Saturday, March 5, 2011

Second Chances or the First Day of the Rest of My Life

Today is the 35th Anniversary of the day life gave me a second chance. If I close my eyes I can remember it like it was yesterday…

It was a typical Friday evening. I had been at the bank since 8:00am and by the time I clocked out at 6:15 pm I was more than ready to head home, strip off my pantyhose and enjoy the weekend. It was a very exciting time in my life. My wedding was less than a month away and I was bubbling over with joy and anticipation. Life was good, my happy future stretched out ahead of me and I could see no dark clouds on the horizon – no portents that warned of a life-altering event that was just minutes away.


As I waited for my fellow employees to finish tasks and clock out, I stood by the back door of our beautiful new bank building chatting with our guard. He was an older man, husband of a lovely woman who worked at our main office and like a grandfather to those of us in our early twenties. It had been a long day for him too and the weight of the gun at his side was wearing. He decided to take it off and place it on a side table nearby. This was a man who knew guns. After serving in the U.S. Army for 30 years, he was well aware of how to safely handle a weapon but, like all of us who are human, he made a mistake – a mistake that in a split second would forever change all of our lives. Instead of removing the entire belt and holster, he removed only the gun and as he reached to place it on the table he fumbled it. You can probably guess what happened next and you would be right.

Did you ever see the movie, Bonnie and Clyde? In the final scene of the movie, the outlaws are gunned down and the entire scene is shown in slow motion. That’s exactly how it happened in real life for me. I felt the bullet before I heard it. I remember laughing with the guard over some story he was telling me then, not one second later, my laughter abruptly ceased as I felt my body being slammed against the wall. Next came the sound. BANG! It reverberated throughout my entire being. I lost consciousness but only for a brief time. When I awoke, I was on my back on the floor and knew immediately what had happened. I’ve always been calm in an emergency and amazingly, that was the case even then, as my blood streamed across the floor and I mentally prepared to leave this world. They say your life flashes before you in situations like this. That wasn’t the case with me. Of the utmost importance to me was getting messages out to the people I loved while I could still talk. You see, along with the blood flowing out of my chest, I was also coughing up blood so I knew that internal organs had been damaged and I feared I didn’t have much time. As one of the dear women I worked with held my hand, I gave her phone numbers of my fiancĂ© and parents and messages to deliver to them and my younger brothers. Then I asked for paper towels. You should have seen the expression on her face. It was priceless!  I wanted the towels because we had moved into that beautiful new building only months earlier and I was afraid my blood would seep from the tile on which I had fallen onto the new carpet and ruin it. Hey, we all have our priorities! lol!



The stars aligned for me that day…or maybe my guardian angel was working overtime. The fire station was three minutes away and, thankfully, the crew was in the station when the call came in. Within ten minutes of being shot, I was loaded into the ambulance and on my way to the hospital. I never lost consciousness again and the events that followed are so indelibly impressed upon my mind that even now, thirty-five years later, I can remember them in excruciatingly clear detail. I remember asking the paramedic in the ambulance if I was dying and being certain that I was when he avoided giving me an answer. I remember the ambulance driver swearing at the driver in front of us who wouldn’t pull over and let us through traffic. In the driver’s defense, you have to remember this was during snowbird season in south Florida when the roads are flooded with elderly drivers who can barely walk, let alone drive. He (or she) probably couldn’t even hear the siren. When they wheeled me into the ER exam room there were two doctors and three nurses waiting who immediately jumped into action. I remember mourning the loss of my favorite dress as they cut it off me. I’m not sure why I was so upset by that. It’s not like I could have ever worn it again with two bullet holes in it. “At least”, I thought, “I’ll get rid of my pantyhose!” Believe me; wearing hot, sticky pantyhose, especially control-top, at the end of a long day isn’t anybody’s idea of fun.

 
While the situation was deadly serious, it wasn’t totally without humor. As a young male nurse earnestly scrubbed my chest with antiseptic I smiled sweetly at him and said, “It’s a boob, not a washboard! Do you think you could ease up a bit?” They were still laughing over that one in the ER months later.



 
Finally, about six hours after I arrived at the hospital, I was deemed stable enough to move to a room on a patient floor. My hardworking angel was still on the job. You see, the bullet had entered my back below my right shoulder, bounced around, cracking some ribs, then ripped through my right lung, exiting just above my right breast. I was so, so lucky. That bullet could have taken much more dangerous paths. My lung should have collapsed but didn’t. Other internal organs could have been damaged but weren’t. March 5, 1976 could have easily been the last day of my life…but it wasn’t. At the young age of twenty-four, I had learned just how precious, and precarious, life is and I had been given a second chance to live it.  I vowed that I would make the most of that gift and never take it for granted.

Later that night, as I lay unmoving in a bed in a darkened hospital room, breathless with pain but so grateful to still be here to feel that pain, a nurse came into the room, gently smoothed the hair back from my forehead and said, “Can I get you anything, dear?” “Yes,” I replied with profound relief, “would you please take off these damn pantyhose?!?”

