Do You Believe In Ghosts? Back to Blog

Thanks for having me, Cynthia!  And during such a fun month!  Just to make it a little more fun…2 lucky commentors will win a prize!  Your choice of any of Cynthia’s currently available paranormal novels or anthologies. 

Now, on to the fun stuff…ghosts!

One of my patient’s clued me into UCSF’s haunted history.  I’ve been a sonographer at the medical center for many years and have taken call there for more than I care to remember, which means I’ve spent time in the long, lonely hallways at every hour of the day and night. 

If you think about it, hospitals are prime locations for haunting when you consider the monumental suffering and death that occur there on a daily basis.  And anyone who has worked at a hospital can attest, they can be rather cold, eerie places when they quiet down.

I can’t remember how the conversation with my patient veered into the subject of ghosts (you’d be surprised what my patient’s and I talk about. I must have one of those tell-me-your-darkest-life-stories faces), but he was quite knowledgeable and adamant. 

He was a kidney transplant patient, and what we call a “frequent flier”, someone who has stayed at the medical center off and on for years over the course of treatment. 

Here’s what he told me.

The ninth floor and the thirteenth floor are the common places to see ghosts.  But he most often saw them on the ninth floor, and always late at night, when the nurses were clustered at the nurse’s station and not wandering the floor or in and out of patient rooms.

The ghosts were dressed like patients, in patient gowns and pants, walking the halls and wheeling an IV pole, looking just like every other patient…until they disappeared by walking right into walls where they vanished into nothing.

Other rumors:

It is rumored that women who have died in childbirth haunt the Intensive Care Nursery.  (Both Labor and Delivery and the ICN are on the fifteenth floor of the hospital.)

It is rumored that so many children haunted the then-eighth floor pediatric unit  it had to be exorcised.  (Pediatric ICUs are on sixth and seventh floors now.)

My experiences:

One night while on call in the wee hours of the morning, I was waiting for an UP service elevator in the empty, silent halls of the hospital.  The elevator stopped on my floor going DOWN.  The doors opened to reveal an empty wheelchair.  No one else.  Creepy.  I let the elevator go.  It went to the basement and returned to my floor without stopping.  Doors opened.  The wheelchair was gone.  Really creepy.

Another night at about eight o’clock, my coworker and I were waiting to leave for the night.  The light switch in our work area has a very distinctive and loud ‘click’ when the switch is flipped to turn the lights out.  She and I were both sitting there when the sound echoed and the lights went out.  The lights in the hall stayed on.  The lights in the closet stayed on.  The lights in the exam room stayed on.  I looked at her. She looked at me.  At the same time we said, “Did you do that?”  

When we checked the light switch, we found it had not been flipped.  There was no one else in the department.

Can’t say that’s much in the way of ghost stories for someone who’s spent as many hours in that hospital as I have during all those crazy hours.  Then again, I also thought those patients who were talking to other people who weren’t there were experiencing drug side effects, and those patients who were seeing auras or dogs or clowns or dead loved ones that weren’t there were hallucinating.

Now…I’m not so sure.

Which makes me wonder…in that altered state between the conscious and unconscious, do the medicated patients connect with or touch an alternate/parallel realm?  And if they do, do they reach it via the medication or in spite of the medication?  Do they forget (as is common with ICU patients) because of the effects of the medication?  If they retain scattered memories, are they simply drug induced psychosis or real and dismissed as side effects because they are unexplainable?

Do you have ghost, other-worldly or even medically induced experiences to share? 

Remember2 lucky commentors will win their choice of any of Cynthia’s currently available paranormal novels or anthologies!

A triple RWA® Golden Heart finalist, Joan Swan writes sexy romantic suspense with a paranormal twist.  Her first novel, FEVER, debuts with Kensington Brava in April, 2012.  Joan works as a sonographer at a top University Medical Center and lives in magnificent wine country on the central coast of California with her husband and two daughters.  When she’s not writing you can find Joan on her website at, blog or haunting the Twitterverse

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49 responses to “Do You Believe In Ghosts?”

  1. Cynthia Eden says:

    Joan!! Those stories are creepy! I have goosebumps now! 🙂 Thank you so much for guest blogging and sharing those scary tales.

    • Joan Swan says:

      Thanks for having me, Cynthia! Fun to be here.

      Like dreams, the encounters, if that’s what you want to call them, are always freakier in the moment than in hindsight or tales.

  2. Viki S. says:

    I SO believe in ghosts. There have been too many times in my life to count where I have just gotten that funny feeling, if you know what I mean. Also, when my grandfather died I was nine and my brother 11. At the exact time of his death my brother pick out Happiness Is A Warm Corpuse by Hitchcock. We knew it was my grandfathers sense of humor working from the other side.

