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February 12, 2009

Don't Call, Don't Write. I'm in The Hole.

Don't Call, Don't Write. I'm in The Hole and Hanging onto My Sanity By a Thread.

by Nancy

The most impressive, inspirational and humbling thing I’ve heard in a long time is the audio recording of the pilot and the air traffic controllers during the recent ditching of a USAirways flight in the Hudson River. If you haven’t heard this, check it out here with subtitles.  (If you’re totally sick of the Miracle on the Hudson reporting, well, just ask yourself if it isn’t at least better than breathless and endless coverage of the misbehavior of some ignoramus of a celebrity.) 

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My dad was a bit of a pilot—an officer in the Army Air Corps (later re-named the Air Force) who designed aircraft at Wright-Patterson in Ohio and flew experimental planes in Alaska. After the war and law school, he became a private pilot. (He used to take me back and forth to college in a four-seat Cessna--hilarious, because the airfield was nothing but a grassy strip in the middle of nowhere, and we had to call a cab from a nearby city to take me from the airfield to my dorm—at a cost of about $75, which was an astronomical sum in those days. Add the cost of aviation fuel, and you can see why my parents finally shelled out $800 for a used VW Bug for me.)  Before his retirement as an executive with a company that also owned a UsAirways commuter airline and purchased planes for commercial use, my dad got the fly a plane from Ireland across the Atlantic to Pennsylvania, which was a big thrill for him. 

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As kids, my brother and sister and I were forced---er, were often offered the opportunity to fly with him when he was training for his various ratings.  Later, my mother confessed that she wanted us to go along because she didn’t think he should be flying without somebody who could actually hear the radio, since my dad’s hearing wasn’t great.

 

Uh…sorry to spoil things for you, Mom, but no civilian can actually understand what’s said on those radios.  Unless you’re a real pro and know what you’re hearing, it’s just a lot of mumbling jargon that can make an imaginative teenager's hair stand on end.

 

Which makes that audio recording of the Hudson River

splash landing all the more impressive to me. Those guys are matter-of-factly saving the lives of 150 people.  In my family we laughingly call it, “appropriate emergency behavior.”  In other words, doing your job even when things are very, very dicey.

If you’ve read Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff (or seen the movie, which is also good but perhaps doesn’t capture the laidback Oklahoma cowpoke demeanor that all pilots kinda put on even if they’re from Nowheresville, PA) maybe you also get a lump in your throat when you listen to that recording. They sound like a bunch of guys hanging out, munching on their ham sandwiches with their feet up on the desks while they calmly mutter runway coordinates to each other. No fuss. Just guys doing their everyday jobs.

 

Makes me a little ashamed.  I’m trying to finish a book in the next three weeks, and I’m hanging onto my self-control by a very thin thread. I try not to answer the phone or respond to emails unless there's a dire emergency.  (And there have been a few!)  Heart palpitations at the computer? Check. Panicky breathing when I sit down with the manuscript? Oh, yeah.  Lying awake, staring at the ceiling for hours while my characters shout unintelligible nonsense at each other?  Every single night.  My hands tremble on the keyboard when I contemplate how much work I must accomplish in the next—gulp--17 days.

 

I need to pull myself together.  I’m a professional, right?  Just doing my job, as that pilot, those air traffic controllers, those tugboat guys and everybody else who participated in the---yeah, I’m gonna say it—miracle on the Hudson did their jobs.  Except there’s no life-and-death in my work. Except fictional.

 

Okay, I’ll get back to writing.

 

Meanwhile, you can tell me about the time you acted with a cool head during an emergency.  As a lifeguard, I leaped into the water countless times to grab toddlers who had fallen face down while Mummy wasn’t looking.  I once gave mouth-to-mouth to a guy (with loose dentures) who’d had a heart attack in a snack bar.  I broke up a knife fight in a junior high without thinking of my own personal safety. Hardly hero stuff, but I take some pride in knowing I acted appropriately without having a meltdown. But I must admit I get the shakes when I look at my manuscript these days—covered in Post-It notes and looking awfully muddled.  Tell us about your appropriate emergency behavior while I get back to work.