Has life ever given you, or someone close to you, a second chance? How did it change you? Has it made you more daring? More cautious? More giving? More selfish? More appreciative of family and friends? Let’s dish about life’s second chances. Two of you who leave a comment will be randomly chosen to win a book from my prize stash.


~PJ

100 comments:

  1. My second chance was not as dramatic as yours, thankfully. When I was 20 I had pain and swelling in my leg that kept getting worse for almost a week. I finally went to the ER, and they found out that it was a major blood clot. I ended up in the hospital for 8 days, on blood thinners for 6 months, but it taught me how short life could be. I did not have any more clots for about 8 years and then had 2 episodes within 6 months. I will now be on blood thinners for life, and release how fast life can change.

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  2. What an amazing story. Nothing like that has happened to me or my family or friends. I have known people who have lost a job and it turned out to be a blessing in disguise in regards to being able to spend time with family or having an opening to new opportunities they never thought possible.

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  3. I had a ruptured appendix which scared my mother a lot as my grandmother died of hers (but she was in her 90's by then). I was very grateful when I opened my eyes in post-op because I wasn't sure I was going to make it.

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  4. PJ

    This story is totally amazing and I agree your guardian angel was there with you. Nothing like that has happened to me, but at the age of 39 my husband was diognozed with bowel cancer he is doing well and will be 56 this year although he has had quite a few operations since then and they get tougher everytime he keeps going he is so positive and I think that these types of things make us stronger and we learn that life is short and to get out there and do the things that make you happy share the love and enjoy life.

    Have Fun
    Helen

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  5. OH MY GOD!! OH MY GOD!! OH MY GOD!! I thought I was reading a blurb for an upcoming book & then I realized. How unlucky. How lucky. I am cautious because of past events in my life.

    marypres@gmail.com

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  6. Dramatic enough, June! Blood clots are nothing to sneeze at. I'm so glad they were able to diagnose and treat yours before they did any damage!

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  7. Jane, isn't it funny how something that seems terrible at the time can turn out to be the best thing to happen to you? I know people who have had the same experience following job loss. Sometimes it opens opportunities we never would have dreamed of.

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  8. Sheree, a ruptured appendix can be very dangerous. Did that experience change the way you view life?

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  9. Helen, I think a positive outlook carries great weight in the fight against any disease. I hope your husband has many, many more years to get out there and do the things that make you happy share the love and enjoy life.

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  10. Marybelle, I'm fascinated by how events impact people in different ways. My experience has made me a bit cautious too.

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  11. Holy crap! I knew that it happened, but I had never heard the story in detail. I am very glad for that second chance because I couldn't imagine my life without you. <3

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  12. Patty, the second chance I am about to tell about was not mine...but affected my family drastically. In August of 2008 I was driving my daughter back to college. We live in Mississippi and her school is in Rochester, NY. She and I had left the previous morning and had planned a two day drive, through the Kentucky and Ohio countryside...and quality mother/daughter time. My husband, the commander of the highway patrol in our district, could not come and it was perfect for us as our younger daughter was in her first few days as a high school junior.

    It was a beautiful day, we were driving along when my daughter received a "Dear Jane" phone call from her then-boyfriend. Needless to say, we were having one of those "moments" when my cell phone rang again. This call was from my daughter back home. She was frantic and her voice unusually shaky. "Daddy is in the hospital. They don't know what's wrong but they sent a trooper to the school to get me, he doesn't look good and I only saw him a minute." As soon as she hung up the phone rang again, this time a doctor. My husband had been found at our home, lying in the floor of the bedroom and by the time they got him to the hospital he was unresponsive, ashen colored and tests were ordered. Maybe it was a stroke, they didn't know and were rushing him to the next city with a better hospital. ALL the troopers under him in the district escorted the ambulance to the ER. There they determined he'd had a severe brain aneurysm and his CT's were not good. He was in a coma and had not responded for quite some time.

    The doctor was a no nonsense man. He didn't give him good odds. His prognosis was in minutes...not days or weeks. I was immediately flown home and reunited with my younger daughter, who had held up fairly well with the help of my sister and aunt. When I first saw him he was still ashen, a tube from his head draining fluid into a bag near the bed, several IV's surrounded the head of the bed and tubes were everywhere, into his arms, head, nose and mouth...everywhere. It took five weeks of coma and semi-coma conditions before he was able to be moved from ICU. He could not speak to us, could not communicate well or write notes for us. Each day he grew a bit stronger as his brain continued to drain...the doctor was talking to me about possible long term rehab when he began to speak to us...and plans turned to rehab to get him ready to return home.

    A month in a hospital rehab facility was no picnic. His personality underwent several changes, often from one extreme to another. His judgement was affected and he convinced a friend it was okay to spring him from the hospital for a while...NOT part of the hospital procedure! He tried to leave on his own once!

    He was home for the first of November, still recuperating..learning to walk and to do things for himself again. Moody. He was unable to go back to work and retired.