    • Joan Swan says:

      Heck yeah, Viki, I know what you mean. And situations like your brother’s are too close to be called coincidences — which I don’t believe in anyway. I believe everything in live, and death, happens for a reason — whether we can see it in the moment or not. Thanks for sharing your story.

  3. Lynn Rush says:

    Okay, that’s creepy. 🙂

    I don’t have any ghost stories..I’m kinda lame. LOL.

    Have a great day!

    • Joan Swan says:

      NOT! Let me tell you, when I started putting this story together, I felt pretty lame. I originally entitled this post Ghost Karma? and went on to explain how I didn’t have any because I’ve worked for so many years in TWO different notoriously haunted locations in my life–UCSF being one (now 12+ years) and a restaurant when I was in college, one with a very active and vivid history, with no sightings of my own. Talk about lame. Were they avoiding me or something? I mean, come on.

      Then again, they probably don’t want anything to do with someone who would chase them into a wall shrieking, “Please? Just a quick interview? You’re the perfect character model for my next paranormal!”

  4. desiree says:

    I totally believe there are ghosts. After my dad died a few years ago I was having trouble getting sleep because I kept dreaming about my dad. I was a daddys girl and when he died I think a part of me went with him. I had a dream one morning about my dad and Mt St Helens errupting (another story) and my dad actually spoke to me and telling me I needed to let go and how much he loved me etc. I was screaming and crying in my sleep my husband had no idea what was going on. But from that day on I felt lighter and I came to accept what had happened. My dad told me when he was really close to the end he saw his grandma and grandpa and his dad were there trying to help him across and be there for him.

    • Joan Swan says:

      That’s nice closure for you, Desiree. Dreams are one of those altered states of consciousness that fascinate me. I have no doubt that loved ones communicate across those wavelengths. Similar to the medically induced ones I mentioned at the end of the post. The things people say and do when medicated, or even when not medicated, but when their organs aren’t functioning properly, will make your eyes cross.

      My oldest daughter picked up my habit of sleep walking. We had to put extra locks on the doors because she tried to open them and go outside at night. An alarm on the back door because we have a pool. She also sleep talks. But she only sleep talks in FRENCH. She took 3 years of French in high school and never ever spoke a word of it around the house. Hated the class with a passion. Yet it was the only language she used when she talked in her sleep. (Darnit – I never knew what she was saying.)

      I first became interested in communication across altered states of consciousness after seeing the movie Dragonfly with Kevin Costner.

  5. Jeanette Juan says:

    My friend who works late shifts at a hospital said that there were times when he was all alone on the floor and was trying to sleep in one of the empty rooms that he heard footsteps going back and forth. He knew there wasn’t anyone there but he kept hearing the footsteps. He freaked out and I would too because it’s so creepy.

    • Joan Swan says:

      I’ve spent many a night sleeping (or rather trying to sleep) in many different hospitals. The only way I can describe it is…unsettling. And that’s without hearing footsteps. I’ve heard noises, voices…but have always attributed them to others passing in the hall–because of course, I’m ghost karma challenged, so I never had to worry. 🙂

      I can’t even imagine how freaky that situation would be. I bet he only tried that a couple times before he abandoned getting sleep on the floor.

  6. Cynthia Andersen says:

    I became a paranormal investigator so I could learn to add credibility to my writing. How could I write about being an investigator when I didn’t really know what they did? Who knew I’d end up good at it?

    Well, I was in a cemetery with my team in Daytona, walking along, talking to two other women on a dirt path. We heard something behind us but each of us discounted it to be other members but then realized we were “by ourselves”….except we each heard the distinct clip clop of a horse following us. More than that, we heard the pingy sound of horseshoes on cobblestone or brick. We’d walk…clip clop, clip clop…we’d stop….it would stop. Okay, we decided, we all hear it right? Yes. Is anyone scared of a horse? No. Moving on….

    • Joan Swan says:

      Oh, how cool is that??? I have to admit, I’m officially *jealous*.

      I contacted a paranormal investigator to inquire about his knowledge of the haunted history of UCSF. A man named Jeffrey Dwyer. He was very friendly and responsive. He’s written several books on paranormal activity in areas around California and is very highly educated through the UC system.

      After we chatted through emails, I asked if he gave courses in paranormal investigation or ever went on investigations where he could or would take observers, because I’d be interested in participating. I haven’t heard back. Surely, he picked up on my anti-ghost karma and thought…no way in hell am I taking *her* to any possibly haunted site!

      Would love to hear more of your stories.

  7. Hm…so if what you’re saying is true…last summer when I was out of it in ICU and told the entire room that my husband was not my husband and insisted it was someone else (according to the DH, “A strange name he’d never heard and can’t remember”), I wasn’t just channeling my writing and characters, I may have been communicating with those in that alternate reality?

