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Author Topic: Your brush with death  (Read 3799 times)
Matt
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« on: September 18, 2016, 11:54:38 AM »

The passengers on U.S. Airways Flight 1549 got a second chance at life when Capt. Chesley Sullenberger landed their plane safely on the Hudson River, saving every passenger and crew member's life. I've watched some clips on YouTube, and facing death and surviving made a huge impact on most of their lives. One female survivor said she and her husband decided to adopt a child. I'm going to assume they just couldn't have children, or didn't think the time was right, and they wanted to strengthen their family.  Maybe they realized how precious life is, and that they wanted to give a gift of a good and loving life to someone who needed it... in their own way, being a hero to save someone else as best they could. Another survivor changed his career entirely, wanting to do good in the world with what time he had left. Others formed a stronger bond with their husband or wife, no longer just taking their time together for granted. In a way, this is a very strong gift, not just at life, but at looking at our lives, and getting out of the rut we fall into sometimes, and realizing we really are only here for a short time, and we need to appreciate it, and be the people we'd want to be remembered as after we're gone.

I remember when I came back from my hiatus here that SK said he'd thought that I had died. Realizing my last post was on a New Year's Eve, and I went from being fairly active here to not being on at all very suddenly, I guess I can see how that could have been a strong possibility. And that sounds like the way I'd go too -- in a car. I've had lots of close calls over the years, but most of them were back in my college days. So I thought I'd write about my closest call, and we could all kind of talk about that a bit. Then, to get a bit philosophical -- answer the question: did your close call change the way you live, or the things you believe in? Be it religion, or your purpose in life, or just a way of recognizing how mortal we are, and that our time is limited -- and being more grateful for every day.

My closest call was back in college. I was with my girlfriend, and I had to leave her house at something like 3am or face the music from her parents the next day. It was a 45 min drive from her home to my dorm, and I was tired to begin with. I remember actually doing this a lot back in those days -- eyelids being so heavy, I'd shut one at a time to rest them, while driving. Or, just putting the car in park at a red light, and taking a 30 second nap. The stupidity of young love and fairly inexperienced driving can be a fatal combination. I'm driving along Rte 206, here's a photo that looks pretty close to the area this happened:



There was a junction with a traffic signal, which was a fairly dangerous intersection. See all those woods to the right? I fell asleep driving (and speeding, as usual), and I woke up with about 1 second to spare -- going about 60 mph, seeing a car coming from the route on the left onto my route, and I was so close to hitting them, I could see the passenger looking at me. Of course, there was no time to stop, so I pulled the wheel all the way to the right, directly into the woods. You're on dirt, so there's extra time having to stop... I want to say it took about five or six seconds... the whole time, all I could see were trees all around me, but... not in front of me. Literally inches from my car on both sides, and I didn't have control of the car -- I was just trying to stop. And then... there was the tree in front of me. And it was getting closer... and then.... the car stopped completely. I sat there shaking for about 5 minutes.... completely surrounded by trees on all three sides, having plunged into the forest at approx. 60 mph. And I didn't hit a thing. I remember thinking I'd never even be able to back out.  It was that narrow a path. But, I did. Realize, I was completely sober... this was just falling asleep at the wheel. And I was wide awake now.

The repercussions:  I immediately had a religious experience, just feeling saved by a higher being. It was like I wasn't mean to die yet. Also, that red car... with at least two people in it .... it wasn't their time either.  I have tried to maintain that faith throughout life, but it left me. Even with a gift that strong. I couldn't maintain that belief. But now and then I do think about it as the only real proof that I have that there is a higher being watching over us. There's no way I should be alive today. If the red car's passengers were meant to live, and I wasn't... I would have struck a tree at full speed. (In a 1984 car with no airbags ... no way).

I learned to drive better. (Finally)  I learned to never drive that tired. To pull over if I need to, or eat licorice candy and coffee (Good n Plenty's are amazing when you're driving tired -- I don't know if there's caffeine in licorice, but there's something about them that does it unlike any other candy).

Maybe it formed some changes in me later, having that close a brush with death. I know that I do try to be the person I want to be remembered for.  I definitely would never want to hurt anyone else in any capacity, and I try to be better than my natural self would be. I think we all have a tendency toward selfishness and not caring about others... just living for ourselves. I try not to do that, and whether that's because I nearly killed multiple people one night in mid-state NJ on highway 206, or for any other reason, I'm grateful for the lesson.

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Doug
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« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2016, 10:06:24 PM »

Glad you didn't die.  O0

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« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2016, 10:07:06 PM »

Thanks, man!

I can't be the only one here with a near-death experience.
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The Schofield Kid
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« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2016, 10:39:03 PM »

I don't know if this qualifies as near death or more near miss.

I may have posted about this before but I'll never forget it and I think about it every now and then.

I was in the backseat of my fathers car and we were coming home from a holiday. It was on a country road and we were stuck behind this truck for ages. The road was narrow and winding so we couldn't get a chance to overtake. My father says that he needs to make a bathroom stop. Since we're in the bush, you just pull over where you can. He said to me, "where can I pull over". I said "just here". He said, "Give me a bit more notice". So I said, "Just at the top of this hill then". It was about 100 meters up the road.

