FastFreddy2

Close encounters - with Mr Reaper.

21 posts in this topic

Getting toward the latter part of my life, I can't but help think of an impending event, and how many times I've already dodged Mr Reaper.

The third of many events that nearly had me killed, was by a passing car .... (The first I missed due to being a baby, where falling masonry might have done for me, but I'd been moved an hour before it fell into my cot. The second, was again as a baby, when my father, mother and me were involved in a motorcycle and sidecar accident. Apparently I was thrown clear from the sidecar and found in the middle of the road. Back then, roads weren't so busy. My father carried the scars on his leg for the rest of his life.)

The first escape I remember would have been when I was around 6 or 7, and at school. A dog had found its way into the school, and 'standing orders' were that dogs were to be removed. The school was towards the end of a country lane that had one other building on it, some 500 yards away. (A very small guest house.) My plan was to persuade the dog away from our play area, and let it wander off. It seemed to like to fetch a thrown stick, so persuasion seemed straight forward.

Small bouts of stick throwing got us to the school boundary, where me and dog got through the open railings that marked the school perimeter. As I was about to throw the stick across the mud covered tar and pebble track that passed as a road, I noticed an approaching car, and waited for it to pass. just as it did, the dog jumped at the stick I held in my hand, pushing me forward into the car. Luckily .... if you can relate luck in any way to this, the dog jumped just as the car passed, so it pushed me into the side of the car, and not under it. The only thing 'run over' was my foot. Back then, cars weren't big or heavy, my foot felt hot from the pressure, but nothing broken (I can say with hindsight).

The driver stopped, and asked if I was alright, I said yes, briefly explaining what had happened. The dog was absent by this time. He asked again if I was okay, then he left and I returned to school. I explained events at the school, and new orders were issued about stray dogs. I don't recall what they were, but taking them off the school premises was confirmed as not being part of pupil duties.

Looking back at my memory of events, a number of things almost startle me. The school perimeter being so open; not only easy for me (and others) to get out, but practically an invitation for anyone else to come in. The school is still there, but there is a significant fence around the school, that HMP Wormwood Scrubs would be pleased with. The next quirky thing, is how unlucky was I, to be standing next to a road when a car passed me? That guest house had 5 rooms IIRC. What were the chances of someone driving past on an otherwise desolate/unused road? Parents (my father) reading his probably wouldn't believe the ignorance of the driver, leaving a young child he had just knocked over. Nor could my father understand why the school had done nothing to ensure my good health. No visit to/by a doctor, nor hospital for a check-over. This happened over 50 years ago so obviously things have changed, and have changed beyond recognition, both culturally and physically. 

The 'track' I mentioned has been a proper road for most of that 50 years, with a new housing estate being built next to the school. The guest house went, when the estate was created. One of the houses that backed onto the playing field further up the perimeter, would become my new home some 2 or 3 years later.

A driver knocking down a child (under any circumstances) then leaving them to their own devices in 2017, would undoubtedly be pilloried, as would the school over this event.....       

 

   

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Posted (edited)

Sounds pretty much like a lightning strike in terms of bad luck.

I have had a couple of brushes with catastrophe, but I prefer to put them behind me and out of mind. 

Edited by Shyheels
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6 hours ago, Shyheels said:

Sounds pretty much like a lightning strike in terms of bad luck.

I have had a couple of brushes with catastrophe, but I prefer to put them behind me and out of mind. 

I like that turn of phrase in relation to the event. :)

While sitting down to breakfast this morning, it occurred to me a different man could easily have suggested he take me to a hospital, and I would have gotten into his car without any notion of the possible (unpleasant) consequences of doing that. I was away from where I should have been without supervision, in a quiet dead-ended country lane alone with a stranger who had transport....

The idea of this thread is to help me (and others) realise how easily life can end. I've no complaints, as the series grows, readers will understand why. ;) I'm not sure how many times I've escaped Mr Reaper, but I must be very close to matching a cat. B) 

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I don't think there is any escaping him - not really. If he really wants you, he'll get you. Evasion is futile...

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Posted (edited)

The second event that could have taken my (then) young life, was me jumping out of a tree.

