How Near-Death Experiences Work


Chuck Bryant

Hi, Josh.

Josh Clark

Call him Chuck.

Chuck Bryant

So Josh, insert witty intro.

Josh Clark

I don't have one.

Chuck Bryant

Okay. So it's just -

Josh Clark

We'll just sit here silently.

Chuck Bryant

Should we talk about near-death experiences then?

Josh Clark

Yeah. I've got one for you, actually. In 1991, there was a woman, named Pam Reynolds who is a songstress, from what I can gather, a blues songstress, possibly country crossover here or there. She's an Atlanta resident.

Chuck Bryant

Really?

Josh Clark

Yeah. And she underwent a procedure to repair a brain aneurysm. Right?

Chuck Bryant

Okay.

Josh Clark

And this brain aneurysm apparently was in a really difficult place, and she got in touch with a specialist who was like, "You know what? I know a procedure we can do on you because we're gonna have to drain all the blood from your brain to operate on this thing." That's not good.

Chuck Bryant

No.

Josh Clark

Basically, the doctor said, "Pam, we're gonna have to kill you for about 45 minutes."

Chuck Bryant

I was just about to say that would probably mean she's dead, huh?

Josh Clark

So the procedure that she underwent was a hypothermic cardiac arrest.

Chuck Bryant

Okay.

Josh Clark

And she was intentionally cardiac arrested.

Chuck Bryant

Wow.

Josh Clark

By lowering her body temperature to, I think, 60 degrees Fahrenheit for 4 - for a good 45 minutes. Right?

Chuck Bryant

That's like flat liners.

Josh Clark

It's very much like flat liners, as you'll see -

Chuck Bryant

We'll talk about that later.

Josh Clark

- as you'll see. Yes. So Pam Reynolds is dead for 45 minutes, and not like accidentally dead. She was purposefully killed by her physicians. They cut the top of her - her head off, repaired the brain aneurysm.

Chuck Bryant

So they're butchering her as well?

Josh Clark

Right. Yeah. She's dead. What does she care?

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

And then, they successfully bring her back.

Chuck Bryant

Oh, good.

Josh Clark

And Pam Reynolds sits up after she's recovering and says, "Hey" -

Chuck Bryant

Got a breath mint?

Josh Clark

a - "death can be pretty crazy. I saw my grandmother and my uncle and there was a tunnel with white light," and all of these things that have come to be recognized as aspects of a near-death experience. Right?

Chuck Bryant

Sure.

Josh Clark

That's weird for one reason. One reason is that there was no blood to her brain; therefore, she should not have had any sensory input reaction whatsoever.

Chuck Bryant

But maybe it happened as it was draining. No? Who knows.

Josh Clark

Maybe.

Chuck Bryant

Okay. Weird thing number two?

Josh Clark

Weird thing number two, when she came to she could describe the bone saw that she never saw while she was alive.

Chuck Bryant

That cut her head open?

Josh Clark

Uh-huh. She said that she - she was surprised by it because it looked more like an electric toothbrush than what she was expecting.

Chuck Bryant

Wow.

Josh Clark

And she never saw it at any point.

Chuck Bryant

Uh-huh. Sure.

Josh Clark

And she could also describe things, like, oh, I don't know, the surgeon's shirt that he was wearing beneath his scrubs.

Chuck Bryant

Wow.

Josh Clark

Things like that that she should not have ever been able to see. She was not, as far as I know, much of a believer in that kinda thing until afterward.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

And her case is widely pointed to as one of the best pieces of evidence that there is such a thing as life after death.

Chuck Bryant

Wow.

Josh Clark

She had like a classic near-death experience.

Chuck Bryant

We could end it right now, and I think people would be satisfied.

Josh Clark

Okay.

Chuck Bryant

That was such a good story.

Josh Clark

Well, I'm hungry, so why don't we?

Chuck Bryant

Okay. Let's get a Twinkie. Wow, that's awesome and cool.

Josh Clark

Thanks. Thanks.

Chuck Bryant

And that really happened?

Josh Clark

Oh, yeah. It definitely happened.

Chuck Bryant

Is she still alive?

Josh Clark

Look it up, Pam Reynolds. She's very much alive and apparently likes her experience. She had a great experience. She has at least one album she released, called The Side Effects of Death.

