You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
-- Eleanor Roosevelt.
Years ago I was walking briskly down the big, wide aisle by the check out lanes at Wal-mart. I was headed to the pharmacy department because I’d heard there was a sale on some kind of something that I used. A woman was in front of me pushing a cart – she must have also heard about a sale because her cart was chock full of useless crap. It was crowded at this Wal-Mart … as most Wal-Marts are and I kept trying to move around her and others but since idiot class had just let out I kept getting thwarted. Finally, the majority of the crowd headed off to grab their copy of The Best of Hee Haw, and I saw an opening to pass. Just as I was coming up on this woman’s right shoulder, she dropped to the floor.
Just like that. Boom. She’s on the floor. I look at her face – she’s locked up. She’s stiff. Her eyes are wide open. Her cart slowly rolls to a stop. A yellow puddle forms around her and under her dark jeans. The chords in her neck are standing out. She’s making absolutely no noise. Not a sound.
I instinctively know she’s in the middle of a seizure. Without thinking I dropped my purse and to my knees. I’m worried she’ll begin convulsing and slam her head on the white, polished concrete. I immediately tell someone to call 911 and a manager. I tell someone to give me their jacket. I put it under her head. I check her neck and wrists for a med-alert bracelet. This all takes just moments. But it seems like I am moving through gravy.
I’m the only one beside her. Many people have stopped bargain hunting to watch but they all just form a lame circle around us. Eventually the woman on the floor blinks. Once. Twice. Then rapidly. And it is clear she’s beginning to come around. It hits me how scared she must be. How out of it. I put a smile on my face and begin saying “hey there, hi .. hi .. you’re fine I think …hi” and I nod a lot in between words. Just about this time, medical help arrives. She begins to try to stand. She sees she’s lost control of her bladder. I can feel the shame and embarrassment roll off of her. And I act out of instinct again.
I get up and say to the crowd. Let’s move on, huh?
And I myself turn to walk away and let the pros take over. As I walk away, I realize I don’t have my purse. I turn around to get it and there is a little old woman standing there holding it for me. She’d picked it up when I dropped it. I walked toward her and she held it out. She smiled. I smiled and thanked her. She handed me my purse and said, "I just want to tell you, honey, that you did a great job there! You were so calm!"
And right then, I burst into tears. I was fine. I swear. Up until that very moment I was fine. I was grace under fire. I was calm and cool. I was all that and a bag of pork rinds. But now … now that the crisis had passed. I was an ever-lovin mess.
She gathered me up in her little 5 foot nothing frame and began patting me on the back cooing, "There there now … it was scary, wasn’t it?...yes it was…it was scary…there there."
I’m not even making this up. I stood there for a good two minutes and cried. It WAS scary. And I didn’t realize just how scared I was until the crisis had ended. I was so scared.
My next scan is November 19.