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Comments

A friend of mine is a retired pilot, and we got to laughing the other day about the possibility of hearing the entire Black Box on this one: "HOLY SHI*!...WHAT THE FU**! HOLYFU** FU** ME! WHAT THE FU**ING FU** IS GOING THE FU** ON HERE!! OH, FU**, WE'RE ALL FU**ED!!!"

- click-

"Ladies and Gentlemen, we've run into a slight problem, nothing serious...."

When I was a teenager, my little brother put his hand through a glass door. It was summer, and I was outside in my bathing suit.

My old man, who leans toward the dramatic on a good day, came tearing out of the house, my brother in his arms, and threw me the car keys. No shoes, no shirt, no problem.

The hospital is on the other side of town, and Dad is barking directions. No problem - until we came to some traffic backed up at a red light.

He tells me to pull out and drive between the two lanes of traffic, both of which were moving at different speeds - and in different directions. Did I tell him he was nuts and that I'd prefer to arrive alive? No. I just did it. Drove like a bat out of hell right on the double yellow line on a street only made for two lanes of traffic, with people on both sides screaming, honking and swerving. At the time, I was cool as a cucumber - had it been a sleeker car, rather than a Jeep Wagoneer, I would have felt like Jamie Bond.

Dropped them at the ER, got out to go inside, and realized I was barely dressed (okay, perhaps one of the EMS guys reminded me and asked if I wanted to have lunch while we waited for the doc). Then my Mom showed up, gave us both a look, and sent me home. I think she might have called the EMS guy's Mom. It's a small town.

William, apparently, the last words on most black boxes is a quiet, "Oh, shit."

Kathy, I can completely see you as James Bond, even in a Wagoneer. But your mother's the really cool customer. Isn't that always the way?

I remember my mother leaping an electric fence, running full tilt 75 yards uphill and leaping *another* electric fence to rescue my sister who had fallen from a tree. I don't think any Olympic runner could have done what she did.

I just want Sully my pilot on all future flights. Hearing them talk, almost chat, amazed me. So calm and in control. That's my dream pilot.

I've been cool "in the moment"--when my son got hit by a car, when the same son, fell out of a tree and split his head open, when he put his arm through the storm door . . . I could go on and on. In the moment of emergency, I'm calm and comforting and can tell the EMTs his birth date, weight, and our doctor's name. Afterwards, though, when we're home and he's stitched up and safe, I become a shaking mess of a puddle.

Oh, and sorry about this hijack, but the octuplet mom has started a website asking for donations.

http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/02/12/octuplets.mom/index.html?eref=rss_topstories

And, she'll accept Visa.

Me? I have no stories of heroism. Being a nurse by training, I generally don't panic in a medical situation.

Nancy - You'll finish that book and IT WILL BE GREAT.

Hi Nancy -
You might be somewhat younger than me, but my Dad also designed aircraft at Wright-Patterson during WWII and then later during the Korean Conflict. After the Korean Conflict we moved to the Los Angeles area were the aircraft industry was booming. Smallish world time -
Best = Hester from Atlanta

Judy, are you suggesting we here at TLC should make a donation? Maybe in Her, Margie's name??

You know, I think Her, Margie might be the only one who would be able to come up with the perfect donation.

She seems really creative that way.

I trained as a pilot in college. I am a pilot, since FAA licenses don't expire. Apart of our training was staying calm in emergencies. Sully demonstrated what training and practice produce. The routine that makes you a hero.

Hester! I bet our dads worked together! I was a late-in-life child for him. ;-)

Nancy, did you live in Ohio when your dad worked at Wright-Pat? And does everyone remember that the Dayton Accord was brokered there, during the Clinton administration? What a coup for southwestern Ohio.

Sully and the rest of the crew was on Letterman the other night, and both Sully and his co-pilot were funny. They seemed a bit embarrassed about the whole mess. I thought it was really cool that Dave also invited the three flight attendants, who together have over 85 years of experience (one of them has been serving peanuts for 38 years!).