Chuck Bryant

Are you serious?

Josh Clark

Yeah. Yeah. She's - she seems like a pretty cool lady.

Chuck Bryant

Is she still in Atlanta, do you know?

Josh Clark

I don't know. I don't know.

Chuck Bryant

See, that would be cool if we, you know, had lunch with her or something.

Josh Clark

Well, if she is and she's listening, send us an email.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

We'll go have lunch because I would love to hear that firsthand. That would be awesome.

Chuck Bryant

That would be cool.

Josh Clark

As a matter of fact, I will pay for lunch out of my own pocket for that one.

Chuck Bryant

Now, that's -

Josh Clark

Which is really saying something, too?

Chuck Bryant

No, that's not true.

Josh Clark

I know. I owe Geri 35 bucks first.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. She's like pay me, then go eat your hotdog.

Josh Clark

Right.

Chuck Bryant

So Josh, the term, "near-death experience," coined in 1975 by Dr. Raymond Moody.

Josh Clark

Yes.

Chuck Bryant

In his book, Life After Life, a very clever title.

Josh Clark

It is very clever. And actually, Moody, you'll notice the doctor, which makes him less of a crackpot, and we'll find throughout this podcast that there are some very smart, very educated, very skeptical people who are researching this.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

This is not just some fringe scientific idea.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

Or even just a fringe religious idea. It's pretty much where religion and science converge.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. I mean, there's no doubt that there are near-death experiences. What they are interpreted as and explained away as is what differs.

Josh Clark

Right.

Chuck Bryant

They definitely happen.

Josh Clark

The earliest description we have of a near-death experience comes from Plato's Republic -

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

- written in 360 B.C.E., which is B.C. for those of you who are not hip to the new abbreviations.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

Do you know what B.C.E. stands for?

Chuck Bryant

Before Christ existed? Before Chuck existed!

Josh Clark

Before Chuck existed.

Chuck Bryant

I don't know.

Josh Clark

No. Before the Common Era, the common era of Judaism and Christianity.

Chuck Bryant

And what's' the other one? Because you said that one the other day!

Josh Clark

The Common Era, C.E.

Chuck Bryant

Okay, instead of A.E.

Josh Clark

B.C.E. and C.E.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

So with that out of the way.

Josh Clark

Yeah. It's still Judeo-Christian, though, in its -

Chuck Bryant

Oh, it is?

Josh Clark

Well, yeah, before the common era of Judaism and Christianity.

Chuck Bryant

Oh, I justthought they meant before Chuck existed.

Josh Clark

Okay. So anyway, Plato describes a soldier, named Ur, who was killed in battle and came back to life but apparently left his body and was judged before a panel of souls and saw heaven.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

Which will sound kinda familiar to any fan of Albert Brooks?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. What was it called?

Josh Clark

Defending Your Life.

Chuck Bryant

Defending Your Life.

Josh Clark

Arguably, the greatest movie about the afterlife ever.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. I'm a big Albert Brooks fan.

Josh Clark

Are you? I'm not a big fan, but that's probably in my top five favorite movies.Chuck Bryant: I like him, I think. I'm down with the neurotic Woody Allen, Albert Brooks's types.Josh Clark: I like him more than Woody Allen.

Chuck Bryant

I'm a Woody nut, so.

Josh Clark

Chuck, do you think we should talk about near-death experiences?

Chuck Bryant

Maybe we should talk about what is typical of an NDE.

Josh Clark

Yeah. And the - the thing that strikes me is it's not that Grabinowski, who you know as like the sign of quality for an article -

Chuck Bryant

Oh, yeah, the Grabster.

Josh Clark

When you see his byline, you know it's worth reading. Right?

Chuck Bryant

Sure.

Josh Clark

Which is not to say that there is an article on the site that's not worth reading, now that I think about it?

Chuck Bryant

Good point. Kiss up.

Josh Clark

Yeah. But I think just anybody living in the 21st century has been so exposed to the concept of near-death experiences, that like all of this will sound very familiar. But Chuck?

Chuck Bryant

Yes.

Josh Clark

Take it.