    He has had more health problems since then but he is still alive and has regained most all of his prior mental abilities. The doctors all call him a miracle. His brain had literally filled with blood. He now has a permanent shunt that drains fluids if they were to accumulate in his brain. But he is the greatest thing in the world to his two daughters who were so scared they'd lost their daddy. My oldest daughter cherishes every visit home and they have special together time. My younger daughter still cannot go into the room he was found in...they'd said if he hadn't been found when he was that she would have found him when she came in from school. And there was little chance he would have been alive then.

    He was given a miracle for his second chance. It makes me appreciate life more...we never know when we, or someone we love, will be taken from us. When you see how close one can come to dying...and survive... it proves how precious life really is.

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  13. Amazing story! Sure makes you appreciate life so much more.
    I was hit by a drunk driver about 10 years ago. He was doing 70 miles an hour when he ran into my side of the car. I broke my head and for a short time lost my memory. It was surreal. But it did make me appreciate things more. And I make sure people know how much they mean to me every day.

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  14. I couldn't imagine my life with you either, Jenn. ♥ you!

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  15. Wow, Karen! That's an amazing story. Not many people survive a brain aneurysm and to have recovered to the extent that your husband has is incredible. That's a very difficult journey and I know full well that your journey has to have been just as hard as his.

    Five years before his death, my late husband suffered a massive stroke that robbed him of his ability to read, write or speak. He too experienced the mood swings, personality changes and other affects of a brain injury as he struggled to recover those abilities which he had lost.

    Thank you for sharing your story. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family as you continue on this journey.

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  16. Sheila, you were very lucky to survive that accident. I'm so glad you recovered and are still here to brighten so many lives today!

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  17. What an amazing story PJ. God obviously had other plans for you and I am so glad he did. I've had two emergency surgeries, the first one not too close, but the second one I came really close to not waking up. The one thing it taught me was not to worry so much about the little things. Life can change in the blink of an eye and what you were so worried about one minute means absolutely nothing the next. What about the man that shot you? I can just imagine the anguish his actions caused him.

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  18. Beth, I'll echo your thoughts in saying I'm so glad you woke up from that second surgery. God obviously had other plans for you too!

    You said, The one thing it taught me was not to worry so much about the little things.

    That's a lesson I didn't learn until later in life but I'm so glad I finally did!

    What about the man that shot you? I can just imagine the anguish his actions caused him.

    I'm sorry to say that our friendship was never the same. I forgave him but, sadly, he was never able to forgive himself.

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  19. The angel who was with you that day was the same angel who brought you into my life.

    I don't know if I've been given a second chance, but I'm not waiting for one. I'm trying to fumble through life - mistakes and all - as best I can on my first chance! Love you.

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  20. PJ,
    I'm still shocky from the story.

    I had the car wreck I walked away from and it did it's job...for a while. Now, I'm sad to say, I still tend to live as if the to-do list is the important thing. Lessons fade sometimes.

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  21. P.J., ohmigod, what a story! We are all so lucky you had a guardian angel! That's really incredible. Did you see the guard again? He must have been devastated.

    My life has been changed in small ways.

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  22. OmG.What a story, PJ.You were cursed and blessed at the same time. I'm so glad you had a happy ending, but how terrifying it must have been. I'm terrified now just thinking about it!

    You can't take a minute for granted. Our best friends' 22 year old son was playing a pick-up football game with friends one Thanksgiving day and died. He'd had an undetected heart defect. His sudden death made us truly realize how precious our four children are. No matter how imperfect or difficult their growing up was, there is nothing more important than family.

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  23. What a lovely story, PJ -- I'm so glad that bullet took the right path! (that is, it would have been better if it stayed in the gun). I bet that guard never got over it... hugs, Eloisa

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  24. Oh PJ, how blessed you were, your angel was working overtime and we are so glad he was. Like Marybelle I thought I was reading a blurb for a while.

    I have never had anything happen like that even close to me but I certainly know it is possible for freak accidents to occur. I have lost beloved people in my life, not to accidents but to illness and disease. It has shown me to let anyone and everyone that I love know that verbally every chance I get to say it.

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  25. Oh, PJ! I know I have heard this story before, but reading all the details I am just awe struck at your response. While I sit here with tears in my eyes, I am amazed at how calm you were and still are to this day. And I am so incredibly thankful that your guardian angel worked overtime that day!

    As for me, I haven't had a dramatic second chance episode and I'm hoping I never do. I have been reminding myself everyday not to let the little things bug me and to enjoy my family to the fullest.

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  26. I have always been well aware of how precious life is. I was born with a hole in my heart almost 52 years ago. Rather than perform risky surgery, they elected to keep an eye on the situation and see if it healed by itself. It did - by the time I was 4 1/2 years old, mind you. I spent those years in and out of a hospital 100+ miles away. My parents had to borrow someone's car because they didn't have one back in those days, plus the major "interstate" highway that we currently have wasn't finished being made, so they had to take slower roads to get there and back to visit me. I would stay years at the hospital, and then was allowed to go home for a weekend every so many months, and gradually every weekend until I went home. They were rotary phones back then, and my mom knew the doctor's home number off by heart. He was called many times to revive me in the middle of the night. When I cried or coughed, phlegm came up my throat and gagged me, so time was of the essence. Suffice to say, I'm still here.

