You’re Conscious When You Breathe in Water
An excerpt from Sebastian Junger’s The Perfect Storm: A Real Story of Guys Against the Sea:
” The impulse not to breathe undersea is so strong that it conquers the pain of lacking air. No matter how desperate the drowning person is, he doesn’t inhale till he’s on the edge of passing out. At that point there’s a lot co2 in the blood, and so little oxygen, that chemical sensors in the brain set off an involuntary breath whether he’s underwater or not. That is called the ‘break point.’ Lab experiments have shown the break indicate follow 87 seconds. It’s sort of a neurological optimism, as if the body were saying, Holding our breath is eliminating us, and breathing in may not kill us, so we might as well take in.
When the very first uncontrolled breath takes place most people are still mindful, which is regrettable, since the only thing more undesirable than lacking air is inhaling water. At this moment the individual goes from voluntary to involuntary apnea, and the drowning begins in earnest. A spasmodic breath drags water into the mouth and windpipe, and then one of two things happens. In about 10 percent of people, water– anything– touching the vocal cables sets off an immediate contraction in the muscles around the larynx. In result, the main nerve system judges something in the voice box to be more of a hazard than low oxygen levels in the blood, and acts accordingly. This is called laryngospasm. It’s so effective that it conquers the breathing reflex and eventually suffocates the person. An individual with laryngospasm drowns with no water in his lungs.
In the other ninety percent of people, water floods the lungs and ends any waning transfer of oxygen to the blood. The clock is diminishing now; half-conscious and enfeebled by oxygen depletion, the individual is in no position to fight his method back as much as the surface area. The very process of drowning makes it harder and harder not to drown, a rapid disaster curve comparable to that of a sinking boat.”
Christopher Hitchens on what it seems like to be waterboarded:
” You may have read by now the official lie about this treatment, which is that it ‘replicates’ the sensation of drowning. This is not the case. You feel that you are drowning due to the fact that you are drowning– or, rather, being drowned, albeit slowly and under controlled conditions and at the grace (or otherwise) of those who are using the pressure. The ‘board’ is the instrument, not the technique. You are not being boarded. You are being watered …
In this pregnant darkness, head downward, I awaited a while until I suddenly felt a sluggish cascade of water going up my nose. Figured out to resist if only for the honor of my navy ancestors who had so often remained in danger on the sea, I held my breath for a while and then had to exhale and– as you might anticipate– inhale in turn. The inhalation brought the wet cloths tight against my nostrils, as if a big, damp paw had been unexpectedly and annihilatingly secured over my face. Unable to figure out whether I was breathing in or out, and flooded more with large panic than with simple water, I activated the pre-arranged signal and felt the incredible relief of being pulled upright and having the soaking and stifling layers managed me. I discover I don’t want to tell you how little time I lasted.”
It Burns Like Hot Lava
” I practically drowned three years ago. Out in the sea, swimming, then oh crap I could not move a single muscle in my body. I used my dying breath not really wisely as I simply screamed mindlessly as I sank slowly. I was panicking, I ran out control, I tried to wave my arms and my legs furiously however I was strengthened, like a statue. I was still breathing quite fast while I was sinking so I got some water in my lungs. Which appeared like an eternity to me, I was underwater and though typically I can’t open my eyes in seawater, I might see the sea and the colors yet as I desperately tried to breathe, I had more and more water swallowed.
I should’ve lost consciousness for I do not remember my good friend and papa pulling me up. I remember it burned like lava, the lungs and my stomach( they kept burning for a long period of time, I barely breathed for a week) and I keep in mind vomiting a lot while being brought, but absolutely nothing else. It was practically a near-death experience, sufficed to piss my shorts. How did it feel is, again, I can’t provide a clear answer, for it was occurring right there and I was too busy trying to save myself than seizing the minute, so to state. I felt desperate and I kept grasping for air like a baby however hello, still not as descriptive as one might desire from a thread like this.”
It’s Either Tranquil or Brutal
” I have actually almost drowned a minimum of when. Depending on the individual, it’s either tranquil if you accept the reality that you’re most likely gon na pass away (which I did) or it’s ruthless as you struggle.
I actually understood that I was going to drown so I breathed the water in on function to just get it over with. It only harmed when I was coughing it up.”
