Before his near-death experience, Dr. Rajiv Parti was a wealthy man of science with a successful career as the Chief of Anesthesiology at the Bakersfield Heart Hospital in California. He demanded the same success from his son, whose failures provoked episodes of abuse from Dr. Parti. All in all, Dr. Parti was the last man to believe in heaven or hell—that is, until he saw them with his own eyes.
When Dr. Parti had his near-death experience on the operating table, he first watched his own operation from the ceiling—even recalling a joke told by his doctors during his surgery. He was greeted by archangels and his deceased father who led him through the tortures of hell and revealed the toxic cycle of violence that has plagued his family for generations. He even reviewed the struggles of his previous lives which, in many ways, reflected those he still faced in the present. Finally, he experienced heaven. From the angels, he learned lessons of spiritual health that they insisted he bring down to earth—to do so, Dr. Parti knew he had to change his ways.
After his near-death experience, Dr. Parti awoke a new man. He gave away his mansion, quit his career, opened a wellness clinic, and completely turned around his relationships with his family. To this day, he still converses with angels and spreads their wisdom to the living.
In this remarkable “spiritual wake-up call” (Suzanne Giesemann, author of Messages of Hope), Dr. Parti provides rare details of heaven, hell, the afterlife, and angels and offers you the opportunity to attain peace and live a better life here on Earth.
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About the Author
Paul Perry has cowritten four New York Times bestsellers, including Evidence of the Afterlife, Closer to the Light, Transformed by the Light, and Saved by the Light.
Read an Excerpt
Dying to Wake Up
The Seventh Surgery
It must be cold out, I thought, my teeth chattering slightly. It was December 23, 2010, hours before Christmas Eve, and it felt as if I was in the frigid Himalaya mountains of India instead of the flatlands of Bakersfield, California. I had gone upstairs to bed with an odd mix of symptoms. First I had felt very hot and tired, then cold and shaky. When I began to shiver, I reached for my iPhone and checked the outdoor temperature. It was 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
I shouldn’t be shivering, I thought. As I pulled the blankets closer and felt myself get colder at the same time, I was frightened.
I could hear my wife and children downstairs, preparing for dinner. Plates were being spread out on the table, and I smelled the rich aroma of spices in the Indian food my wife was preparing. Usually such aromas would make my mouth water. Today it made me nauseous.
I covered my head and tried to blot out the television. My wife, Arpana, had turned on CNN about two hours earlier and had left me in our bedroom while she went downstairs to cook dinner. “Try to sleep,” she said. “I’ll wake you when dinner is ready.” I took a pain pill when she left (How many had I taken that day?) and hoped it would give me the peace of sleep. It didn’t. Instead it made me groggy and more angry and frightened. I could feel swelling and heat in my abdomen and scrotum, and although I had a deep need to urinate, I couldn’t coax out more than a few drops.
I don’t deserve this, I thought. I’m a doctor.
I recalled the good old days, years before the six surgeries that brought me to this point.
I had come to Bakersfield from Louisiana to work as a temporary doctor. My assignment was to work one month as an anesthesiologist in the San Joaquin Community Hospital. After years on the East Coast, it was a pleasure to be in the warmth of the San Joaquin Valley and the beauty of California. Before long, I was offered a permanent position at the hospital, and I accepted immediately.
Arpana opened a dental office of her own, and I soon changed hospitals to take a position as an anesthesiologist at the Bakersfield Heart Hospital, an institution dedicated to delicate heart surgeries. Within a few years, I was named head of anesthesiology. A few years after that I joined several of my anesthesiology colleagues in starting a pain clinic where those with chronic pain could receive treatment in an outpatient setting. Soon we were on a road to prosperity that we could hardly believe. We traded our small house for a larger one and then an extremely large house as we built a family of two boys, Raghav and Arjun, and a girl, Ambika.
Our cars went from average Fords and Toyotas to Mercedeses and Lexuses and then to the “supercars” like a Porsche and a Hummer. I dreamed of one day having a Ferrari in my garage that I kept wrapped in a dust cover and took out only for an occasional weekend spin. My goal was bigger everything—house, cars, art collection, bank accounts. At one point in my twenty-five years at the heart hospital, I took a nine-month sabbatical in order to trade stock. I made millions of dollars, sometimes a million dollars in one day, but I lost it as fast as I made it because I thought I could read the direction of the stock market with greater accuracy than the pros. That didn’t happen, and I finally gave up this folly and returned to the hospital.
The goal of my neighbors in the mini-castles around me was the same. Every new house built on the block usually had more square footage than the others. It would have been funny had it not been so serious. Size matters, especially when one is building a monument to oneself for the scale of immortality.
