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Author Topic: Member Interesting, Hair Raising, Humorous or Otherwise Unusual Experiences  (Read 2451 times)

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AGelbert

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  • Location: Colchester, Vermont
    • Renwable Revolution
If you think it all ends here, you will consider risking your life to save a stranger an irrational act, period.    


I was faced, one day at a beach family outing when I was 34 with 2 small children, with a life or death situation. My dentist brother in law, an expert swimmer and scuba diver, was drowning in a rip current and 14 ft high wave breakers.



It was afternoon and my sister had scolded her hubby because he was reading a book on dental practice instead of "playing with his children like my brothers do". John wasn't feeling too great that day but he responded to the henpecking by going in. I had noticed that the tide was going out and some rather large "lumps" on the water surface indicating rapid current (about 8 inches high in otherwise calm water in a tide pool) were visible and I said, "It looks kind of rough out there".
He said he could handle it and it would be okay. My sister just looked at me crossly. John went in and was playing with some kind of raft with his kids that would just reach the surf at the edge of the opening in the tide pool lagoon and swing back in.

I knew that dynamic was going to change and the outgoing tide would soon try to suck anyone near the reef opening at the edge of the tide pool lagoon (about 50 yards from shore) into the surf and rip tide. I told my wife to gather up the kids and keep them out of the water. I sat on the beach while John began to drown.

My 36 year old brother and Vietnam vet, who had supported John in this dangerous game when I appeared concerned, now froze on the shore with a worried look on his face. Somebody grabbed the small raft his 8 year old son was on and managed to get it to shore (it was some good samaritan with red hair in the water that we never did talk to later).

My brother, over his momentary paralysis and spurned to action, ran up to me and said we had to get John. He had a big of piece of driftwood for floatation. He rushed to the shore and waited for me as the seconds ticked by and John was floundering, unable to swim to shore.

I stood there a second and thought to myself, "You know, you are going to die out there." I answered my own thought , "If I stay here, I'll never be able to live with myself so God will have to decide if I make it through this or not". The fear was momentary and rational. I dispensed with it with a practice I had of sticking to my principles come hell or high water. It wasn't heroics, it was habit. And BABY, this was HIGH WATER!

My wife later said we looked like children in the waves because they were so big. So my brother and I hyperventilated for about 20 seconds to get some extra oxygen in our lungs and dove in. My bro lost the driftwood in the turbulent water (just as well - it could have bopped us on the head and killed us). We got to John lickity split. Getting to him was like being on a river in the right direction.

Of course when we got to him, we had to turn around and try to hold his head above water. The moment we reached him and I said, "We've got you, John", he gave up. His head went under and I was under too and watched bubbles coming out of his mouth and his body totally relaxed. We pulled him up only to be slammed by the most god-awful monstrous wave power I have ever experienced. My femur bones were being bent by the force of the turbulence!
My fear returned with some terror thrown in. We had to fight to get back up to the surface only to be slammed back down by a new breaker. All the while we were trying to swim to shore and getting weaker. After one particularly powerful wave, I looked at my brother and yelled, "We're going to DIE out here!". He yelled, "A man has to think of himself!".

Our only chance to make it to shore was to let John go. We did. I glimpsed him floating away underwater. That was the most heart tearing, sad and anguished moment of my life all wrapped up into one desperate attempt to survive with my principles intact.

We began swimming to shore with the waves still sending us down a couple of seconds after surfacing. The salt water mixing with my breathing felt like fire burning my throat trachea. The people on shore didn't get closer. I lost sight of my brother. I was yelling "Praise the Lord" even as I ran out of energy in those brief moments on the surface.

My brother, much stronger than me and an agnostic, was concentrating on getting back to shore by cursing the ocean, the waves , the current and whatever else he could think of to keep himself "mad enough" to keep fighting for his life (I learned this from him later as I could not hear him in the tumult at the time).

About 15 minutes into this ordeal, I lost all my energy. I couldn't speak and I couldn't swim. I would send the commands to my arms and legs and they just WOULD NOT MOVE! I was in very good shape at that time of my life and had no muscle cramps or anything like that. I sank into the depths.

I made myself a promise that, even though I was sure to drown, I would absolutely refuse to breathe until my autonomic response kicked in after losing consciousness; I wasn't going to DO that burning throat thing any longer (later on my doctor said that saved my life but I'm not so sure). I began "breathing" by pushing the air in my mouth into my lungs and back. I thought of my wife and kids and asked God to take care of them.

I was totally convinced I was a goner. For some reason, I stopped feeling that urgency to breathe. Perhaps it was something like the nitrogen narcosis that divers get but that only happens at depth with scuba gear. I think the Guy upstairs gave me a break here (You know, that sky God atheists don't believe in).   

I became quite relaxed, still unable to move and my surroundings got darker. I figure I was about 20 feet down when I felt some rocky bottom passing under my right toe. The force of the waves was slight here but my movement with the current was plainly felt. This woke me from my torpor.

I concentrated on my foot and tried with all my might to flex my foot and anchor my toe on the reef surface below. It worked and I cut my toe. This woke me up more. I still, believe it or not, did not need to breathe. I waited for the current to shift direction and slid along the bottom with the top of my right foot. When the current flipped again, I would anchor my toe on the reef. I did this 5 or six times. The only part of me that I tried to move was my right foot and toe. I still did not have the strength or muscle coordination to swim. It was getting shallower (warmer water) and my surroundings lighter.

