Charlie cheats death
The scene is the fall semester get-together for instructors. Cookies, chit-chat, lemonade (the kind made from pink powder in packets, not lemons). Lots of talk of summer cruises to Alaska and how the price of gasoline made driving the RV to Disney World a little tougher this time around.
We're about 15 minutes into the party when one of veterans hobbles into the room on two canes. "Charlie! [Not his real name] We didn't think you were coming back!" Charlie, who's in his late 70s, is greeted with much enthusiasm and surprise by the others. He teaches a political topics course that's so popular it's one of the few in the program offered during the summer.
"Yeah, I nearly died two weeks ago," says Charlie, slumping into a chair. He has everyone's attention now.
"I was teaching a class at 8 in the morning and started bleeding out my anus. Somebody called 911. By that afternoon I'd lost eight pints of blood. The hospital only had six so they thought I was a goner. The docs told me to call my family in and tell them goodbye."
You can hear a crumb drop at this point.
"My daughter and her husband got to the hospital. They were standing at my bed when I started to go. I saw the tunnel, the whole thing.
"The nurse says, `Do you see the light?' And I say, not yet. But I could see the tunnel getting deeper and deeper. I was on my way out. I heard the nurse say `His BP is 60 over 40. This is it.' And I knew I was dead. Then I went out. And five minutes later I woke up and my blood pressure was normal and everything was fine. And here I am."
I'm amazed at this. He seems pretty nonchalant about the whole experience. "So you went right to the edge of the abyss and came back?" I ask Charlie.
"Sure, honey," he says, tapping me playfully on the leg with one of the canes. "Done it plenty of times. It's not so bad."