I turned out to be coolheaded in emergencies, much to my own surprise. One daughter fell and hit her mouth twice in the same year (baby teeth, fortunately), including going over the handlebars of her first two-wheel bike and splitting her top lip open. My husband is a hunter, but seeing his daughter crying and coming up the hill towards us, bleeding profusely, he blanched and nearly fainted. I realized it was me or nothing. He could not even be in the same car with us, so I had to drive her by myself, then hold her while the docs gave her a dozen or more stitches. That was when I first realized that dear hubby was a big softie, and a total fake, bless his heart.

New York magazine did a terrific story about how military-trained pilots like Sully are being phased out for "team-player" corporate types. The corporate pilots play it safe and fly by the rules, but are less likely to do daring feats like Sully.
And please finish your book. Your fans are waiting (including me.

Hang in there, Nancy! You'll get it done and it will be great.

Ditto from me, on the book. Best of luck, Nancy. We all have faith in you.

Karen, it must be time for a new photo on our banner. I wasn't even born when my dad was at Wright-Patterson. As soon as this book is finished, I'm going out to buy Retinol.

Amazing how we all manage to be cool and function when our kids are bleeding.

Thanks for the votes of confidence, all. But jeez, this writing gig is hard sometimes.

Cool under stress...hmm.

There was the time my baby son had two open heart surgeries. People have told me how amazed they were at how calm I was.

The same kid at six months old pulled out his Blake drain and my husband and I had to drive 30 minutes to the ER. I think I was more calm than the ER doctor. He was a mess. Give him a gunshot victim no problem, but a kid with heart problems. I was still calm when the doctors put him on a helicopter and airlifted him to another hospital three hours away without me.

When my daughter (she was four at the time) broke her arm in gymnastics, the doctors were impressed how cool and calm she was.

I live in terror that I will NOT be cool under stress if something happens to one of my kids.

One nice thing is that when I recently broke my arm in 6 places I was very calm. When the EMT guy was dealing with it, I asked my 6-year old son if it was distressing to him to watch or if he'd rather go off and play with his sisters, but he told me he was fine watching. And then they shot me up with morphine, which was a very happy ending for all.

Soooo....I like the part about a life or death situation. We (most of us peasants) all have jobs that do not involve life threatening situations.
No one was hurt in the making of these costumes. (Unless you sew through your finger...costumers #1 rule "Don't bleed on the costumes!")
No animals were used to test this make-up. This pump spritz will not effect the hole in the ozone. (Although they did recall and discontinue making my albuterol wheezer for contributing to global warming. Are there that many people with asthma in the world?)
Sully on the other hand went where few men have gone before. I'd like to think pilots know the incredible responsibility they have every time they get in the cockpit. I'd like to think that about heart surgeons too.
Me? I like the fact that what I do can't kill anything. And no I don't use real fur but...true confessions I do use real feathers but they grow back like crab claws...right?
Oh now I'm feeling guilty using peacock tail feathers on Hera's drape. They do grow them back I hope. Or we eat them...oh dear!
If Sully hadn't made the right choices that baby girl's dad would have never come home. He and his crew truly are heroes!
Now get back in the hole Nancy!
You'll be fine!
Just saying.

SIX PLACES???? Holy cow, Harley! I had no idea that you were that badly injured. Hey, if you want to be an overachiever, there are much more productive ways to go about it. :-)

When I fell at the grocery store I knew immediately that my foot was broken, but the young manager insisted it couldn't be because I was so calm. Clearly, she had not had three children, as I had.

Nancy, mea culpa, I wasn't thinking. You look wonderful, dahling, don't change a thing.

Y'all are totally heroic. I am not good in emergencies, and am forever grateful that my child had only minor disasters for me to deal with. Those were tough enough (although I managed).

What decided me on Sully's hero-hood wasn't the cool/calm/collected voice; it was the fact that he stayed in the plane until everyone had left so he could check for anyone left behind.

That Woman, on the other hand . . . well, I'd love to see what She, Margie would come up with for a donation.


I haven't read the New York story, but the media loves to make the public think it's the 'steely eyed, ice water in his veins' John Wayne persona that saves lives. It's not.

In reality, it's the training, the repetition and the dedication to professionalism that does it. Civilian vs. military background has nothing to do with it, other than the military guys tend to have a steeper learning curve when they're first hired at an airline. Not because one type of training is better or worse, but because the two types of flying are simply different.

In the early 1980s, after "The Daring Captain is always right." mentality had killed enough people that even the Federal Government noticed, the FAA mandated that all airlines begin teaching Crew Resource Management. (CRM) It was originally called Cockpit Resource Management, but was later changed to include the FA's. CRM is a combination of many disciplines including psychology and communications. It teaches things like error management, decision making and communication skills, but above all else, focuses on team work and problem solving, on "What's right, not Who's right."

Before CRM, the "Daring hero pilots" crashed a lot of airplanes.

I spent a little over 4 years in my airline's training department before returning to line flying, and I can tell you from observing and flying with the newhires , there's little difference between military and civilian pilots as far as professionalism (although a few of the single seat tactical guys tend to believe their own press a bit)

I can guarantee you Sully and Jeffrey and their cabin crew didn't save 155 lives by being daring. They did it by following procedure, by evaluating all their available options, and deciding on and implementing the course of action that would result in the best possible outcome. It wasn't a matter of civilian vs. military background, it was a matter of training, and of experience. Of years and decades of going into the simulator twice a year, and of studying and learning on their days off. And that's what makes the difference.

Experienced pilots, whether civilian or military trained, aren't being 'phased out' because they're daring. They're being outsourced, because they're expensive. Because the consumers demand cheap tickets above all else, and to a lesser extent, because of affirmative action law suits.

In the 1980s, several of the major airlines were sued because their hiring practices were discriminatory. "Look, all you hire are white male pilots, I'm suing.........."

The result was an imposed quota system that mandated a minimum number of women and minorities be hired as pilots at certain airlines, and unfortunately, it resulted in far less experienced individuals being hired in favor of more qualified applicants who didn't have the appropriate box checked on the application. Fortunately, some airlines had previously established hiring standards that couldn't be changed by the suits, and those standards guaranteed a certain minimum level of experience. When one of the victim airlines tried to change their hiring standards to match those other airlines, they were sued again.

When I walked into newhire class at my current airline, I had 7 transport category type ratings in my pocket. (I'd be surprised if the New York Magazine writer even knew what that meant without Googling it) And I wasn't anywhere near the most experienced one in that class. All of us were professional, highly experienced pilots, split 50-50 military vs civilian background, and none of us considered "Daring" a positive trait for our chosen profession. I bet Sully and Jeffrey don't either.

Michael, can I get you to pilot my next plane ride? Seriously, it's good to hear there is so many experienced pilots out there. The 2 things airlines should never skimp on are pilots and plane maintenance!

I have held it together in the minor emergencies I've had to deal with, but I'm a complete mess afterward.

Very well put Michael. If you have seen and listened to the interviews of the two pilots both of them have emphasized regular, repetitive training was what kicked in. The David Letterman interview showed the entire crew in a very human light and let each of their personalities come thru. These are 5 highly trained people doing what came naturally in extraordinary circumstances because of that training and 155 people lived to tell the story because of it. I like to hope that every passenger on future flights stops to think how very important their crew is and how important it is to pay attention to the instructions given by that crew. The crew is there to ensure the safety of the passengers. Well done Flight 1549 crew.

When I was 14 I came home from shopping with my dad and sister and there was a trail of blood coming into the house from the back yard, up the stairs and then a pool of congealing blood on the kitchen counter by the phone.

Since this was 1974, there was no 911. My 11 year old brother was home along and as it turned out had sliced his hand open trying to cut a golf ball in half. What a boy.