Growing up, I spent a good amount of my life wandering fields, hedges and ponds with others of my age. In summer, we would sometimes follow the combine harvester moving in and out of the falling torrent of straw belching from the high point of the machine, completely unaware of any danger. When the farmer had left, the older kids would pile straw up against a tree they could climb, and many happy hours were spent tossing themselves into the huge pile of straw constructed under the 'launch' branch.

Eventually I grew old enough to get up that tree, and have a go with the taller boys. Looking up, it seemed like quite a way to fall, and of course looked even further when looking down. My first couple of jumps were a mix of fright and exhilaration. My last, neither.

We would have been about 16ft off the ground, falling into twice my height of straw. The last time I left that branch it seemed plain to me the pile was offset. I couldn't hold on long enough to to tell anyone and have them move it, my little hands just let go. It wouldn't be hard for a 6 or 7 year old to have their skull pierced by their spine falling for that height, if they kept their legs and body rigid. Luckily I knew to 'bounce' from PE lessons at school, and some of the straw was in the right place. I mangled my left ankle (and cried  as I limped all the way home) but I lived to tell the tale.

I went to the doctors who wanted me to have it X-rayed, but I was insistent it wasn't that badly injured (it was). I can remember being left on our front porch in a chair while I recovered the use of my foot, friends stopping to chat while I recuperated. I doubt I'll ever know, but I wonder still to this day, if I actually broke something. My left foot has never had the flexibility of my right, and when my ankles begin to get tired walking in a heel, it's always my left ankle that gives up first. 

 

Edited by FastFreddy2

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I would have been around 14 years old when I next escaped from the Reapers grasp.

As I mentioned before, I spent most of my youth, wandering the immediate countryside whenever it was possible. As we grew older, we perhaps became more interested in socialising with the opposite sex, and taking an interest in our appearance, but none of us were quite at that stage. 

For some reason I/we had become interested in hunting stuff. It may have started when my idiot brother tried to pick up a rat he thought was dead, only for him to find out, it wasn't. It took us months, but catapults, bows'n'arrows, and makeshift spears were used to hunt the thing down over a period of months. (We think we got it, but we did for it with our feet. We then buried it, marking the grave with a wooden cross. Yeah, nuts.)

During this (hunting) period, I maybe spent too much time wondering how easily electricity might kill. I made a rig with a copper wire grid on a board perhaps a little over 12 inches square. None of the wire on one side, touched the wires coming from the other. The thinking at the time was, anything alive treading on the grid would get stunned (or worse) if it got 240 volts run through it's feet. Living close to school, I decided I would try out my electric trap one lunchtime, while my father slept (he worked nights) and my mother was at work.

The grid was connected up to the mains and I had also included an electric light bulb in the circuit to confirm there was a completed circuit when I 'threw the switch'. To test the circuit, I had placed a poker across the grid, to temporarily complete the circuit. When I switched on the power, the lamp did not light up. Unfortunately, youthful exuberance got the better of me, and I ran out into the garden to check everything was okay. Yes, the lamp was switch on, but one of the wires had come unjoined. Without any hesitation I grabbed the two wires, one in each hand. Instantly, I realised I hadn't turned off the power when I left the garage and walked into the garden. 

It's possibly the one and only time I was absolutely convinced my time was up. I could feel the electricity pulsing through my body, and as many will know, muscle spasm pretty much ensures anything you are holding, stays held. I was locked, holding a lead in each, with my body conducting electricity to complete the circuit. At the time I would have been around 5-6 stone in weight (built like a stick), with a fairly young heart.

From nowhere, my subconscious took me from the Reapers grasp, and instructed my leg to kick the wire from my hand. Honestly, it didn't come from me. That light bulb undoubtedly helped save my life, restricting the amperage I was subjected to. My hand was burnt where the current arced, but I was alive having thought I was to die.

Returning to school I probably acted like it was just another lunch break. Inside, was an extraordinary sense of euphoria, almost like being born for the first time. It lasted for a day, and it really did feel like I'd escaped Mr Reaper.

