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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Second Time I Almost Died

Got a minute?  The last in a series for Halloween today!  Let's all have a seat, dim the lights, crack open a cold one, and listen to your Aunt Pearl tell the story she likes to call The Second Time I Almost Died.


This scar on my neck? Funny story, that. Well, not “funny” funny. "Weird" funny, actually.

It was 2001, maybe 2000. I had received a tax refund, enough money that I was going to the mall, going to buy a new outfit, a new pair of shoes. Heck, I was so rich I was even going to replace all my underwear.

It is as I am leaving the mall, leaving the parking lot, that I first notice it. Something about the sky. No, not the sky. Something about the light. The light seems sharper, somehow, outlined and distinct. The colors are too bright.

‘Flashback?’ I think. ‘Am I having a flashback?’

I don’t feel right.

The exit for Highway 100 is coming up, and I push the Hyundai to 60. The house is, perhaps, four miles away. I just need to get home, maybe lay down.

But what’s going on? The colors grow more and more vivid, and now my hands are starting to tingle, and what – what is going on with my peripheral vision? I stick my right arm out to my side, wiggle my fingers.

I can’t see them. I can’t see my wiggling fingers.

As a matter of fact, my line of vision is changing rapidly; and it is less than a mile later that I notice that my sight has been reduced to what amounts to the wearing of one of those cone-shaped collars they put on dogs to keep them from chewing themselves after surgery.

I shake my head vigorously. It is 2:00 in the afternoon, the sun is shining, the traffic is moving, and I am, apparently, having an issue.

That's not like me.

My line of vision is now less than the windshield. I blink hard. My arms are tingling, my hands numb. I feel dizzy.

I feel scared.

And I speak aloud:  “What the hell is going on here?”

And a very low male voice comes from the backseat, as clear as any voice is in a small car, and says something I will never, ever forget.

“You are passing out very slowly. Get off the road NOW.”

I don’t think twice. I don't think at all. When very low, male voices speak to me in declarative sentences, I listen.

Get off the road NOW.

I crank the steering wheel, hard, to the right, cross blindly over two lanes of traffic, pull off on to a side road and into a Denny’s parking lot. I get out of my car, grabbing my purse, locking the car behind me.

All of this takes maybe 30 seconds; and by the time I cross the parking lot and open the external set of double doors, my vision is just a pinhole of light.

I open the next set of double doors and the hostess approaches me.

“Table for one?” she chirps.

The pinhole of light with the hostess’s face in it closes, and I am in the dark.

I am completely blind.

And I say what I always say just before I faint.

“Wait,” I say.

And when I come to, I am on the floor, surrounded by loose change; and whereas just moments ago I could not see but I could hear, now I cannot hear but I can see.

There is a crowd around me, all looking down, their faces a ring of varying expressions: I particularly remember a black man, his eyes the most perfect vision of compassion that I have ever seen.

‘Oh,’ I think. ‘Look how kind he is. Someone must be hurt.’

But it is me. I am the one who is hurt. I struggle to my feet, falling several times, hard, on my elbows, my knees. The man with the compassionate eyes offers his arm while the rest of the crowd watches.

The next thing I remember I am seated at the counter, shakily trying to drink the glass of ice water they insist I drink. After knocking the glass against my front teeth several times, I give up. Chipped teeth, I don’t need.

“Would you like some soup?” the manager of Denny’s asked me.

No, no, I’m fine.

“Do you want me to call an ambulance?”

No, no, I’m fine.

And then the manager watched me leave. The woman who walked in to the restaurant, fell heavily into the plastic bin collecting Coins for Jerry's Kids causing them to scatter across the lobby floor, the woman who appears to have had a seizure when she regained consciousness and is bleeding from her swollen, wounded neck says she doesn’t need an ambulance.

And that is good enough for him.

I get into my car, disoriented and bleeding.

I stay in my house that night, confused. It does not occur to me to pick up the telephone.

I regain enough of my mind to see a doctor the next day, and he puts me through a number of tests.

The conclusion?

I’m a fainter.

And I have abnormal brain waves.

I paid for that information, you know.