    I’ll have to ask the DH what he thinks of that one. (This HAS to explain why I was biting people though!)

    • Joan Swan says:

      Or you were channeling MY characters via the prisoner in the next room. 🙂 Although, I don’t recall any biting in that manuscript. …thinking…

  8. Colleen says:

    My sister sees a man sometimes… we do not know who he is, but he followed her when she moved… the rest of us deal with items missing and showing up later in strange places…

    • Joan Swan says:

      Okay, that following thing is…unusual. Don’t hear that very often. Although I did watch a ghost hunting show (can’t remember which one) about that one time. That was really freaky.

      And the items disappearing and showing up in strange places — I consider those bored angels with nothing better to do than torture us poor living souls. 🙂

      Thanks for sharing Colleen.

  9. Casey says:

    One morning, I was eating breakfast when I suddenly remembered I needed to get something out of my room for later that day (I can’t remember what it was now) so I left the kitchen to go get it. I was home alone that morning since everyone else in my family had already left to go do whatever they had to do (school, work). But when I went back to the kitchen my breakfast was gone! A plate full of eggs and toast was gone! I looked everywhere for it but I eventually had to leave to go to school. When I got home, my Dad told me he had found the plate in his office – someplace I had never gone into that morning! So I’m going to say that we have a ghost that wanted to eat my breakfast or something. Creppy stuff.

    • Joan Swan says:

      LOLOL, okay, you made me laugh, Casey. Too funny. I’m telling you — it’s those angels, messing with us! I would imagine they get pretty bored sometimes.

      It must take a lot of energy to move something like that too, otherwise they’d be doing it all day long! I know I would be if I was a spirit/angel/whatever, trapped here.

  10. Barbara Elness says:

    I don’t have any ghostly stories to tell and I can’t think of any weird happenings that couldn’t be explained. But I sure love reading about them.

    • Joan Swan says:

      Hi Barbara,

      Me too! Love reading them, love hearing them, love watching them on TV. My 14yo is a die hard Paranormal Activity fan — even watches past episodes on Netflix.

      Thanks for coming and commenting.

  11. Donna S says:

    Wow, creepy stories. My sister currently works in a hospital and she has seen some strange things there as well. They are definitely hotspots. Over the course of the years I have had a few odd things happen. Nothing medically induced. But one of them was when me, my mom, and sister were in my apartment and we had to leave for a funereal since it was a long drive. The TV was on and the remote was on the coffee table, when my sister said its time to leave. The TV turned itself off. None of us were by the TV and we were all at least 2 feet away.

    • Joan Swan says:

      Eeek! That’s one of those times when you all look at each other and ask the absurd question you all know the answer to: “Did you do that?”

      Maybe there was “someone else” there who was riding to the funeral with you. 🙂

  12. elaing8 says:

    I haven’t had any experiences with ghosts but I know a few people who have.
    my sister, in her old house, used to see a man walking around the house trying to flip light switches then he’d disaapeared.
    Also,I knew someone who lived in a house where there was a double murder/suicide and at night she could here the events of that night,the steps on the stairs,the door busting open and the gun shots.

    • Joan Swan says:

      OMG, those are immediate grounds for evacuation in my book (not literally in my book–cause my h/h would have to kick some ghost ass first).

      After thorough research, of course. 🙂 Maybe a paranormal investigation or two. Possibly even a camera crew. 😉

  13. I believe in ghosts, but I’ve never really experienced any ghostly phenomena.

  14. Jane says:

    Hi Joan,
    I haven’t had any weird medically induced experiences. My cousin visited in a hospital and she said the floor I was on was pretty creepy and it looked like the scenes in scary movies where the halls are dark and shadowy.

    • Joan Swan says:

      Ah, yes, I know those dark, shadowy hallways well.

      Oftentimes in a hospital you can’t tell what time of day or night it is because of the lack of windows in hallways and/or central areas and the fact that they leave on the fluorescent lighting everywhere.

      Then there are hospitals that have a policy of turning lights off in the hallways at night to minimize disturbance to patients or cut electricity costs.

      Either way…nighttime in hospitals can often be…unsettling.

  15. Diane Sadler says:

    Sorry! No ghost stories! And I don’t believe in ghosts though I enjoy books with ghosts as heroes.

    • Joan Swan says:

      Gasp! Diane! Don’t believe in ghosts?

      Actually, my DD who lives and dies by all those ghost hunting shows just confessed to me in the car on the way home from tennis practice not 10 minutes ago that she doesn’t believe in ghosts either.

