction and rapid movement in the direction I'd came from for a brief moment.

My recall of the next few minutes is of being quite confused. I'm unclear now which came first - I either found myself viewing and smelling grass into which my face was lying, viewing with my right eye and aware my left wouldn't open, and then feeling a ping pong ball sized lump sticking up under my eyelid. Initially, I thought my eye had dislodged from its socket but then heard voices of team-mates telling me it was just the eyelid itself swelling with blood from the hit adjacent to the eyebrow.

I then had hallucinatory/illusionary "memories" of seeing in staccato some of the players moving and the ball moving along the ground away from me and the sky being pink. Or that vision may have come just before "coming to" to find my face in the grass.  Either way it came after the period of lucid thought in the dark void and the accelerating movement through "space.".

The hallucinatory images of the game I later realised would fit with my vision in the second or so around the time I was hit, and thus were possibly memories coming back on line. My short time in the dark void and rapid movement past lights - seemed of about the same length as 30 seconds to a minute that I was reportedly fully unconscious.

But as my experience showed me, I was not "fully" unconscious.  I was thinking quite lucidly, even though I was unclear who or where I was - although may have soon worked that out, being disorientated initially by the sudden shock of being suspended in blackness, as my reasoning seemed very clear and sound at the time.

My reasoning was much more confused for the next 40 minutes or so whilst sitting on a stretcher on the sidelines waiting for an ambulance. I watched the remainder of the game, struggling to remember the name of my team or team-mates or what day or date it was. I was aware I was confused and had memory problems and worried about long-term effects on my career. Eventually my nephew came over after the game and asked how I was.  An image of a chocolate cake kept coming into my mind. I asked him why I should be thinking of that. He said there'd been a family party for my niece that morning with a chocolate cake. That helped orientate me and I struggled hard but managed to connect my memories forward in time from my niece's party to about 10 minutes before the accident. Which is usual for post-concussion recall and retrograde amnesia.

In trying to understand this experience and I suppose submitting it to IANDS - I see two quite different explanations. The first is my experience reflected the degree of trauma to my brain, with being disconnected from sensory input in lower areas of my brain, but frontal lobe areas perhaps still functioning and reasoning well. The rapid acceleration and sense of leaving my body could simply have been my vestibular (balance) and visual systems coming back online and echoing the "seeing stars" of concussion and movement of my body due to the impact. I think that may be all it was.

However, I'm still struck by the degree lucidity and consciousness I had when I should've been at my most unconscious. I have had an interest in the NDE since reading Raymond Moody's book "Life after Life" when I was a medical student in the late 1970s and have read enough and spoken to enough patients with the experience to strongly consider it to be a sign that the mind/soul survives bodily death. That knowledge was with me when I made my "decision" to not keep going where I thought and felt the accelerating movement was taking me. Perhaps my sense of leaving and decision to return are accurate and my decision the reason I can write this today.

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