Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Call 911

Emergencies. . . as anyone who has known me for more than a week will tell you, I’m no good in emergencies.

About four years ago, I got really sick on a trip with Casey, Matt, and Sarah.  The problem, we found out, was pancreatitis.  When it hit, though, I think everybody thought it was a heart attack.  Registered Nurse Sarah took my vitals “at the scene,” and the results confirmed that something very bad was happening.  Sarah took over.  She calmly got all of us into the van and we set off for the hospital.  All the time in the car, she maintained physical contact with me and reassured me with her calm words and loving care.  When she believed that we needed to get to the hospital faster, she calmly and sweetly called an ambulance, and, when I was on board the ambulance, she rode in the front seat with the driver.  When we got to the emergency room, she helped get me admitted and even helped with some of the procedures the staff performed on me.  When we were given a firm diagnosis and course of treatment, she went with me to my hospital room and stayed long enough to make sure I would be well cared for.  Never did she raise her voice or express any kind of worry or concern.  I felt that, whatever was happening, I would be well cared for, if not healed.  I never once felt frantic or even upset. . . thanks to Sarah and her calm and loving care.

Had it been me trying to take care of someone as sick as I was, things would not have worked out so well.  I freak in the face of emergencies.  Once, as a girl of about 11 or 12, Sarah fell on a piece of glass and cut her leg near her knee.  Her mother wasn’t home.  Rather than risk the high dudgeon of my reaction, she went to her bed and pulled the covers over her knee.  Somehow I found out that something was wrong, and I went to Sarah’s room to see what was the matter.  She wouldn’t tell me.  The more she resisted, the more hysterical I became.  Finally, the poor kid told me what had happened and showed me the wound.  I didn’t react well to the sight of her leg.  I did manage to get her to the “doc in a box” near our home.  They were reluctant to treat her because of the proximity of the wound to the knee joint.  They referred us to the hospital emergency room.  I took her there.  By the time we arrived at the ER, Sarah’s mother was there and took over, much to Sarah’s immense relief (and mine!).  She was treated and her injury healed.

Beni also is calm and collected in a crisis.  Watching her interact with someone in a bad situation, I am always amazed at her self–possession and ability to function well.  In some ways, I believe she functions better in the midst of blood and guts than she does during a sunny day at the beach.  She is literally—to me, anyway—amazing, and Sarah obviously takes after her.

Beni, Becky, and I were talking earlier tonight about this business of crisis behavior.  Beni knows that my mother is useless in a crisis, something my mother always admits.  My mother claims to be too “nervous” to handle emergencies.  Tonight, though, Beni asked about my father.  He also became upset—angry—in a situation in which he had no possibility of control.  Time and time again, my brother and I went through childhood emergencies with two of the least–capable people in the universe.

I have to wonder.  Am I useless in emergencies because of some innate lack?  Or am I useless because I never was taught how to function in a crisis?  Nature or nurture?  Who knows?  Who cares?

My Mom is a wonderful woman who has given me so much in life.  That she didn’t give me this talent is fine with me.  All the other good stuff more than compensates for it.

My Dad was not wonderful.  When I was in therapy, my doc told me he believed my Dad was evil.  I have to agree that in some ways, Dad was evil.  Even so, though, I did get from him an appreciation for learning and other good things that offset the lack of emergency preparedness.

So if you need help in an emergency, probably better not to call me.  Call Beni or Sarah.  Or dial 911!

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