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Observations placeholder

Polio out of body



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

 Going Home – Colm Keane

Trudy Watson who was living in Carrickfergus Country Antrim at the time of this experience in 1950.

I was 25 years old and just home from a holiday in the Isle of Man. I had gone there with my husband and my little boy, who was two-and-a-half. My boy was playing in the garden. He was playing with his hands out, pretending to be a Spitfire. He tripped and fell. You should have seen his nose. He had a bright red plum of blood for a nose. He had bruises. His face had flattened completely. He was in quite a lot of pain.

I brought him down the hill to the doctor's place. The doctor reassured me that no bones were broken and so on. He told me to use a cold compress, the usual. We walked back up the hill and I put David to bed. I then sat down. It was a hot July day and I had been sweating coming up the hill, so I sat by an open window. Later on I went to bed.

David woke me up, crying. He was saying, 'Mummy! Mummy!' I went in to see him and I realised I couldn't bend my neck. I had to move my shoulders, neck and head all together. I thought I had a chill after sitting with a sweaty neck and with cold air coming in on it. I went back to bed thinking nothing of it. The next morning, when I woke up, I was trying to make sandwiches for my husband to take to work and I was having difficulty making out how to cut the bread. My husband said to me, 'Are you OK?' I said, 'No. I feel funny.' My husband said, 'I'll get the doctor.' Down came the doctor and he said, 'I can feel paralysis starting.' I said, 'I hope it isn't infantile paralysis.' That is what polio was called in those days - it was mostly in children.

He said I had better go down to the local hospital to see what was wrong. Off I went, being sick all the way down. Initially, in the hospital, I could sit up. Then I couldn’t sit up. I felt all wobbly, with no power. Then one leg wouldn’t move over. Then another one wouldn't move back. I was gradually becoming paralysed. I got a lumbar puncture there, which is awful. It was agonising. I can still feel it. They did it twice. Eventually they got a brain specialist down from the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast. He drew off fluid from my brain and he was very good.

The next day I couldn't move at all. I couldn’t move anything. I was completely and utterly paralysed inside and out. I could not even spend a penny. They had to feed me.They sent me to Purdysburn Fever Hospital in Belfast. Up I went. I was put into a side ward on my own because I was the only adult. The doctor came around. I remember I could read things upside down and I could follow what he was writing even though it was upside down. I saw that he had written ‘acute anterior poliomyelitis.' I had polio!

I woke up during the middle of that same night, about three o'clock in the morning, and the first thing I thought was, 'Thank God! All the pain is gone. Isn’t it great? It was dark but not pitch-black. It was such a beautiful feeling. All my nerves had been on fire up to that. But there was no pain. It was glorious. I couldn't believe it. I wondered could I sit up. And I could. I sat up in slow motion. But the biggest joy was that there was no pain. As I sat up, I realised I was not in my bed but on a black wooden plinth. This wooden plinth was about three or four feet off the ground, with me on top of it. It was like a catafalque, which a queen's or king's coffin would be laid out on top of. You would see it in Westminster Abbey, with the coffin lying on top. It was a solid thing, made of wood. It was like ebony wood and quite comfortable. The wood was warm and it was moving very slowly centimetre by centimetre, towards the door of the side ward.

I lay down again on the plinth. Then I decided to sit up again. It was such a joy to be able to do it. It was great to be able to move after so long not being able to move an eyelash. So I sat up again and I looked to my left. There was a white wall, with white tiles, as you would get in a fever hospital. I then looked in front and there was the door. I was going slowly towards it. Everything, including me, seemed to be moving towards the door. Then I looked to the right and there was another white-tiled wall except there was a bed there too, about three feet away - and in the bed was me!

The view that I saw was of me lying down in my ordinary hospital bed, well tucked in. The face that I saw was flushed with a high temperature. It was shiny. I was clear as a bell. I thought, 'That's me!' I just accepted that it was me in the bed. But the real me was on the plinth - that was Trudy Watson. It shows that you can disengage yourself quite quickly. I looked back again at the door. I knew that I would turn right outside the door and go up an ordinary corridor. There was no bright light or no people waiting for me or anything, just that I would go up this corridor. I think I was heading into the beyond. It was so strange. I just accepted what was happening. And I was so grateful that I had no pain and I was very happy.

Suddenly I heard a child calling out, 'Mummy! Mummy! Mummy!' I thought, 'That's David.' It was a child of about two-and-a-half, the same age. I found myself scrabbling out of that wooden bed to get to the door, to see my son that I hadn't seen for three days. Instead I found myself back in the real bed and the black plinth had disappeared. I never made it out the door on the plinth. I was on my way but the child brought me back.

I was eight or nine months in hospital. I could only walk about five steps before I got out. But, once I got out, I went back to living a normal life. I later met the consultant who had looked after me. This was 30 or 40 years later. I had an appointment with him on a separate issue but I brought in photographs to remind him of who I really was. I said, 'There's me and that's my wee son David.' He said, 'But Mrs. Watson, you don't need to show me that. We all remember you.' I said, 'How do you mean?' And he said, ''We thought you were going to die - but you didn't.'

I then told him about my out-of-body experience and I asked him, 'Do you think that was the moment of death?' He said, 'Definitely!' He also said, 'I'm sure, if I looked, that would be the date we thought you would probably die. That was the point of death. But the next day you were still there. And we were surprised.'

I also always wondered who that little child was who called, 'Mummy! Mummy! Mummy!' I didn't say anything to anybody for years because I thought people would say, 'That woman is odd.' Eventually, however, I was asked to talk before the Northern Ireland Polio Fellowship at their annual dinner. The first thing I asked those who were there was if anybody had been in Purdysburn Fever Hospital around 23 July 1950.

Three people put their hands up. Two were there on the wrong dates. But one woman was the right age - about a year and ten months - and was there at that date. I said, 'I think I have found you. You brought me back to life. I was dying. You cried and as a result, I came back’

The source of the experience

Ordinary person

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps