By Ian A. Hutchinson
I was born on Wednesday 26 April 1944 and I have miraculously survived to enjoy my seventieth birthday today.
I say “miraculously” because on twelve occasions I have come very close to an early death at the following ages:
1) 5 years: childhood illness: I had a serious attack of meningitis which left me with permanently poor vision in my left eye.
2) 11 years: pedestrian accident: I ran out into the road and was knocked down by a car but luckily I suffered no serious injury.
3) 15 years: cycling accident: I smashed into the back of a parked car in a storm and permanently chipped my front tooth.
4) 18 years: climbing incident: whilst free climbing I fell ten feet onto a tiny ledge and I was saved just in time by a friend.
5) 25 years: traffic accident: a car smashed into the back of my van and turned it over but I survived with just scrapped knees.
6) 33 years: mental illness: I attempted suicide by jumping under a car which just managed to serve and I escaped unharmed.
7) 37 years: mental illness: I attempted suicide by overdose: I was found and pumped out but I was in a coma for two weeks.
8) 40 years: driving accident: I crashed my Peugeot head-on into a car at high speed on a narrow blind bend but I was unhurt.
9) 45 years: driving accident: I turned my Metro end over end: it was a write-off but miraculously I was completely unhurt.
10) 50 years: Guillaine-Barre: this syndrome can be fatal but I made a full recovery with only occasional minor recurrences.
11) 55 years: mental illness: I attempted suicide by hanging but then I changed my mind after standing on a stool for two hours.
12) 56 years: home accident: I fell off a ladder and I only just managed to avoid smashing my head open but I did break my hip.
In the 22 years between the ages of 33 and 55 I suffered six psychotic episodes and I spent a total of 36 weeks in mental hospital. During this extended mid-life crisis I joined a dating agency and in the 8 years between the ages of 38 and 46 I met at least 100 ladies and I slept with more than 30 of them. This may seem callous but it was great fun and helped me to survive my psychosis.
When I was 37 I lost my wife, my son, my home, my car and my job but although I still miss my family I now live happily and uneventfully on my own in a nice little bungalow in a quiet Shropshire village and I very much enjoy my job as the Parish Clerk. My psychotic illness has now been in remission for 15 years and I now require no medication or any kind of psychiatric support.
You can see that apart from illnesses most of my near-death experiences were either self-inflicted or due to my own carelessness. So what have I learned? Clearly for me cars have been very dangerous but I have had no accidents in my car for the last 25 years. My psychosis is even more deadly because statistically it still has a 33.33% chance of prematurely terminating my life by suicide.
Luckily for me both my Guillaine-Barre syndrome and my psychotic illness have been in remission for the past fifteen years and so for me the whole of the 21st Century has been a time of comparatively good health and contentment. So today as I look back on my life I suddenly have an immense feeling of liberation – the freedom to enjoy each day as it comes regardless of past or future.
See also: www.montfordparish.co.uk