Chuck Bryant

We'll go through these fairly quickly because there's a little list. A feeling of calmness is one. Intense pure bright light, you always hear about the light, going to the light; an out of body experience.

Josh Clark

Whoop.

Chuck Bryant

That's good. I think it actually makes that sound, too, upon reentry. Entering another realm or dimension, spirit beings, and these are beings of light or other representations of spiritual entities.Josh Clark: I already said whoo.Chuck Bryant: Okay. The tunnel, which we always talk about? And the light is typically at the end of the tunnel. Communication with spirits and it's usually a strong male voice, which is interesting. And life review, which is also called a panoramic life review.

Josh Clark

Check.

Chuck Bryant

And that is when you see you're - you know, you've heard of your life flashed before your eyes?

Josh Clark

Right.

Chuck Bryant

That's that.

Josh Clark

Yeah. So -

Chuck Bryant

So those are the common hallmarks of an NDE.

Josh Clark

Right. And most of the time when you hear somebody coming back to life after death, whether your physician did it to you on purpose or accidentally, or somebody hit you in the head with a ball pine hammer, most people say, "It was awesome, like, Jesus was there, and so was my aunt and my dog and -

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. And Elvis!

Josh Clark

And everything - yeah, Elvis was there and he wasn't fat anymore. It was wonderful.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

But there is actually a segment of the population that has experienced a near-death experiences that says, "Yeah, that didn't happen to me. Actually, I had the exact opposite experience. I went to Hell."

Chuck Bryant

Up to 1 to 25 percent of people in a poll that we're gonna talk about said it's what I like to call a bad trip.

Josh Clark

A bad trip, indeed, probably the worst trip of all time.

Chuck Bryant

We're talking Biblical descriptions of Hell, lakes of fire, tormented souls and oppressive heat.

Josh Clark

Uh-huh. And actually, this is surprising to me. There was - some people come back from experiences like that, or even good ones, with a prophetic vision.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

A lot of times that the world is going to end, right?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. I saw the future.

Josh Clark

And there was a group of people who are unknown to each other that came back, I guess, during the '80s and said, "The world's gonna end in 1988."

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

And they didn't know one another, and they all had the same experience, which is weird. The world, obviously, didn't end in 1988, but -

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. So that means its bunk.

Josh Clark

Not necessarily.

Chuck Bryant

Okay.

Josh Clark

What if a portion of the world ended, a portion that we're not really familiar with or that we just didn't realize? Like maybe humanity lost a little bit of its humaneness is 1988, and we just didn't recognize it as the world ending?

Chuck Bryant

Or the aliens living inside the hollow earth, maybe they all died.

Josh Clark

Or have you read, what was it, Dirk Gentley's Holistic Detective Agency?

Chuck Bryant

Never heard of it.

Josh Clark

By Douglas Adams, the guy who wrote Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Chuck Bryant

Heard of that.

Josh Clark

He writes about this - this other dimensional group that are coming to take over earth, but somebody forgot to carry like a zero or something.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

And they - when they teleported themselves to our dimension, they showed up as very, very tiny and were inhaled by a dog immediately.

Chuck Bryant

Really?

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

That dude's got a great sense of humor.

Josh Clark

He's got a great one.

Chuck Bryant

I - I always dig what he lays down.

Josh Clark

Well said.

Chuck Bryant

So let's get back to that poll that I referenced.

Josh Clark

Yeah. Because this is pretty interesting! This is one of the people I was talking about who is very smart and very educated and very well known, too, George Gallup, Junior, right?

Chuck Bryant

Of the poll, Gallup's.

Josh Clark

The Gallup poll.

Chuck Bryant

Of the Coney Island Gallup's.

Josh Clark

Right.

Chuck Bryant

He and author, William Proctor, released a book, called Adventures in Immortality in 1982. And that's pretty much the most exhaustive polling research that's ever been done in NDEs.

Josh Clark

Yeah. We have a rule of thumb here at howstuffworks.com where if a study's a decade old or more, and a lot of us actually fudged toward the other side, like eight, nine years, it's probably out of date. This - this 1982 book is still cited. It was just - it's so exhaustive. It's so authoritative.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. It's the standard.

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

Very cool. I got some stats, then, from this poll, Josh.

Josh Clark

Chuck loves stats.

