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The Dream That Changed My Relationship With My Body

I had an experience unlike anything I’ve ever even heard of, and a friend who is a healer told me it sounded a lot like her near-death experiences.

You’ll need a little background to understand the situation. I was admitted to the hospital after throwing up my feeding tube that I have due to a genetic condition that has paralyzed my gastrointestinal tract. And I had been off my meds for five days since I normally take them through my feeding tube, which is normally in my intestines, not in my mouth. I can’t swallow medications, therefore, I am on intravenous nutrition (TPN). Since TPN goes directly into my bloodstream, my sugar levels can go up and down unexpectedly, especially when I’ve been off TPN for more than four hours. Drops in blood glucose can lead to serious issues, comas and death.

I was in the hospital last week, and very unwell, with my tube in my mouth. I was supposed to have a procedure at a hospital in Boston, and I had gone down at 3:30 a.m. for a 6 a.m. COVID-19 test, and then waited until 3:15 p.m. for my procedure to reposition my tube, so I could finally take my medications. When the doctor came for me, he explained he couldn’t do the procedure with the type of tube I had.

The doctor told me to walk my dizzy, weak, nauseous and puking body down the street to the other hospital’s ER. By this point, I had been off TPN for seven hours and wasn’t thinking clearly. I checked into the ER and waited alone, crying from fatigue. There was no sterile place to set up my TPN, so I had to wait until I got back to a room. Once admitted, the hospital couldn’t use my TPN per hospital rules, so they put me on a fluid drip, without nutrition. I asked the nurse to check my blood glucose because I might need a D5 drip that would keep my sugar levels normal. She never came back to check my blood sugar. Then, I started to get sleepy.

I started thinking of my deceased friend, and I started to cry softly, missing her. I put my palm out, open on my body, and asked her to hold my hand. I felt a pressure on my hand. Before falling asleep, I asked her to please show up in one of my dreams sometime soon because I missed her.

That night, I fell asleep and had a dream she and I were in a hospital. At first, we were jumping on the beds and giggling and having a wild time, laughing hysterically. She would tell me things, and I would have realizations so big I remember thinking, “I have to  remember this!” I had three moments in which I felt utter joy, true blissfulness and a deep sense of peace. I felt like I was having deja vu over and over again, and having realizations so fast I couldn’t file them away in my memory. I understood why everything had happened. I understood why I had gotten sick in the first place.

Then, the dream turned dark and I noticed my friend was dying beside me. In my dream, I looked out the glass hospital room door and noticed a girl had strung her feeding tube around her neck and up over the door to our room. If I opened the door to scream for help for my friend, I would hang this girl, but if I didn’t open the door, my friend would die. I tried to move and scream, but I couldn’t. I was paralyzed. After thrashing for a while, I realized I was helpless and gave up. Together, my friend and I levitated to the ceiling and our souls were sucked out of our bodies, and we died.

Then I heard, through my sleep, my nurse and CNA walk into my room. I knew what was going on; I could hear them talking about getting my vitals and waking me up. They wanted me to sit up, but I was asleep. I was screaming for their help, begging for them to pull me back to my body, but making no noise or movement.

And then I woke up gasping for air. I felt like I had not been breathing for a while. The nurses were clueless, and took my vitals. But my vitals were too low, so they had me sit up and took them again. They said vitals that low wouldn’t look good in my chart. My heart rate went from very low to very high, so they had me lie back down. I was extremely weak; and felt like I had been run over by a steamroller. I spent the next day crying and whimpering because I couldn’t muster anything else. I was utterly fatigued like never before. My glucose levels were most likely dangerously low as I had been off TPN for 30 hours. But by then, I wasn’t “with it” enough to ask the nurse to check my glucose levels.

During what I have come to believe was a near-death experience, truths became clear. I realized my service dog is my portal to my deceased friends, and ultimately to a higher power (despite me not being religious) and to other realms of existence. And that his spirit and mine have traveled this road before. I know I have done this life before, and in past lives, I’ve died young (despite not even believing in past lives before this experience).

I have no evidence I had a near-death experience except for what I felt. It could have been a terrible nightmare, filled with three miraculous moments of pure and utter peace, or it was a near-death experience that went undetected.

I am profoundly changed though. My worries about death have been eased because I have an idea of what it feels like — and it is pure and blissful elation. It is a mind orgasm that lasts forever.

I ultimately decided I wanted to come back to be here for my dog. But I wasn’t thinking about anyone on Earth while I was dreaming, and I certainly wasn’t worrying like I usually do. I was a light that was flickering. I was a soul that didn’t know whether to stay or go. I don’t know how to process the realizations I came to, but most people do not understand the feeling I had. I get strange comments and weird looks when I try to tell the people in my life about my experience. It’s been a week and a half since it happened (on my service dog’s birthday nonetheless), and I can’t comprehend what happened enough to be able to even tell my therapist. This is my sixth draft trying to write down what happened in a way that makes sense.

I have always tempted death in real life. As an athlete, I would push my body way beyond what was safe and healthy. I believed if I died doing something I loved, like ski racing, I would die heroically. When I had injured my body to the point at which I could no longer race, I developed a severe eating disorder, and I spent every day I wasn’t in a treatment center starving my body to the point of having fainting episodes. I binged and purged to the point of causing my vision to go black, and I would puke up blood.

I’m in recovery now, but so was my friend before she passed away in her sleep last September, after struggling with an eating disorder for over 20 years. My body is not broken, but due to a progressive genetic connective tissue disease called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, the past eating disorder and how hard I trained as an athlete, my body is fragile. Ever since my dream, I’ve thought about my body in such a different light than before.

Pre-dream, I hated my body at any weight, hated what my face looked like and going harder and pushing more was better. Post-dream, I have been treating my body like a precious newborn baby. Life is so fragile, and I have taken it for granted, and even teased death. I will not go back to destructive behaviors if I can help it because my body won’t stay alive if I do.

I had a decision, and I chose to stay.

Original photo by author