    1.5 years ago someone "T-boned" my car about 6 inches behind my driver's door. I was shaking like a leaf, as was my passenger and the driver of the other car, but I was fine (other than whiplash). Even though I think every single day about how every day is precious and not to be taken for granted, that day still haunts my dreams, although thankfully less and less often now.

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  27. I don't know if I've been given a second chance, but I'm not waiting for one. I'm trying to fumble through life - mistakes and all - as best I can on my first chance! Love you.

    Nicki, I hope one chance is all you'll ever need. Love you too! ♥

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  28. I had the car wreck I walked away from and it did it's job...for a while. Now, I'm sad to say, I still tend to live as if the to-do list is the important thing. Lessons fade sometimes.

    Keri, I think that's human nature. I know there were many times in the past 35 years when I let the little things get to me but God always seems to know when that happens and throws something else at me to remind me how precious life is.

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  29. I'm not even sure what to say except I thank God, PJ, you're still with us. I can't even imagine what you went through.

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  30. Did you see the guard again? He must have been devastated.

    Julia, the police wouldn't let him contact me until their investigation was complete so I didn't see him again until I was cleared to return to work 8 weeks later. He continued to work at the bank until he retired but he was never allowed to wear a gun again.

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  31. No matter how imperfect or difficult their growing up was, there is nothing more important than family.

    Amen, Maggie. There was a tragic story this week from a town near where I grew up. A 16-year-old basketball player scored the winning basket at the buzzer to give his high school team a perfect season then collapsed on the court a few minutes later and died. You just never know when your number will be called.

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  32. What a lovely story, PJ -- I'm so glad that bullet took the right path! (that is, it would have been better if it stayed in the gun).

    Thanks, Eloisa. I feel the same! :)

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  33. Dianna, I'm so glad you're still working on your first chance!

    You said, It has shown me to let anyone and everyone that I love know that verbally every chance I get to say it.

    So very important!

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  34. While I sit here with tears in my eyes, I am amazed at how calm you were and still are to this day.

    You aren't the only one who was amazed, Buffie! And as for tears, I shed plenty while writing this blog. It always comes back to me in vivid detail every March 5th and has for the past 34 years.

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  35. Wow, Laney! Talk about a guardian angel working overtime! You're the miracle of the day.

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  36. I'm not even sure what to say except I thank God, PJ, you're still with us.

    I do a lot of thanking too, Bev. I still carry bullet fragments in my lung that continue to remind me of how blessed I am to still be here.

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  37. Oh My Gosh...I got chills reading your post. I do believe in a higher power, guardian angels, what ever you want to call it. Thank God you are ok and here today! When you talk about the stars aligning I know exactly what you mean. I pushed my husband to go for a simple physical after a cousin of mine had a heart attack. One thing led to another and my husband was eventually diagnosed at age 37 with stage III colon cancer with no family history. We were told if one more year had passed before being diagnosed, he would have a different outcome. I think of this period in our lives (from getting him to go for a ohysical to his surgery and treatment) as one gigantic puzzle with many tiny little pieces. If even one piece did't fit just right .. my husband would not be here today. The planets were aligned that day, his guardian angels called in reinforcements, the grace of God was shining down on him because I consider it a miracle he alive and well today.

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  38. PJ,

    LAWD, you brought tears to my eyes and laughter from my lips with that story.

    Even though we don't know each other personally, but through the internet, I am sooo glad you were given that second chance! You're a wonderful person, and I'm thankful to be counted among your internet friends! Lol! I always look forward to your reviews, comments and recipes!!!

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  39. My goodness what an incredible story. I and my family have been very lucky. We haven't been in any situations as terrifying as yours. So glad that you received a second chance.

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  40. PJ, I'm wiping tears from my eyes right now. What an amazing, brave, scary and wonderful story you shared.

    thank you for this and I am so glad fate smiled kindly on you that day.

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  41. PJ, like Jenn and Buffie, I had heard the story but not in such detail. All I can say is WOW and that I'm so glad God was looking out for you that day. Despite my tears, I had to laugh at the last line! (((hugs)))

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  42. Your story made me cry, but so thankful you got your second chance. I think that God gives them to us at the time when we need them the most. I know he gave me one and I am so thankful for that.

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  43. wow, glad you were okay. just shows how crazy & delicate life is. Can't say I've had any major events leading to 2nd chances, certainly nothing that comes close to your story. I've been fairly lucky in life (even if I don't always feel that way) and knock on wood, will continue to be so.

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  44. PJ, I've heard you tell this story before, but it still gives me chills to think of what you went through. Yes, my friend, your guardian angel was right beside you that day!

    I'm still laughing at the "it's a boob, not a washboard" comment. LOL Still witty even when you're in the ER!

    I haven't really had any major traumas myself (a couple of minor car accidents), but the death of my mom last year took us all by surprise. It taught me to live each day to the fullest and tell those you hold near and dear how much you love them, because we never know how much time we have. As they say, "life is not a dress rehearsal."