Chuck Bryant

They know that. 15 - oh and somebody is drinking right now in Korea.

Josh Clark

Oh, yeah.

Chuck Bryant

Richard.

Josh Clark

Go Chuckers.

Chuck Bryant

Uh.

Josh Clark

Hey, Geri.

Chuck Bryant

15 percent of all Americans who had been in near-death situations reported having a near-death experience, 15 percent.

Josh Clark

That's a lot.

Chuck Bryant

That is a lot. 9 percent included the classic out of body experience and 11 percent included entering a realm or dimension, a different one, and 8 percent featured the presence of spiritual beings.

Josh Clark

Uh-huh.

Chuck Bryant

Pretty cool.

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

And oh yeah, 1 percent reported a bad trip, basically a negative experience.

Josh Clark

Right. That was the Gallup poll but other smaller studies have reported up to a quarter of people who have NDEs have, as Chuck puts it, bad trips.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

The other cool thing, Josh, about this study is they indicated that 100 near-death experience subjects revealed that prior religions belief and knowledge of the near-death experience did not really have any kind of effect.

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

So it wasn't like, "Ooh, I'm really super Christian, and so I saw God."

Josh Clark

Right. And Saint Jerome and -

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

- Saint Pete.

Chuck Bryant

Or I'm really into near-death experiences so I saw one.

Josh Clark

Right.

Chuck Bryant

That kinda thing.

Josh Clark

Yeah. There's a guy, named Kenneth Ring, who's also a very prolific researcher and author on near-death experiences -

Chuck Bryant

Kenny.

Josh Clark

- and he did a - he - he started to quantify what was going on among populations that have experienced NDEs. Right?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

And he found that most people - a small percentage, again, feel like fear, depression, that kind of thing, afterward.Chuck Bryant: Right.Josh Clark: But most people who undergo a near-death experience have a new renewed appreciation for life and living.

Chuck Bryant

Heck, yeah.

Josh Clark

They feel that they are no longer afraid of death.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

And a lot of them become a lot more extroverted. Or I should say most of them become extroverted. They're basically changed by their experience, and they are much more spiritual.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

But interestingly, that doesn't - he didn't see an increase, a positive correlation between the increased spirituality and increased religiousness or increased church attendance.

Chuck Bryant

Right. It was like an inward spirituality.

Josh Clark

Right.

Chuck Bryant

Did you ever see the movie, Fearless?

Josh Clark

Is that the Jeff Bridges plane crash [inaudible]?

Chuck Bryant

Uh-huh. Yeah, yeah.

Josh Clark

No.

Chuck Bryant

Oh, really?

Josh Clark

I have the movie poster, though.

Chuck Bryant

Ooh, that's a - you know what, I had that movie poster.

Josh Clark

We were -

Chuck Bryant

That's so weird.

Josh Clark

We were meant to be, Chuck.

Chuck Bryant

Wow. That is odd. That's a great movie, though. You should check it out.

Josh Clark

I hear.

Chuck Bryant

Jeff Bridges survives and he - it's the only movie I know of that it goes through all the classic - in - in a realistic way it goes through the classic post near-death experience trials and tribulations.

Josh Clark

See, knowing me, I would have just crippling survivor's guilt for the rest of my life.

Chuck Bryant

Well, he had that and he also had the invincibility that they talked about, too.

Josh Clark

Like the shield of invincibility?

Chuck Bryant

Well, not -

Josh Clark

Cloak of invincibility?

Chuck Bryant

Not literally, but yeah, felt like I can't die.

Josh Clark

Oh - oh, yeah. I remember he's like on a ledge or something at one point, like I'm totally who cares.

Chuck Bryant

Sure. Yeah. You notice he didn't jump, though, of course.

Josh Clark

Yeah. Right.

Chuck Bryant

Anyone can stand on a ledge. That's not gonna kill you.

Josh Clark

That's like that Bill Hicks routine. Okay. So Bill Hicks was talking about people taking drugs, like PCP or whatever, and flying - or jumping off of buildings thinking they can fly. And Bill Hicks is like if you think you can fly, why don't you just try taking off from the ground?

Chuck Bryant

Right. That's a good point.

Josh Clark

Sharp guy.

