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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Second Time I Almost Died


Got a minute?  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.

Enjoy.





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?

45 comments:

Indigo Roth said...

Good gravy! Spooky, worrying, near-fatal stuff. No quip seems worthy. Glad you're with us, Pearl x

Shelly said...

I am so thankful for that voice in the back seat, and that you are with us. And what is wrong with people who can only offer you soup and not immediately call an ambulance after all that?

Douglas said...

I once witnessed a car-pedestrian accident wherein a young girl dashed in front of a car while trying to cross a busy thoroughfare. She was conscious when I got to her and refused to stay still or wait for EMS to arrive. She was mostly, it seemed, embarrassed by her situation, just as you seemed to be. You should have waited to be checked out, you should have let them call for some assistance. You are a national treasure, after all.

Delores said...

I've heard that voice....a couple of times it has called me by name...out of a deep sleep....and left me wondering what he wanted. You've been saved for something Pearl....you'll know when the time comes I'm sure.

joeh said...

Here is hoping you never say "Wait" again.

Dawn@Lighten Up! said...

I always think of you and your "abnormal brain waves." Bet you they're one reason you're so prolific. :)

Silliyak said...

Still waiting for the story about the horse...

Simply Suthern said...

If I had been sitting in the backseat I would have wanted you to pull over too!

Kathleen McCoy said...

Thank goodness for that mysterious voice in the backseat, though I'm puzzled that those in the restaurant didn't just automatically call paramedics. We're all usually in denial in such circumstances.

Launna said...

Wow Pearl... that was scary... I would have gone to emergency immediately.. Thank goodness you listened to that voice.... :-/

Ms Sparrow said...

Now, THAT was a scary story! I hope it was a one-time thing.

Pearl said...

I was just so out of it: didn't think to ask for help -- yes, I was embarrassed -- didn't think to go to a doctor. Honestly, I even had a hard time forming full sentences...

BLissed-Out Grandma said...

I tend to agree with Indigo, this was no laughing matter! I do wonder about the voice...some part of your self, or a guardian angel, or....
Glad you heard the voice and glad you obeyed!

Leenie said...

There are so many who can tell of a time when they felt or heard instructions, not from this dimension, that saved a life, prevented disaster or brought a blessing. We would be foolish to dismiss such events just because we don't understand them.

jenny_o said...

Scary experience, for sure. It's amazing you stayed conscious that long.

My interpretation of voices like that is that they are a part of our subconscious - an echo, or amalgam of echoes, of things we have heard before, put into proper context by some part of the brain that is still working under such circumstances. I occasionally "hear" my name being spoken, by people dear to me (all of whom are still in the land of the living) - I see it as just a brain memory that has been tweaked momentarily.

But that's just me, being all logical :)

Have you fainted without apparent cause since that time?

Lucy Corrander at Loose and Leafy said...

Migraine? Do you still drive? (You talk a lot about being on the bus so hope not!) Something similar happened to St Paul.

The Vegetable Assassin said...

That has creeped me out big time, thank you. I'm happy you were fine but man, who lets someone walk out in that state without making them sit down and wait for a medical professional to check them out?

As for the man, I'm going to go with Bono, because he is bossy and because it amuses me.

fishducky said...

I have one very short comment today: HOLY SHIT!!

Elephant's Child said...

How wonderful that you listened to that voice.
As an erstwhile fainter I remember that scene well.
And usually people left me to pick myself up when I came round.

Jayne Martin said...

So no one figured out why you had passed out? As for the voice, I believe in angels. Glad you're still with us, my friend.

Cloudia said...

Yeah. They told me to slow down before my bike accident. Glad I listened- could have been WAY bad, instead of broken wrist and vocational aid to go to college.....

Aloha Fainty

Busy Bee Suz said...

I'm fairly certain that voice was your guardian angel.....and am I glad you listened! What a story. So, does this continue to happen? {I hope not!}

Pearl said...

Hasn't happened since, no. Epilepsy was ruled out. No migraines. Just the abnormal brain waves.