Everything Goes Black
” Drowning is one experience that I can not discuss, and I don’t believe descriptions are sufficient if you need to know how it feels. All I keep in mind is this.
I was on top of an inflatable tube (like a raft shape) and was wading my way into the middle while nobody was looking. All of a sudden, I don’t understand how it happened, however the next minute I knew, I was drowning. The only things I remember distinctly are that I was not able to breathe, due to the fact that water was entering my nose and mouth quickly, and subsequently my lungs. Even as a child, I knew, that I had to stay above water, to be able to breathe once again. And I was flailing my hands to stay above water, hoping I could bring my face above the surface, however I wasn’t really successful at it. I started going down and didn’t have any more thoughts.
There was no ‘I must push my feet on the bottom and try to come up,’ or ‘The color of the water is so blue.’ I simply blacked out. I don’t remember anything from this point to the point where the lifeguards were attempting to get the water out of my lungs, and I choked it out. My moms and dads were quite frightened, I didn’t process the important things as too serious at that time, I don’t understand why.”
No Pain, Simply Comfort
An accident during “ undersea walking” in Thailand:
” I don’t understand whether it’s since I’m naturally fidgety, or due to the fact that my rotten luck and the turbulent seawater concurrently conspired versus me, but my helmet in some way got slanted in reverse and some of the water was available in, into my mouth and nostrils. I worried and began thrashing my body, and the helmet came off completely.
The very first 3 seconds were as follows: My body started to drift upwards. My mouth was open, and my throat totally contracted. My body was deformed in an awkward posture; my upper body was arched forward, my limbs were flowing backwards, and my eyes were looking straight up, although I couldn’t sign up anything I was seeing. I heard my sister (who was next to me in the chain) yell my name through her helmet.
After the three seconds passed, I started to desperately flail my limbs, and my head had two synchronised, constant thoughts:
- exhale extremely, extremely percentages of air
- go straight upwards
My mouth was open, and I was letting out discreet, small quantities of air through my esophagus, shopping as much time as I could before I ran out of air. I could feel my flailing gradually take my body upwards. I had to endure. I needed to in some way reach the surface and make it through. I didn’t wish to pass away.
More seconds elapsed. I was running out of air. I tried to appreciate see sunshine, but I saw none. It occurred to me that I would not make it. I blurt another breath of air, this one more generous than the others. My body went limp, my mind went blank and I quit on all effort. I just let go, and my flaccid body simply drifted in the water for a couple of seconds. My lungs had more or less given out, and there was no pain, simply comfort.
A couple of more seconds later on, for some apparently inexplicable reason (or so it seemed in the minute), I unexpectedly had a big burst of energy, and the will to leave the circumstance reappeared, therefore did the desperate flailing. This time was different, I might feel myself going up faster and with more force. Possibly I could make it. Perhaps I would make it.
I made it to the surface, and after that it hit me that this sudden surge of energy was due to the fact that one of the swimmers had finally gotten to me. My oxygen-deprived mind was believing that I was increasing of my own accord. After taking in the much-needed lungful of air, a Great Deal Of coughing taken place.”
” For me, I went through 3 unique stages, but the phase that lasted the longest was the sheer bloody panic stage.
I was at a water park with some friends and we were in a wave pool. I was being in an inner tube when someone (don’t know who, but it wasn’t among my buddies) flipped my inner tube over. I went undersea, but I wasn’t panicking since all I needed to do was kick approximately reach the surface area again.
However right as I appeared, a wave struck me and knocked me back under. And for the next half a minute I remained in the most scary experience of my life. Each time I resurfaced, I was knocked back under by gradually larger waves. I could not breathe, I had water entering through my nose and mouth, and my mind was going absolutely nuts: it was racing and I was not able to form coherent ideas however at the exact same time it was constantly informing me that I required to get to the surface area. For how little time I was under the water, it seemed like I had been going at it for an hour.
And then, I had a moment of severe clarity. After being knocked down again the cacophony of my brain stopped and I all of a sudden realized that if I didn’t attempt to resurface right after I was pulled below again, that I would be able to resurface after the wave passed. I waited too long and the greatest wave hit me, knocked me back under, and dragged my feet along the bottom of the swimming pool, scraping my feet quite badly.
