Alternate title: Fate’s fickle fingers fumble for my throat – Part 1: I have no beef with you.
So back to the second twist of fate I mentioned a post or so ago.
Part 1 – June 30th while I’m still in Brazil
This isn’t the twist, just it’s prelude. And you’ll perhaps think I’m losing my mind as I don’t remember this as clearly as perhaps I should. But why that’s so (for those of you unaware) will become clearer in Part 2.
I got a call from my wife in my hotel room, and her immediate tone told me there was something not quite right with the world.
She immediately reassured me that everything was OK and there was no need to worry. And, as helpful as this is, it also immediately puts you mind into an internal dialogue of:
“What? What’s happened? Is everything OK? I mean I know it is – you’ve just said it is, but obviously it wasn’t, so what the hell has happened…?”
And so a story spilled out about my brother…
He’d been out at a dinner.
At the local rugby club (where he’s been a regular player, coach and raconteur for many years).
A formal event, celebrating something at the club.
I was barely taking this in as it was obviously purely introductory.
He’d been on a table with friends.
And he choked on a mouthful of beef.
He stopped breathing.
My heart was pumping more than it had right to as I’m just sat on the edge of the bed in a hotel room 6,000 miles away.
My brother is 9 years older than me and left home at the age of 17. So in many ways I don’t know him. We’ve grown up separately and in very different ways. We’re also very much chalk and cheese – he is extrovert, can talk to anyone about anything, lives on his life skills and wits, enjoys life to the full – me…not so much. Having spent so much time not growing up together and living a long way apart we don’t know each other well but there is a stronger bond there than we both realise at times. As we’ve grown older, and perhaps since our Dad passed away, that is coming more to the fore as we have had chance to spend a little time together. All this is subconsciously in my mind…
Back in the room
My wife continues talking…
And he collapsed.
His heart stopped for about 5 minutes (it turns out he had turned blue and his heart stopped for 15 minutes).
My heart stopped racing too at that thought, as regardless of me knowing everything was OK, it’s a hell of a moment to realise your brothers heart had stopped and he was definitely closer to death than life.
He’s OK, he’s in the hospital. He was very lucky, he was sat next to a Dr and a Physio. They were able to give him CPR until the ambulance arrived.
I’m summarising in that last bit as the rest of the call was a bit of a blur as I tried to absorb the information and hung up.
My room mate could see my shock just from my body language as I ended the call. And was equally shocked to hear my news as how do you respond when someone tells you something like that…I felt for him too but was too immersed in the moment to really engage.
My brother was in the best possible place getting good care. The ambulance had arrived and they’d managed to remove the obstruction in his throat, restart his heart and he seemed to have no residual effects though time would tell on that.
The shock and residual thought patterns reverberated through me for a couple of days.
– I was hugely glad to know my brother was OK.
– I felt for my wife who’d had the unenviable task of trying to convey that news and make sure it was as non stressful as possible.
– My helpless and ‘adrift’ feelings lingered even though I knew it could have been so much worse.
This ‘fate’ feeling was highlighted when my brother told me later that he’d not originally been sat next to the Dr but had ended up there due to some seat shuffling that occurred as folks chatted between courses.
You can’t help reflect that life’s track and turning points are narrower than you realise when they can even be derailed by a small piece of beef.
Life threatening steak shouldn’t be needed to remind me that mortgages, jobs, what people think, are not worth worrying about. Life is so much more than the minutiae and although I know that apparently I’m still not paying attention. Why, I don’t know – a topic for another day perhaps.
– My brother lived to tell the tale, though he remembers nothing of it so he isn’t the best narrator of this story! But he knows how lucky he is…
– For me, it’s still permeating from time to time. Things got muddled by further events from part 2 of the twist (still to come).
– I’m going to try to remember to not take life for granted – if I am and you see me / meet me – remind me I said that.
– Many thanks to the unknown (to me) folks who kept my brother alive to laugh another day.
And, for what it’s worth, he’s off beef at the moment!