The houses in this neighborhood were all designed to match the image the owner wanted to project. There were Mediterranean villas (ours), Spanish casitas, ultramoderns, and even one home that was a mini-replica of the White House. It was a monstrosity to look at, but everyone in the neighborhood understood the motivation behind it. How else could the owners show they were as big and important as the president of the United States? (The owner sold cars for a living.)
Driving through the neighborhood was like a spin through Disneyland. But driving through the neighborhood would have been totally impossible for those without the pass code for several gates. The community was hermetically sealed, safe from the outside world, and I had come to believe that meant safe from physical illness as well. Doctors don’t get sick. I had come to believe that. And if we do, we can treat the illness immediately, stop it in its tracks.
That is how I viewed myself: a master of my fate, a miracle worker who was immune to all ailments.
Feeling like a master of the universe is easy in the world of modern medicine. In my specialty alone, heart surgery anesthesia, the medical world had made so many advances in technology and techniques that we could literally bring patients back from the dead by doing everything from unclogging an artery with a balloon to replacing it or even dropping in a transplanted heart. The cardiovascular death rate has declined 40 percent in the last decade due to advances like those we administered on a routine basis in our heart hospital. Families wept for joy at the end of a successful heart procedure because they knew we had added many years, perhaps decades, to the life of a loved one.
Maybe it’s a sense of cheating death for others that gives cardiac surgical teams the vague feeling that we can overcome our own death. Of course that isn’t true. The goal can’t be to live forever because no one does, at least not in this body. The goal should be to create a legacy that will live forever. To think of life in any other way is just a myth, the one I was living.
Reality popped that myth for me. In 2008 a routine physical revealed a significant increase in my PSA count, an indication that I had prostate cancer. A biopsy of the prostate gland told me how bad it was. “I have good news and bad news for you,” said my urologist and good friend who called one evening while my wife and I sat drinking tea in the backyard by the golf course our house overlooked. “You have prostate cancer. But it’s in its early stages, and you can have it taken out and you’ll be cured.”
I was fifty-one and in shock. And angry. Why me? What did I do to deserve this?
We went to one of the best prostate surgeons in the country, located across the country in Miami, Florida. I told him I was worried about incontinence, about impotency. He told me not to worry: “I can almost guarantee no complications. After a few weeks you will be back to normal.” He was a genius of this walnut-sized gland and a colleague as well. Why should I doubt what he said?
We scheduled surgery using a procedure known as laparoscopic radical prostatectomy, removal of the entire prostate through small holes in the abdomen using tube-shaped instruments fitted with a video camera and cutting instruments. Within days of the surgery, it was clear that I was going to be incontinent and impotent. The surgeon was sorry. I was angry.
Scar tissue closed my urethra not once but three times. And each time surgeons in Bakersfield had to operate, using laser beams to vaporize the scar tissue. The postsurgical pain was so intense I was forced to take pain pills. I took a lot, and when the pain abated, I continued to take the pills, looking forward to the pleasurable buzz they gave me, along with their painkilling effects.
A fifth surgery at UCLA Medical Center took care of the scarring problem with the direct injection of an antiscarring drug, but by now the incontinence had become intolerable. I had to wear an adult diaper, changing it every two or three hours to avoid getting diaper rash. This was almost impossible, since many of the heart surgeries were long and involved, taking five to six hours sometimes. When that happened, I ran the risk of infection, which required stronger and stronger antibiotics and more pain pills.
Finally my UCLA surgeon recommended an artificial sphincter, an implanted mechanical device that would allow me to control my bladder with the touch of a button strategically placed under the skin. I had the sixth surgery done on December 13, 2010.
But now, less than two weeks later, something horrible had gone wrong: an infection around the artificial sphincter had spread and was filling my abdomen with pus.
I started taking the most powerful antibiotics available at the beginning of the infection. I began with a heavy dose of oral Keflex, and when that didn’t work, I was switched to Cipro, a heavy hitter in the treatment of urinary tract infections. That didn’t work either. Now, the night before Christmas Eve, I could feel the heat and pressure build around my pelvic area, symptoms of a rapidly rising infection.
Arpana came into the room from the kitchen downstairs. She held a tasty hors d’oeuvre plate of mixed treats for me to sample, but when she looked at me, her expression turned to alarm. She nearly dropped the plate as she set it down and pulled back the blanket to look at my face.
“Oh my God,” she said, picking up a thermometer. She shook it and slipped it under my tongue. In a few moments, the mercury rose to 105 degrees.
She rushed downstairs and called UCLA Medical Center, where surgeons had implanted the artificial sphincter. I later learned that when they connected her to the surgeon and she said I had a 105-degree temperature, he told her to get me to the hospital as quickly as possible.
I could hear little of this phone conversation from upstairs. But what I could hear were desperate whispers and hurried conversations and then the rush of the entire family running up the stairs.
Arpana sat me on the edge of the bed and helped me dress, while our children gathered in the room. They watched with fear as their weeping mother struggled to dress me.
