Tell us about your closest brush with death

Inspired by the Sickest you’ve ever been thread, what is the closest you have come to buying the farm, kicking the bucket, joining the choir eternal, etc.?

I can’t really think of any time where I was in a touch-and-go situation with death - Sure, there have been many “what if” situations like “if that car had veered left instead of right it would have hit me head on” or “I should have verified how deep that water was before I jumped off the waterfall” kinds of situations where if something had gone a bit differently I could have been seriously injured or killed but no lying in the hospital with doctors hurridly, worriedly working on me. That’s a good thing!

So, let me “almost die” vicariously through you.

Surprisingly nothing from Iraq qualifies. Stuff hit near but not that near.

When I was training in Fort Rucker we were doing night flights and luckily the guy in the back seat saw the fixed wing aircraft that was blowing through the training area at our altitude. If he hadn’t called out to the pilot we would have collided. The plane was blacked out with no running lights. It was probably a drug runner.

I’ve been on two ships that later sank. One of them, with loss of hundreds of lives, the ferry on the Nile from Aswan to Sudan, and another with no loss of lives, the Labrador coaster “William Carson”.

Maybe the closest, though, was in my car on a bitterly cold winter night on the Maine-Quebec border,. It was a clear night, with no snow on the roads, on the Maine side. But westerly winds had blown patchy drifts across the road over the ridge in Quebec, and I was making the first tracks through them. I was in a VW, which had two notorious characteristics. The traction was excellent in snow as long as the snow did not exceed the ground clearance, but the bottom was a toboggan and there was no traction if the wheels were off the ground. And, there was no heater fan, so the engine-generated heat was not blown into the car unless it was moving down the road. I got stuck in one of the drifts, and might very likely frozen to death in a windchill of maybe minus 30, before anyone came through in the morning. I carried a shovel in my car (as one does there) and furiously shoveled out enough of a path to get back onto dry pavement, turned around and crashed my way back through the channel I had just cut, recrossed the border, and found an alternate route to Montreal.

I never thought to myself “I’m going to die here”, but in retrospect, it was a very real possibility.

Ruptured my aorta, nearly 16 years ago. I was flown to a hospital and had emergency surgery. Most people with ruptured aortas do not live to tell about it.

Rocket attack in 'Nam. Shrapnel everywhere, five of our guys wounded, including the guy next to me. Not a scratch.

A friend saved me from drowning when I was a teenager.

Had a heart attack in 1965. I don’t know how many survive that initial attack, but not many around 51 years later.

My dad saved me from drowning in a pool when I was a kid.

A few years later, a friend saved me from catching hypothermia when I broke through the ice in a creek.

I’ve also had a grand mal seizure.

When I was 20, my boyfriend and I let a 17 year-old troubled girl stay with us because she had nowhere else to go. Suffice it to say, it did not work out. I tracked her down at her boyfriend’s house to get our key back, where they had just dropped acid, and she stabbed my boyfriend in the stomach and chased me across a field with a butcher knife. I could run really fast back in those days, especially if I was being chased across a field with a butcher knife, and I made it to help before she got me.

On a back country hike once: I slipped off of a wet slimy footpath into what would have been about a 100-foot fall into a glacier lake with no shore at all. I grabbed whatever knob of granite that was sticking out and held on. My buddies giggled and grabbed my wrists as I just about crapped my pants. They later admitted that was a nasty close call.

Another time I choked on some turkey (Hey, it was Thanksgiving) on a hike about a day away from cars. My buddy did the Heimlich on me and I could breath again. Another close call, because I could not breath.

Climbing with a group , we were top roping a single pitch slab climb. Basically I was anchored in at the top of a climb and was belaying people climbing up the cliff after abseiling down.
I was changing out from the belay and was going to abseil down, so I unhooked from the anchors , then some one at the bottom called to me , I leaned over with brain still thinking ‘I am secured’ , when I wasn’t , a quick thinking and reacting friend grabbed my harness before I pitched over the cliff.
yeah not thinking and being very aware when climbing is a good way to die.