Chuck Bryant

That's funny you mention that, actually. That's a good segue.

Josh Clark

It is funny, isn't it? Thanks.

Chuck Bryant

Because PCP and what's that other -

Josh Clark

Special K?

Chuck Bryant

Ketamine?

Josh Clark

Yeah, that's right.

Chuck Bryant

Are believed to give similar feelings as near-death experiences, is that right?

Josh Clark

Yeah. Actually, supposedly, you can - a lot of people feel like they're actually dying when they're in the grips of a trip on PCP or Ketamine. And actually, also there's a lot of similar near-death experiences, like people have reported being on Ketamine and feeling like they're spinning around and attracting light beings, like we mentioned earlier.

Chuck Bryant

Crazy.

Josh Clark

Yeah. And so there's some real similarities, especially with Ketamine and near-death experiences, which is really, really odd? But that kind of undermines the spiritual theory of near-death experiences and - and supports the scientific theories about it. Right?

Chuck Bryant

Let's talk about those.

Josh Clark

Okay.

Chuck Bryant

What we're talking about with the spiritual is more like a supernatural explanation. Is that what you're talking about?

Josh Clark

Yeah, that you - and I hate to put it like this because I don't think that - I think supernatural kinda undermines it and makes it sound kooky, but that the - I guess a supernatural explanation is that you possess a soul that - that lives on after your - your body dies.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. And you're passing into the afterlife.

Josh Clark

And it goes on to another dimension.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

And just things that science can't or possibly can't yet explain.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

Which makes them supernatural, rather than natural?

Chuck Bryant

Right. Supernatural, actually, should be a good word.Josh Clark: It's a great word, as far as I'm concerned.

Chuck Bryant

Because it's super.

Josh Clark

Right.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. I mean, essentially passing on to the afterlife or in the case of reincarnation maybe passing from one life to another, that kinda thing.

Josh Clark

Right.

Chuck Bryant

So that's the spiritual or supernatural reasoning, and then there's science. Are we there yet?

Josh Clark

Yeah. We were there a while back.

Chuck Bryant

Science, there was a few theories going on that it's really a lot of stuff happening in the brain.

Josh Clark

Well, you can't say theories. These are hypotheses because, Chuck -

Chuck Bryant

Well, why does it say scientific theories, then?

Josh Clark

The Grabster was probably -

Chuck Bryant

Got a little ahead of himself?

Josh Clark

- over - overworked that week. But no, these are hypotheses because you can't test them. You can't kill somebody to see what happens to them.

Chuck Bryant

Like flat liners.

Josh Clark

Exactly. I mean, you can, but then you end up, as Kevin Bacon found, in big trouble.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. What did he have, the kids that he teased were after him or something?

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

Or was that the mouth breather?

Josh Clark

No. The mouth breather, I don't remember what happenedto him.

Chuck Bryant

Oh. He had the little girl on the subway train that was after him, the mouth breather.

Josh Clark

Did he?

Chuck Bryant

And Kevin Bacon - no, no, no, Kevin Bacon had the girl on the subway and the mouth breather was the one who teased the kid up in the tree that fell.

Josh Clark

Okay.

Chuck Bryant

That's right. And Julia Roberts had the cookie dad and William Baldwin -

Josh Clark

Oh, yeah, she - not the cookie dad, the junkie dad.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, the junkie dad.

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

And then, I don't think Oliver Platt ever went under, did he?

Josh Clark

He was kind of a wuss.

Chuck Bryant

And then, William Baldwin's all involved ex-girlfriends, which I thought was pretty silly.

Josh Clark

Yeah. It was a good movie, though.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. It hasn't aged well.

Josh Clark

Oh, no? I haven't seen it since it came out.

Chuck Bryant

I saw it not too long ago. It's not great.

Josh Clark

Okay. Good to know.

Chuck Bryant

Not bad, though. So medical science, yeah, they say that the brain is perhaps getting the senses confused. And your brain starts malfunctioning to the point where you see these - see the lights as your brain is shutting down and that kinda thing. Your visual cortex creates that image, and it's - it's all easily explained.

Josh Clark

Right. So I'm looking at you right now, Chuck, and you are really just a cluster of light and shadows that forms a shape.

