How many of you have had near death experiences and still take your life for granted?

In 2006, my grandmother came back to visit from the Philippines. While she was here, she got a call from back home that my grandfather was dying and that he was trying to hold on so that he could see her before he passed away. Unfortunately, she did not get back home in time. My family and I went to the Philippines for my grandfather’s funeral. I didn’t know how to deal with his death because this was the first time someone who I loved and was close to passed away. I was confused with my feelings and almost felt emotionless because I was not crying as much as I should be or at all. I guess I did not know how to take it or deal with it.

My grandmother and grandfather lived with my parent and me for many years. I found him to be hilarious, witty, loving with had a great sense of style. The funny thing is when he spoke I didn’t understand a word he said.

During the last couple of years of his life, I always remembered him never wanting to eat his food and would pretend that he was chewing but throw his food under the table for my dog to eat. He also had a tendency just to spit everywhere and anywhere. I caught him spitting inside Costco, and I was like what are you doing, but he didn’t care.

A couple of days after the funeral my family and I decided to go to the beach by my grandparent’s house. We started off by the huts and had to walk in the water towards the beach on the other side. I had my portable DVD player with me for some reason and was carrying it above my head so it would not get wet. I was admiring the tropical view and beautiful sunny day. All of a sudden I felt this excruciating pain and screamed at the top of my lungs like I’ve never done before. I put one of my arms in the water trying to fend off whatever was around me, and I ran like hell. My family was wondering what was going on. Once I reached the shore, I noticed that I had these clear tentacles wrapped around my arms and all over both my legs. I was stung by one gigantic or several small jellyfish. I cannot describe the pain, the closest I can compare it too was as if someone poured burning oil all over my body. My family did not know how to react. They were like, should we pee on her, put vinegar on her, rub the lime on her. No one peed on me, but I did rub the lime juice all over my wounds that did not help at all. I was on an island and could not go to a hospital as it was ten hours away. I just sat there on the side of the beach rocking back and forth hoping that the pain would soon go away. It seemed like hours passed before the pain dissipated.

What did I do after the pain went away? I went right back into the water which shocked and surprised my family. Most people would probably become traumatized and fearful of the water and never enter it again. I thought to myself, the pain is gone, and I am not going to stop what just happened to me from enjoying the beautiful day and the water.

When I looked at myself in the mirror when I got back from the beach, it seemed like I gained a hundred pounds. My arms along with the rest of my body was swollen from the belly down. I still have the scars from the burn/stings marks where the jellyfish wrapped its tentacles around me. I really should have died that day. I believe my grandfather was watching over me.

I found an article that recount a similar experience.

By all accounts, 10-year-old Australian girl Rachael Shardlow should be dead. One of the world’s most poisonous creatures, a box jellyfish, stung Shardlow in Australia in December, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported. After being pulled from the water with tentacles still wrapped around her legs, she amazingly lived through the attack. Her survival has baffled doctors and marine biologists, as even a miniscule amount of jellyfish venom can cause the heart to seize up and stop.

While no official tallies exist, anecdotal evidence suggests dozens of people and perhaps more than 100 or more die each year from the many species of box jellyfish that exist in all oceans.

Some 20 to 40 people die from stings by box jellyfish annually in the Philippines alone, according to the U.S. National Science Foundation. “But because death certificates are not required in many countries within the range of box jellyfish, worldwide fatalities from box jellyfish may be seriously underestimated,” the NSF states.

Box jellyfish, a class that includes 50 described species, have tentacles covered in tiny biological booby traps known as cnidocysts. Each cnidocyst contains a tiny dart and a load of poison that cause “the most explosive envenomation process that is presently known to humans,” according to a 1988 paper in The Medical Journal of Australia.

Once the dart pierces the skin, the cnidocyst shoots the toxin through the needle and into the victim. The toxin then enters the blood, where it can cause a dangerous spike in blood pressure, stop the heart, and kill the victim, a team from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, wrote in a 2005 paper in the journal Toxicology Letters.

Unlike other jellyfish, box jellyfish are agile swimmers, a skill scientists say possibly arose because one set of their 24 eyes detects objects that get in their way.

Larger jellyfish are generally more dangerous than smaller ones because they harbor more cnidocysts. However, all jellyfish contain some poison, and in fact the phylum that all jellyfish belong to, Cnidaria, is named after their poison-producing structures.

Looking back at this near death experience, I would say that I did take life for granted because I did not value its importance and how precious it is. What I am proud of is that I still continued to live and jumped back into the water knowing full well that I could have gotten stung again. Allot of people would say that’s stupidity. Instead, I believe I didn’t let the fear of, “what if.” stop me.