 

Authors note:

These days, any form of hunting is seen as somewhat barbaric. This took place at a time when it wasn't so, and many people around at that time had personal experience of killing the food they ate. I didn't have any comprehension of the rights/wrongs of unnecessary animal death at that time, but I've had a mammal free diet for 30 years, so I've done my bit to compensate.

 

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You probably really did escape, too.

Electricity is lethal and scary - or at least I think it is scary... 

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Freddy's 'electricity escapade' closely mirrors one of my own at age 8 or 9.   I was getting annoyed with the moths that decided to flit around my bedroom when I was attempting to sleep.   (They had doubtless escaped from my father's wallet - more on that another time.)   I decided that electrocution was the answer and made up a 'probe' by fastening a piece of wire (from a paper-clip) to one sprung plunger inside a bayonet socket that was at one end of an extension cable used for a table lamp.   [The bayonet socket was effectively the same as one still uses in a ceiling light; it would accept a plug with bayonet fittings as found on a light bulb.   The other end took a two-pin (unearthed) plug that went into a socket at skirting level.   Nowadays, of course, proper 13a plugs and sockets would be the norm.]

The 'probe' would not have worked, even if connected to the live plunger, as no circuit was completed by touching the moth, or anything else unless it was effectively earthed.   But, weapon in hand, I advanced on my quarry when it alighted on a table and succeeded in prodding it.   Nothing happened, so I prodded harder - and the wire must have twisted to the side to touch the other plunger: BANG, FLASH and all the house lights went off as the fuse was blown.   I dropped the probe and I remember it bouncing off my bare leg, so it was just as well that it was then 'dead'.   It only took me a minute to retrieve and dismantle the 'evidence' - before dad came into my room to tell me (unnecessarily) that a fuse had blown so my reading light would not work.   As such blown fuses were not uncommon (our wiring was then pretty hairy, especially after a few of dad's 'improvements' - another story there to tell) so no suspicion fell on me and the moth lived to flit another day.

I have had a few 'proper' electric shocks over the years, all accidental and arising from a fault or contact with a live circuit that shouldn't have been.   Luckily, I've never experienced more than a tingle, probably because I was not properly earthed, but I treat electricity with respect - but not with fear; it can be worked on 'live' if necessary if care is taken. 

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Definite fear here. I don't ever tinker. If work needs to be done, I call an electrician and am damned glad to do so!

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Picking up on a couple of points raised above above electric shock:

1.   It is usually considered that an AC current will tend to help the person 'shocked' to be released from contact with the conductor, presumably because the alternating effect makes-and-breaks and tends to attract/repel cyclically.   DC on the other hand is supposed to make the contact more permanent, 'frozen' almost.    I am aware of children who have died after coming into contact with the 'third rail' on the Southern Region tracks (usually 660v DC in the suburban area) simply because they were quite unable to release themselves.  On the other hand, I have seen a railwayman crossing track whose long wet mackintosh brushed against the live rail and merely flashed-over, throwing him clear.   Experimentation is not, however, recommended!

2.   The general rule is that 'it's the volts that jolts, but the mills [milliamperes] that kills'!

Back to my Van der Graaff generator ... :o

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I understand the 'theory' of AC. I can tell you from experience, I even felt the 'buzz' of the cycle. However, 50 cycles a second gives 20 milliseconds per (each-way) full cycle and 10 milliseconds per hand for the letting go bit. I was fully conscious, and if it were possible, I'd have been very happy to let go of the thing that was killing me. While amps will cause permanent (burn/cook) damage, volts are what cause the heart to stop. Five minutes of 240 volts directly through my upper chest would not have been healthy, thankfully, I believe I had about 3 to 4 seconds.

I've been zapped a number of times by earthing a live feed, once or twice doing electrical work in the house, once or twice with screwdrivers inside computers. The 'zing' going up my arm from these, very much NOT in the same league.  

 

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10 hours ago, FastFreddy2 said:

I understand the 'theory' of AC. I can tell you from experience, I even felt the 'buzz' of the cycle. However, 50 cycles a second gives 20 milliseconds per (each-way) full cycle and 10 milliseconds per hand for the letting go bit. I was fully conscious, and if it were possible, I'd have been very happy to let go of the thing that was killing me. While amps will cause permanent (burn/cook) damage, volts are what cause the heart to stop. Five minutes of 240 volts directly through my upper chest would not have been healthy, thankfully, I believe I had about 3 to 4 seconds.

