Squishy Humans - Compendium of Crazy Human Weaknesses, Conditions, and Ways of Dying
Death is a sensitive subject, something that many people can't even face without euphemisms (like "passing away", "going to a better place", etc.). Death is something that happens to every living thing eventually, but for some it's so hard to face their own mortality that they'd rather not be exposed to death in any form. It's one of those things that up until recently has been censored or heavily regulated in most media, and something that, even now, soccer moms protest against being showed on tv or in video games.
Some people don't care, some people face death as a new beginning or an inevitable end, or even something to be joked about. I'm the kind that jokes about it. So prepare yourself for a wholly insensitive list of silly, ridiculous, and bizarre things that can kill humans no matter how hard they try to avoid them.
WARNING: If you have a weak stomach or are easily offended by dark comedy, I would suggest not reading any further. If you do, it's at the risk of your sensitive stomach and innocent mind and I won't be held responsible for any computers damaged by vomit or feelings hurt.
I will frequently update this when I care to write about silly things that make people drop dead. If you want this hub to improve, please give me suggestions on that kind of thing so I can put them up without having to search for them.
Humans like to think that they're the paragons of evolution on our planet Earth. Tough as nails, smart enough to subdue every other predator on the planet and become top dog, adaptable enough to survive in the arctic north and heat of the Sahara, and capable of building vast cities and intricate societies.
But any way you look at it, we still aren't the masters of our own bodies. We rely on all of the organic cogs and gears working in the right way, and should one or two of those bits of machinery fail, the entire body will die. Here I'll list as many ways as I know that our body fails on many of us regularly and particularly silly examples of those failures.
Allergies - Most people have them, but who knows why they have them or what they are? Allergies are a malfunction of your immune system, when your body mistakes a benign agent as a dangerous one and signals to you it's under attack by causing an allergic reaction. The funny thing about allergies is most of the things people can be allergic to are totally benign and cause no ill effects to a normal person, but if you're severely allergic to something (like peanuts) your immune system will kill you while trying to protect you.
LIST OF SPECIFIC CONDITIONS
Appendicitis causes sepsis when the appendix (a vestigial offshoot of the large intestine) ruptures or gets infected. In most cases unless the appendix is removed, the person suffering from appendicitis will die of sepsis - ie. blood poisoning. Some cases clear up, but it's rare and prone to happen again. As well, people can have a chronic case of appendicitis where the appendix is constantly mildly inflamed and causes lower abdomen pain for long periods of time.
Aquagenic urticaria is an allergy to water. Yes... to WATER. It can be mild with minor dermatitis, to extremely severe with your throat swelling shut if you drink it. Just imagine sweating on a hot day or forgetting to bring your umbrella on a rainy one.
Cold urticaria is allergy to the cold. It can range from mild itchiness to debilitating pain and hives. Many can't drink cold liquids, eat ice cream, or go swimming for fear of their life.
Andre the giant proving large people are inherently funny
Some people don't have the luck of getting a curable disease. Some people are born with them and die with them. You know the saying "It's better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all." - well apply that to genetics as you read this list and be thankful you don't have any of these conditions.
Anencephaly results when the neural tube in a developing fetus fails to close and make way for the development of the brain. As a result, the fetus doesn't develop certain parts of its brain and skull, usually being born without most of its brain (besides the brain stem) and top of its skull. Most of them don't survive through childbirth, though the ones that do are devoid of any human cognition, emotion, and suffer seizures on a regular basis. All they do is survive. They can't even swallow without help. The good thing is they don't experience pain or despondency at their condition. In fact they can't even understand the concepts of pain and despondency!
Cancer is a genetic mutation that causes a cell to divide so quickly and sporadically that the cells don't work and become a blockage in the system. Cancer forms when carcinogens, radiation, or other mutagens flip some switches in your DNA and cause it to be unable to control its growth. This would not be a true problem if it wasn't for your body still considering them healthy and functioning cells and doing nothing about it. Your immune system doesn't fight cancer, so no amount of vitamin C will save you.
