In the strange little corner of the internet where they seem to spend much of every day, a few of my more, umm, continuous critics profess to be baffled by what they claim to see as my obsession with near-death experiences.
There’s no need for bafflement. I’m by nature pretty transparent and, indeed, sometimes almost too candid, and I’m certainly open about my interest in near-death experiences. I’ve been interested in them since at least the publication of Raymond Moody’s Life after Life in 1975 — and I’ve compiled a rather large (but still not quite completed) book manuscript on the subject. I’m still gathering up notes about NDEs, though, and I find that sharing some of my notes here provides an incentive for me to extract them from materials that I’ve read (or still intend to read) but haven’t yet incorporated into the manuscript.
Here is an account that appears in Pim van Lommel, Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience (New York: HarperCollins, 2010). It was written by a nurse who was involved in the case:
During the night shift the ambulance crew brings in a forty-four-year-old cyanotic [purplish-blue skin discoloration], comatose man. About an hour earlier he had been found in a public park by passers-by, who had initiated heart massage. After admission to the coronary care unit, he receives artificial respiration with a balloon and a mask as well as heart massage and defibrillation. When I want to change the respiration method, when I want to intubate the patient, the patient turns out to have dentures in his mouth. Before intubating him, I remove the upper set of dentures and put it on the crash cart. Meanwhile we continue extensive resuscitation. After approximately ninety minutes, the patient has sufficient heart rhythm and blood pressure, but he’s still ventilated and intubated, and he remains comatose. In this state he is transferred to the intensive care unit for further respiration. After more than a week in coma the patient returns to the coronary care unit, and I see him when I distribute the medication. As soon as he sees me he says, “Oh, yes, but you, you know where my dentures are.” I’m flabbergasted. Then he tells me, “Yes, you were there when they brought me into the hospital, and you took the dentures out of my mouth and put them on that cart; it had all these bottles on it, and there was a sliding drawer underneath, and you put my teeth there.” I was all the more amazed because I remembered this happening when the man was in a deep coma and undergoing resuscitation. After further questioning, it turned out that the patient had seen himself lying in bed and that he had watched from above how nursing staff and doctors had been busy resuscitating him. He was also able to give an accurate and detailed description of the small room where he had been resuscitated and of the appearance of those present. While watching this scene, he had been terrified that we were going to stop resuscitating and that he would die. And it’s true that we had been extremely negative about the patient’s prognosis due to his very poor condition when admitted. The patient tells me that he had been making desperate but unsuccessful attempts at letting us know that he was still alive and that we should continue resuscitating. He’s deeply impressed by his experience and says he’s no longer afraid of death. (20-21)