Death follows us everywhere. It’s the only guarantee, but it’s also the one we know the least about. The fact that we could literally die at any moment is kind of morbid to think about, but it’s incredibly liberating at the same time.
Everyone has a story about the time when they literally almost died. I have a lot. I don’t know if that’s normal. But while every near-death experience is a lesson I’ve learned, new ways of near death keep popping up in my life. I’m not even dramatic. I’m just really clumsy and kind of stupid.
I remembered the scariest time I almost died about a month ago. It was almost the saddest, weirdest death from a freak accident.
I’d woken up at my house with no memory of coming home – I’d just gone out for a drink with friends – feeling like I’d been hit by a truck. I had my pajamas on, but when I undressed I saw that I had blood all over my body. When I realized I had a huge cut on the back of my head, I went to the hospital.
Basically, I finally figured out that I had fallen down the outside stairs to my apartment, split my head open on the concrete floor, passed out, somehow woke up after God knows how long and dragged myself to my room, got into my pajamas and fell asleep, concussion. I’m lucky to be alive. THIS IS HOW PEOPLE DIE!!!! The strangest thing is that there are probably countless timelines and universes where I did. It wasn’t my time in this one, thank goodness, but it still makes me feel UNKNOWN.
But I did learn a lesson. Death is just one freak accident away.
And these near-death experiences are really helpful. They are cautionary tales. So what better way to pool knowledge than to collect a bunch of near-death stories in one place.
So I asked people to tell me about the time they came bizarrely close to meeting Their Maker. This is what they said.
The day after Halloween, my girlfriend and I were driving home on the Hume Highway when one of my tires burst while going 70 mph and my car completely spun out of control after I braked. That’s how I learned that you should NOT hit the brakes when this happens. Apparently you’re supposed to just stop accelerating and let the car stop while the exploded tire drags down the road… Anyway, the morbid thing was that we were both covered in fake blood from the night before as the car swayed and revolved .
I was in Fiji walking this huge road with my mother when I was about six years old and my crocodile slipped off my foot. It had cute Jibbitz all over it, so I couldn’t lose that little shiny rubber boot. I ran back to get it and was a split second away from a car. I got the Croc back though, so it was fine with me.
VICE: It’s kind of like chasing your ball up the road, but with a good feeling.
Had to keep my Crocs safe!!!
So when I was eight years old, my mom made me a nitrogen gas costume for science day. It was a pillowcase with fluff glued to it with hot glue and a hole cut out for my head and arms. Anyway, I tried it on when no one was home and the holes were too small. I got caught up in it and started choking and panicking.
Deadass couldn’t breathe for about 2-3 minutes. Finally managed to tear it off me. I clearly survived and beat science day the next day.
I almost had a heart attack at work and had to go to the hospital lmao.
I was literally just sitting in the car from work and then I popped out of nowhere. I felt my heart stop in my chest then I had massive chest pain and my arm went numb and after a few seconds that felt like an eternity I felt it triple in my chest and then it caused a full blown anxiety attack when it became normal again. Later I found out I had really bad blood pressure, apparently it’s at the level of a 90 year old and I’m only 20.
But it was definitely a surprise, that’s for sure.
VICE: Have you learned life lessons from the near-death experience?
I certainly think I have taken into account that no matter how healthy you are or what you do in life, when your time comes, it will come. So just enjoy life as much as you can and try not to take things so seriously, just have fun and enjoy it. I’ve always had a bit of that mindset, but that situation kind of solidified it for me haha.
I was on the Ha Giang Loop in Vietnam riding a motorcycle for the first time and slipped on rainwater while going around a corner, almost falling off the edge. I was legit three feet from the edge of the cliff and Vietnam doesn’t invest in barriers hahaha.
VICE: Did you see your life flash before you?
I think I was like lol, I remember just slipping on my side and being like cub, fuck.
Did you have any major takeaways from the experience?
I was wearing a jade necklace my grandmother gave me before I went backpacking. And in Chinese culture, jade symbolizes protection. So I guess I was just thankful it worked hahaha.
So me and three other guys had a trip to Canberra. We planned to see a performance. The chap driving picked us all up and off we went. It wasn’t until about an hour into the ride that we got to this overtaking lane with really sharp turns and the car slipped out when we wanted to overtake, clipped the car in front of us and rolled four times before crashing into the embankment.
I remember opening my eyes and we were all upside down. We weren’t hurt one way or the other except for my buddy who was in the passenger seat and broke his spine, but thankfully only a little bit.
After trying to get him out of the hospital and unsuccessfully, me and the driver (after he was let out of the police station) found another lift and celebrated all weekend.
VICE: Omg. No partying all weekend after the near-fatal crash. Did you experience life-changing realizations from the crash? Revived?
Surely. There was a sense of fear, but then comfort because anything can happen at any time, no matter how careful you are. Time waits for no one. But by making positive decisions, you can lead yourself to positive experiences.
Lmao cough syrup, valium, gin combo. I had to go to the hospital and my roommate had to empty my vom bucket (fully formed animal shaped pasta).
VICE: Isn’t it on purpose??
It’s a loaded story. However, it is the animal paste for me.
Are there any big takeaways from the near-death experience?
Chew your pasta, slow down before you call your best friend and tell her that all your art and books will be left to her, and the cough syrup high isn’t worth it.
I was at this engagement party where my asthma got worse. At one point I was expecting a bad asthma attack, so I asked people I was with to take me home. The reply was ‘oh just take your puffer (lol)’ – as if I hadn’t already.
So I sat in a corner, slowly expecting that sweet embrace of death while everyone made small talk (I don’t know who was worse off, actually). Luckily someone noticed I was turning blue so they were like fuck it, straight to the hospital.
It was so bad that they skipped triage on the emergency (waiting on the emergency really takes time, from experience), I was put on steroids (not the small dick type), hooked on oxygen and some kind of drip. At this stage, due to the meds (which increase your heart rate) I also started having a severe panic attack (so really a severe fear of dying as I died this time) which as expected further increased my heart rate lol.
They decided to strap me to an automated external defibrillator. In case you know, my heart is fucking itself. This was long before I became a citizen, I had my visa then, so if they let me stay one night it would cost thousands. They were actually kind enough to keep me in the emergency until I was stabilized and more or less ready to go home.
VICE: God damn it. In an old VICE magazine I have there’s an article by someone who had really bad asthma so they’d died five times before but were resuscitated each time and apparently dying isn’t so bad but the pain from the defibrillators was the worst…
That reminded me to tattoo “do not resuscitate” on my chest lol.
In group 8 I was allowed to ride a horse for the first time, which was SUPER exciting. I was so excited. And on the ride I have the best time ever. I think ‘this is where I should be… this is my place in life’.
Then my eyes started to itch. My face started to get really hot. And my throat started to itch and I realized pretty quickly, ‘uh… I might be allergic to horses’.
Sure enough, by the end of the ride, both of my eyes were completely swollen shut and had just turned spherical, red goop. And my throat was all red and super dry and I couldn’t breathe. And essentially the last thing I remember was being driven to some remote country hospital by an incredibly terrified high school teacher.
VICE: That’s so sad. Haven’t they already invented hypoallergenic horses long ago?
God. If I want.
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