It’s been an interesting week. As part of it, I almost died. Well, maybe I did. It’s actually not clear as I was unconscious at the time…
As I didn’t know at the time that I “almost died” or “could have died”, does it count?
I had this conversation once. We were talking about a fear of dying and I mentioned that I had “almost died” a half-dozen times and it didn’t worry me. I didn’t like the idea of being in pain, but wasn’t scared of dying.
Which led onto: Does “almost died” count if you don’t get hurt?
Example #1, from when I was about 12. My brother and I were riding our bicycles to the shopping center. It required us to go across both sides of a big and busy intersection. I was ahead of my younger brother. The light turned green for cars going the same direction as me, as did the pedestrian light. I stopped for a moment to let my brother catch up. A big truck ran the red light and ran across the path I would have been on if I hadn’t stopped, wiping out a car that started with the green. If I hadn’t waited, it would have wiped me out too. But nothing happened to me. Does it count?
Example #2, from when I was about 20. My best friend (let’s call him Sam for today) chose to undertake, not overtake a truck that was turning. A crazy move from the start. There were 3 of us in the car with him. We all yelled “No!” but he was sure he could make it because the truck was turning wide. Duh, it was a truck and needed the space to make the rear wheels get around too. So the truck cut across and smashed the back of the car as Sam tried to zoom by. The car spun around and slammed into a power pole. The rear was ripped open by the truck and a crate in the trunk (boot, if you’re not in the USA) flew out and broke the leg of a pedestrian. The power pole embedded itself into the car between the front passenger side (me) and the rear passenger side (I don’t remember who…someone who is no longer a good friend of Sam, that’s for sure). A foot further to the front and I’d have been dead for sure. Two feet back and the other guy would’ve died for sure. But nothing happened to me (bumps and bruising, but no hospital injuries). Does it count?
I have a half-dozen other examples. Interestingly, a few of them involve cars (and not me driving them).
Example #3, from when I was about 40. I was driving my dad to the airport in the Washington DC region. It was night and there was this guy going too slow in the fast lane (for my USA friends, don’t worry, the whole “fast lane” concept will just confuse you!). I didn’t want to sit behind him all the way to the airport, so undertook him (slowly because the Airport police love to ticket anyone on this road). I had no need to go back into the fast lane and tootled along. A moment later, I realized there was a car coming straight at me. A second after that, I realized it was in the fast lane not my lane, and it zipped by me, slamming head-on into the car that had refused to move out of the fast lane for any of the other drivers. I called 911 right away. But nothing happened to me. Does it count? In this case, I vote NO because although the wrong-way driver was a (quickly proven) danger to others, I wasn’t necessarily at risk of more than damp underwear..
My example from this past weekend is simpler. I had some minor surgery and near the end of the procedure I threw up. (I had followed the rules about when to stop eating but it happened anyway.) I was under and knew nothing of it. I only knew that my throat hurt a lot when I woke up, and got the first bit of the story from a nurse in the recovery room. Later in the day, I found out that it was apparently quite serious at the time, they had to clear out my lungs, that it carried significant risks , etc. I didn’t feel any different because my only knowledge of it is a very sore throat, plus a conviction that there is a ‘loose flap’ back there somewhere beyond just being scraped up. I don’t know if there was a way to quantify what risk there was to me though. I certainly wasn’t able to prevent it or fear it or respond to it. Does it count? Maybe NO on this one too?
I’ll throw in one last example (#4) where, again, nothing at all happened to me, although the risk was high. Here is a YouTube video of a rock formation known as “The Nerve Test” in the Grampians in north Victoria, Australia:
Unlike the guy in the video, when I was about 19, I looked around at the nice views, then decided to leap from the end of the Nerve Test to the rocks on the right-hand side. I was a fit guy and made it. My friends were horrified. I was young and immortal so it didn’t bother me. Had I not made it, there were no cell phones then, and it was miles from anywhere. People would have hiked back to cars, driven to a phone box (yes, little ones, they existed then), then waited for a crew to arrive who would then have to had to figure out how to get down the cliff face to the dummy saying some variation of “Ouch!” at the bottom. Good times…
I know a dear friend who has me beat for scary injuries (she is still on the road to recovery): https://poorcowinfrance.wordpress.com/2018/09/23/er-part-1/
I wonder how many of us have these stories.