Friday, December 14, 2012

Hey! Let's play a game!

The Sharing Game.

It's our very favourite.

Share the closest you've ever come to dying.

Mine's easy. And not what you might expect.

It was April in Halifax and it had been a really snowy winter but it had been thawing and re-freezing a lot in the previous couple of weeks, as it does in early spring, and there was still a LOT of ice and snow around. A lot of the roofs had huge overhangs of ice, hundreds of pounds, some of them. And of course, it was all pretty unstable and when it warmed up in the afternoon on sunny days, sometimes the whole enormous pile of it would come sliding off the roof and crash onto the ground. The city was supposed to make people knock the ice and snow off their roofs, but people often didn't bother.

I was walking down Barrington Street, heading over to the Trident cafe for a tea and a read one sunny afternoon. Close to St. Patrick's church I had just passed under one of the really big ice overhangs, one of the kind that was produced by a really big pile of snow that no one had knocked off all winter, that had thawed and re-frozen a couple of times, so it was as big and heavy as a load of cinderblocks.

The crash sounded loud enough to be a car accident, and I froze, realising that a good 2 or 3 hundred pounds of solid ice, with lots of pointy jaggedy bits, had just crashed down onto the sidewalk about five feet behind me. A few seconds slower and I'd have been a bit of a jaggedy mess myself.

And people say that a belief in guardian angels is dumb.

OK, now you.



Anonymous said...

One day, quite a number of years ago, I was sitting at my desk at work, eating my lunch, which was supposed to be some soft pasta dish. Suddenly, I felt something large and hard lodge itself in my windpipe and I started to choke. I can't explain the terror I felt as I gasped for breath. One of my managers saw what was happening, ran up behind me, grabbed me and started performing the Heimlich Manoeuvre. As he crushed my diaphragm with every ineffectual squeeze, I truly thought I was going to asphyxiate. Did my life flash before my eyes? Or did I utter prayers of repentance? No. All I could think was, "of all the ways to die, this would have to be the most undignified and embarrassing."

For some reason my manager asked me to sit on the floor and as I did the object dislodged itself, to my great relief.


The Crescat said...

I was in a car accident when I was about 19. I veered a bit off the road, panicked and over corrected. The result was me hurdling 60+ miles an hour head on into oncoming traffic. I missed every single car & managed to hurt no one but myself. I flew into a ditch which made my car bounce up in the air and flip over down a hill repeatedly.

Like Lydia, I thought "what a stupid way to die!" then I got mad and thought "this is it?! I only get 19 years?! Really!? I'm dead at only 19? What a bleeping waste"

I came too flipped upside down in my car with my head a few inches away from the tree stump that impaled the roof. A few more inches to the left and it would have impaled my head. When they paramedics showed up I couldn't stop laughing. They thought I was crazy.

Oh, and there was that time I had a heart attack in mass. I was determine to stay long enough to receive Communion because I had also just had my confession heard and as I knelt there clutching my chest I prayed "please God at least wait to take after I receive communion. It may be the only way my sorry arse will enter into your Kingdom"

I was sort of mad I didn't die. People pray for deaths like that. I may never get another perfect chance like that again.

Dymphna said...

I was sitting at my desk at work and suddnely something inside seemed to explode. There was exquisite, mind blowing pain and then blackness. An ambulace came and later a surgeon came in and said that in ten minutes I was going into surgery. I asked for a priest--it was Catholic hospital and thank God the chaplain was on duty. He gave me the sacraments and a quick pep talk and they whisked me away to have what was left of my fallopian tube removed and a transfusion to replace the blood that was filling my stomach. I was calm, sleepy and ready to die since I'd seen the priest.

Mena said...

I don't think I've had any really close brushes with my own death, but I nearly killed someone else about a decade ago and could have gotten pretty badly injured physically and otherwise in the process - does that count?
I was driving the winding mountain road back to my college from the nearest town late one very dark, moonless night. It was only one lane each way, with a steep hill on my left and a strip of trees before a steeper drop down the ravine to the river on my right. As I drove around one curve, it seemed as though a piece of the blackness ahead of me was moving a little on the rest of the blackness, but everything was so dark that I couldn't tell if there actually was anything moving, or if I was only imagining things. And then suddenly my headlights showed a dark-skinned man, dressed entirely in black, sprinting down my lane toward my car, and no more than 20 feet away at the moment I saw him. He was very obviously attempting to commit suicide; he'd have seen my lights and heard me long before I could see him. I managed to get out of his way just in time, swerved across both lanes a couple of times over-correcting and praying that there would be no oncoming traffic and I wouldn't fall down the ravine, and then finally righted my car and rather shakily finished the drive back to my dorm.
In retrospect, maybe I should have gone back to see if I could help him; but I was a scared, 21-year-old girl by herself late at night and had just had the scare of my life, so I didn't. There were no reports of accidents in the news in the next few days, so I hope he changed his mind and didn't go through with it.

