The day before Thanksgiving in 1978 when I was 9 years old, I went under the knife to have a coaractation of the aorta repaired.
This congenital heart defect had put me into congestive heart failure by restricting blood flow to the lower half of my body and by causing extremely high blood pressure in the upper half. The defect was worse than anticipated so blood flow to my legs was deprived as the surgeon waited for a dacron patch to be brought up from supply to repair the coarct. His original plan was to do an anastomosis. Because of the extended lack of blood to my legs, the surgeon told my mother after surgery that I would most likely never walk again. Apparently, I failed multiple tests while sedated that confirmed paralysis in both legs.
On Thanksgiving, the day after surgery, tubes were in every orifice. Both arms tied down with multiple IV's, ventilator, chest tube and I guess the medicine that kept me alive during surgery was starting to wear off. I was awake but wasn't. I looked down and saw myself and then looked towards the door and saw my mom walking in. I then saw from above several nurses and a doctor surrounding me. A nurse was putting stuff in my IV. They were all just standing there watching me and then I saw my mom fall to the floor. The doctor yelled to get her out of here.
I was done. I could feel myslef leaving and for a brief moment I thought about my horse and my dog but quickly decided that they would be just fine. Then I realized that my family was wrong and that when you die, you don't just take a "dirt nap." It made me happy that I was aware of who I was, but I wasn't in my broken body. I briefly thought about the love for my brother and grandparents but it didn't prevent me from wanting to continue on this new journey I was taking. There were lots of people and they were kinda in the shadows with backlighting. Two of them stood out and I had no clue as to who they were but I was going towards them. I wasn't afraid at all. I reached out to them with my arms, and then I felt myself being pulled back into my body. I DID NOT WANT TO GO BACK!
After the dust settled, I woke up. I was fighting the ventilator because it was a time when ventilators didn't allow the patient to self regulate their breathing and it was forced. I felt like I was being tortured and I can still remember the nurse talking softly in my ear to get me to calm down. It didn't work so they sedated me and as I fell asleep, I could hear them cheering as my mom pointed out that my foot was wiggling back and forth a mile a minute. I wasn't paralyzed.
A year later, I was snooping in my grandma's shed behind her house. I found an old cigar box that had old black and white pictures and postcards in it. I recognized the people in one of the photos and took it into the house to show grandma. "Grandma, who are these 2 people? This is who I saw when I was sick and felt like I was dying in the hospital." She sighed heavily and responded, "That's my mother and father. They passed away a long time before you were born." That cigar box held the only known picutres left of her parents and she had given up on ever finding it. In my mind, it helped give me concrete evidence of my near death experience.
My brother told me that the "surgery" changed me forever. He insists I'm not the same person I was before the operation. I don't think it was the surgery. I believe now that it was the NDE.