And other stories about real-life near-death experiences.
You know what's a really fun thing to do on a Friday night? Drinking three-times your body weight in bad sangria (or enough until you're legally blind), then trying to climb the first bit of scaffolding you see. No one ever dies doing stuff like that, they just end up with maybe a broken bone or two, paralysis and awesome near-death experience stories like the ones below.
KETAMINE SAVES LIVES
I was out at a house party one night with a load of friends – one of those gatherings where nobody really knows anyone else, so everyone sits round in their own little groups, chatting and not sharing their drugs with anyone. Anyway, I nipped out to the toilet at one point and came back to see a big pile of powder my friend had just dumped out on the table. I thought we only had coke between us, so when my friend racked up a huge line and offered it to me, I dove straight in. Between around eight seconds to two hours later (I honestly have no idea; my concept of time was dodgy at best), I came to the realisation that what I'd just ingested was ketamine, not cocaine.
I don't take K often, so a coke-sized line of it had a pretty profound effect on me. I've been told I was stumbling around for about 15 minutes and I remember starting sentences then forgetting what I was about to say around two words in. The next thing I remember was walking to the shop to pick up some beers in the completely deluded hope that they would sober me up. Casually strolling out into the road, I failed to notice the bus travelling at 40mph directly towards me, which then hit me square on and sent me flying 15ft down the road.
I was obviously a bit delirious, but I got up straight after, clicked my neck and back and felt absolutely fine. I guess the K had made my body limp and limber enough for the impact of the bus to ripple through and out of me, rather than turning me to mulch. I dunno; I don't get science. I later found out that I had a broken wrist and three broken fingers, but I'd survived being run over by a bus, so it was kind of a win-win any way you look at it.
I'm also now living proof that ketamine can be a life-saver, which is a great ice-breaker at parties and –trust me – a terrible thing to say to your parents.
A long, long time ago, I met a girl at a gig in Camden, stayed the night with her and decided to continue our long-distance dalliance. A couple of months into it, I had plans to get a train up to London from my little town in Sussex to visit her and spent far too long prepping – gelling my hair, splashing on way too much cologne, shaving my balls, etc., etc. – before realising I'd better get a move on if I wanted to see her before she was otherwise engaged with work, or whatever it was she was planning on doing that evening.
I rushed to the station and spent the entirety of the journey pacing up and down the carriage, trying to work out the quickest route to her flat. As the train was pulling into the platform – my brain still preoccupied with the most effective tube connections – I yanked open the swing doors (they still had them when I was a youngster) and leapt towards the platform from the moving train.
What I hadn't realised is that, shockingly, I can't run nearly as fast as a train, so when I jumped, instead of landing in a graceful tuck and roll and sprinting through the barriers, I crumpled into a heap on the floor and broke my nose, jaw, wrist and every bone in my right hand.
I didn't end up getting laid, but at least I still have a massive scar and a squint jaw to show for it.
BALI IS A PARADISE
I was on a skate trip in Asia and got a call from my mate, Luuk, telling me that he was in Indonesia and that I should snap up a plane ticket to go visit him. I spent a couple of days thinking about it, before realising, 'Fuck it, it's not every day I'm in Asia with one of my best friends a short plane trip away,' so bought a ticket, flew out, spent two days in a hotel trying to get in contact with Luuk, then finally hooked up with him. We had an amazing time – swimming, chilling, meeting two Dutch girls, hanging out with the Dutch girls, having sex with the Dutch girls – before going our separate ways. He carried on travelling around Asia and I flew back to Holland.
A couple of months later, our intrepid traveller returns and gets back together with his girlfriend, enjoying a cosy love-in for a week or so, before coming down with an incredibly bad case of malaria. Like seriously bad. Dude was fucked up. Anyway, I went to visit him in hospital and was shocked at what I saw: he was on a drip, he'd lost a tonne of weight, his eyes had this scary yellow-tinge to them and his skin was basically transparent. His girlfriend was sat next to him sobbing her eyes out, and I just stood there, super bummed out, waiting to hear some bad news.
Then a nurse walked in to deliver that news and I saw the life force itself back into Luuk's eyes. Turns out the nurse was the Dutch girl he'd fucked in Bali, making the news that his signs didn't look at all good even more awkward. And worrying and sad and all of that stuff.
Amazingly, his girlfriend never found out about the nurse and I'm guessing his ex-conquest tried extra hard to save him, because he started making a recovery a week later. He's totally fine now and his girlfriend still doesn't know. Well, until she reads this, Good luck with that, Luuk!
DEAD FOR A MINUTE
Everyone has issues. Some people let those issues manifest as deep-rooted complexes that gradually turn into crippling insecurities; I drink psychoactive teas brewed by Amazonian shaman in the hope of exorcising mine.
It was my fourth night drinking ayahuasca and, aside from the usual kaleidoscope patterns, repressed childhood traumas and visitations from dead ancestors, I suddenly felt myself go cold – the breath leave my lungs and my soul sink out of my body into the ground in one of those out-of-body experiences you see in cartoons when someone gets hit on the head with a mallet. I could hear my heartbeat slowing down, then my eyes rolled back into my head and everything went dark. I thought I was choking on my tongue and all I could see was a small tunnel of yellow light in the distance. This was it: I was clinically dead.
I was convinced my soul was slipping away into the afterlife (which feels a bit like drowning in a bathtub full of liquid ketamine, if you fancy trying it out someday). All I could think about was how much shit I'd get into with my mum for dying.
After a few hours of fading in and out of consciousness, I was convinced that I’d broken my brain – forever afflicted with a deep psychological trauma – and spent the next hour sobbing uncontrollably. I’ve never been so scared in my entire life.
That was two months ago, I’m doing it again this weekend.
One of my slightly more roguish friends decided to shun the conventional path of going to university and getting a steady a job, like the rest of us did, and move out to Thailand to work in a bar, take mushrooms regularly and sleep with prostitutes. He'd been out there a couple of years before I finally had enough money to go out and visit him, by which point he'd married one of the prostitutes he'd previously regularly been paying for sex and half settled down in a pretty nice place near the main strip of Patong.
The first couple of days there were the epitome of relaxation; we sipped beers, smoked some local "pol-pot" and lay on the beach, watching all the pretty girls go by. On the third night – a Friday – we decided to have a big night and my friend was keen to show me what the Patong nightlife could offer. He had a short afternoon shift and we'd arranged to meet up by one of the bars we'd frequented over the past couple of days.
Ever the showman, as I walked down the strip to meet him, my friend emerged from the bar (somehow already wasted) with a prostitute under each arm. I grinned and started walking towards him, before I felt a small hand shove me out of the way and watched his wife storm up to him – screaming – with one of her high heels in her hand. When she was about 10 yards away, she started sprinting towards him – high heel raised above her head – leapt into the air and implanted the stiletto straight into his right eye.
The whole strip was suddenly silent, except for the distressing, pained noises coming from my friend's bloodied face, until he looked up at me – eyes rolling to the back of his head – and passed out, slamming his face into the concrete.
Obviously the whole street freaked the fuck out instantly. People were crowding over him, screaming and crying, until an ambulance finally arrived and carted him off to hospital. The next morning, we heard that if the heel had gone a centimetre further, it would have hit his brain and potentially killed him there and then.
He went blind in that eye, but he doesn't seem to care too much because it means he gets to wear an eye-patch now. And, bizarrely, he didn't press charges against his wife and they're still together, living their weird, destructive life together in Patong.