I was riding a horse that reared up, I fell off then the horse toppled over backwards on top of me , only broken ribs, could have been worse.

Walked onto a drill floor on a rig, having just got off the helicopter and changed . The rig was racking back drill collars , basically swinging big heavy steel tubes around. As i walked onto the floor, I mistook the roughneck holding his hand up towards me as a friendly wave ( I worked on that rig quite often and knew the crew) and causally sauntered across and was smacked in the shoulder by a very heavy tube of steel swinging into position. I was a bit surprised and walked into the drillers shack to be met by 3 people staring jaws on the floor at me. Only then did it dawn ‘ohhhhh fuck I could have just been made to look like a ketchup packet being squeezed’.
Once again slight lack of awareness of where I was.
Nowdays I just push a mouse around,

under supervison

Probably the usual auto related stuff. Last autumn I was driving back from New Hampshire after a hike on a two lane back road and some utter dickbag came speeding towards me in my lane, passing on a double yellow line on a blind curve. Gave no sign of slowing or that he even saw me. I couldn’t go off the road because of trees so I just braked and laid on the horn and hoped the Subaru engineers knew what they were doing. Fortunately the cars he was passing saw what was going on and slowed enough so that at the last moment he could get back in his lane. It was a seriously damn close miss and I was shaking for miles afterwards.

Oh boy. Once I started thinking through this, there have been a few too many.

College - drove around a corner on a twisty road and someone pulled of the shoulder directly in front of me. They were executing a U-turn to cross the double-yellow, from the shoulder. I managed to slam on the brakes and spin my car out INSIDE the other car’s arc. I slid over onto the shoulder and hyperventilated for a few minutes.

Business travel - Flying into SFO, the pilot suddenly pulled hard. Complete silence in the cabin while we maneuvered for few minutes. Then he came on and said that another airplane was using the runway to take off. He had to maneuver to miss them. Don’t know whose mistake it was, but I was glad not to be on the evening news that night.

Car trip - coming back from the Bay Area to Albany, OR (just south of Salem) around New Year’s. Reached Shasta and Interstate 5 was closed due to snow. We were already in the mountains, it was night, and there was nowhere to stay. So we consulted our navigation system and headed off on a side road to get around the closure. Big mistake. Do not EVER do this. We ended up traveling very slowly on unplowed roads while the snow kept getting deeper. It took up most of the night to get around and back onto I-5. There were multiple times when I thought that we were going to be found in the Spring after the snow melted. I will say this: Toyota makes an awesome AWD. We got through all of it without chains.

F3 tornado in St. Louis. We had spent the day seeing the Arch and visiting museums. We knew there was bad weather coming in, but late Spring there’s always bad weather coming in. We headed East on I-70 to get back to Columbia. As we were passing the St. Louis airport, in heavy rain, all of the lights went out. All of the lights lining the interstate, everything that we could see in any direction. Bad hail, horrific winds. Howling noise. Lightning. We’re on an urban interstate, with concrete barriers, so it wasn’t even possible to get off the road and look for shelter. So we stopped under an over-pass with 9-10 other cars and a semi. The F3 tornado went right over us. I could feel the front end of the car starting to pick up. We travelled another minute or so after it passed before we got stuck for hours in stopped traffic. There were big rigs, just a short bit ahead of us, that had been tossed and piled up on one another. My son, now 10, insists that we weren’t in a tornado because it was just windy with a lot of stuff flying around. :slight_smile: I think he believes the cartoon depictions, where they have discrete walls, so there should have been a visible wall of black or something.

I was working the night shift. A guy walked in, demanded my wallet, and bashed me in the head with a mallet. (I remember getting hit three times before I blacked out. The doctors stitched up a dozen lacerations in my scalp. The detective opined that the robber did not want to leave any witnesses.)

By blind chance, a co-worker was passing through the neighborhood, and dropped in to chat. He called 911.

By blind chance, one of the best neurosurgeons in the country was on call that night in the ER. He cut me open, vacuumed the blood clots out of my brain, and installed a metal plate to hold the pieces of my skull together.