:-)

I've heard the voice only twice. Haven't written about the first time yet... I tell you what, though: I ever hear that voice again, I'm doing EXACTLY what it tells me!

Judy said...

Just to be a total killjoy - if anyone around you loses consciousness, call the ambulance as soon as they hit the floor. A woman from church almost died because she didn't.
And I don't get here often enough to say how often you have to post...

Geo. said...

Hope it doesn't happen again but believe me, this helps: Sit down and get your head between your knees, far as you can. Don't ask how I know this --you don't need to.

Daisy said...

I'm glad that voice spoke to you, and I'm glad that you are still here, Pearl. So scary.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

What you described sounds like what sometimes happens before a migraine. I have had this experience a few times, but thankfully I was sitting down at my desk. They would last from a few minutes to an hour.

It is a miracle that you got home that night. That manager at Denny's was an idiot to let you leave and get in your car. As this happened 12 or 13 years ago, and you have not had a similar experience, I suspect you never will again.

Abnormal brain waves are so much more interesting than normal brain waves.

Lin said...

Yikes. I think it was "that little voice" but it was super-serious and sounded like a BIG voice.

I can't believe nobody called the ambulance for you. Weird.

yippee said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again. You are the best writer. Ever.

Linda O'Connell said...

So your guardian angel is a guy; did he sound like John Wayne or Paul Newman, Elvis, Sonny? Seriously, WOW! Abnormal brain waves, well that explains your superb writing ability.

Chicken said...

Holy Cow. Patty. Bingo. That was a great story. I want to know who the voice was, too. Do you have any ideas about who it might have been?

sage said...

Scary, but great storytelling. Listen to that voice!

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Holy crap. That's scary stuff. Thank goodness you're the obedient sort. Those people in Denny's were morons.

jenny_o said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jenny_o said...

I'm not sure how ambulance charges work in the US, but in my part of Canada you are charged for your ride to hospital. Health care is free but ambulance rides are not. If you have insurance, great; if you don't, you must pay directly (after the fact, of course). So if it's similar in the US, maybe those on the scene didn't want to create an expense for you unless you specifically asked them to. Just a thought.

Diane Tolley said...

I have two things to say:
1. Yikes.
2. I'm so glad we still have our Pearl.
As to the voice, well, I once heard a voice telling me (when I met my husby) that this was the man I was going to marry. True story. Of course, my Husby thinks it was the voice of my mother. But what does he know? Personally, I think it was your guardian Angel. And he's doing a fine job. :)

River said...

Thank heavens for guardian angels, I'm so glad you survived. The world would be a sadder place without Pearl in it.
My daughter fainted once while shopping in the same supermarket she worked in. woke up in hospital with electrodes all over. The staff called an ambulance, then phoned us. Turns out she simply hadn't eaten enough and when she got the bill for the ambulance promised herself she'd never skip breakfast again. $480 for a ten minute ride.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
I know that voice. So do you. Doesn't need a name, just obeying. Well done on that last part.

Disturbingly great writing. Again.

More hugs, YAM xx

Mitchell is Moving said...

Very scary. But so glad that's ALL that happened. So glad you heard and listened to Clarence Odbody!

The Geezers said...

I hope the Dr. is trustworthy and did a full workup. Sounds slightly like a form of mild seizure disorder (something I'm familiar with, having lived with "space out" episodes for years until finally getting diagnosed). The "abnormal brain wave" comment hints at something like that.

Austan said...

Great story Pearl! And that voice in the car? Your Guardian Angel or your subconscious. Mine's a 20-something Italian guy from Bensonhurst.

Buttons said...

Abnormal brain waves, I have heard of that in talented writers it is a real thing for sure. I read it somewhere or seen it in my head somewhere. And that voice was your agent:) Glad you listened really glad B.

ThreeOldKeys said...

there's nothing like waking up to faces looking down at you.

... reminds me of a story ... I was ... felt odd ... only out for a few seconds ... that security guard ... maternity pants.

Pat Tillett said...

Wow! I'm happy that you are still here to write this! I would have gone to the hospital and I'm invincible...

the walking man said...

The Black dude who helped you off the floor.