Anonymous said...

Too many to count. I was born breach, spent months in an iron lung (it was the 60's), had whooping cough, asthma, was once snatched by my father as I tumbled backwards into a hole cut in a new house floor for a staircase would've ended up with a broken back atop cinder blocks, nearly fell out of a tree while deer hunting, got a little too close to the Ciffs of More in Ireland, nearly hit by numerous cars while crossing street in NYC, was once attacked by a 15 pound Rhode Island Red rooster while trying to collect chicken eggs, once rolled by a german shepherd, in second grade was thrust, upside down, into a snow bank by the village bully, fell neck deep into a snow hole during the great Buffalo Blizzard of '77, and at seven escaped a kiss from Bonnie Oakes, she had freckles, braces, and red hair. Yikes!

Anonymous said...

I was lost in a valley once that had an extremely high Squatchy potential. As night fall approached and no way out, I begin hearing the distinct sounds of long moaning howls coming from the woods that got closer and closer. As I shivered around my makeshift campfire scared to death, I could feel a presence behind me. I turned around and there he was, Big Foot. He looked at me and I at him, and lets just say I'm still here to tell the tale.

-Rico S.

a Christopher said...

You'd be surprised how close a cruising train (frieght, passenger...) can get without you hearing anything.

That is all I will say.

Anonymous said...

I've been hit by cars, twice.

Once, when going 60 mph or so, I hit black ice and skidded off the highway, into a ditch. (Thankfully, I was okay, as was my car.)

It was probably the second time that I was hit that was the worst - I was definitely under the auspices of my guardian angel.


Lucy said...

I choked on something once, when I was at home alone. Everything around me went kind of purple; a panic rose in my chest; I thought, "In a few seconds I'm going to black out," and had to reach into my throat to extract the offending item.

Another time, crossing a street while lost in thought, I heard a screech and felt something at my hip. I looked down, thought, "Gosh, that car's close," and kept walking. Once I reached the other side, a shaking, pale woman asked me if I was okay, whereupon I realised I had just almost been hit by a car. And then I became shaking and pale, too.

But the food-in-throat thing was worse!

Wendy in VA said...

1) Choked on a piece of stew meat in college cafeteria. Thankfully, the girl next to me was a Red Cross-certified lifeguard who knew the Heimlich and wasn't prone to panic.

2) House fire in the middle of the night. My policeman husband heard the crackling (old rental house, non-working smoke detectors) and calmly woke me and told me to get the baby and meet him in the car. If he'd been working midnight shift that night, I'd have slept right through and the baby and I would have died of smoke inhalation.

3) Skidded on ice and flipped my Toyota Corolla onto its side (the passenger's) with my first-born buckled into her carseat beside me. Our neighbor's teenage son had skipped school that day and just happened to be looking out his living room window when it happened. I handed him the baby, threw my diaper bag out, then told him to move back in case the car fell over while I was climbing out. I don't remember actually getting out, but I do remember standing there next to the boy, shaking, and hearing the car fall over behind us.

4) In week 26 of my 4th pregnancy, my blood pressure shot up to 220/117, my kidneys stopped working, and I was so swollen my retinas came close to detaching. It was the only time I've ever seen my husband look scared. I had an emergency c-section, and our little girl lived in the NICU for 90 days before she was able to come home.

Thankfully, my next two pregnancies were far less eventful.

Anonymous said...

Four years old, holding hands with my mother, my little sister in her baby carriage, all of us at a crosswalk, crossing the road ... when along came a car, much too fast and, quite obviously, much too important to stop for a woman and two children ... thank God for our guardian angels!


Dr. Adam DeVille said...