I've been zapped a number of times by earthing a live feed, once or twice doing electrical work in the house, once or twice with screwdrivers inside computers. The 'zing' going up my arm from these, very much NOT in the same league.  

 

I think we are saying essentially the same thing, Freddy.   Without going into detailed analysis of a sine wave, the null point (however brief) and reversal of AC current is normally conducive to a 'release' - but I suspect much depends on the person concerned (strength etc) and the effectiveness of earthing.   Yes, a (fairly) high voltage can jolt the heart and maybe stop it, but here again sufficient current is needed to do real harm, as I understand it.   Defibrillators typically require 500 - 1000v but I do NOT advocate trying one out, especially if home-made!  

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I liked the sign I saw once in a wildlife park in Tasmania - "We have defibrillators on hand; if you need one please ask a member of staff..." 

I just love DIY defibrillation...

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, Shyheels said:

I liked the sign I saw once in a wildlife park in Tasmania - "We have defibrillators on hand; if you need one please ask a member of staff..." 

I just love DIY defibrillation...

Sometimes useful for heart arrhythmia, though I wouldn't recommend it, any more than Puffer would. ;)

 

2 hours ago, Puffer said:

Without going into detailed analysis of a sine wave, the null point (however brief) and reversal of AC current is normally conducive to a 'release'

By a circuit breaker possibly, but I'll bet £100 to any taker, that they can't let go of anything in 1/100th of a second. I'd even challenge the notion that an electro-magnet could effectively release something in that time before a following cycle kept the object held in place. (As with an A/C motor?)

 

 

Without doubt, that light bulb helped me to survive, as it effectively became a resistor in the circuit, limiting the amount of amps I received. But as the video suggests, even low amps over a period produce effects prejudicial to maintaining life ....  There was enough power going through me, to burn the skin on the palm of my left hand. It looked like 'arc' burns caused as the wire was kicked from my grasp..... 

 

 

Edited by FastFreddy2
Grammar.

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Posted (edited)

My first self-induced-motorised brush with Mr Reaper came while I was 16 years old. I could (wrongly) suggest that I was following a family tradition of two wheeled transport, but the truth was that at 16 I could own a motor scooter or motor bike, and my dress sense was more aligned to scooter ownership. ;)

My next door neighbour's son, had kept his scooter from his 'mod' days, and stored it for some years in the family's garage. I acquired the rusting wreck for a modest sum, and made it pretty with some garish purple metallic paint, with matt black side panels.

Originally, it looked like this:

 

5994f790ed389_LambrettaSX150.thumb.JPG.c66dce81adcf972b117180127f1381e8.JPG

 

But the version I bought contained large patches of brown stuff, and very little paint. Despite it being garaged, it had been made in Italy and in those days, there was no such thing as corrosion resistant treatment - ESPECIALLY on Italian vehicles. :rolleyes:

It took some time, but I got it tidied up, painted, MOT'd, insured, and me with a Provisional license. Yay!

I rode it for a week or two, but not venturing far. I wasn't much more than a child (at the time I looked like a child), and these were the days before compulsory crash-helmets were required too. My road skills could be measured in low single digits from a maximum of 100.

 

Not long after my initial short journeys,  I started going a bit further afield, and eventually I worked up the enthusiasm to ride to my local town centre. Almost all the outward journey included no drama, until I approached the last roundabout next to the town centre market area, with just a little too much speed. I knew from riding a bicycle that braking when turning, never has a good ending, so having slowed as much as I could, I tried to persuade the scooter around the bend.

At the time, these railings didn't have the barrier in front of them ....

 

Railings.jpg.2ebd9257a6c62e5f8928144b3db450e0.jpg

 

... which was in some ways, was lucky for me really.

As I rounded the large swept roundabout, it became obvious I wasn't going to make it without incident. I left the road, hopped the kerb, and ploughed into the railings. They stopped me, and the scooter, dead. Two of the railings weren't as straight as they once were, and my scooters front mudguard wasn't as tidy as it once was either. I was bruised, and I'd torn a tassel off my loafer shoes....