Congenital insensitivity to pain is when a person is born completely immune to pain. They can either have an excess of pain-deadening hormones or a brain mutation that deadens pain neurons, but either way they cannot feel pain. This sounds like an advantage until you think that pain is your body's way of telling you your life may be in danger. If you don't have that response, you could have internal injuries that you'll never know about, shatter a bone and die of infection, or have heart attacks and never know until it's too late.
Dwarfism (achondroplasia) and gigantism (acromegaly) are not strictly genetic disorders, but achondroplasia makes up about 3/4 of the documented cases of dwarfism and is a dominant gene passed on by the parents (or a new mutation) and acromegaly is usually caused by a tumor (a genetic mutation) on the pituitary gland. Achondroplasia results in shorter stature, underdeveloped limb trunks, and disproportionate head size, and besides a generally shorter life span most effects are cosmetic. Acromegaly results from over-stimulation of the pituitary gland (usually by the presence of a tumor) and results in being extremely large. The effects of this are usually more severe than achondroplasia and people with the condition live shorter lives than dwarves and can be injured simply due to the strain of their own weight on their muscles and bones. The biggest problem is prejudice against affected individuals. Prejudice against short people is about as severe as racial prejudice and there are no laws protecting the vertically challenged. For giants, it's a bit different - people are more afraid of them than other type of prejudice. I mean they can grow to freaking 9 feet tall, that's pretty goddamn scary.
Mermaid syndrome (sirenomelia) is a birth defect in which the fetus' legs fuse together giving the appearance of a mermaid's tail. Most afflicted die due to complications in the development or function of lower-abdominal organs, though a few survive. The bad thing is that they can't walk, the good thing is they don't have to stay in the water like a mermaid!
Progeria is a condition in which a person ages too rapidly, losing hair and gaining wrinkles and arthritis in just a few years of life. People with this condition rarely live much longer than a decade.
Disease, Poison, and Chemicals
These three things are the cause of so many deaths world-wide, from cigarette smoke to AIDS to eating way too many tomatoes, that it's hard not to be somewhat wary of them. Unlike most of the things in this hub, you can usually avoid these things if you are careful, but that doesn't make them any less deadly (and in some cases hilarious).
Cyanide is a chemical compound found in many forms and when consumed, inhibits cell production of ATP (energy), which is extremely damaging when it goes through the heart or the brain. A dose of 200mg is sufficient to kill the average human. And guess what delicious foods they're in! Almonds are given their flavor by the cyanide compounds in them and eating way too many almonds can result in death (especially bitter almonds). The same goes for apple seeds, and it takes far less apple seeds to cause damage than almonds.
Kuru is a degenerative neurological disease caused by malformed protein present in human bodies. It first became known to the world when western explorers explored Papau New Guinea in the early 1950s. It has an incubation period of 5 to 20 years (so it takes a freaking while to affect you) and when people go symptomatic it takes an average of a year for them to die with it progressively getting worse. First, people experience shakiness, impaired coordination, and headaches and it progresses to the point where people can't even sit without support and have oozing necrotic wounds all over their body. Sound scary? Well you don't have to worry, because the only way to get it is by eating human flesh! So when you get that urge to kill and devour your neighbor, try to resist the urge... unless you don't mind dying in 5-20 years. How about if you wish to turn cannibal, just do it when you're already old.
Solanine is a poison that causes gastrointestinal and neurological problems, resulting in diarrhea, vomiting, dizziness, hallucination, and eventually death. It is found mainly in the solanaceae family of flowering plants which includes both tomatoes and potatoes! The greener parts of the plants have the highest concentration, and the concentration is higher when the tomatoes or potatoes are green. As well, potatoes get green when exposed to any light, which is why they're stored in brown bags. You don't truly have to worry about potatoes unless you eat about 40 lbs of mashed potatoes made with green potatoes, but tomatoes are can be a lot more reasonably eaten in large quantities. Keep that in mind when you decide to eat obscene amounts of Italian food.
Brain Damage and Non-Congenital Mental Disorders
We all know our brains need to be protected. You brain controls everything in your body from the movement of your limbs and regulation of blood pressure to your philosophical disposition and emotion. When your brain is damaged, so many things can happen, some fascinating, some downright terrifying, and some so strange and mind-boggling that someone with an undamaged brain will have serious difficulty wrapping their mind around them. Try not to lose your perception of reality as you read this list of mind-altering injuries and conditions.
