What it is like to be struck by lightning

To some survivors, these more outlandish claims only serve to reinforce the idea that their very real issues are suspect, too. “I have met people who say they have been struck three times and say the can see the future, play the piano, fuck all night long,” says Utley. “It’s all bullshit.”

Utley’s own case is not so fortunate:

After leaving the hospital, Utley spent months relearning to swallow, move his fingers, and walk. Rehab was just the first chapter of his ordeal, however. In his previous life, Utley was a successful stockbroker who often went skiing and windsurfing. Today, at 62, he lives on disability insurance in Cape Cod. “I don’t work,” he says. “I can’t work. My memory’s fried, and I don’t have energy like I used to. I aged 30 years in a second. I walk and talk and play golf—but I still fall down. I’m in pain most of the time. I can’t walk 100 yards without stopping. I look like a drunk.”

There is much more here, by Ferris Jabr, interesting throughout, hat tip goes to Vic Sarjoo.


Mandatory xkcd comic: http://xkcd.com/795/

It's Ferris Jabr, not Ferris Jahr.

There was a tree near our house in DC that was a lightening rod, always catching lightning strikes. Once a family member got to close to it and felt electricity zing through their body, but no direct strike. It made me think twice about going near that tree and being outside (we cut it down later).

That said, I would not be too paranoid about lightning. For example, you can have "clear blue sky lightning" where the bolt will literally come out of a blue sky, from a cloud way off in the distant horizon (hence "bolt from the blue"). But the great outdoors is too tempting to spend the rest of your life indoors, wearing a tin foil hat. Ka-BOOM! ZAP! ZING! Got ya!

Doesn't a tree usually die on a strike? Burn?

@Rahul- a tree will eventually die, but these were hardy oak trees, which in the Virginia area can live for decades after a lightning strike with no apparent ill effects. In fact, they sometimes live for close to 150 years (from one that was cut down in our neighborhood, I counted the rings) and the entire center of the tree can be rotten.

The tree could be dead, and still catching strikes.

Not necessarily. Large prominent trees where lightning strikes occur will have evidence of strikes; split bark down to the ground, branches broken off. Sometimes trees or sections of them explode when the water vaporizes.

Interesting. My experience of lightning-struck-trees is mostly the tall coconut palms I observed in coastal India. Those tended to be all dead, devoid of foliage and charcoal-ey looking.

There is an old walnut tree near the house where I grew up that I saw get struck maybe 15 or so years ago. It still lives, with some scarring.

Why not just equip the tree with a lightning rod? Why kill a living thing, sob, when .......

they can see the future, play the piano, fuck all night long.
All at once, pretty impressive. Sequentially, not so much.

@athElst - a person who sees the future (in music) while seducing and humping a piano all night does not impress me, except as a mad impressario.

The great golfer Lee Trevino was hit by lightning during the 1975 Western Open outside Chicago. It took a sizable toll on him, ending the peak of his career, but he eventually battled back and won a sixth major championship at age 44 nine years later. Trevino's life story would make a good biopic movie for Michael Pena.

True story. My wife was struck by lightning when she was sixteen. She was knocked unconscious. However, she went on to get a PhD in Economics. I'm not sure what the cause and effect is here.

I'm so glad she survived. She is the love of my life.

"My wife was struck by lightning when she was sixteen. She was knocked unconscious. However, she went on to get a PhD in Economics."

I'm sorry to hear that she had to go through that.

It's too bad about the lightning strike, too.

Wow. I met a woman who lost an arm to a lightning strike. I'm so sorry that happened to your wife but what a happy ending!
Alas, she could have been a physicist...but hey, at least she didn't become a sociologist!

I have a friend and client who was struck by lightning multiple times while serving in the military. His experience, like Utley's has been pretty dismal.

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