    I'm glad to call you my friend, PJ. Love you!

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  45. Oh my, Chris! I'm so glad you urged your husband to have that physical. I hope he's doing well today.

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  46. Thanks, Stacie! I'm glad to hear you haven't had to face anything like this!

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  47. thank you for this and I am so glad fate smiled kindly on you that day.

    As am I, Jules!

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  48. Despite my tears, I had to laugh at the last line!

    It's funny now, Andrea but anybody who has worn pantyhose will understand just how desperate I was! lol!

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  49. I think that God gives them to us at the time when we need them the most. I know he gave me one and I am so thankful for that.

    I agree, Mary Ann. I'm so glad He gave you your second chance!

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  50. Gamistress, I hope you continue to have a happy and healthy first chance life!

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  51. Gannon, I know how difficult it was for you to lose your mom. My mom's death took us by surprise too and it really does change your outlook on life.

    I pray the angels will continue to watch over you and your family, my friend.

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  52. I think everyone who has ever met you is so glad that you got a second chance at life, PJ, because you are such a positive life force!
    I don't know if anyone would consider this a second chance, but 12 yrs. ago, we thought we were expecting our 2nd child. At 4 mos., there was no heartbeat so I was sent in for an ultrasound. They found a tumor growing instead. Within days, it was removed and I spent six mos or so at cancer care making sure it hadn't spread. At that point, I took a look at the way I was living my life and knew I could do much better. I got a handle on things emotionally and physically, and it's been a wonderful journey; a journey that brought me into contact with you. HUGS PJ!

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  53. God was good to you and to those of us whose lives you've blessed since the day of your second chance, PJ. I sent up my thank you after reading your story.

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  55. Thank you for sharing that story with us, PJ. I can't imagine going though something like that. And I echo the others who thank your guardian angel for working overtime that day! It wouln't be the same around here without your smiling, happy presence! But now we know where your zest and love of life come from.

    As for me, I don't think I ever had a second chance experience like you, but I think the most lifechaning experienec I had was when I went to college. It was the first time I was away from my family for a significant amount of time, and when I was really on my own. I had to learn to be responsible for myself, and there was really not going to anyone to hold my hand day-to-day. I loved college and it was definitely the best four years of my life. I consider it a big step transitioning into an adult because when I was in school, at the end of the day, even though I was away, I knew that if the chips were down, my family would still be there for me in a flash. And I have to give my dad big credit for loading up the mini-van and schlepping my stuff to and from school every August and May. Thanks Dad!

    P.S. SO WITH YOU on the pantyhose!

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  56. Wow, PJ, you've told me this story before but it never ceases to give me goosebumps. SO GLAD YOU MADE IT!!!!! x

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  57. That was an amazing story & I am grateful that you are here to tell it. I was a Police Officer for 25 years and I have always had a healthy respect for handguns. I can only imagine the Guards awful feelings and what a terrible lesson he learned that day.
    Love & Hugs,
    Pam

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  58. Wow, PJ, what a story! I'm very happy you're here to tell it to us!

    It is sad to say that we usually don't stop and smell the roses until something really drastic or tragic happens. There are two huge events over the past couple of years that come to mind. Losing my cousin/BFF to colon cancer and my DH getting a stent put in one of the main arteries to his heart (just in time, I might add - it was 99% blocked).

    I think both of those events changed the way I live. I rarely close my eyes at night with regrets. Things don't go unsaid anymore and I try not to sweat the small stuff. Really understanding that I have a finite amount of time with people has made me live more in the moment. It also helps you pinpoint what is truly important.

    (BTW - I'm on my way out to sing Happy Birthday to my mom! She is 85 today!)

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  59. What an inspiring story. I've never had a life changing incident happen to me. I've been remarkably healthy and extremely lucky about that sort of thing. The only thing that has made me take a look at my life was having my house broken into. That made me decide to sell my house and move across the country to be near my son.

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  60. My husband and I both lost our jobs at the same time due to plant closings. We got jobs within six months and lost that one too, same problem. Then we were hired at another place and during orientation my husband had a stroke, but I didn't know until later that evening when he started to act strange then I took him to the hospital. So I started the new job while he was in the hospital. He was off work for several months then when he returned we found out this place was closeing also. My husband is doing quite well now although he has some reading problems, learning and memory problems now but work full time. My husband got hired into another plant which was a much better job, me I am still not working. But we did get that second chance, the stroke could have been a whole lot worce, think God it wasn't so he can live a fairly normal life.

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  61. Kellie, I would definitely consider that a second chance! I am so glad you're doing well today! (((Hugs)))

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  62. Janga, thank you for sending up your thank you. I do that on a regular basis!

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  63. Lisa, going away to college may not be a second chance experience but it is definitely life changing!

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  64. It gives me goosebumps too, Anna! I'm so glad I made it. I can't imagine not having the opportunity to meet so many of the wonderful friends I have today...like you!

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  65. Pamela, I'm sure you have many amazing stories to tell! The guard never really got over the accident. I forgave him quickly but he never could forgive himself.