Abnormal brain waves? I'm sure there are a number of people I know who would vouch for that. But that’s not really important, is it, the abnormal brain waves, the cut on my neck, the egg-sized lumps that ran along the back of my head from ear to ear? Those things are small potatoes when compared to what could have happened had I stayed on the freeway for just 30 seconds more, the damage my car would’ve caused doing 60 mph, had I not listened to the voice in the car.

So if anyone ever asks you - and they just might! - you tell them that Pearl knows how to take direction.

And then you ask them for her, because she wants to know...

Whose voice was that in the backseat?


Roses said...

'abnormal brainwaves'? WTF and you forked out cold hard cash for that diagnosis?

I hope you bought your guardian angel a drink after that.

That's still a scary story.

Shelly said...

That voice? I'm thinking it's your guardian angel.

And those abnormal brain waves? Is that what makes you such a fine writer?

Pearl said...

As my father likes to say, they looked in my head and found nothing.


Guardian angel? Quite possibly. I heard that voice, though, as clear as I hear the intern next to me...

That reminds me: I actually have one more scary story similar to this, but it happened to my father...

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

If I EVER hear a voice in my back seat telling me to get off the road I will obey it...but only after checking in the rear view first....
I mean, you never know, you know?????

Pearl said...

Delores, no, you don't. :-) And yes: if you ever hear a voice you cannot identify telling you what to do in a dangerous situation, I suggest you take heed!

Shelly said...

Extend your scary story trilogy into tomorrow and tell us that story about your dad- inquiring minds want to know-

Geo. said...

You are fortunate to have angels backing you up, directing you to safety. Out here they just tailgate and yell "Dumbass!" as they zoom around me on the right.

Vicus Scurra said...

I have to confess I cannot proceed beyond the "replace all my underwear" phrase. Please clarify whether you mean that you were going to buy new and get rid of the old or whether you meant you were going to put all of your underwear back on before leaving the house, and if the latter, whether this was not normal for you.
I shall sit here fretting until you answer.

Bossy Betty said...

A low male voice, eh? You lucky thing. It's always the talking goat in the back seat that speaks to me.

Abnormal brain waves? Of course you have them That's why we all love you so much.

fmcgmccllc said...

You and Marie Osmond, who knew.

Andrea said...

So at manager training for Denny's they teach you that soup is good for fainting and seizures...noted! He was not a doctor, nor did he play one on tv. That is one scary story Pearl! I am going to consider that you have unique brainwaves, as opposed to abnormal!

Pearl said...

Shelly, I'll see what I can do. :-)

Geo., we have those as well, but too often they're actually in the car with you and sit across from you at the dinner table.

Vicus Scurra, I have no answer. But I do have this stupid grin on my face right now.
I bow to your wit, sir. :-) Now who wants margaritas?!!

Bossy, talking goat?! I have one of those in the back of my closet...

fmcglccllc, what?! Now I'm going to have to look that up!

Pearl said...

Andrea, I know! It took several days afterward before I realized, that a fellow human being had let me walk out, dazed and bleeding -- and onto the freeway.

"Do you want some soup..." Why I oughta...

esbboston said...

Wow, does this mean aLL your underwear is 11 to 12 years old?!?!?

Dawn @Lighten Up! said...

Crikey, Pearl! You have certainly been through it!

I have seen that man, the black man with the compassionate eyes. I like him.

Camille said...

Who's voice in the backseat? I dunno, was it low and distinguished - maybe like Clark Gable - or Ernest Hemmingway? Perhaps it was just your dead Uncle Ralph hitching a ride to the mall.

Life is full of such mysteries. I think I need to have some soup and go lay down now. Happy Halloween Pearl.

Pearl said...

esb, that's exactly what that means. :-)

Dawn, he was so concerned for me!

Camille, I have no idea who that guy was. :-) I didn't recognize the voice. Wonder if I would know it if I heard it again?

Buttons said...

"Abnormal Brain Waves" makes for a very talented writer you know.

I am not going to Denny's anymore:) B

Buttons said...

Oh Yeah glad your still here and someone was truly looking after you from afar. B

Sarah Has Moxie said...

hmmm...I did not know about this fainting, but now that I do, the clinical cardiac researcher in me is going to insist you go to your doctor and consider wearing a 24-72 hour Holter monitor. Fainting is too often related to too slow of a heartbeat, dear, and now that I'm worried? I'm going to get all mama bear protective!! :)

Lo said...