A lady who had been waiting at the bus stop came over, and asked if I was alright, which I was. Embarrassed, but okay. I had some scratches on my hands and ankle, but nothing serious at all. I tried to look 'cool', and composed myself, then righted my scooter.

The scooter started up, and I rode home.

Days later, the bent mudguard was straight and repainted.

This, the first of many road accidents, with me in charge. :rolleyes: 

 

Edited by FastFreddy2

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Posted (edited)

The next time I had a brush-with-Mr-Reaper, I was nineteen.

I was one of the first in my social group to both pass my driving test, and own a car. It was a purple MK1 Cortina.

One, very much like this:

 Ford_Cortina_Mark_I.jpg.193783aad4dc853349630cd2fb32ed89.jpg

 

It was a good car, and I liked it.

While I lived close enough to where I worked to walk there, the British weather often encouraged me to drive to work. 

One lunchtime, myself and two work buddies decided to venture out at lunchtime for food. Leaving the yard where we worked meant around a mile to get to the main road that took us to a town centre. Some 300 yards from the roundabout that would take us onto the main road, it started to rain. As I approached the junction, it became obvious the wiper on my side had some debris under it, and opening the quarter-light (little triangular window in front of the main door window) I got my hand outside and tried to grab the debris as the wiper moved across the screen. With the roundabout fast approaching, I brought my hand back in and when traffic allowed, I turned left and joined the main road to the local town centre.

At this point, I believe I asked the front passenger to hold the wheel, while I attempted to grab the debris again. He says I didn't.

Me, the car and passengers are now on a straight well made road, with just a sprinkling of water coming down. I put my hand out of the quarter-light window, for a second attempt at removing the debris. Bear in mind I have the foolishness of a novice driver, and hindsight would have had me pull over, but not today.

Within a couple of seconds, the front wheel (which I thought someone else was controlling) had us up on the kerb. Realising no-one was steering the car, I grabbed the wheel and turning it, got us off the kerb. Unfortunately, that manoeuvre induced a rear wheel yaw (bit like a small tail-spin) which I then over-corrected, which in turn produced a fish-tail as I battled to straight up the direction of the car. By rights we should have ended up driving into oncoming traffic, Instead, the car did a 180' turn, mounted the kerb and sent us backwards at 30-35mph into a 4ft ditch and the tree line next to the road.   

Here:

5994f8bc981ed_Cortinaaccident.jpg.77152ec73dd1299c21564c922b9546db.jpg

 

This isn't an actual picture of the scene on the day, but it does look suspiciously like it might have on the day....

 

Once the car stopped moving, a quick assessment found all three of us safe and well, though maybe a little bruised. Almost instantly people arrived, and had us out of the vehicle that sat at about 45' almost resting on the offside (drivers side) of the vehicle. We'd missed other cars/vans/lorries, lamp posts, tree trunks, protruding branches, and having gone into the ditch backwards, no one went through the windscreen. (Back then, even if your car had seat-belts, chances were, they were not used.)

To this day, I don't understand how we escaped injury. In fact if it hadn't been for what happened next, the car would have remained almost undamaged too ...

One of those who had sought to rescue us, was a pickup driver. He had a chain in his wagon, and offered to pull the car out of the ditch for me. Not wanting the car to stay where it was and draw attention to my poor driving skills, I agreed. Within a couple of minutes, the car was out of  the ditch, but now had a bent track-control arm. Only being a half mile or so from home, I nursed it back there and parked it on my side of the family driveway. 15 minutes later still, I was back at work (on time) discussing our lucky escape with my work-mates.

It would be two weeks before the magnitude of the incident came home to roost.

 

 

Edited by FastFreddy2

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The 'roosting' .....

 

One Monday morning I woke early, with an incredible pain in my tummy. It subsided over the course of the next couple of hours, and I set off to work with only an orange for breakfast as I still felt unwell.

