near death experience

stayin’ alive

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Like a Girl Scout, I am prepared. I have my Last Wishes in order. I cautioned “you never know”… on that same subject but I didn’t think the opportunity to vindicate my preparedness would arise so soon.

Being a seasoned commuter and inner-city pedestrian, any risks I take crossing roads are calculated. I look both ways and look again. I pay attention. I don’t tarry. However along the strip I traverse from St Peters train station to my neighbourhood there are two sets of traffic light crossings where even if you cross according to walk signals, you take your life into your hands. So I’m cautious. Very.

Possibly risk is amplified because drivers having made their way through usually congested King Street or local back streets are relieved and eager for a break in traffic.

Reenactment: 24 hours later.
Reenactment: 24 hours later.

On my Monday journey home, rather than wander along further to the equally nefarious crossing, the green walk signal flashed at the closest so I stepped out, other commuters walking against the red almost across ahead of me. I scanned for unexpected cars and proceeded a few steps. A car zipped around the corner and I found I’d somehow retraced just enough steps to avoid it, loudly exclaiming “Oh My God!” I have no idea why I said that but it worked, God intervened… It was not until the driver’s open window was next to me that she saw me, having missed hitting me only because I’d moved out of her path. Visibly, she recognised her misjudgment but as it was the middle of a busy road, we went our ways without further interaction.

A near miss, I thought as I took refuge on the footpath but walking along I noticed my shaking hands and realised how near. When the G.O. arrived home shortly after me, the unsteadiness was still apparent in the haphazard pieces of potato I was chopping up for salad.

Last year a woman was seriously injured early one morning crossing at the same place. Both the G.O. and I have had not-so-close escapes at those crossings.

I believe our life contracts may incorporate a number of opt-out interchanges, but not quite as interpreted by AC-DC’s Back in Black lyrics…

“Forget the hearse cause
I’ll never die
I got nine lives cat’s eyes
Using every one of them and runnin’ wild
Cause I’m back…”

Having been fond of fast cars, motorbikes, life and… the G.O.’s near miss recollections are more numerous than mine. But I have a couple…

A few months before my 27th birthday my GP advised I needed to have pre-cancerous cells on my cervix removed. This was more than two decades ago, pre-laser, and I was advised it was routine minor day surgery under anaesthetic. In hindsight it seems in some cases women were treated prematurely rather than waiting for the currently suggested follow-up screening.

I was the last patient of the morning and emerged from the surgery in bed, bright, hungry and well until I went to the bathroom and discovered too much blood. The nurse whipped me back into the operating theatre and unsuccessfully tried to call the gynaecologist who’d gone off to golf. So it was up to the on-call junior doctor plainly perplexed by the amount of blood, to sort out an internal misplaced scalpel nick that needed stitching. They were able to contact the anaesthetist who suggested he wasn’t needed as it could be done without pain relief. The others disagreed, so he put me back under.

As he did I realised I was conscious but couldn’t move… anything. Not even my eyelashes as I tried to signal the nurse whose eyes were gazing down at me. Suddenly my vantage point changed and I was looking from above at the operating theatre tableaux. Not yet, was my last thought.

This time I woke in the recovery room with my husband sitting next to the gurney. As I recounted to him what I’d experienced, he explained why the nurse had brought him into recovery; I’d lost enough blood that I’d died briefly on the operating table, and they let him stay with me while I came around.

If you’re into palmistry I have a gap and boon line at the corresponding place on my lifeline.

It’s not a story I’ve shared widely (up until now!) not only because I don’t wish to debate with people who think the afterlife is hooey but after Mum died, there were whispers speculating… so many people think kids’ hearing/comprehension is deficient… the possibility I would die young too at the same age. It was only when I had that next birthday, the one my mother hadn’t, it occurred to me, technically, I did exactly that.

About a decade later, mid Friday afternoon I was driving home on the freeway over a long bridge in pre-peak hour traffic when a motorbike and car clipped each other creating a balls amongst skittles effect. As my car exited the scene, accelerating away from the bridge, my conscious awareness returned. Looking in the rear view mirror at the chaos I realised I’d been watching remotely as my car was guided swerving amongst the other vehicles like in a movie scene.

At that moment, my mobile phone rang. It was Dad, an unusual time for him to call. I picked up. He asked, how are you, is everything ok?  How did he know?

“You know it’s all right. It’s OK.
I’ll live to see another day…”

Stayin’ Alive, Bee Gees