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  66. Irisheyes, I'm so very sorry about your cousin/bff. It's terrible to lose people we love. So glad about your dh though! 99% blockage is scary to even think about. I'd say he's a walking miracle!

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  67. Oops! Almost forgot. Happy Birthday to your mom, Irish!

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  68. Barbara, I don't blame you for moving after your house was broken into. I can't imagine ever feeling safe after that.

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  69. Virginia, I'm glad your husband made a good recovery from his stroke and was able to go back to work. Strokes can be devastating. Here's hoping you'll find a job too. Sending good vibes your way!

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  70. PJ~
    Somwhere within all that, while I was tearing up, so I don't know exactly where, you said something about, "I'm so lucky..." and went on to explain what you were thankful for. To recognize what *could* have gone wrong, and hadn't, to realize how blessed you felt that in that frightening moment, is pretty special.

    Life is a near miss. That's the way it feels sometimes. With kids, it's as if the near-misses are doubled (or tripled, or quadupled, and so on). But sometimes, the 'misses' matters most of all.

    I'm so you were a miss.

    Hugs.

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  71. PJ and others, amazing and lucky, those guardian angels are out there.

    Karen, I had a co-worker who luckily recovered from a brain aneurism. Has a few problems but nothing too major and is now her usual cheery self.

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  73. Hi Kris! Thank you for stopping by. You said, "To recognize what *could* have gone wrong, and hadn't, to realize how blessed you felt that in that frightening moment, is pretty special."

    All credit for that goes to my maternal grandmother. She was a wonderful influence in my life.

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  74. Pam P, thanks for dropping by. There have been a lot of guardian angels working overtime, haven't there? Amazing stories!

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  75. Kirsten, I'm so glad your mother is doing well. Near misses like that really do make us appreciate every moment with our loved ones.

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  76. I think my second came 2 years ago. I have been fainting since I was a teenager. My doctors have always said well you don't eat enough. If you could see me you would laugh. Well my fainting started going into seizures. I would wake up in the hospital confused as could be. My neurologist doped me up on so many meds I felt like I couldn't live my life. And still had seizures. When I complained he got quite nasty and we parted ways. I decided I would only go to doctors who listened to me. Two neurologists later I went to a new neurologist. During my first visit he took my blood pressure sent me off to a cardiologist who put a pacemaker in and here I am seizure and med free. JodiT

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  77. PJ, thank you for sharing this story. I am still shaking my head in disbelief of the trauma you went through on that day.

    I had a blood disorder that was discovered when I was 12. I went through years of cortisone meds, looking like a whale. I didn't know until years later that my mother lived in fear of any accident, small or large, because doctors had told her I could bleed to death since my body couldn't handle clotting. I had my spleen removed at age 16 and that did solve the problem. I was the first case of this disorder seen in eastern Iowa and my visits to the U of Iowa Hospitals, every Friday for well over a year, always brought many doctors and interns into the office. I was black and blue from blood tests; my fingers and arms were so sore, that the techs started taking blood from my ear lobes.

    I also worry about my husband. He is young still at 52 and has had 2 heart attacks; one at age 45 and another just 2 years ago.

    I will just end by saying that God is good and he always has his guardian angels standing or sitting by us, even in worse-case scenarios.

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  78. OMG PJ, Unbelievable. Thanks for sharing. I can't say I know of anything remotely close to what you went through among family and friends. Hugs to you~

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  79. My second chance wasn't as bad as yours by far! I had thyroid cancer. I didn't know it for a very long time though. Years actually. I started getting very tired and sick all the time, I thought it was my anemia. Three years ago when I was pregnant with my 4th child my mom saw a lump protruding from my throat. She said I needed to get my thyroid tested right away. Well I didn't. I waited until my son was a year old before I went for testing. The first biopsy said it wasn't cancer. But the doctor said the lump was the size of a golf ball and needed to come out. So I went for surgery a few months later. Not only were they wrong about the size of it, but the second biopsy proved it was cancer! The first lab was so very wrong. The tumor was the size of a baseball. Yes, a baseball. The doctors were flabbergasted at the fact that I never noticed it and I could still breath and swallow perfectly! I was shocked as well. I went for a second surgery 2 months after to remove the second half of my thyroid because I have thyroid disease and my body was attacking it and literally killing it. I have to be on thyroid hormone medicine for the rest of my life, but I got a second chance at life! It was almost too late. It was starting to spread to blood vessels. Had my mom not seen the lump I never would have gone to the doctor. Here I am 3 years later, so far cancer free, with baby #5 on the way! I had a spotty ultrasound done on my neck back in January though and I may need a 3rd surgery when the baby is born. I'll do whatever it takes though!

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  80. No I have never had a life threatening second chance.

    But am so happy that yours turned out well and you are still here.

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  81. What a story. Thanks so much for sharing. I have a good friend who is a recovered breast cancer patient. I think of everything she went through and how she is this incredibly strong and vital woman. I’m proud to know her. God Bless You, too.