Alien hand syndrome is caused by a separation of the two hemispheres of the brain and makes it so the person cannot control one of their hands. They maintain full sensation, but the hand will seem to have a mind of its own as it undoes your fly, gropes random ladies, and attempts to steal cheese from the grocery store. This can certainly shorten your life if your hand pisses off the wrong person.
Hemispatial neglect generally occurs after damage to the right cerebral hemisphere and causes the person affected to be unable to perceive sensation on their left side. This can include being unable to process the left side of your vision, neglecting the left side of your face while shaving, or eating only the food on the right side of your plate. If you're a Doctor Who fan, think of the Silence. Unless you're looking directly at them, you don't know they exist.
Pica is interesting in that it's a mental disorder usually caused by nutritional deficiency. People suffering from it eat non-food items, usually because their body craves a specific nutrient, like children with low calcium attempting to eat rocks, or people with low iron attempting to eat paperclips. I can only imagine if Chuck Norris had this, he could probably eat iron ingots and shit daggers.
Stendhal syndrome causes people to become dizzy, disorientated, and sometimes even hallucinate when exposed to scenes they consider to be extremely beautiful. If Nietzsche had this, I'm sure he never managed to find out.
Things you Won't Believe
Some things don't have any reasonable cause or justification for happening. No brain damage, microbes, genetic disorders, just random, ill-humored fate or bad timing. You can neither see them coming, nor prevent them, but they happen all the same. The only thing you can do is hope they don't happen to you.
Commotio cordis can happen when someone is hit in the chest above the heart at the right time between heartbeats. It doesn't damage anything, but the vibration of the blow can stop the heart and 2/3 of the time it's fatal. It is more likely to occur the faster the heart is beating. On a similar vein, there is something called a precordial thump. This is a well-aimed blow to the sternum that can reset the heart's electrical rhythm and stop cardiac arrest, but the success rate is only about 25% and it has to be performed within the first minute. Note that it should only be performed by trained professionals. Disregard this last statement if you happen to be the Fonz.
Spontaneous human combustion is incredibly rare and as of now unexplained, but is thought to be caused by concentration of low ignition temperature gases or liquids in a human body going above their ignition temperature. Or magic. I think that's a pretty popular theory too.
Coconuts are the seeds of the coconut palm and a source of controversy amongst foodies on whether they are tasty or not. Regardless of your opinion on this matter, coconuts are about as hard as the human skull and falling coconuts kill an average of 150 people per year, about 15 times that of annual shark-related deaths! Forget Jaws, they should make a movie about an evil African swallow dropping coconuts on people.
Of these choices, how would you wish to die?See results without voting
Acknowledgments and Attributions
None of the pictures are owned by me and I'll list the people or corporations they are owned by so they don't sue my pants off, because seriously, that's about all I have left. If I haven't given the source for a picture or video clip that requires one, please tell me so I can correct my mistake.
I do not own Andre the giant or The Princess Bride. The Princess Bride movie was directed by Rob Reiner.
Dr. Strangelove (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Read Long Titles) was written, produced, and directed by Stanley Kubrick.
Nicolas Cage and the Ghost Rider movies are not owned by me either. Nicolas Cage is the avatar of insane overacting and cannot be controlled by any one man, and Ghost Rider is a comedy based on the (less funny) comic of the same name and written and directed by Mark Steve Johnson.
The Little Mermaid and Ariel the mermaid are creative property of Disney. I don't even want to make a joke about Disney, because they might sue me for it :(
Ozzy and Drix is a kid's TV show about a loose cannon white blood cell cop and his by-the-books antibiotic pill partner Drix and their quest to eliminate bad microbes from the body of an adolescent. Yes, it's as insane as it sounds. Malkav would be proud.
Thanks for reading and I hope you learned something about how fragile life is. It can end suddenly and in ridiculous, unfair ways, so make the most of it before it's gone and make goddamn sure you go out with some epic last words!