As we pulled over, my Mum yelled, "OH NO"!!! I thought we must be going to run into a ditch on the side of the road but looking out the side window, I couldn't see anything. I then looked out the front window and saw this car in a spin right behind the truck. The driver of the car had fallen asleep and clipped the back wheels of the truck and had we not pulled over the car would have spun into the side of our car.

The car was a mess but thankfully the driver was fine just in shock.

I always think about that and what might have happened if we didn't pull over. :o

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Matt
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« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2016, 11:07:53 PM »

I haven't read that story before -- maybe I missed it, but wow.

I'll quote Doug.... Glad you didn't die!  O0
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Gant
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« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2016, 11:23:37 PM »

When I was about six I was trapped in a fire in a haunted house in a seaside amusement park. It all happened so quick and luckily for me I was rescued with literally minutes to spare.... Within 30 minutes there was nothing left of this old wooden structure except the metal turnstyle...
I can't say the event had a massive impact on me at the time, tho I enjoyed the ride in the police car (they couldn't get an ambulance into the park) but over the years I've thought back and realised how lucky I was and how close I came..... The park still exists to this day..
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Matt
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« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2016, 12:59:50 AM »

Wow! Glad you didn't die!  ;D  (I don't know what else to say)

I've heard of haunted house fires here in the States. I wonder why this is such a thing. Is it the workers trying to sneak smoke breaks in the dark?
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Gant
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« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2016, 01:51:30 AM »

Thanks... me too  ;D

The park was pretty much deserted but it turned out the fire was set deliberately by some students.. a prank probably.

Actually I was lucky to escape another... a few years later I was on a helter skelter with my Dad at London's famous Battersea fun fair... 3 days later there was a terrible accident on it and quite a few people lost there lives...

I guess I should stay out of funfairs..

Thinking about it tho and how lives can be changed in an instant... Imagine if I had perished in that fire... How would that have affected the lives of those students.. They were caught so they would have been punished and spent the rest of their lives knowing they were responsible for a child's death... One moment of madness..
« Last Edit: September 24, 2016, 02:41:50 AM by Gant » Logged

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Matt
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« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2016, 04:00:08 PM »


Thinking about it tho and how lives can be changed in an instant... Imagine if I had perished in that fire... How would that have affected the lives of those students.. They were caught so they would have been punished and spent the rest of their lives knowing they were responsible for a child's death... One moment of madness..

Exactly! Each of us is just a tiny drop in a lake, and we make ripples. How many lives have you changed with your existence from then to now? Everything changes. Every gig you ever had would have been different because they would have needed a different drummer. One of those "different drummers" may have met someone at one of the shows that you were at, and married, and had 5 kids... everything affects everything else.
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The Schofield Kid
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« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2016, 08:23:01 PM »

Exactly! Each of us is just a tiny drop in a lake, and we make ripples. How many lives have you changed with your existence from then to now? Everything changes. Every gig you ever had would have been different because they would have needed a different drummer. One of those "different drummers" may have met someone at one of the shows that you were at, and married, and had 5 kids... everything affects everything else.

That's why I love the film, It's A Wonderful Life. It shows what a difference one person can make in this world.
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Jed Cooper
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« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2016, 04:52:00 AM »

Wow, a great and interesting topic!

I’ve got one I’d like to share…

When I was 12 years old I contracted spinal meningitis.  I remember going out with friends Halloween night 1979 and feeling sick the next morning.  I thought I’d caught a cold from not dressing warm enough.  Days dragged on to weeks with my being ill at home on the couch, out of school.  I got caught up in the “Luke & Laura” tv craze happening on General Hospital with my sisters and mom.  That’s probably the only time before or since that the acting wasn’t too bad. 

Finally, I had to be brought to the hospital.  I was in a fog but do remember my mother and brother visiting.  I realized it was serious because my brother gave me his new radio.  It was small with one speaker but a touching gesture.  The song I remember hearing repeatedly around that time was Lionel Richie singing the Commodores’ hit, “Still”. 

Things got serious and I had to be transferred to the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.  I remember my mom taking the ambulance ride with me.  That memory would come back to me when I took an ambulance ride with her from the hospital to home 27 years later.  It was to be her last automobile ride.  I was told the doctors had a meeting and decided that if they didn’t choose one of three courses of action considered for me soon there was the possibility I would die.  I was very fortunate.  Weeks would pass by without my being able to eat any real food, until the day after Thanksgiving!  I also became a teenager while in the hospital because of the timing. 

I remember family coming to visit and having to wear hospital masks so as to not catch anything from me.  I sure did watch a lot of Johnny Carson and remember the Iran Hostage Crisis news stories at the time on tv.  I overcame my childhood fear of needles because I was poked repeatedly during my stay.  I was a veteran by the time I was released!  I try to donate whenever I can these days.  Walking for the first time after being bed-ridden for weeks was an experience.  I heeded the doctors’ advice and took it slow.

