Kate Otis

Too Close for Comfort: A Story of Good Luck

The people the Red Cross help every day are our neighbors and I'm so appreciative there is an organization dedicated to being there when disaster strikes and doing important prevention work in the community. We all likely know someone who has needed the Red Cross. I'm grateful I've never needed to access their services, but I have had two very big and personal reminders of how important their work is. Read on for my personal stories, or simply donate to my page or visit HERE for info about the event and the Red Cross.  Thank YOU for helping me pay it forward!

Disaster #1: Five years ago was the closest I've come to death. I had sudden abdominal pain but explained it away (never a good idea- listen to your body!). The next morning the pain was so intense I was unable to stand without passing out. It took an hour to get from my bed, being carried or crawling on my hands and knees, to get downstairs and into the car. My husband had to leave me a few times slumped on the floor, nearly unconscious and nauseous. I'll never forget that car ride, the overwhelming nausea and intense pain every bump we hit and the look of fear on my husband's face. The hospital immediately brought me in for an ultrasound and kept asking if I was pregnant (I was not) because they saw something on the screen. We'd later find out I'd been bleeding internally for over 12 hours after an ovarian cyst had burst and ruptured a blood vessel. Suddenly the displaced blood reached my diaphragm which sent excruciating pain into a nerve in my neck. We had no idea what was happening to me. My pulse dropped to 50/30 and the room swarmed with hospital staff as I fought to stay conscious. I remember a nurse slapping my face, saying "stay with me," just like in movies.  They estimate I lost 40% of my blood and the surgeon later told me that I'm lucky to be alive. I almost needed a blood transfusion, and while I've been a donor for years, the need for blood suddenly hit home. 

Disaster #2: My second near-miss was last February, before the world closed down from the Covid pandemic. We returned from a trip to England after introducing our baby to his extended family. Exhausted from international travel with a toddler, my parents came to babysit.  Our dogs got so excited to see them, in a fluke accident, they kicked up a window curtain which blew over a lit candle on a table several feet away.  It caught on fire, and luckily my mom was still in the room to see it and yell to us. My dad and I were in the bathroom giving my son a bath- I scooped him up and ran out to see what was happening. It was chaos- the dogs barking, the curtain engulfing an entire wall in flames, my dad shouting for an extinguisher, not remembering where the extinguisher was, my maternal instinct to get my son out of the house, the smoke detector going off, and yelling for my husband as I ran with my wet, naked, crying baby into the basement to look for the extinguisher. My husband was upstairs but heard yelling and ran down. In my panic I couldn't find the extinguisher and ran back into the room to see him rip the whole curtain rod off the wall and run it and the flaming curtain out the front door. We have so many things to be thankful for- that the fire didn't spread to the wall or ceiling (just some burns and smoke damage), that my husband reacted quickly and only suffered minor burns, and that our smoke detector worked so if my mom had not been in the room we still would have been aware of the fire quickly. Needless to say, candles are no longer used in my house, especially with two kids, three dogs and a cat to wreak havoc.

I have been a volunteer and blood donor for the Red Cross for years, but the mission still speaks to me in new ways. Hopefully, I'll see no more personal near-misses or actual disasters but can help the Red Cross be there for people who need them.  I hope you'll join me in my support for this vital cause- please give your time, talent, and treasure (blood and money) to help our neighbors in need.   


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