At work, I arrived on time, but the feeling of nausea and bloatedness refused to leave. Eventually, I gave in and went to see the on-site nurse. She checked my temperature, which was normal, and gave me some BiSodol. I don't remember it tasting very nice, but I almost immediately felt better. After a few moments with her recording my taking the medicine, I left to return to my work position. Only 30 or 40 paces from the infirmary, I was actually sick (finally) and not only let go the BiSodol, but the orange as well. :( I did no more that walk to the foreman's office, and told him I was going to see a doctor. If I could read-the-look on his face, it read "you are swinging the lead". I didn't care, I was off.

By the time I got home I was feeling better, but the pain and sickness had me a tad concerned, so I walked to the doctors surgery at the top of my road. I had to wait to be seen, but that meant 30 minutes, not a week or two. (Those were the days.) I had an examination, that included me positioned on my side while on a bench, putting my knees to my chest while my trousers were around my ankles. I was warned that the rectal examination "might be uncomfortable". Well, I wasn't in any way prepared for the pain that lifted me some way off the bench. Jeez, that hurt.

During the course of the physical examination, I was asked this and that (eating habits, drinking habits) and "had I suffered any trauma recently, like a car crash or a fall?" With the innocence of an angel, I replied "No." Having completely forgotten about the incident some two weeks previously. [Duh!] With as much information as I could give, and the results of the rectal in mind, the doctor said he wanted me to go to the hospital. He assured me he didn't think there was any need for concern, but his "duty as a doctor" meant he was compelled to refer me to a local A+E. Could I get there under my own steam? Yes I could, so I went. Straight away.

Once at the A+E department, I parked my car in what I remember was a free car park. I went into A+E armed with doctors the note, and sat alone in the waiting area. (Those really were the Good Old Days!) It didn't take long before I was seen by a doctor. He read the letter, then asked me to undress and get on a bench, he's be back in a minute. I did as I was bid, and rested on the bench in a hospital gown. The doctor returned, and prodded my tummy, just as my own doctor had. There was still some discomfort.... The conclusion reached, was that I was to stay in hospital over night for observation. Did I need to have anyone informed?

Eventually I was wheeled into a room adjacent to the examination area, with a blanket over my lower body to help keep me warm. I remember the time being about 1.30pm and I soon fell asleep.  I must have been away with the fairies for a good half hour, before a porter arrived and took me off to a mens surgical ward. Around 3.30pm, I had a visit from a surgeon. More prodding .... and "Nil by mouth" ???? Some time later, I asked what was happening. I was rather matter-of-factly informed, I was going to theatre at 6.30pm, but I wouldn't be awake to enjoy the performance....

 

"Apparently" the operation to remove my swollen/diseased appendix went well. I vaguely remember getting a visit from my parents quite late in the evening, though had to have my memory jogged about this a couple of days later before it was recalled at all. What I do remember vividly was, having been told to sip water after coming around, I didn't. I was SO thirsty, I glugged a half glass of water as soon as I woke proper. Mistake! Like the BiSodol, it quickly reappeared, and I realised being sick hurt - a lot. My new tummy wound did not like me retching at all! Fortunately, I was soon back off with the fairies.

My recuperation was hampered by a mild infection in my wound that had me hospitalised for 9 days rather than the 5 or 6 that was typical back then. I enjoyed my time there with pretty young nurses running around, and even had something of a flirtation with one. (If only I had have had the courage to ask her out. Why else were we in a room alone?) 

I'd gotten on quite well with an 'old boy' who was in for something quite serious, and who's future wasn't looking as good as mine... He told me that when he was young, the appendectomy was a very serious operation. Back then they opened up the whole of your tummy area to get at your appendix, and recovery was typically 6 months. I was expected to return to work after a couple of weeks.

During my whole time at the hospital, I felt something of a charlatan, there under false pretences. After all, tummy ache and sickness? Before I was discharged, I was assured by the surgeon my need for that operation was urgent, otherwise they would not have operated so soon. B)

 

What a service we had, 40 years ago. :huh:

 

    

 

Edited by FastFreddy2

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There was an incident in Antarctica many years ago when a Russian doctor was obliged to operate on himself to remove his appendix.

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18 hours ago, Shyheels said:

There was an incident in Antarctica many years ago when a Russian doctor was obliged to operate on himself to remove his appendix.

An interesting, if frightening read: >> here <<

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