On June 15, 1999, I was in Maine on vacation, and I believe that this is a major turning point in my life. My canoe (Smart Move #1) capsized off the coast (Smart Move #2) and I was in the water (45ºF = TOO COLD) for 3 hours (3 hours = 180 minutes = 10,800 seconds = TOO LONG). Needless to say, I was COLD. My body temperature was down to 95.3ºF (Coma sets in at 93ºF) by the time I was found. (FYI: Hypothermia Rule of Thumb: 50ºF water for 50 minutes = 50/50 chance of survival) I am so glad that someone on the road thought to try and get someone to save me. I wish I could have gotten her name, but she did not leave it. In the end, I spent 3 hours in the water, an hour getting to the hospital, 4 hours getting reheated and tested and probed and re-tested, and finally released with a pair of the sorest legs I've ever owned.
For now, I am all right. Of course, there is also the fact that I might not be experiencing the full repercussions. I am looking at this from a logical viewpoint. There is no emotion in logic, and I am an emotional person. I do not know if I am supposed to feel anything at all about it. I suppose that I have been blessed in not knowing what it is like to be "normal.” I figure my brain might be a little scrambled from my little dip in the ocean off the coast of Maine, but since I don't have anything to compare it to, I really don't have any point-of-reference that I can point to and say, "That is what changed" or "This is different.” My life has been so full of change and inconsistency, who knows what is next? All I know is that I must continue to rely on Jehovah, no matter what life throws at me.
The following are some journal entries pertaining to this part of my life.
June 21, 1999
Tuesday - in the am at low tide (6 am), in a two man canoe, I set about across the harbor to the point. The point was all I could see though the thick morning fog. After landing, I set up a temporary camp and spent the morning exploring the beaches. Around 11 am, the fog started the burn off, so I ate lunch, packed everything back up and set off to an island off in the distance. I was in Bunker's Harbor, and I think I was heading for Big Black Ledge, a little over two miles offshore. I launched at 11:30 and made it out of the cove with little trouble. At around 12:00 I noticed that I was heading toward the midway breakers. The swells were better than three feet, and they were breaking almost three times that, from what I could tell. To avoid these was imperative, and I did what I could to steer away, but I was still being driven toward them. I think in a moment of panic, I was trying to turn around, and got caught between two swells and flipped over.
I checked the time, 12:15 pm. I panicked a minute or so, but was able to force myself to calm down. Fortunately, I was wearing my life preserver. I tried a couple times to right the canoe, but was unable. After a minute to catch my breath, I was finally able to right the canoe, but it was impossible to empty it, so I did not even try. Amazingly, my forty two pound frame pack was floating! I remembered the compass, whistle, and thermometer tied to the left shoulder strap and grabbed them. I checked the temperature, 45ºF. I was not able to tie them to myself, so I clenched the whistle in my teeth, and threw the compass and thermometer away.
I made a very concerted effort to calm down and control my breathing, and proceeded to swim toward shore, pulling along the sunken canoe, for it was still floating at the surface. I just kept kicking. Every time that I stopped, I would start to feel cold, or later, the cramps in my legs. Every couple of minutes, I would blow an S-O-S (•••---•••) on my whistle, until I could no longer hold the whistle in my teeth, and I lost it in the ocean. I prayed to Jehovah that someone had heard it. I wished I had a boat horn. I wished I had a flare gun. I wished I had a radio or a phone. However, I had none of these things, so I stopped wishing. I think it was about 1:45 I lost the whistle. I kept kicking and praying. I thought of Amanda, I thought of mom. I cried, and kept kicking, I knew I could not give up.
About 2:30, I saw a car on the shore road. I could see the sun reflecting off the windshield. I thought I saw a person there, and I yelled out across the water, and then waved my canoe paddle at them. The car drove away, without any sign that the person had seen me. I kept kicking and hoping they had seen me.
At 3:05, I got ‘into’ the boat, and with the idea of making a flag, started cutting a strip out of my white shirt. Then, the shaking started. I shook so hard I almost lost my knife, but then I remembered I had tied it to my wrist.
At 3:10, the shaking was unbearable, I could not even hold my shirt or the knife, and I nearly sliced myself open trying to close the knife. Then I heard a low rumble, and looked to my left to see the approaching lobster boat, “Melissa II” I waved my paddle and collapsed into more shaking. Dana B Rice and some other men of the “Melissa II” reached out and pulled my gear and myself onboard at 3:15 pm. I had been in the water at 45ºF for three hours.
March 20, 2000 (2:00 PM)
Sure, I have had a few experiences, if you could call it that. Then, I would not want my life to get boring or anything that would not be good. No, I think I could stand for a little boredom. Hospital stays are not really, what I would call my cup of beans. I do not think I could be stumbled by that experience in the water, I am sure there are those that would try to convince me that 'angels were watching me' or something, but I know better than that. It was a pure stroke of luck that I was saved. Jehovah does not send his angels to save idiots. What I got myself into I got myself into because of my own stupidity.
April 4, 2000 (3:09 PM)
June 15, 1999 I was involved in a near death experience. It seems to me that more other people were affected by it more than I was myself! I think that my reaction to this is subdued more because of the lack of normality in my life. I do not have a point of view which I can say without a doubt was a turning point in my life. If I knew what ‘normal’ was once, then I really cannot say what it is. In addition, are things ‘normal’ now? I do not think much of anything has changed in my life except for the fact that I have the realization of my own spiritual need. I even wrote once that happiness is related to the realization and fulfillment of that spiritual need. Only by being a part of Jehovah’s organization here on earth can I meet even the slimmest fulfillment of that need. Jehovah is so wonderful that he supplies all that and more! I am so thankful. I asked myself once before how to thank Him in return, and I know the answer is loud and clear. I will continue to serve Him and work in the field, and try to encourage my brothers and sisters.
April 14, 2000 (1:08 PM)
Life around this side of the continuum does not really change that much, depending on where you are looking. If you could call constant chaos a constant, then you could actually say that nothing has changed at all! I was thinking lately about my little 'accident' off the coast of Maine, and I thought about it for a long time. I think that the reason it is not affecting me is the fact that I do not think that I was blessed with the knowledge of what a 'normal' life is supposed to be like. I don't have a point of reference to say that something has changed in my thinking or in my
Life really. My life has been so full of change that I do not know where I stand or if I am standing at all!
I think that maybe the key to coping with it is to realize that sometimes things cannot be changed. As much as I would want my life changed, I do not think that I would even recognize myself! The point is, take each day as it comes, and pray to Jehovah for endurance. "Do not you be anxious over anything at all, for sufficient for each day is its own badness."
June 13, 2000 (11:13 PM)
Someone asked me once what had enabled me to endure, to keep kicking. I actually had these thoughts come into my head while I was out there. There are two illustrations, of which I can only remember one of them. The first is about these two frogs, you see, that had fallen into a butter churn. The butterfat and cream had not been beaten into butter yet, so the two frogs were just floating there. They kept kicking, trying to get out, but no matter how much they tried, they could not make any progress. They just kept kicking until finally one of them started to feel tired and wanted to give up. The one frog told the other frog, “Just keep kicking, and everything would be all right.” Unfortunately, the first frog gave up, sank to the bottom, and drowned. The other frog kept kicking, and kept kicking for the longest time, until finally the next morning, the farmer's wife opened the churn to find the frog sitting there on a pat of butter.