Nothing too exciting. As a kid, I went into anaphylaxis from penicillin. Couple close calls on the motorcycle. Had guns pointed at me by people who didn’t have the nerve, in the end, to shoot.

On vacation in D.C. in 1988, my family was hit on my side by a teen driver.

My brother and I were thrust forward-sideways and we only had lapbelts in our 1988 Oldsmobile Firenza. The force made the lapbelt cut off our air, the shock made us hold our breath. Combine the two and both of us turned blue and were in trouble.

I was 9, but I still remember this amazing Black guy who was at the gas station across the street bolting over to help us. He helped until the ambulance came and both my brother and I caught our breath. All of us wish we had his name to say thanks. He was amazingly helpful and kind. Still, we were bluish-purple. My Mom was bawling. Ambulance people were great, too.

I was only in hospital for a few hours.

I wasn’t that close to death, but it is definitely the closest I’ve felt to death.

2013, summer. Been having a number of strange problems (really bad liver tests, bladder trouble, anemia requiring transfusions) that seemed to point to an infection, but antibiotic after antibiotic didn’t fix things. Lab called me after hours one night (never a good sign) to tell me that my hematocrit was 16 and to go to ER now. Normal is between 35 and 40 . . .

I remember going in, and waking up I have no idea how much later, unable to move, with my doctor in the doorway saying “oh good, you’re awake, we thought you were gonna die last night.” I was septic, massive abdominal damage, unable to move my legs at all due to an abscessed Psoas muscle and only barely able to move my arms. They called my family with That Phone Call and everything.

Turns out it was a fungal infection. Seven weeks in CCU, three being vein-fed due to a throat infection from the anti-fungal medication upsetting the balance of bacteria vs. the yeast that nearly killed me. Six subsequent weeks in a rehab learning to walk again. Still dealing with the effects to this day.

I’ve shared the story here before but skydive #12, near-total malfunction on the main followed by a lineover partial malfunction on the old-style round reserve. The joke in training when someone asked how long you have to fix a malfunction is “The rest of your life” :smiley:

I landed a slowly spinning, partially open round canopy in a farmer’s field (he was out plowing, soft dirt helped me avoid getting hurt worse). I had bumps and bruises and some very stiff muscles to show for it but aside from that I was fine.

One of the guys at the DZ was the subject of a story on the old “911” show, a stunt went wrong and he came down in a parking lot at ~80mph. Lived to tell about it. One of my friends bought the gear he was wearing at the time, we all called it the “Racer Death Rig” (Racer is a particular model of harness/container).

Got hit by a motorcycle twice (same bike) on a beach in Peru when I was 9 years old. First impact send me flying forward. Second one he ran me over. The back wheel caught my skinny little arm and ripped it open near my shoulder. I was taken to the hospital in Lima in the back of a VW Beetle. Someone kept trying to cover my arm so I wouldn’t look at it, but I wanted to. I could see my muscles, bone, etc. Bled a lot, but not enough to kill me. And yes, scars do build character.

I was delivered by emergency c-section in the hallway of the hospital. When the doctor that delivered me retired many years later, there was a newspaper article (small town) where he cited my delivery as the most memorable in his career.

I once wandered off drunk by myself from a college party and got lost. It was middle of winter in a far northern climate. Cop eventually picked me up and brought me home. Definitely could’ve ended up passing out in a snow bank and freezing.

Had a car suddenly spin out in front of me on freeway. Avoided it, but just a little closer and could have been bad at those speeds.

In October 2014 I had a nasty gall bladder attack… vomited 11 times in the space of 9 hours. I have never been in so much pain. They found some gall stones but no inflammation, so they did a sort of contrast test to see what was going on. Doc walks in, says, ''We have your test results back, and here are the papers you need to to sign so we can operate ASAP."

Problem is, when they cut me open, they found my gall bladder was mostly shrivelled, blackened, and dead. It was seriously infected. It didn’t show up on the MRI because it wasn’t inflammation per se. They said I had likely been having attacks for years.

So I probably came pretty close to biting it there.