I was going into surgery, for the third summer in a row, to try and correct a failed spinal fusion. This attempt was with larger screws and BMP (bone morphogenetic protein) instead of stem cells that didn’t work in the previous surgery. The last thing I remember is being in the operating room, joking with the surgeon as the medication began to take effect.
The next thing, I remember vividly is looking around at what appeared to be the recovery room, but hearing the doctors and nurses saying, ‘She’s not breathing!’ and, ‘We’re losing her!’ I could see the nurse patting my hand and repeatedly insisting, ‘You’ve got to breathe for me, honey.’ I remember at that point thinking quite clearly, ‘I’m either having a really messed up dream or I’m dead right now.’ Once I had that epiphany, I felt the greatest sense of calm, peace, and love (greater than I ever thought possible) wash over me and then it felt as if I was everywhere at once seeing multiple things happening at the same instant. I could see my surgeon talking to my parents about how the surgery went and getting a call and running back to where I was telling them, ‘If I’m not back in five minutes, it’s a good thing.’ Then it was like being sucked back into my body and waking from a dream. I was in the recovery room and everything, though hazy, felt sound. I didn’t talk about it at first, sort of writing it off as a strange dream. It wasn’t until two weeks later, as I was recovering at home in a hospital bed, when I heard my mother, on the phone with my grandma, telling her that I had stopped breathing when the doctor was telling them about what he had done and found. I immediately realized it wasn’t a dream.
After my mom got off the phone, I called her into her room where my bed was. I told her my experience, what I had seen and heard. She, having had her own near death experience as a teenager, immediately recognized and understood what I had been through and we still discuss our experiences to this day.