Chuck Bryant

Sweet.

Josh Clark

Which I'm receiving through my retinas that are basically being transformed into electrical impulses that go to the visual cortex of my brain, which takes them, compiles them into what I'm seeing as you, Chuck, sitting there. Right?

Chuck Bryant

Right. Uh-huh.

Josh Clark

What happens if that part of my brain is malfunctioning? I still am getting sensory input through my eyes.

Chuck Bryant

Sure.

Josh Clark

But my brain is no longer making sense of it.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

So maybe it turns into what's called neuro noise.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

My brain still is struggling to make sense of it, like that's what our brains do. Remember the podcast on dreaming? [Inaudible] dreaming that we - our brains want to make sense of things, no matter what, and that's possibly what dreams are! Right?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. It's almost like the brain is still just struggling to operate.

Josh Clark

It's like a fish flopping in a boat.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

At this point, it's - it's you know, not really doing what it wants to, but it still wants to do what it needs to. Right?

Chuck Bryant

I think I'm understanding that.

Josh Clark

That was succinct, wasn't it?

Chuck Bryant

Yes.

Josh Clark

So - so the brain's just taking all this information, but it's mis-categorizing it and whatever, so all of a sudden there is a bright white light or there's a tunnel or there's a being there.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

And it's also possible that it takes all this information and it's jumbled, but it's not until after we wake up and our conscious memory is active that it's sorting it into those memories, these false memories or whatever.

Chuck Bryant

Right. Right. And the other thing, too, your brain - your spatial sense is prone to malfunction when you have a near-death experience and that could explain, potentially, the out of body experience, when you feel yourself floating around the room looking down at your own body, that kind of thing.

Josh Clark

Right. And that calm sensation or being at peace, it's possible that these are - it's the result of endorphins flooding our brain, which has been shown to - they've been - they are released during times of trauma and extreme stress. It's a coping mechanism, like apparently, if you're drowning. Right before you drown, you just become euphoric because your brain just floods itself with endorphins right before you die. So we know that that's a pretty good possibility, too.

Chuck Bryant

Right. And I think they've explained or tried to explain the meeting with God, that kind of thing, as basically a combination of a bunch of things, maybe the sensory input combined with a lack of oxygen to your brain and the endorphins and they all get mixed up together to create a really - a realistic [inaudible] -

Josh Clark

Really far out experience.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, far out, man.

Josh Clark

Yeah. So Chuck, this is - as far as near-death experiences go, there's so much evidence, and we have such a little grasp on the brain, it seems like the scientific theories are reasonable in some cases. And I like - there's a line that Grabinowski throws out there. He's like, "But what about people who - like Pam Reynolds, who describe what's going on while they're actually dead."

Chuck Bryant

Sure.

Josh Clark

He's like, "It's possible the brain's still getting sensory input."

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

He goes, "Whether you think that that's more a rational of an explanation than the - the person's soul actually left the body is a matter of opinion."

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

I thought he did a good job with that.

Chuck Bryant

I did, too, because there's no definite answer, and there probably won't be. Well, I can't say that, but who knows.

Josh Clark

Well, I think a lot of scientists think that they have found definitive answers that the brain's just screwed up right there. But I think this is one of those cases, and I don't think it's - this is true in every case, but this is one of those cases where science might be able to explain the how but not the why.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

Like if we do undergo some sort of transformation or transition after death, wouldn't it be based on the chemical composition of our brains? Like wouldn't that be the way we were most easily manipulated?

Chuck Bryant

I think so.

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

That's where I'd park my car, I would say.

Josh Clark

Nice. Well, thanks for parking your car there, Chuck.

Chuck Bryant

That's a good one. Maybe we should kill each other tonight, like choke each other out until we're at the brink and then like slap each other in the face and see what happens.

Josh Clark

Okay. Why don't we not do it at the same time?

Chuck Bryant

Okay. That's a good idea.

Josh Clark

You go first. I'll put a belt around your neck and tie you to a piece of exercise equipment.

Chuck Bryant

Really?

Josh Clark

And I'll just stand there because I think one of us needs to be alive while the other one's under.

Chuck Bryant

Yes. And we are not condoning this because that is very dangerous to do, and you should not try something like that.