      You’re in good company! 🙂

  16. fedora says:

    Hi, Joan! Thankfully no weird ghostly experiences to report, medically induced or otherwise… I do believe such things are possible, but I’m such a scaredy cat that to have it happen would completely flip my lid, so to speak 🙂

    • Joan Swan says:

      Hi Fedora,

      What a beautiful name! I believe they are possible as well and while I do wish I could and would experience one or more, I’m sure it would be an experience that would unravel me. Yet somehow I think it would be worth it. 🙂

  17. Jolene Allcock says:

    about a month ago I was sitting at the computer when my ponytail was pulled. It was pulled enough that my head actually snapped back. I immediately thought it was my kids, so I turned around to yell at them but no one was in my room. I walked into the living room where all three kids were quietly sittin on the couch watching a movie. I was seriously creeped out

    • Joan Swan says:

      OMG, I’ve heard of that before! Shoot, now I can’t remember where. Darn it. It’s going to drive me crazy.

      But there was a location, a haunted inn I think, where a ghost would tease the men by touching them in a certain way–can’t remember how, slap them on the back or something–and the women by tugging their hair!

      Hearing you tell that is just freaky. I’d be creeped out too! Beyond creeped out!

  18. Chelsea B. says:

    I used to take dance when I was younger and every year we had a rcecital at a local theater, which I swear is one of the scariest places I’ve ever been. From the old pictures of people who looked like they watched you no matter where you were standing, to the rumors, and to the things everyone, including me, claimed to see….It was truly eerie. And completely awesome for me, because I’ve always loved a good fright 😉

    • Joan Swan says:

      There is something about those big cavernous places…like they’re alive in their own frightening way.

      The hospital feels like that too, like each hallway is a limb, an octopus with hundreds of tenticles and the basement is the body that breathes.

      🙂 Little melodramatic there. Having a bit of fun. But that first part…is real.

  19. Michele says:

    Hi Joan:)

    I don’t have any stories to tell but I totally believe in spirits. This time of year I watch as many ghost story shows and freak myself out. Don’t know why I torture myself because after the show is iover every little sound I hear I jump 🙂

    You yourself had two wild experiences, especially the wheelchair story… thanks for stopping by and sharing.

    • Joan Swan says:

      LOL, Michele, I do the same thing. Looks like we’re all a little like Chelsea, giving outselves a good fright, then freaking outselves out all over again all on our own.

      Nothing like a little adrenaline, huh?

      🙂 Thanks for coming!

  20. cories5 says:

    Wow. I’ve got nothing like that. One time, I had planned to go back to work after ducking out for a movie. I worked in a small room off a small room off a corridor (so no windows at all). Needless to say, I decided to go home after all because the movie I saw was “The Sixth Sense” and I was getting really creeped out even though there really wasn’t anything to get creeped out about. Just the silence was enough to rattle me. No more horror films for me.

    • Joan Swan says:

      OMG, I LOVEd THE SIXTH SENSE. Loved it. Now come on, tell me…Am I the ONLY person who didn’t know until the end that Willis was really dead? I’m such a sucker! Everyone else said they knew right away. I had to watch it again to see the clues. And of course again and again because it was so damn good!

      But I have to admit, Cories5, I draw the line at horror. Won’t watch it.

      Thanks for coming.

  21. Valerie says:

    Wow, what a story!!

    I believe in ghosts but have never had a ghostly encounter.

    in Germany

  22. Joan Swan says:

    My day is officially over…

    Thanks, Cynthia for havng me. And thanks to everyone who joined in. So much much.

    My daughter has chosen the winning comment numbers, which are 13 and 20. That means: Marlene Breakfield & Corie5.

    Congratulations girls! I will email you and give you a list of Cynthia’s books you can choose from as your prize.

    Thanks everyone! Hope to see you at my other common haunts sometime soon (listed at the bottom of the original post).


  23. Edie Ramer says:

    Joan, I missed your blog yesterday! I haven’t had encounters with ghosts, but I love reading about them.

  24. sue brandes says:

    Sorry I missed it too. I worked at a hospital in one of the oldest parts & I would hear my name plain as day. I would answer thinking it was a superviser and no one there. I would clean really fast. LOL. And then they also had an old school they bought. I hated cleaning there. After midnight one night my left arm get really cold and my hairs on my arm stood up. Scared the crap out of me! LOL.

  25. Pam P says:

    I haven’t had any ghost encounters. I can see how they could linger around hospitals, with so many there close to death. Then again, some I’m sure on meds could be prone to hallucinating, Who knows?

  26. Denise T. says:

    You bet I believe! I have yet to have an encounter, and would probly sh*# if I did, but I know alot of people who have!

  27. Dina says:

    No stories, but I do believe in ghosts both good and evil.

  28. Leagh Christensen says:

    I definitely believe in ghosts. I have not experienced any personal encounters but people I know have told me they have had visitors before. I think something is out there but you have to be a true believer to actually be able to see it that is why kids are usually the ones with the encounters cause they take everything as it is and are not swayed by other peoples beliefs.