After that time I was lastly able to resurface, mainly since the waves were decreasing in size and the waves had actually pressed me to where I might stroll and I just went out of the swimming pool, albeit due to the fact that my feet were bleeding, and I was still disoriented and spending water, etc. I still have scars (well, more like red marks) on my feet where they scraped along the bottom of the pool, which was a good 3 and a half, 4 years earlier.”
You Enter Into Total Shock
” First time I drowned was at age 12 when I had no understanding of swimming. I was playing in the river with my father and other relatives when suddenly the currents pulled me into the water. There were at least 10-12 relatives of my own, each hectic in their own world. I consumed water twice and could not shout and my mind was absolutely blank.
Out of nowhere, my cousin, who was on his bike on the banks, jumped into the water and pulled me to security. My mind was recording all those things however I couldn’t respond. Maybe I was in overall shock and could not respond or scream. What followed next was lots of advice from elders and my granny informing ghost stories on how the river had taken [the] lives of numerous in the town.”
Whatever Turns Yellow, Then Black, Then Pure White
” I went for a road trip with camping and rafting to invest the vacation with a group of 9 people. On Saturday, we were supposed to do rafting. In the morning we were cooling on the bank of The Ganges practically 4 feet in the water with red bulls, beach balls, clicking pics and stuff when I felt the sand getting displaced below my feet. I asked my swimmer friend to hold me tightly so I can return to the coast, he held me securely and we started moving towards the shore when we felt the tide moving backwards dragging us back in the water. Right there, we were 5 pals at 4 feet depth and everyone stressed including me. And I’m 5’11” high so I can inform you that being a non-swimmer I was playing it safe.
The tide was tough, we lost the hold versus the water and I was dragged inside like a vacuum. I tried to wave so everybody knows I’m drowning and they know my position and sadly no one came. I kept having a hard time for 10-15 seconds, which I keep in mind, then water started getting in me as I ran out of breath and unconsciously opened my mouth, leading to more water within, which’s when everything began turning yellow and whatever faded. That’s what I was feeling, even now I keep in mind that yellow sight that I had while drowning … And unexpectedly whatever turned black, sharp black. It didn’t alter from yellow to black in 4 or 6 seconds. In milliseconds, it just turned BLACK.
I stopped feeling anything and can’t keep in mind after that, as if I wasn’t there or there was no existence. I simply never ever existed because minute. After a couple of seconds (I don’t understand the number of), whatever turned pungent WHITE, ABSOLUTELY CLEAR COLOR, the most pure color that I can even think of. And I saw a figure who came closer to me and stated something with affection and love (I still could not determine what that was, tried too hard to think about it so many times). At this particular moment, I was feeling damn enjoyable, like whatever is fine and I’m high possibly. And that was precisely when I was dragged out of [the] water. And everyone was stating so many things and patting my back, pushing my stomach and chest to remove water from my lungs and stomach.”
Discomfort Lets You Know You’re Still Alive
” This is what it feels like [to drown]:
1. Panic – this is the state where you do not know what to do. For an individual who never ever swam, the first thing that concerns your mind is whether you flail or flap your limbs anywhere to surface area (I know, it sounds dumb) or to inhale in really small amounts. You can not make a sound other than for coughing.
2. [I don’t know] what it is called however your lungs suddenly stop working and [you have] an extreme wish to breathe oxygen. After about 10 seconds of being undersea, discomfort occurs. For me, this is the last possibility of survival since pain tells your body to take action. And suddenly, adrenaline pertains to the rescue. My body then kicked from the water so heavily, it felt like I flew, and after that back in the shallow waters. Which moment I understood I was still alive since you can’t feel pain when you’re dead. I started to [drink] lots of seawater and it felt unpleasant. In some way, I was grateful that I was in pain.
3. Flashbacks – I saw my life flashing through my eyes in a really quick moment. I recognized that I was still too young to accept death. I [could not] leave my moms and dads, my buddies, my research studies, my memories and my life in this alien environment. I suddenly felt a lack of energy, I understood at that moment I might not do anything, I was not prepared to bid the world goodbye. My back touched the seabed … All these things[made me angry] I [was] mad to leave the world without reaching my dreams.
And then, my good friends came to save me.”