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Out of Body

When I was 11, I was admitted to Buffalo Women and Children’s Hospital with acute appendicitis. My appendix had burst and emergency surgery was needed.

I can recall being delirious and having vivid hallucinations which scared the heck out of my parents. For instance, on my ambulance ride from another emergency room to the hospital, the IV bag I was hooked up to morphed into a hot air balloon with miniature people in the basket. When I pointed to it and told the EMT, he wasn’t quite sure what to make of the situation.

Once I was at Children’s Hospital, I remember being told by my parents in the emergency room that I had to have surgery, that I’d be fine and that they loved me. This confused me as the pain I was feeling previously had become what I could probably compare to a crazy and painless LSD high. I thought to myself, “Surgery? For what?”

I remember being prepped for surgery, being told by the anesthesiologist to breathe deeply and that the medicine he was giving me would help me sleep. He asked me to count back from 10. So I counted down: 10, 9, and the next thing I remember is being about 10 feet above everything, looking down on myself. I see the surgeon and the surgical assistants working on what I think is myself. Must just be some kind of strange dream brought on by the medicine, right?

The next thing I know, I wake up in another foggy state. This time there’s a tube in my mouth going into my throat. It was making breathing kind of mechanical, I guess you could say. I then notice there’s a tube in my nose, IV’s galore. A patch with another IV was sutured to my chest. There was also a catheter. I panicked and thought to myself, “What is all of this? What happened to me?”

In my heavily medicated state I asked, well, motioned to a nurse for a piece of paper and pen. I weakly scribbled away, partially coherent, asking what all of this stuff was. As a side note, my parents saved those papers. I wonder to myself now if that was normal for a kid my age to have been so inquisitive, even if brought on by utter panic, that I was asking questions via pen and paper while heavily sedated. She would go on to read my questions, answered very slowly and informed me that I was in ICU. I was there for roughly a week and would go on to spend a total of two weeks in the hospital.

Once in my own room, I was free of the respirator which helped me breathe. The catheter was gone, as was the tube in my nose keeping my lungs free of fluid build-up. I had to exercise my lungs by blowing into a ribbed tube attached to a clear cylinder with a ping pong ball in it. I was told the only way I could go home was when I could get my lungs strong enough to get that ping pong ball to the top of the cylinder. It became my mission to move that ball higher and higher every day. My motivation was to be free of all of the tubes, to be home with my parents, pets and most of all my best friend—my little sister.

The surgeon would go on to tell my parents after surgery that my body had begun shutting down during the rather intense operation. My lungs collapsed, my kidneys had started shutting down. He likened my abdominal cavity to one that had been set on fire. The toxins had literally burned my insides. He also said that I was lucky to have survived, thanks in large part to being a relatively big kid for that age, both in height and weight.

I’m not a super religious person, I tend to be more into the spiritual realm. It’s my belief that what I saw after falling into the induced sleep state was an out-of-body experience brought on by the trauma that my failing body was enduring from the toxins leaking from my infected and burst appendix.

Am I right? Am I wrong? Was it all just a dream brought on by the high strength sedative? I can’t be totally sure. I didn’t see the big white light at the end of a tunnel. I wasn’t met by some divine presence telling me everything was fine or one that gave me the option to go back or move forth with them. What I am sure of is that I experienced something very strange on December 31, 1993 and I may never have an answer for that experience while on this plane of existence.

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it,

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