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This is a true story!  The story of my great escape from captivity.  It was horrendous and terrifying and costly.  If you have steady nerves read on…

Have you ever had an attack of claustrophobia?  It can be quite debilitating.  What makes it worse is you know your fear is irrational even as the panic grows.

I’m not keen on elevators.  They get stuck.  I feel a little panic starting if there is a delay in the doors opening.  I prefer to take the stairs which is better for me anyway,  except when staying on the 21st floor of a hotel.  Those last 14 floors can be killers.

I dread medical scanners of all types, especially MRI’s, but at least with those they will give you happy pills first – and a towel draped over the eyes helps a bit.

One day I had a terrifying experience that required drastic measures.  I am sure you will feel the sheer horror of that event.  Are you ready for this?

I had bought a new parka (quilted anorak), with double zips.  It had the lowest temperature rating and wasn’t too ugly.  It should be warm to -35 c.

On the day in question I had an appointment at 2:00 pm.  I like to be on time. In fact, I really hate being late.  I’m bot too keen on others being tardy either.  It was a cold day, so I decided to wear the new parka. I needed fifteen minutes to get to my appointment so I started to get ready at 1:40pm.

Everything was going along fine until I tried to zip up the new parka.  I managed to get the zip up about three-quarters of the way when it jammed.  It wouldn’t zip up any further, and what’s more, it wouldn’t unzip.  It was stuck.  Fixed in place.  immovable. I tried everything to move that zip, but nothing worked.   Then, I realized I had managed to zip it up far enough that I couldn’t remove the parka.  Not being Harry Houdini I had no way out of this parka turned straight-jacket.

That’s when the feeling of panic started.  “I’m stuck in here!”  went through my brain.  “I can’t get out”.  The feeling of panic grew.   I called for help, and my wife came and suggested I calm down, “It’s just a coat”, and started to try to move the immovable zip.  “It’s stuck” I said.  “Don’t panic, and keep still” she replied.

“Get it off me” was all I could say.  I could be trapped forever inside this padded cell. I started to feel really warm. Rather than 35 below in our apartment it was 21 above.  I’ve heard it said that sweat from exertion doesn’t smell, but fear does.  I could feel the sweat starting inside my collar.

To make matters worse, it looked like I would be late for my appointment.

“Get me the scissors, please”  I asked in a quiet and calm voice.  “Why do you want scissors?”   “I thought I’d make some paper doilies” I thought, but actually said.  “I’m cutting my way out of here, and making a break for it”.   My wife reminded me that I was wearing a brand new coat and suggested we try to work on the zip . “Get me the scissors” I said, with clenched teeth trying to keep the ever-increasing sense of panic from my voice.  I was handed the scissors (she kept at arm’s length during the hand-over), and I cut out the zip. I didn’t try to do this neatly or with care, I hacked my way out like someone with a machete in dense jungle.

Being set free is a wonderful thing.  If it hadn’t been winter I would have noticed the birds singing, and seen the beauty of the flowers – felt the breeze.  Being winter I just relished the newfound freedom after my lengthy captivity.  It was almost enough to  bring me to tears.  The joy of freedom.  The exhilaration of the great escape.

I found my trusty, old parka, put it on, not bothering with the zip, and left in a hurry.  “I might just make my appointment in time, bye dear”.