He called my mom who was at a friends and she came home and took him to the hospital. My dad went racing to the hospital when we saw the blood. My older sister laid on the couch crying.

Me, I got out the rags and cleaner and cleaned up the blood!

My brother hadn't wrapped his hand in a towel, just left it laying on the counter bleeding into a pool - Why?? Because he was scared my mom would get mad at him for staining a towel.

Michael! I was hoping you might stop by today. Thank you for the insight. We saw the Katie Couric piece about the lack of military experience in up & coming pilots. It's good to hear your side of the argument.

I think your view also explains the moms in crisis.--It's training that counts in the end.

Michael - my husband flew CH-47s for 26+ yrs in the Army. When we were newly married, he told me an old saying I've never forgotten: "There are old pilots. There are bold pilots. But there are no old, bold pilots."

LISTEN UP!

If I find out that even ONE of you gave ONE PENNY to that CRAZY BABY BITCH (and believe me, I WILL find out), major hell is going to break loose up in this mess and I am not kidding.

Oh, I have a few choice things to give to her, all right, starting with a roundhouse to the fake BJ lips. Where the fuck is DYFS or whatever they call it out there? And where is the State Medical Board? Or, we could just save the cost of all those investigations and send me, Rocco and Rita (you think I'm pissed? You should talk to them - my cousin Rita thinks she can get the Dept of the Navy to intervene. Don't ask.) We know lots of people who are dying to have a baby and can't.

I MEAN IT!

Warmest personal regards,

Me, Margie

You go, You, Margie!!!!!

I think it would be an excellent blog about what we would send to the Angelina wannabe instead of cash & obvious things like diapers.

Mary,

That's one of my favorite aviation sayings!

One of my other favorites is "No one gives a s*** about the pilots. Until an engine catches fire."

Could we give her a vibrator? Not that that would take the place of children, but maybe it could make her interested in something other than birthin' babies.

Oh, and Margie, what's wrong with fake BJ lips?

Michael, your perspective is interesting, but I have an issue with one statement that you made, and hope that you'll clear it up. You said that "affirmative action" was causing there to be less experienced pilots; do you mean to say that, because minorities and/or women are now being hired, that they don't have the military background? If so, I have to disagree with that, based on my own knowledge of how many more women and minorities are now in the military, and presumably using that experience in commercial piloting.

You, Margie will love this one:

Denny's new breakfast in honor of the aforementioned crazy baby bitch. You get fourteen eggs, no sausage, and the guy next to you has to pay the bill.

Yay! Me, Margie. I just knew you'd have the perfect response.

That mom just burns me no end. Claiming she didn't get any government help, but then, woops, she's on food stamps which she just refers to as "a program that helps people." Yes. It's a government program that helps people.

I love the old/bold pilot quote too.

And, Nancy, I'm sending all the book-finishing-karma I can.

Josh - I love you, man. That is pure fucking genius.

Margie thinks this bitch could be a virgin. Which would explain a lot. A vibrator could be perfect, and I hate to be indelicate, but it would need a long handle. 14 babies, the last one a litter of 8? Can you imagine the condition of that terrain? Of course, I may not be the best one to ask.

Wanna bet some of this money goes for more plastic surgery? Totally grotesque, the whole situation. Plus, what is a woman with all those kids doing with acrylic nails? Don't think I didn't notice. Those puppies are $100 bucks a set in her neighborhood.

Margie's Cousin Rocco

Nancy, we have faith in you. You can get the book finished in 17 days. YES YOU CAN. YES YOU CAN.

Thanks, Michael for the insight into pilot hiring. It will keep me a little calmer the next time I venture onto an airplane.

You, Margie, way to go! Keep those "kind" thoughts about the octo-mom pouring in here.

I was calm with each of my broken bones and cut head and foot. I handled it pretty well the times my son had two broken bones and a broken tooth and when he cut his head at school. I was relatively cool when he totalled his car (which didn't take much damage to be totalled) and thankfully okay. But I lost it when my son was 2 years old and sliced his tongue falling on our brick fireplace hearth. Blood was pouring out, and he was crying so loud. I was tearing up by the time I got him to the doctor's office and found out he was okay. Then when I got home, I called my husband and broke down. Pretty pitiful.