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  82. My goodness PJ! You had to survive so you could be around for us to meet :-) I have had a couple of second chances I guess you could say. First was the Thanksgiving after my grandfather died we went to my aunts( on moms side) and left early cause weather was getting bad. We lived around a mountain at that time. Roads were slick and dad may have been going a little to fast. Anyway, we slide off the side of the road and by the grace of God we were held up by a tree. The first thing I remember is yelling at everyone to get out. I was one the side with the tree. Luckily, while at my aunts house we had been going through some of her mothers things and I had choose a great big quilt. So we wrapped up in it and were standing on side of narrow road with not much traffic. Finally, neighbor came by but only had room for one so granny went with them. A few minutes later (seemed like hours) another neighbor came by with truck mom got in front and we got in back with firewood. Never so glad to get home. I still have trouble driving on that stretch of road. Second, second chance would be when diagnosed with Skin cancer. I was VERY LUCKY, I caught it right when It first started. Doctor said it was a good thing I came in when I did, it hadn't got to the lymph nodes yet. Had surgery and had it removed. I have now been cancer free for 13 years. I was only about 26 when this happened. Very eye opening.

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  83. So fortunate to see that the universe saw fit to keep you around to bless all of our lives. Hugs and LOVE PJ! XO

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  84. Wow! So many amazing stories. You walk around never realizing the drama unfolding in the lives of people around you. PJ, I'm so very glad your Guardian Angel was working overtime that day! The world would be a much sadder place without you!

    I've never had anything even close to that happen to me, but I've had a couple of "close calls". The most vivid was when my youngest daughter was still an infant. I had just dropped her off at Grandma's house so I could go to work. I was driving on the 8 near La Mesa, California, in the center lane, going about 55 mph. Suddenly, in all that traffic, a woman in the lane to my left abruptly turned her car right into me, hitting my left front quarter panel on my 1965 Mustang. These cars had only lap belts, no shoulder harnesses. The impact spun me around several times and to this day, I don't know why I wasn't flung into the other cars around me.

    When I finally stopped and caught my breath, I looked around and saw that a semi truck had screeched to a stop not even 5 feet from my car. If he'd hit me, I'd have died. If Alana had been with me in the car, she'd have died just from the initial collision as her car seat was ripped from the seat belt and had flown past my head and crashed into the front dashboard.

    The woman who hit me ran but I guess her conscience got the best of her because she returned to the scene. Her breath reeked of alcohol, but that was in the days before breathalyzers and she passed the sobriety tests. They couldn't charge her with drunk driving, only "illegal lane change."

    It definitely made me more aware of the cars around me as I drive and it made me realize how fragile life is...one little wrong move and it's all over. I think it's made me more cautious in all aspects of my life. I'm not a risk-taker and I think long and hard before I do anything with potential for danger.

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  85. PJ I cannot imagine what you went through, but you kind of lived through my worst nightmare.. I mean yours was an accident. But my worst nightmare has always been that I would be shot in bank robbery gone wrong when I am in the bank.. Weird I know, but one of those things I have always thought could happen to me.
    But I think my second chance came when I had to have an eye surgery about four yrs ago and there was a chance that I could loose my eyesight in one eye. I was so lucky and I have never taken my sight for granted. To have not be able to read would have been a nightmare for me.. So now, even though I don't have perfect sight, I have partial sight in that eye.. So I feel very blessed..

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  86. that is one amazing story, PJ. wow. I must keep my guardian angel working OT, but I've never had any close calls like that. Bless you, darlin. thea

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  87. My God, PJ. That's all I can say. I had NO idea. But, as always, you faced your challenges with grace and humor--you are such a wonderful role model, my lady! As for my second chance, it was when my car was broadsided by a drunk driver. I should have been killed, but instead I was just passing a wide, grass median separating the lanes of the highway. My car skidded onto that and rolled. All the windows blew out and the car came to rest standing more or less upright. I unhooked my seatbelt and climbed out over the dashboard and through the now absent windshield. Everybody who was running toward the car stopped dead when they saw me because they couldn't believe I'd survived - and more or less unscathed!

    Thank you for reminding me that life is precious and that we shouldn't waste it on trivial things! xo

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    1. Your guardian angel was working hard that day, Vanessa. I'm so thankful! I can't imagine a world without you in it, dear friend.

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  88. PJ, I didn't know this story! One of my dearest friend was struck by lightening ten years ago. She went into cardiac arrest at the scene but was brought back to life by paramedics. She celebrates her "Rebirthday" every July and we all celebrate with her. She's a lot like you, sunny, personable and always positive. She was before her incident as I suspect you were, too. I think it's the positive attitude and the strength of character that makes some people survive such horrific events. My friend is a my beta reader and a huge romance fan. She lives in NC also and now I am going to have to get you two together! Thanks for sharing your story!

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    1. Thanks for sharing your friend's story, Tracy. She sounds like a wonderful person. I'd love to meet her! :)

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  89. Now I know why you have such a beautiful smile. Thanks for sharing.

