Knowing You’re Dead : Flatliners

I don’t know if this is story is in the news purely because there’s a film coming out (the Flatliners remake), but Dr. Sam Parnia, director of critical care and resuscitation research at NYU Langone School of Medicine in New York City has been doing some research in to what happens when you die or, more specifically, in the early stages of death.

When the heart stops, blood stops circulating to the brain which means brain function halts “almost instantaneously,” Parnia said. “You lose all your brain stem reflexes — your gag reflex, your pupil reflex, all that is gone.”

But, alas, during CPR brain cell death pathways are still happening.  According to Live Science:

Recent studies have shown that animals experience a surge in brain activity in the minutes after death. And people in the first phase of death may still experience some form of consciousness, Parnia said. Substantial anecdotal evidence reveals that people whose hearts stopped and then restarted were able to describe accurate, verified accounts of what was going on around them, he added.

“They’ll describe watching doctors and nurses working; they’ll describe having awareness of full conversations, of visual things that were going on, that would otherwise not be known to them,” he explained. According to Parnia, these recollections were then verified by medical and nursing staff who were present at the time and were stunned to hear that their patients, who were technically dead, could remember all those details.

I just started wondering what I would be thinking if I knew I was dead.

It might be practical things like wondering whether I’d left the oven on, or hadn’t fed the cat or whether if I’d have known I was going to die, I should have abandoned this attempt at growing a beard earlier (I’m currently three weeks in).

Part of it would probably be some disappointment, probably riddled with a few expletives.  “For ****’s sake! You have to be kidding me!”  Maybe even some sort of willing on the medical staff.  Both of those being borne more out of fear than regret.  [I’m pretty sure that sentence structure is wrong, but can’t work out why.]

And it’s regret that I wonder whether I’d have time for after all that.  Or what I’d regret first.


Incidentally, talking about Flatliners which is based in teenagers dabbling with things they shouldn’t, there was a story the other day of a group pf 14 year olds seeing how many laxatives they could take.  They baked two laxatives in to a brownie (max dose is one tablet) with each challenged to eat ten brownies.

“The first to poopoo, wears a tutu.”

As some dropped, one decided to go for it and polished off his brownies.  His friends did what any friends would do and published photos and videos of his discomfort to social media.  However, after his eight toilet trip in an hour, they sought medical attention.

The kid was suffering from an almost lethal level of dehydration, low potassium and acute kidney injury. He was toilet-bound for days and doctors had to monitor and top up his potassium and sodium levels as well as other treatment for the damage already done.

Bit of an idiot, really.

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