And I'll never forget watching my mother calmly talk my nephew (who was about 3 at the time) to come back through the railing slats on our porch. (It was one of those times where you turn your head for a second and the kid experiments with something new.) The porch was directly over the carport, and if he had fallen, he would've hit the asphalt below. She didn't want to scare him, so she slowly walked to him while smiling and calmly saying to hang on like he was hugging his favorite toy. When she reached him, she grabbed him and held on tight. That was a really scary moment for both of us.

Wow, Nancy. We live 20 minutes from Wright Patterson Air Force Base and my mom worked there until she died four years ago.

The only "special" things I've done is, twice I've found the parents of a small, wandering child in a large department/grocery store.

Also, when my daughter had a very bad seizure, I remained calm, took care of her while talking to her Neurologist in the middle of the night. I didn't lose it until she was okay.

And the night my mother collapsed while having dinner at my home. I called the ambulance, calmed my four kids, and tried to keep her calm. Unfortunately, she passed away from a birst Aneurism in her brain. My hubby was serving in Iraq at the time.

Good luck w/ the new book. I know it will be fantastic, just like all of your others.

Josh, I choked on my tea. Which is better than--oh, nevermind.

Now, Holly, it's your kind of story that's humbling.

I find myself wondering if some of you TLC regulars are keeping journals? Memoirs in the making? Because you've got a lot of material.

When my daughter was 12 she broke her collarbone while riding her bike. That is the short version....

It was on a Saturday and Dear Hubby was fishing with my father, brother, and a neighbor at the Lake of the Ozarks. Daughter was riding her bike around the neighborhood & I always harrassed her about wearing her helmet. She had been gone about 45 minutes when the phone rang. A guy said that Stephanie had been hit by a car. She had been having trouble with a little snot...sorry...another child in the neighborhood & I thought this was her way of messing with my daughter. I asked a couple of simple questions to try to identify the kid and when I wasn't satisfied, I said, "Good try, Megan." and hung up. The phone rang again & this time the young man said, "Please don't hang up, I don't know Stephanie very well, but she has had an accident on her bike & we've called an ambulance." My neighbor wouldn't let me drive, so she drove me the 3 blocks. They took us to the hospital where they said she had the broken collarbone. She had run a stop sign and crashed right into the side of a car. Fortunately she did wear her helmet (I did lose it when I saw the paint from her helmet on the man's side mirror) and only had the broken bone.

I handled everything fine. I called my mother & sisters, his mother and left a message at the little motel where Dear Hubby was staying. Now, Dear Hubby goes hunting & fishing a lot. He doesn't check in with me every day, but we usually set up a specific time/day when he does check in. I told the owner of the motel that it was no longer an emergency, everything was fine, but he was to call home immediately. When he didn't call just after dinner, I called again. The owner said that she gave him the message & he laughed it off, saying he would call tomorrow as we had set up. I asked her if she would please tell him to get his ass on the phone & call home. Ten minutes later he was calling, all pissed off. What the hell is wrong...you won't talk to me that way...how could you embarrass me that way...When he finished ranting, I calmly said, "Well, your daughter has been hit by a car. I guess that isn't as important as your saving face." and hung up.

He called right back, all concerned and apologetic. That is when I started crying.

Karen,

I'm not talking about the women and minorities coming out of the military, or out of the regional airlines (civilian) with what would otherwise be considered typical experience for a job at a major airline.

I'm talking about those individuals hired after the lawsuit victim airlines ran out of women and minority pilots who had the proper training and experience.

Once that happened, they had to start lowering the bar in order to keep filling the quotas.

If you look at the percentage of our population made up by women and minorities, and compare it to the percentage of people who hold Commercial or Airline Transport Pilot certificates, the numbers don't match up. White males make up a far greater percentage of certificated professional pilots than they do the population in general. That's just the demographic.

