Are You Stuck?

I received this story via an email the other day and something about it resonates… Read for yourself:

Meet grandma who was stuck in swamp mud for 4 days
TODAY.com contributor
9:01 AM EST July 18, 2011

After four endless days and nights submerged up to her neck in a dense thicket of mud, branches and insects in a Florida swamp, Kathleen Shino had one thought running through her mind.

“That nobody was going to find me; that that was going to be it,” Shino told TODAY’s Lester Holt Monday. “There were times that I [thought], ‘Maybe I’m already dead, and I don’t know it yet.’ ”

When the ordeal finally ended with the exhausted body of the 62-year-old grandmother being pulled from the thicket after rescuers had to chain-saw the vines and branches, she even was able to find some humor in the situation.

“The one thing I did think of every once in a while to give myself a little bit of a laugh sometimes during the day is that people pay a lot of money to go sit in mud spas,” she told NBC News. “Then I’m thinking, ‘They’re wasting their money. It’s not what it’s cracked up to be.’ ”

‘I didn’t know where I was’
On Friday, June 17, Shino, a mother of four and grandmother of eight, left her home in Holiday, Fla., around 9 p.m. to take a stroll. For unclear medical reasons – Shino suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes, but has no history of dementia –  she blacked out and soon became submerged in a dense mangrove area only 800 steps from her home.

Ants began to crawl over her face, fish nipped at her body, and shadowy figures lurked in the water. “I knew I was in water,” she said. “I didn’t know exactly where I was.”

After she survived more than 90 hours in sweltering temperatures with no water or food, Shino’s faint plea for help was heard by a pair of neighbors on Monday afternoon. Alexandra Echazabal, 30, and her mother, Alexia Cuartas, were tending their garden in the backyard a few blocks from where Shino was trapped. At first the two thought the moaning might be an animal, before the faint voice stated that she was stuck in the water.

Shino’s children had called neighbors to inform them of their search for her, and Cuartas soon asked if the voice coming from the swamp was Shino’s. By that time Cuartas had called the police, fearing what might be lurking in the water. “I know for a fact there is an alligator there,” Cuartas said in her call to 911.

Pasco County Deputy Keith Krapfl was the first responder to find Shino, whose face was the only thing that could be seen above the water. Paramedics needed chain saws to cut away all of the branches and roots to finally extricate Shino after her harrowing ordeal. The muck and branches were so dense that the emergency crew also had to help Krapfl out of the swamp after he helped rescue Shino.

‘She wouldn’t have made it through the night’
Mercifully, Shino did not hear about the alligator that lived in the swamp until several days after leaving the hospital. At first, Krapfl told local reporters that he had feared he would find an alligator feasting on an animal or person rather than what he stumbled upon.

“When you see a human face in the water coming out, it kind of blows your mind,” Krapfl told NBC News. “She wouldn’t have made it through the night, I don’t think.”

Despite struggling to stay awake nearly all night during her four-day ordeal, Shino had enough energy to mark the passage of time. She could reach two nearby branches, and would put a leaf on one every morning to mark a new morning, and stick a leaf on the other one to mark another night.

“In case I forgot, I would know how long I was there,” she told Holt.

Her daughter, Kristi Fusco, had filed a missing person’s report on Sunday after being unable to reach Shino on Saturday. A trip to Shino’s house had revealed her wallet, cell phone and car untouched. The crutches she used for her arthritis on bad days and a pillowcase she was sewing for her grandson lay untouched.

While her family frantically scoured the neighborhood and called neighbors in a search for Shino, detectives also were searching for her and calling her name, but she was too weak to respond. Meanwhile, the sun kept falling and rising.

While this story provides quite a few interesting elements, the thing that stands out the most to me is this…. while G’ma may have been literally stuck in the mud, how often do you find yourself “stuck in the mud” as well? Do you ever feel neck deep in the gooky things of life, feeling like you are alive, but barely? Do you find yourself just surviving – going into work and punching the clock day in and day out (G’ma used leaves, but its all the same)?

If you are an average American, you will answer YES! While this story provides a great illustration for the life and times of the average person, perhaps we could learn a few things from the Mud Lady…

1. Perspective – She found humor in her unfortunate situation.

2. Hope – She never gave up hope that someone would find her.

3. Endurance – The human body is capable of far more than we think. (I know how I feel 4 hours after no food and water. She lasted 90 hours!)

4. Voice – although she may have been weak and her voice barely audible, she still spoke up. You have a voice, probably much louder with much more to say than “help.” Its time to use it!

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