I was in an ambulance carrying me from the hospital in small provincial town towards the big hospital in the capital. I had bad pneumonia which was not responding well to (weak, old and not very effective) oral antibiotics doctors were giving me. In the ambulance I was choking, unable to breathe from (what was later found to be) 750 grams of fluids accumulated in my lungs. The ambulance was jolting, I was short of breath, and next thing I remember was I felt SEVERE blow that kicked me out of my body. I later read stories by other people in similar near dead situations who reported seeing a tunnel and a light, but this was not what I experienced. It was just a blow, a kick which threw me out of my body. I was looking at my body from the side, and also seeing a medical sister which was trying to put a breathing mask on my face.
At first I thought that something happened with my vision and I panicked. I was seeing everything in 2D, like on a movie screen, and also nearly black and white. It was not completely black and white, it was like the colors were very darkened, as if everything was a shades of gray with very little color in it. I know that this seems strange, I mean, I looked at my body from the side and yet I panicked for my eyes and vision, but that was what I thought then. I was 14 year old at the time, and in a state of panic, and I guess my logic was weak and weird at this moment. I severely panicked for my eyes and vision and that was a moment when I thought of my mother, and in an instant, I was looking at her.
She was traveling together with my father and my uncle in a car following the ambulance on a road to the capital. It was my uncle’s car. I started talking to my mother, telling her that my eyes are not ok, that something happened to my eyes and I cannot see well. She did not heard me. They continued to talk, cursing and lambasting the incompetent doctors at provincial hospital, discussing how those doctors tried to coax them to sign some papers after the ambulance left, how they refused to sign, and how they arranged for me to be admitted in the department led by an experienced and very competent doctor with strange name (assoc. prof. Koiundurliev). This was unique name which I remembered.
At that point the gravity of situation hit me. I finally realized that something weird happened, that I shall not be in this car, and I panicked even more. I began to think of my friends at school and of the girl I liked, and as soon as thought of someone was really “sharp enough” in my mind (I don’t know how to explain this in writing), but as soon as thought about someone was “sharp enough” I instantly saw them as if I was standing next to that person in this very moment. Then the panic hit me even harder, I started jumping from place to place, from memory to memory, in an ever increasing pace, and everything became a kaleidoscope of people and places.
This jumping from place to place abruptly stopped when an old lady came. She was very old, with a white hair, white like completely snow white, not white like the grey shadows of other colors I was seeing. She took me by the hand, insisted that I looked at her and repeated several times that I should calm down my mind so that this random jumping from place to place stops. I realized that she was somehow helping me to remain calm, to look only at her and to set at rest and be quiet.
Then she proceeded to explain that now I am going to fall asleep, and when I wake up I will be at the hospital. She told me that doctors will start giving me injections, that some of them will be painful, but I shall be brave like a man and endure the pain, and that my condition is going to improve. But after two months doctors will propose a surgery. She insisted, several times, that immediately when I wake up I MUST tell my mother to refuse to sign papers for the surgery, to refuse to let them do the surgery. She told me that if they do the surgery I am going to die, and insisted again, several times, that I should explain this to my mother as soon as I wake up. She also told me that if I am a good boy and do as she told me to do, my uncle is going to bring me a lot of delicious chocolates in the hospital.
So, long story short: I woke up at the ER, told everything to my mother, she was shocked by my detailed description of what they talked about in the car, I distinctly remember her eyes grew WIDE OPEN when I told her the strange name of the doctor, and she listened to my frenetical demands from her to refuse to sign the papers for the surgery. She was not understanding what I am talking about, as at this moment no one was talking about any surgery. My mother told me that everything is going to be ok, that there is not going to be any surgery and generally tried to calm me down.
I slept a lot in the hospital, was very weak. Doctors drew up the fluids from my lungs using long and thick needles inserted through my back. It was indeed very painful. Christmas came and passed. They gave me strong antibiotic injections and I recovered. 45 days later they saw on X-Rays one particular spot on my left lung which was refusing to heal. Two months later is was still there – still same size. On next X-Ray – again. They proposed a surgery to remove this spot.
My mother resisted to them initially, but eventually, as time passed, there were many doctors insisting that surgery must be done, and my mother finally gave in to their pressure and signed the papers. But this delayed the surgery for many weeks, and when they did a final X-Ray before the surgery to see how big the spot is – it was gone, and the planned surgery was canceled. They all (my mother and the doctors) lied to me, my mother was telling me that there is not going to be a surgery, but they were actually secretly preparing to do it. I only later found out what really happened.
My mother also told me how she watched, not believing her own eyes, how my extremely stingy uncle was bringing me chocolate after chocolate in the hospital. This happened in a then socialist country (Bulgaria), my uncle was working as a driver of big truck for international transportation and that was where he bought the chocolates. On our country local market those chocolates were EXTREMELY expensive and nowhere to be found. And my uncle was (and is, to some extent, to this day) very stingy bastard. My mother told me that, above all, this particular piece of my story convinced her to refuse signing surgery papers for so long, despite the intense pressure from the doctors.
I have a lot of other weird memories from these events, but I decided to not share them, as I am not sure how reliable my memories are. I am only talking about memories I was able to successfully verify with my relatives. Years later I made my mother and father and uncle tell what they remembered, I recorded their words on tape, and I drew the line around what I consider to be the reliable part of the story and what may be the distortions of my memory from the time passed.
Note that I am not religious, my relatives are also atheists. Neither I nor any of my relatives became religious after this incident.
tl;dr: We humans do not (yet) know a shit about life and death.