Ah, yes.....the voice from the back seat......your guardian angel, my dear. So glad you listened.

How do I know?.......mine speaks to me occasionally. Most dramatic case was when I was going out to lunch with a friend and it ordered me to put my camera in my purse...(I never carry a camera in my purse).....that was the day I bumped into my hero and idol, Magic Johnson, and he asked me if I had a camera with me so we could have our picture taken together.......

Please, always listen to the voice of the man in the back seat.

Douglas said...

The last time I heard that voice from the back seat, it was saying "Go faster... and move into the left lane. You can pass those three semis with ease."

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Now this is one very terrifying story.

fishducky said...

You scared the s**t out of me!! Did this really happen? I can't wait to hear about your dad!

sage said...

You have a serious issue and end up in a Denny's... I once thought about writing a "Left Behind" parody titled "Left Behind at Denny's.

We're all glad you are okay.

jabblog said...

Whoever it was I'm glad you listened. It's a shame no-one called an ambulance for you, though.

Jacquelineand.... said...

Is it weird that I don't find this a frightening story? It sounds like a story of hope and grace; I'm definitely glad your guardian angel was on the ball that day!

Abnormal brainwaves my left ankle; unique, they are unique!

Christian at Point Counter-Point Point Point said...

It would have been funny if you had woke up naked this time too. Well, not “funny” funny.

Mr. Charleston said...

Great story Pearl. Had me riveted. Oh, the voice in the back seat... Elvis.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

It was an angel for sure and I'm so glad you listened! I agree with Shelly that your unique brain waves make your creativity and wonderful writing skills possible!

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

I remember this one, and it gave me goosebumps again.

That's it, Pearl. The first round is on me. AND I'm driving!

Happy Halloween, hon.
Stay safe.

Bodacious Boomer said...

Sweet Jesus kiddo!
After all that you still got back into the car and drove?
Don't you work in a hospital?

Has this reoccurred?

jenny_o said...

You have unbelievable stamina, Pearl. You made it all the way to a pinhole of vision while still walking and talking!

My theory is that the voice was generated inside your brain by the chemicals, memories, and whatnot stored up there, driven by a part of your brain that knew what was happening, a part that resides at a deeper level (sort of like the autonomic nervous system which controls your heart rate, breathing, etc - you don't consciously control it but it is basic to your survival).

But that's because I don't believe in angels, guardian or otherwise :) I do, however, believe in looking after someone until they are no longer shaky, white, or bleeding! Glad you made it home okay.

Daisy said...

Oh my! What a frightening experience! It's amazing that you made it home safely. So hard to believe they let you just walk out like that.

Rose L said...

Were the lumps and bleeding caused from falling?? Or were you mugged?
Geesh, you sure have some odd things happen...
Maybe you need a caretaker! LOL

The Elephant's Child said...

I don't know whether I am more grateful to that voice, or to the fact that you, a person I would have assessed as contrary, took direction.

As a fellow fainter, I am impressed at the concern you were shown. I was generally left on the floor to recover. Sometimes stepped over, since I was in the way.

River said...

Boy! You've had some scary times! I'm so glad your Guardian Angel is there for you, and I'm glad you listened.

Linda O'Connell said...

Oh you KNOW who spoke to you. Woman you are a survivor. How frightening.

Eva Gallant said...

Wow, that was quite an experience. I can't believe that no one called an ambulance immediately!!!

Teresa Evangeline said...

The world is a strange and wonderful place, full of deep and beautiful mystery.

Kana said...

Yay for the mysterious backseat driver - one so polite, he waited until you aksed aloud to give his directions. Most backseat drivers aren't so circumspect!

I think our reluctance to visit the doctor, even while too shaky to drink from a glass, is because we get things like "You're a fainter. And ya got weird brainwaves. And your blood pressure's high, exercise more and don't eat anything you like. And here's a referral to a dematologist, those moles look a little weird." And then we pay them for the privilege, limping out with what remains of our self-esteem.

Pat said...

Of course it was your Guardian Angel.
We all have them and should take note when they utter.