Downtown Ottawa, September 1996. Riding my bike home over the Pretoria Street Bridge. Hit by a city bus making an illegal lane change. (Driver admitted guilt, as confirmed by eye witnesses, but was never charged. Idiotic cop who "interviewed" me afterwards tried to suggest I was at fault. My incandescent father soon set him straight.) Sent flying into the air, landed on pavement under the bridge in four lanes of traffic, and I couldn't figure out why I suddenly felt as though I weighed 300lbs around my waist. That was the blood rushing to fill my lower abdomen and groin from a smashed pelvis--the largest bone in the body, as I learned without ever desiring such knowledge--that caused massive internal hemorrhaging, kidney and bladder damage, and much else besides. Three months in traction, a year in rehab, and I can eventually walk again unaided.

Mark said...

I was almost hit by a car that didn't stop when I was about to get off the TTC - yesterday.

qualcosa di bello said...

the first one i do not apgar score at birth was zero & i needed resuscitation.

the second was a reaction to a pre-op drug during an emergency d&c as i was hemorrhaging during the miscarriage of our first baby...funny thing was that emergency was much less frightening than the 24 hours of hallucinations that followed in recovery (another issue with the drug).

the last was a scratch (or something like that) on my back where i could not see it which abscessed into full blown sepsis. the abscess was undiagnosed for a period of time (my GP & dermatologist misdiagnosed it initially, & the holidays were upon us). over a period of a week or so i could feel my body slowly "letting go" of the world & i literally lost all concern about anything worldly until i finally was taken to the hospital & treatment was begun.

Teresa B. said...

I had a fibroid attached to my uterus that grew with each pregnancies. I didn't realize that after my daughter was born I was passing these huge blood clots. Just thought it was the fibroid or something. One day I was taking a nice HOT shower as I was really tired. I started to feel light headed and I started to blackout. I opened the shower/bathtub door to get out. This was a long but very narrow bathroom. Surprisingly, I did not hit my head or any other part of me - on the counter and I just took one long leap out grabbed the doorknob, opened it and crumbled to the floor - wet and naked. Both my Italian M-I-L and my mother were both still helping us out so all I remember is my M-I-L slapping my face and talking crazy Italian. (I don't understand Italian other than one word) The ambulance came and took me to the hospital. I had lost a ton of blood. They kept me at the hospital for a few days and they allowed my daughter to be re-admitted so I could nurse. (Scarborough Grace Hospital)
They put me on The highest dose of The Pill to stop the bleeding.
It was a waiting game to see if I would need a transfusion. The doctor came in the next morning and said if nothing improves I would have to get a transfusion. (they really didn't want to do this)
After he left and my husband went downstairs for some food the ladies from the local church were walking the halls with Jesus. Popped their head in and asked if it was OK to come in and when they told me they had Jesus with them - I had a meltdown and they started praying and I recieved Jesus. So I think my guardian angel protected me from a fatal fall and that receiving Jesus gave me strength to carry on in spite of what could happen.
No blood transfusion but a month later - the day after my daughter's baptism I had to have a hysterectomy.

I almost wiped out when I was going down a hill on a wet newly sanded/gravelled road. Turned a few times and screamed to my kids and said "PRAY!" My van was completely covered in mud so you couldn't see any damage - other than the back light that hit a rural firenumber sign. I won't take dirt roads in the rain.

John said...

I'm told I almost snuffed it a few times when I was a toddler. I don't remember it, though. Well, I remember being sick; I was always sick with something or other. But I don't remember anything worse than anything else.

But this has been at the top of your blog since Friday and every time I see it I think of what I thought was my wife's near death experience.

There was a mass murder in a few miles away in Seal Beach this year. Someone decided a fine way to get even with his ex-wife would be to shoot her and everyone else who happened to be in the beauty shop where she worked. It probably didn't make the news in Italy (it's this one if you're interested: ) but on the day it hit the radio news I was driving home from Los Angeles and caught in traffic that wasn't moving. They wouldn't say which salon it was, only that it was in Seal Beach. Seal Beach is where Mary goes to get her hair done and where she was supposed to go that day.

I called her work phone, our home phone, and her cell. No answer.

It took about an hour to get home. It was a very, very long hour. She was home when I got there and listening to the news herself. She thought it was sweet that I was so worried. "But", and I quote, "I don't get my hair done in Seal Beach; it's Sunset Beach. And it's not today, it's tomorrow."

And to the wives who read this, I do, too, listen. Often. Just not, it seems, always.



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