All of a sudden the water got murkier and the bottom hard to hold because it was sandy instead of rocky and, like a submarine surfacing, my head popped out of the water.
Now a normal person takes a deep breath here, right? Not me. I was in terror of losing my grip on the bottom (it was sandy with no toe holds) so I plunged back under to "hold position" until the current shifted. I had glimpsed my sister yards away and I realized I was on the shore so I weakly and carefully stood up, breathed in deep and vomited my guts out.

I raised my head and stared into my sister's eyes. She looked at me and said, "You tried". John died that day. I ended up fishing my brother out as he was cursing his way in (We lay him on the beach and he was okay after about 20 minutes) and keeping John's teenage kid (he had two of his kids there that day) from drowning trying to fish his father's body out.

We got the body as it managed to float a ways away from the rip tide and bump up against the far end of the tidal pool reef. We did CPR to no avail; he had a pulse from my pushing on his sternum while my sister (a registered nurse) cleared the air passage and breathed into his lungs but we gave up when the ambulance got there about 20 minutes later; he was a solid blue color (John was very fair and redheaded). Not a good day.

The point of this experience I am relating is that we need to get our priorities straight in this country. WTF are we willing to die for? What are our principles? I know what mine are, who my boss is, and where I'm going when I leave this valley of tears. That guides me in my decision making.

As a pilot I learned that you HAVE TO think about trouble all the time, plan what you will do when or if it comes and PRACTICE it in your brain. Then relax and go on about your life. Otherwise you will learn by hard experience why a coward dies a thousand deaths. Be true to your principles and you will sleep better at night and be an asset to humanity and God.

My rant is for anyone here that hasn't thought this through like I KNOW Surly, Ashvin, RE, Eddie and probably Ka, among others, have. I'm in the moral imperative faith based Ashvin, Surly camp.

More Background:

I had events occur in my life that kept me alive miraculously when I should have gotten killed. I did not pray to avoid getting smacked by a car that ran a red light without lights on at night while my brother was saying "It's not going to get any greener" to me from the back seat of the car while I sat there like a bump on a log for NO ****ING REASON WHATSOEVER!

I didn't spend 10 to 15 minutes underwater refusing to breathe and come out of it because I'm superman; it just happened and I wrote about it in detail here some time ago. Sure, I was praising the Lord and thanking Him for "rescuing" me while I was drowning trying to fish my brother in law dentist (who drowned) from the surf but it was my foot moving me along the bottom for those 10 to 15 minutes or so that got me to the beach because I could barely move my arms and had to concentrate just to dig one toe into the rocky bottom. God made me work for that one!

While totaling a car, the seat belt caused my rib cage to rotate approximately 10 degrees or so I fully expected to die and had no desire whatsoever to stick around as I lay in a field gasping for air.

I did not pray or ask to be miraculously healed but nevertheless, AFTER the doctor at the ER had decided to do an exploratory on me to see how ****ed up I was inside, everything just POPPED into place X-ray room just before the body cavity/chest X-ray prior to the operation. The doctor cancelled the operation after seeing the x-ray. Apparently nothing was broken. You studied medicine (this comment was originally made to a doctor). How many times have you heard of rib cage rotation along the sternum that just pops back into position? How about the spleen? In violent car crashes it is almost always ruptured.

I lost consciousness gasping for air at the hospital with everything going round and round. When I woke up I was still gasping and being rolled into x-ray when all kinds of bubbling noises came from my chest.

I addressed God in my mind and said, WHAT ARE YOU DOING!!? Something or someone said, also in my mind, I"M FIXING YOU. My reaction was of chagrin. I was convinced I was DONE here and now I had to live in this HELL HOLE some more.

Now you can call that a faith based miraculous healing if you want but if you do I will say that you are fooling yourself. The "power" of your mind in Faith isn't going to have you or anybody else walking on water anytime soon. All this stuff and nonsense about each one of us being a little god and able to do miracles just by tuning in to some zen power or mind focus is simply magical thinking. As to JC's quote about moving mountains, mustard seed and Faith. He was talking about rocket fuel for evangelizing (fishing humans), not habitually violating the laws of physics.

My belief in Christ is EVIDENCE based. RE thinks I fancy myself "privileged" to have these experiences. I consider myself incredibly stubborn; so much so that God decided that I am so dense that He had to show me some evidence before I would believe. He doesn't do that to most people because most people aren't that dense, period.

And no, I'm not going to detail all the weird and wonderful stuff I have witnessed to you because some reader here might think I'm inventing it just to prove some metaphysical bull**** I believe in. Sorry, I'm about as hard nosed about cause and effect as any other scientist out there.

I once put a guy in jail because I refused to back down on my court testimony after witnessing a car he lost control of drive over and kill a street vendor. Despite receiving death threats, I said, **** it, it's the right thing to do so I'M GOING TO DO IT. 

Everything I witnessed about God doing His thing here and there was rigorously questioned and fact checked moment by moment by me. I was NOT looking for anything but an excuse NOT to believe there is a supreme being that intercedes in the lives of people on this planet in a personal manner.

But the observed events and facts said otherwise. Sure, I have Faith NOW, but I didn't do anything to earn it. It really IS, as the bible says, a gift.
 
« Last Edit: November 10, 2015, 08:09:58 pm by AGelbert »
Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart:
wait, I say, on the Lord. -- Psalm 27:14

 

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