What I took from that experience was how my family came together during that time.  Hell, they weren’t sure if I was going to make it.  I didn’t learn of the seriousness of the situation until later.  My uncle, a then newly born again Christian, prayed over me and I’m told things took a turn for the better shortly thereafter.  I am eternally grateful to the hospital staff that took care of me, and to God for not taking me at such a young age.  That was a close call.     
« Last Edit: September 28, 2016, 06:36:46 AM by Brian (Jed) Cooper » Logged

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Elizabeth77
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« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2016, 06:34:36 AM »

There are two events which come to mind when reading the posts here.

The first was an accident I had while driving from Florida to Indiana back during our gypsying years.  I posted about it somewhere on this board (in 2010), but don't remember where now.  Anyway, I was driving a Ford 15 passenger van (fully loaded with belongings) and towing a 10ft trailer (also fully loaded).  My younger son was in the front passenger seat.  He was really too young to ride up front, but he wanted to ride with Mummy and the seat behind was full of stuff.  My husband and older son were two hours behind me as we had car trouble that morning and they stopped at the dealer.

I just passed the split between I-75 and I-475 on the south side of Macon, Georgia, when my left rear tire on the van blew.  (The police couldn't find anything on the road that caused it, but the tires were in good shape and should have been okay.)  I was travelling at something close to 70mph at the time.  It was all over in less than 30 seconds.  The trailer started to fishtail, trailer and van did an anti-clockwise 180 degree turn, we continued backward across an on ramp and crashed into the guardrail tail first, jackknifed and slammed the side of the van against the guardrail and bounced back about 10 feet, while the trailer remained planted firmly on it's left side on top of the guardrail.  The side window behind the driver's seat popped out on impact and things flew out.  Thank God my son was in the front seat.



 

In the moment that I had to realize what was happening, I knew we would probably die.  When we came to a stop, we were physically unharmed.  Two men who had witnessed the accident were at my door before we could even collect ourselves and get out of the van.  Despite the busy traffic, we didn't hit any other vehicles.  When I looked over the guardrail, there was a drop of at least 30 feet.  I'm shaking just thinking about it again.

The other event was so much quieter.  It required a lot of waiting in doctors' offices, waiting for results, waiting . . .  On July 31, 2014 I was told (after waiting 45 minutes for the doctor), that I had breast cancer.  It was small, it was early, it was nicely contained, but it was the worst kind you can have.  It was as though Death had come and laid a hand on my shoulder.  The strange thing was, I knew it could kill me, but I felt just fine.  It was very surreal.  I have walked through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and come out the other side into sunshine.  I went in a hesitant woman who still sometimes felt like a small child in a gathering of adults (something I'm very familiar with).  I came out mature and sure of myself.  I take the attitude that I have survived chemotherapy and can therefore survive anything.  I firmly believe that there is a reason why I am still alive, so I take the opportunities that come my way, and have even gone out of my way to find them.  I really don't know why I'm still here, but if nothing else comes of it, I will have made people's lives happier whenever possible.  :)
« Last Edit: September 28, 2016, 10:59:34 AM by Elizabeth77 » Logged

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Matt
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« Reply #12 on: September 28, 2016, 12:07:07 PM »


...What I took from that experience was how my family came together during that time.  Hell, they weren’t sure if I was going to make it.  I didn’t learn of the seriousness of the situation until later.  My uncle, a then newly born again Christian, prayed over me and I’m told things took a turn for the better shortly thereafter.  I am eternally grateful to the hospital staff that took care of me, and to God for not taking me at such a young age.  That was a close call.     

Glad you made it!

I was never seriously ill, but my mother used to love to tell the story about the time I fell into the pool, and no one heard anything. I was only a toddler, and sunk to the bottom. She noticed I was missing, and looked all around, and found me "sitting on the bottom of the pool, JUST SITTING THERE", she'd say for decades later. Glad she got her head out of her Manhattan to notice.  O0
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Matt
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« Reply #13 on: September 28, 2016, 12:53:20 PM »


I just passed the split between I-75 and I-475 on the south side of Macon, Georgia, when my left rear tire on the van blew. 

Whew, that is a BAD place for that to happen. I've driven that highway many times, and the traffic is usually awful. That would have been terrifying. That's definitely one of those "I should be dead" moments. Glad you and your son were okay!

I have walked through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and come out the other side into sunshine.  I went in a hesitant woman who still sometimes felt like a small child in a gathering of adults (something I'm very familiar with).  I came out mature and sure of myself.  I take the attitude that I have survived chemotherapy and can therefore survive anything.  I firmly believe that there is a reason why I am still alive, so I take the opportunities that come my way, and have even gone out of my way to find them.  I really don't know why I'm still here, but if nothing else comes of it, I will have made people's lives happier whenever possible.  :)

Yeah, there's that saying "That which does not kill us makes us stronger." 

I'm glad you came through it well, and congratulations!  :)
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« Reply #14 on: September 28, 2016, 06:13:27 PM »

Thanks for sharing that with us, Elizabeth. Definitely two really close calls! I second Matt's post.
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