Josh Clark

Agreed. Agreed.

Chuck Bryant

We are trained professionals.

Josh Clark

Agreed. If you wanna learn more about near-death experiences, there's actually some pretty good articles. There's Grabinowski's. I wrote one on Has Science Explained Life After Death and the former writer, Jacob Silverman, wrote one on Out of Body Experiences.

Chuck Bryant

Uh-huh.

Josh Clark

You can type in near death and I think it should bring all three of those up. Type those in the handy search bar at howstuffworks.com, which means it's time for listener mail.

Chuck Bryant

I'm gonna call this a pretty amazing medical story.

Josh Clark

More amazing than what we were just talking about?

Chuck Bryant

Well, I don't know.

Josh Clark

And also, Chuck, we should probably give a shout out to that listener. Remember he wrote in about his dad dying and he found out there were those cards on the high shelf that you could only see if you were floating at the ceiling.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

So hey there.

Chuck Bryant

You inspired this podcast in a way. "Hi, guys. I'm propped up in a bed in a Sydney hospital recovering from a Gastrectomy by catching up on a whole stack of Stuff podcasts." So he's in the hospital listening to all my - all our shows.

Josh Clark

Do they stack? I thought they're digital files.

Chuck Bryant

They are. "I've been here for two weeks after admitting myself to emergency with abdominal cramps. I had a" - well, there's a lot of medical terms in there. "I had a - I had a lobectomy of my left lower lung in December of last year to remove a pulmonary sequestration, and the initial CT scan when I was admitted showed an abscess in the space where my lung used to be." Used to be.

Josh Clark

Wow. [Inaudible] phantom lung.

Chuck Bryant

Uh, I know. "I was very fortunate to have the same surgeon called in to repeat the procedure; however, once he got in there he was met with something very unexpected. The abscess was actually my stomach, which had herniated into a cavity through a minute opening in my diaphragm created by the sequestration."

Josh Clark

Sweet.

Chuck Bryant

"I.e. it's always been there but it was only exposed when they removed it. So it was - it had gone completely gangrenous," which is not a pleasant word to hear.

Josh Clark

Gangrenous.

Chuck Bryant

Gangrenous. Jerk. "They immediately flipped me over and found that all but 10 percent of my stomach had been pulled through this tiny hole."

Josh Clark

What?

Chuck Bryant

"So they had to completely remove it and attach my esophagus directly to my small intestine." I told you it was pretty amazing. Apparently, it's a procedure used on stomach cancer patients.

Josh Clark

Wow.

Chuck Bryant

And he was in surgery theatre for almost ten hours. "From what I gather it's a very unique occurrence and all the nurses that have come by have asked me about it, and the doctors give me this fascinated look whenever they pass by my ward, like wow, that's the dude. With the recent special on the US healthcare system, I thought it would be interesting to both of you.If it wasn't for the quick action of the surgeons and the fact that I was in the hospital residence to some of the top surgeons in the state, I've been told there's a good chance I wouldn't have made it. Quite sobering. So word is after a month my intestine will have expanded to the point where I won't notice a big difference in diet or capacity. And the only ongoing treatment I'll need is a potential vitamin B12 injection every three months."

Josh Clark

Cool.

Chuck Bryant

"Crazy, huh?" Is what he says.

Josh Clark

Yeah. Yes.

Chuck Bryant

And he wrote in after that - I wrote him back - and he wrote in and said that he wanted to add that it basically didn't cost him a dime, the surgery.

Josh Clark

Nice. Nice.

Chuck Bryant

So.

Josh Clark

Who - who is it?

Chuck Bryant

This is Jeff. And Jeff is the owner of Grisly Personal Training in Sydney, Australia at grislypt.com. And Jeff is on the mend and hopefully he'll be physically training some people stomach less pretty soon.

Josh Clark

Nice. Well, Jeff, congratulations on surviving and thank you for listening and taking the time to write in. That's pretty awesome, actually.

Chuck Bryant

Thanks for having the stomach to tell us that story.

Josh Clark

Right. Well, if you have any amazing stories about how bundled payments led you to find that you have a hole in your body that shouldn't be there, you can send it in an email to stuffpodcast@howstuffworks.com.

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