Lets hear it for Chesley Sullenberger III, pilot and hero

When I was at the dentist’s yesterday, I was told that my teeth were fine but my mouth and jaw had swollen up because of a gum infection probably caused by my anti-seizure drugs.

I looked like a hamster and could hardly open my mouth because of the swelling but all my hopes for an instant dental cure were dashed.

The dentist was very kind and gentle and prescribed some new antibiotics – the last ones didn’t work. He told me that if the pain became unbearable he would pull out the teeth anyway and would fit me in during his lunch hour or first thing in the morning.

Feeling full of myself and secretly proud of my rapidly increasing pain threshhold – I sure that I have bored you before about how I have been in pain with a fractured spine and many torn muscles after my brain haemorrhage nearly three months ago – I told him I would cope with the pain rather than lose perfectly healthy teeth. He smiled his grim smile – we were, after-all, men acting in a very masculine way. John Wayne would have approved. Making another appointment for next week, I asked the receptionist if she had a loaded gun which I could use on myself in case I couldn’t stand the pain. A joke of course but the subtext was: wotta guy!

Yes, I have to admit that I was putting on a show of bravery when I really wanted to cry and hide under my bed.

So how fantastic to see a show of real bravery in today’s newspapers.

When we have got used to the idea of grim-faced uniformed pilots customarily using their skills to bomb schools and hospitals, it is heart-warming to come across a pilot who is not acting out of cowardice.

The fantastically named, Chesley Sullenberger III, showed just what bravery really is when he piloted his US Airways Airbus over that famous New York skyline to make a faultless landing in the Hudson river. With only those true grit words, “brace for impact,” he kept his cool and saved the lives of 155 souls and by so doing, he prevented the possible deaths of hundreds more on the ground.

He was also the last to leave the stricken airbus once he had double checked that everyone was safely evacuated.

So well done Captain Sullenberger, hero. Wotta guy!

Meanwhile I am back at home, feeling that I too should show some true grit in private as well as in front of dentists.

Maybe I should remember a poem that I wrote in hospital about pain:


No longer brain centred,
Now pain focused;
That central throbbing core,
Fractured, nerve exposed, unthinking.

Pain – a golden orb –
Sharp spasm of extremity.
No diagnosis, no exploration,
Just itself – the pure, brutal issuer of challenges.

Dive into it, screaming and punching;
Drug it into obeisance;
Accept it and rise above it; face it, discover it, belittle it.

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