My liver had been deteriorating for many years and I was eventually informed by my specialist that I would need a new liver. I was briefed by "the transplant team", on all facets of the procedure, including the typical waiting time, false starts, the eight-hour operation and lengthy recovery.
Early on a July morning in 2017, Jubeele received the call for us to make our way to the hospital. We were informed not to "get our hopes up" as the donor organ might be unsuitable for transplant. But to my surprise, it was not long before I was saying goodbye to Jubeele and they wheeled me into the operating theater.
After many weird dreams, I woke up to the smiling faces of Jubeele and the medical staff. Why were they all smiling? Well, it was now two weeks after the operation during which I had developed a high fever that they could not explain or treat. Over the following weeks, I was told by Jubeele and the intensive care nurses of all the crazy things that I said and tried to do during that initial fortnight. Honestly, if I had a clipboard and notepad, I could have "ticked off" each weird dream I had, with what they were recounting.
All except the first dream, which had been very vivid and left a lasting impression on me. This dream or rather experience was different, particularly after the surgeon told me that I had in fact died twice during the operation and to "take things easy" during my recovery. I had heard of the term "Near Death Experience" (NDE) but it has only been during the last nine months that I have learned more about this subject.
This is what I recall.
I was being transported on a bed or gurney through white French Doors into a large room. The light filtering into the room had an orange tinge, like there was a dust storm outside. Behind me, I could hear Jubeele pleading with somebody that I needed help.
This person kept repeating that "I should not be here, and I must leave". The male voice was familiar to me. The message was delivered in a calm, controlled and neutral tone.
I realized that I had stopped moving. There were no bumps or sounds, just the conversation behind me, with Jubeele's tone getting more frantic.
I was now getting annoyed, so I tried to get off the bed to turn around and "eyeball" this person. But I couldn't move my legs. I looked down and realized I had a huge hole in my right-hand side, just under the ribs. There was no blood or pain.
I looked around and saw that the room was filled with other injured people on stretchers, gurneys and beds all looking down at themselves with blank looks on their faces. It looked something like the triage in M*A*S*H but with nobody looking after them; no blood, no dressings, no sound and everyone bathed in the orange light.
The scene struck me as being like a waiting room or airport departure lounge. Suddenly, I had this urge to leave this place. I tried to call Jubeele, but no words came out.
A warm feeling came over me and the room faded away, leaving only the orange light. I did not remember any more...
I can accept this episode as a delirious dream, just as easily as I can look on it as a Near Death Experience. The difference is that a dream can be laughed off and fade away with time. This experience has been so profound that it continues to come back and disturb me with questions.
* Who was the person that was talking to Jubeele and why did he sound so familiar?
* What was the nature of the warm feeling and was it related to me leaving this place or ending the dream?
Strange, but I have experienced this warm feeling before. It was over twenty years ago when I was told that my eldest brother had succumbed to liver cancer and passed away. At that moment, I could feel myself falling to pieces but then felt a warm, calming glow envelop me, along with the knowledge that he was released from a world of pain and in a better place.
In the wash-up, was "big brother" or a guardian looking after me (again) or was this all a dream?