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  90. PJ, oh, my gosh, oh, my gosh!! Thank you for sharing your story if this traumatic time. I just cannot even fathom all that happened to you. God definitely knew you still had a full life of loving and giving to give to many. Hugs to you!!!!

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  91. OMG. PJ, no I had never heard your story. Incredible. You are an extraordinary woman. Wow! So glad of the positive outcome. ❤️

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  92. PJ,what an uplifting story. So glad you survived to tell the tale as you are an amazing person. My two brushes with death happened when I was diagnosed with amoebic encephalitis. Once from complications of the illness itself. It's extremely rare. Only eight or so people have been diagnosed with the disease and I'm one of the only functioning survivors. The other was when a nurse overdosed me on the wrong medication. I thank God every day I'm still alive.

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  93. First, I'm so so glad you lived through this because my life would be so much emptier without you--and meeting you and spending time with you has been some of the best moments of my life. The fact you can tell this story with the grace, forgiveness, and hilarious humor you do just shows your guardian angel fought hard for you for a reason.

    As for something comparable to myself...I've never really been in that situation. Well, unless you count my birth...and I don't remember it myself. I only have the memories. I was born in 1975--so we didn't have quite the same great medical advances we have now. Anyway, the day I arrived was also the day a major blizzard was coming to lock everyone up for about a week--and my father and brother had thrown snow tires on the truck and went to the nearest town to load up on essentials to wait out the storm. I was not due until April. This was February 25.

    Anyway as soon as Dad and Eldon took off to the store, Mom went into labor, and my sister called the store to have them send Dad and Eldon back immediately. The store proprietess waved them out and told them to hurry back. When they got back, Dad loaded up Mom--and there was a story how they ran into a neighbor (Elizabeth Carr, sweet older lady) who when Dad stopped to tell her what was up and what they were doing, she said, "Someone has already told me. Get a move on! You don't want to have this baby in the truck."

    Dad drove 13 miles to Fayette, the nearest hospital--and Mom delivered the baby--oh, wait, ME, she delivered me there. Mind you, most of the doctor visits until this day had been dark, sad visits where it was told I would likely be born dead, or as special needs where I would likely need to be put in a home--I wouldn't be able to walk or talk or do any of the things healthy children do. Mom was super depressed during this time; and she had decided I was a boy--and my name would be Benjamin Franklin (after my grandfather, who had died in late December.) Essentially EVERY portent of doom that could have sprung up since the surprising news I was coming to when I sent mom into labor occurred. My sister, upon mom and dad leaving, went to her bedroom and cried because she thought it would be the last time she ever saw mom. Doctors didn't have much hope of mom making it either. Mom was Rh-negative, which was part of the reason why they thought I'd have all these problems.

    While I was supposedly pre-mature, I was nearly 9 pounds, black and blue in my limbs, and yellow jaundiced--because I couldn't look bad enough. I received at least 3 transfusions and mom was hemorrhaging too, so she got some transfusions. In fact, the little country hospital immediately had us moved to the bigger, better equipped teaching hospital in Columbia, MO, once we were stabilized enough to be sent by ambulance. My aunt, who worked at the little country hospital as a nurse, first saw me under the lights as soon as I was born: black and blue limbs, sickly looking, and just rather pathetic looking. She didn't think I'd make it. She didn't think I'd keep all my limbs either--I definitely LOOKED like all the predictions the doctors had for me were true.

    But once at the newer, better hospital, and set under some lights to take away the jaundice, and the transfusions taking effect--I pinked up and there was nothing particularly striking about me that said, "She's not quite right and will need constant medical care and round the clock treatment." In fact, far sooner than either of my parents imagined, they were sent home with me with reassurances from the doctors that I was as fine as they could make me.

    So it's not really a second chance--because it was my first chance out the gate--but every year my parents and my aunt told me the story of when I was born...and it's made me grateful for a lot of things. Being born in the time I had been; the medical experts we had; the luck and the miracle that surrounded the whole situation.

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  94. Thank you for sharing your story, PJ. I'm so glad you're here to share your wonderfulness with the rest of us. I had two brushes with death when I was diagnosed with amoebic encephalitis. The first was just by contracting the disease. Only eight or so others have had the disease world-wide. I'm one of the only, if not the only functioning survivor. The other happened during my eight-month stay in the hospital when a nurse overdosed me with the wrong medication. I've never been that sick in my life. Those few days in ICU were torture. I'm thankful everyday to be alive and to have friends like you.

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  95. Oh, wow, PJ! I had no idea about this. I'm so glad your guardian angel was watching out for you. And it's so you to insert humor into the tale. :)

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  96. PJ, what an awesome story - and so beautifully written I felt I was right there with you. Thank heavens you pulled through! Thanks for sharing. xx

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  97. PJ, I always knew you were an amazing woman and this is just another example of your strength and goodness. I have always counted it a privilege to have met you in person and been online friends for many years! Thank you for being a ray of sunshine in my life. Hugs!

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  98. This is an incredible story, PJ! I can't believe I've never heard it before today & I'm so very glad that the ending was my favorite kind -- happy. :-)

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