‘1 out of 1 dies’

The Saline Courier - - OPINION - JIM HAR­RIS CON­SER­VA­TIVE COR­NER

Sur­veys about our fears have shown that most peo­ple fear pub­lic speak­ing more than they fear death.

New in­for­ma­tion on death seems to de­mand a re­count on those sur­veys, but more on that later.

When we must stand in front of a group — large or small — we all fear re­jec­tion. This causes some­thing called so­cial anx­i­ety.

Un­like death, hav­ing so­cial anx­i­ety causes no last­ing harm.

After hav­ing to speak be­fore an au­di­ence, most peo­ple will think of the real or im­aged mis­takes they made. In time that will fade. Gen­er­ally, so does their fear of speak­ing in pub­lic.

Un­for­tu­nately, some will come to love hear­ing their on voice as they speak to a crowd and they can’t stop talk­ing.

That is when com­pared to lis­ten­ing to such a speaker, the thought of death doesn’t seem that bad.

How­ever, new stud­ies show that death may be a lit­tle more scary than we thought.

Scientists be­lieve peo­ple are aware they’re dead be­cause their consciousn­ess con­tin­ues to work after the body has stopped show­ing signs of life.

That means that some­one who dies may hear a doc­tor say “Call it at (whatever the time was the heart stopped beat­ing.)”

Yes, it is thought that while your heart stops beat­ing, you can still be aware of what is go­ing on around you for some period of time.

Dr. Sam Par­nia, di­rec­tor of crit­i­cal care and re­sus­ci­ta­tion re­search at NYU Lan­gone School of Medicine in New York City, is looking at peo­ple who suf­fered car­diac ar­rest, tech­ni­cally died, but were later re­vived.

He is con­duct­ing the largest study of this type ever car­ried out. Some of those stud­ied say they had awareness of full con­ver­sa­tions go­ing on around them after they were of­fi­cially pro­nounced dead.

Death is de­fined as the point at which the heart no longer beats, and blood flow to the brain is cut off.

These ac­counts of what hap­pens to peo­ple after they were tech­ni­cally dead were ver­i­fied by the med­i­cal and nurs­ing staff present at the time.

“Tech­ni­cally, that’s how you get the time of death – it’s all based on the mo­ment when the heart stops. Once that hap­pens, blood no longer cir­cu­lates to the brain, which means brain func­tion halts al­most in­stan­ta­neously. You lose all your brain stem re­flexes – your gag re­flex, your pupil re­flex, all that is gone,” Par­nia said

In 2013, re­searchers at the Univer­sity of Michi­gan looked at the elec­tri­cal sig­nals in­side the brains of nine anaes­thetized rats hav­ing an in­duced heart at­tack.

They found ac­tiv­ity pat­terns which are linked to a “hy­per-alerted state” in the brief period after the heart stopped. This sug­gests there is ev­i­dence that there’s a burst of brain en­ergy as some­one dies.

This study has great sig­nif­i­cance to me. When I was in the sixth grade, I had mumps that be­come a much more dan­ger­ous ill­ness.

I spent six weeks in the lo­cal hospi­tal. My fa­ther later told me that the doc­tors told him they thought I was go­ing to die. He didn’t want to up­set my mother, so he “for­got” to tell her.

At one point, doc­tors thought I was get­ting pneu­mo­nia and took me for a chest X-ray.

While stand­ing in front of a very cold X-ray film case, I re­mem­ber won­der­ing if they kept those in a freezer be­fore us­ing them. Sud­denly I was see­ing what can only be de­scribed as a black snow fall­ing in the room.

I fell to the floor and re­mem­ber a nurse shout­ing that my heart had stopped. As ev­ery­body in that room worked to re­vive me, I was aware of ev­ery­thing that was hap­pen­ing.

A doc­tor in­jected some med­i­ca­tion di­rectly into my heart and I sat up and took a deep breath. I was back among the liv­ing.

From that ex­pe­ri­ence, I find Par­nia’s re­search very in­ter­est­ing. Re­ally, ev­ery­body should find it in­ter­est­ing be­cause death is an ex­pe­ri­ence we will all share even­tu­ally.

A close friend once said: “The sta­tis­tics on death are stag­ger­ing. One out of one dies.”

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