“Help us!” she said to our three children. Cautiously they helped me stand and braced me as they took me downstairs, one uncertain step at a time. In the few minutes it took to make it into the front seat of my wife’s BMW, I was exhausted. A fever of such magnitude leaves one both burning hot and shivering cold, a contradiction of symptoms. My daughter covered me with a blanket, and Arpana started the car, tears streaming down her face. She was frightened by my condition and told me later that she was afraid I might worsen quickly in transit. And then in the middle of the mountains that were between home and the hospital, what would she do?
I tried to get comfortable in the car and ignore my wife’s sobs as she accelerated onto the freeway and headed south to Los Angeles, one hundred miles away. I was beginning to wish she had called an ambulance.
The fever and infection had my thoughts in a swirl. As we sped toward Los Angeles, all I could think about were the negatives in my life, a long list that could be organized as: Unlucky, Cancer Patient, Infection Prone, Addict, Depressive, Materialistic, Demanding, Unloving, Egotist, Angry.
Denial of my own illness made me angry with myself. I’m a doctor. Why didn’t I know something was terribly wrong? The truth was that I did know something was terribly wrong. I just didn’t act. Like most other doctors, I didn’t take kindly to illness in my own body and was now paying for my denial.
My anger spread to other events in my life. First, I became angry with God for giving me prostate cancer. What possible good is it to give me such a horrible disease? Why did I deserve something like this?
And then there were the pain pills. As my wife drove me to the hospital that night, I finally admitted to myself that I had crossed the threshold of addiction. The medical definition of addiction is to take more than is prescribed. Because of the surgeries and their complications, I had been prescribed pain pills for my pelvic pain. At first they worked for me, helping me get through the aftermath of the surgeries and the subsequent infections. But as the pain continued, the effect of the narcotics lessened, making routine work and home life more difficult. I took more and stronger doses, longing to stay in control. I finally learned what some of my patients already knew: how easy it is to qualify as an addict when all you long for is to be pain free.
And there was more. The combination of the cancer and my pill addiction had depressed me. To cope with that condition, I had started taking antidepressants. Soon I felt as if they were as necessary to my well-being as the pain pills. Based on my medical training and through addiction specialists at the hospital, I knew that I would have to go to an inpatient facility for at least twelve weeks to end my pill addiction. Why had I lost control of my life?
My son Raghav came to mind. Because he was my eldest, I had been much harder on him than on my other children, expecting him to follow in my footsteps. But he had been in medical school for three years now and was not doing well. Although he had been willing to attend medical school, he lacked enthusiasm, and his grades reflected his disinterest in becoming a physician. Still I had stubbornly insisted that he continue his studies.
Over the years, I had adopted my father’s and grandfather’s Indian theory of child raising, which could be summed up in one often repeated phrase: “A bent nail must be straightened with a hammer.” And though my father never used a hammer, he “straightened me,” as his father had straightened him, whenever he thought I was not living up to my intellectual potential. Though physical punishment was typical in India at the time, I swore I would never lay a hand on my children. But over the years, my father’s anger became my anger, and I had frequently punished my children with it.
Now Raghav probably feared me, perhaps even hated me. Would I have a chance to make it up to him? I wondered as the car roared through this endless night. Where is my son now? Why isn’t he in this car with me now that I really need him?
By the time we pulled into the emergency medical entrance at UCLA, my anger had spread like fire to every part of my life until it touched the truth. My life is my responsibility. I should have been more careful in choosing my path.
When I reached that conclusion, I must have audibly gasped, because one of the attendants who loaded me on the stretcher gave my hand a squeeze of assurance.
“You’re safe at the hospital now,” he said.
I don’t know if I shook my head or nodded. I did know the frightening facts in front of me: that I had a 105-degree temperature and a pelvic infection that antibiotics couldn’t touch.
Based on the speed of this infection, I wasn’t sure I would have another chance. In fact, I supposed I was going to die.
Table of Contents
Foreword Raymond A. Moody, Jr., MD, PhD xi
Introduction: The Frozen Man 1
1 The Seventh Surgery 7
2 The ER 17
3 Above It All 23
4 Tough Love from Hell 29
5 Rescued 35
6 Tunnel of Understanding 43
7 Past Life, Future Life 51
8 Future Shock 57
9 Caught by Karma 69
10 Merry Christmas 75
11 The Ladder of Enlightenment 79
12 The Open Road 87
13 True Healing 93
14 Transformed by the Light 105
15 Lucky Rajiv or Poor Rajiv 117
16 The Story He Had Not Heard 123
17 Guidance 133
18 What Now? 141
19 Funeral for Myself 147
20 An Awakening 169
21 An Experiment of One 183
22 Aruba Awakening 193
23 Be Who You Are 201
24 A Shared-Death Experience 207
Conclusion: To Understand Who We Are 211