Saturday, November 18, 2006

My Near-Death Experience

Aaron, this one’s for you. Thanks for all of the good reading and for fighting the good fight.

October 27, 11:25 AM: I walk into an operating theatre at a local hospital. I’m there to have a piece of torn cartilage removed from my knee. Nothing life threatening, so I’m a little nervous, but not terrified. This is the first time in my life that I will be receiving a general anesthetic. I’m a little buzzed from the IV, and I lay down on the table as directed. The O-R nurse straps me down, fits a blood pressure cuff to my right arm, and then proceeds to place electrodes on my forehead. This sort of feels like being stuck with the scratchy plastic side of Velcro. The nurse quips that she is looking for signs of intelligent life in males. I play along and say, “Let me know if you find any.”

1:45 PM: I wake up in the Recovery Room. I have ten pounds of flannel blankets over me, I have no sensation of being cold, but I am shivering. I explain this to the nurse, and she tells me that it is a common reaction.

That’s it. No voices, no bright lights. No feeling of being pulled, pushed, poked or prodded… but that’s my point. For about two hours, I was completely switched off. I have no memory of that time; no dreams, no uneasy twitches, no feelings, nothing. While most of the rest of the human race ate, or worked, or played or screwed or slept, I was turned off. A doctor put two deep puncture wounds in my leg and chewed up and dragged out a piece of my knee joint. Nothing. One minute it was 11:30, the next it was 1:45. In between, nothing. No sleep is so deep that you don’t dream or fidget, or twitch when your neighbor slams a car door or something, but this was NOTHING!

Now that I’ve had this experience, this is what I imagine death to be: nothing to be afraid of, nothing to look forward to, nothing to experience, NOTHING! A blackout with no end, and no awareness of time or being, because you need some form of consciousness in order to be aware. No difference between the first millisecond and the rest of eternity and no discomfort because there is no perception of duration. No perception of anything else for that matter, because all of the mechanisms for sensory input and processing are shut down and gone.

So why am I telling you this? Because I am betting that many thousands of people have had the same experience that I just had. Do they get any publicity? The people who get publicity are those that have some hallucinatory experience or neural firestorm that leads them to believe that they have experienced a non-corporeal state of being. The activity in their respective brains bears no relationship to the lack of activity in a corpse. Their brain is putting on a show. The show is largely based on the expectations of the Producer/audience. In other words, the brain is showing the brain’s owner what that owner desperately wants to see. If this owner has spent a lifetime hearing what he wants to hear, and making self-supporting, delusional types of conclusions, why should this kind of behavior in a starving brain be a surprise? When there are people who get a financial reward by perpetuating these delusions, it is also no surprise that these experiences get talked about. You can’t buy that kind of advertising, but you can play it over and over again like an accordion. I think the average person gets the impression that “go into the light” type experiences happen to everyone. I don’t think that is true. I think the more common experience is … nothing.

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My blog is not accepting pictures again. Here is a link and desciption of what I wanted to post. I'll try again later.

Caption: An Egyptian-style burial at Tombos, a cemetery at the third cataract of the Nile in what was once the center of ancient Nubia and is now northern Sudan.
Credit: S. Smith
Usage Restrictions: None


At 2:57 AM, Blogger The Editor said...

A friend of mine had a cardiac arrest in the newly opened coronary care unit a few years ago. Technically he was dead for a couple of minutes, if he had been anywhere else at the time he would have been gone permanently. Similarly, being brought back was just like a switch going on, but curiously not like coming round from a general anaethetic. His report was he didn't know who what or where anything was, like jig-saw pieces coming together, not entirely pleasant by all accounts. No bright lights or St Peter or though, just, as you say nothing, full stop.

At 7:50 AM, Blogger Kalanchoe542 said...

I've been under general anaesthesia twice, myself, and my sensation was pretty much exactly what you describe, sans the shivering. Nothing for an indeterminate period of time, then whoops! I'm back!

I do not fear my own death. Yes, I hate the idea because I always want to know what will happen next, what my great,great, great grandchildren will look and be like, all that stuff, but I do not fear it.

My one true fear is the death of those I love.

At 6:25 PM, Blogger allenupl said...

I have to disagree with these comments. During the past 30 years, near-death experiences have been the focus of many scientific studies at universities and medical centers throughout the U.S. and around the world. You can read about it on the website of the International Association for Near-Death Studies at In particular, you might want to check under the Research tab for a few published papers outlining new findings from the most current research. Many medical professionals who have seriously studied the research – and it is extensive – no longer dismiss this phenomenon as hallucinations or pharmacologically induced.

I recently attended a 4 day conference on NDEs at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston that reviewed in detail 30 years of research on NDEs. Audio files and DVDs of the presentations should be available soon on the website above, and conference papers will be available next year.

At 11:51 PM, Blogger Rev. Barky said...

Sodioum Pentithol. That is what wiped out two hours of my life some years ago when I had my wisdom teeth removed. It was wierd. I had the same reaction as you did and it confirmed my notion of death.

I find it hard to understand why people don't realize that the brain can and does hallucinate and malfunction instead of believing something absurd and impossible like ghosts or out of body experience.

If you are trying to suggest that science could support these experiences as supernatural phenomenae, pull my other leg.

At 12:12 AM, Blogger Rev. Barky said...

I visited IANDS and my impression is that it is nothing more than a psuedo-scientific organization that exploits people who have had a common traumatic experience. You can find similar types of orgs that are based on things like alien abduction and unidentified subcutaneous parasites.

It is a lie and perpetuates hysteria based around abnormal psychological phenomenae.


At 10:48 PM, Blogger Romeo Morningwood said...

Well, well, what do ya know! Isn't that strange that there were no trumpets or virgins running around by the river.
I've been under a few times and made it to 97 counting backwards from 100....
I felt like I was falling down and backwards..I hated it. When I came back I had a massive headache and no idea if my charisma bypass had been successful or not..until I opened my mouth.

Write on!

At 6:40 PM, Blogger breakerslion said...

I really like virgins too! I don't have any nefarious motives, I just like talking to them.

I agree with kalanchoe542. I don't even like surviving my pets, but as Robert Heinlein said, as you get old, you fear your pets surviving you. Hopefully someone will be there for them.

Allenupl: Welcome to my blog. You are always welcome to sow cotroversy, conflict and confusion here. Be warned, I'm not always this nice. That goes with the territory, and my upbringing in New Jersey. And you thought New Yorkers were ball busters....

Most, if not all OBEs and NDEs that have been wired at the time, can be associated with high levels of brain activity. I don't think anyone has drawn a parallel to the brain activity in an actual corpse. In other words, close really does only count in horseshoes and hand grenades.

Rev: Thanks for saving me the trouble. I might pull your leg for medical purposes, but pseudo science... Never! If you believe that stuff, I've got some homeopathetic spider molecules to sell you.

At 7:27 PM, Blogger Rev. Barky said...

That comment WAS directed at allenupl...

At 7:30 PM, Blogger Rev. Barky said...

I think I saw them molycyool things for sale on QVC - great stuff, cleared up my psoriasis for a few days.


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