There are lots of qualified women and minority pilots, but back when these law suits were in full swing, not enough to fill the quotas.

Not having any children of my own (yo, You, Margie...should the kids be confiscated make sure that they know that I am available for a couple!), I have not had any hero moments of that sort.

I have however talked my brother through a panic attack, which considering that he was waiting for a lung transplant and couldnt breathe anyway was good then.

And with myself...I crushed my finger in the garage tore and tore the tip off. I had to walk over 1/2 an acre to the neighbors house to get help. Knocked. Nobody answered. Let out a 'bloody-murder' scream and the door was whipped open.

My bestfriend had a moment though when her daughter went through a plate-glass door. 20+ stitches and then what treat did little one want? Not ice cream..oh no... she wanted ... BOOKS!!! So Aunt Debby went shopping right away.

Michael - when we stuck at Fort Campbell for 5 (very long) years, he used to say: "Two things fall out of the sky - bird sh*t and Aiborne. And they both look the same when they hit the ground." Always made me laugh, still does.

Have you tried the new drink called 'The Sully'?
It's 2 shots of Grey Goose and a splash of cold water!

It freaked out both my husbands that I stayed calm in emergencies while they went berserk. The cops were amazed that I didn't puke when we worked an accident scene where the guy was decapitated. (no mouth-to-mouth or pressure bandages on that one!)

Thanks for the clarification, Michael. It's the same with women engineers--only about 15% of the engineering students at most schools are female, despite the fact that women make excellent engineers.

My mother-in-law went into the hospital, and then passed away, while my husband was on an island off the coast of Alaska, with only one way to get in touch with him, bush pilots who went over once or twice a week. By the time he got the word that his mother was in the hospital and in critical condition she had died, but he didn't realize that he needed to get home, tout de suite, for the funeral. It was all I could do to hold it together, waiting to hear from him.

Holly, your story tugs at the heartstrings. You sure had your hands full that day.

Debby, you're an awesome auntie!

You, Margie--agree with you one hundred percent about serial Mom--clinic/hospital/doctor should lose their licensing. It's ourtrageous that she now has a website and is asking for donations. Just two days ago, saw her on CNN and she said "I don't want or expect anything from anyone". Since grandma is raising the children, she should get any and all monies donated. Serial Mom should get and deserves nothing. Grandma couldn't believe it when they (hospital/clinic/doctor) helped her to get pregnant again.

Nancy--I know your book will be ggrreatt!!!!

As for heroic actions--other than snatching children up and rushing to the hospital--not too much.

I'm fairly cool with my own trouble, until I get someone to help, and then I'll dissolve. If someone else is hurt or in trouble, any initial calm that I might appear to have is really deer-in-the-headlights freeze. When I finally sort out what must be done, I'll do it, and then, as someone said, collapse and cry afterward.
Xena, peacocks regularly moult those lovely feathers. I've picked them up at the zoo. That's probably how your feathers became available also -- yeah, that's the ticket!

Storyteller Mary is right, Xena. Those spectacular tailfeathers come from the male, who grows them each year to spread and shake alluringly at potential mates. Once the mating part is over - eggs produced and hatched - he sheds those long, heavy feathers, since, in the wild, they make him very vulnerable to predators. Come spring, he grows another lovely crop of feathers.

Avis in NH

several years ago an elderly neighbor was staying with us during a heat wave because she refused to have an air conditioner. She fell over the nexy morning right into her oatmeal. I pulled her head out of the oatmeal and called 911, carried her (all 5 ft 9 inches and I am 4 ft 10 inches) into my livingroom and laid her on the floor. She then began to wake up(turns out her heart had slowed to where it could not profuse her brain so she became unconscious). The paramedics placed a tempory pacemaker on her chest and transported her to the hospital. If she had been in her house she would have died. Every year all the neighbors have a rebirth day party for her. She is now 93 and still living alone. My husband has gotten alot of mileage out of this story by refering to me as a cereal killer.

Its amazing what you can do during an emergency.

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