Late yesterday afternoon I dragged my poor little broken body out for a walk. “If you don’t use it, you lose it”, that’s my motto. I think it’s best to keep moving unless it’s impossible.
I was about three blocks away when I saw a few neighbor friends in their front yard so I stopped for a chat, mainly to bore them with photos of the grandkids.
Without warning, lights and sirens from no less than eight police cars, two fire engines, and paramedics drove right by us at a high rate of speed in our residential ‘hood. I checked PulsePoint and noted that they were going to a house just a few doors down from where we were.
A medical emergency isn’t unusual, but when it’s accompanied by heavy law enforcement–well, that’s a different story.
“Let’s go see”, I said, and we did.
It turned out that the medical emergency might have been related to an overdose, which sort of explains the police.
The person was on the ground and when my friend saw who it was, he became upset because it was one of his best friends. I instructed him to immediately call the spouse who wasn’t home at the time, had no idea, and was grateful for the call.
Allegedly, the person was impaired and fell, sustaining injuries, and someone else in the home called the paramedics.
My friend didn’t seem to know how to acquire info from the police or paramedics, so I did what I do–take charge of an emergency situation, communicate with all parties, liaise, and sort out the situation.
After the injured person was worked on by paramedics, was talking and breathing OK, stabilized for transport to the hospital and the spouse knew where to go, I continued on my walk.
I contemplated the many times I’ve been either personally involved in crises or as a bystander, and how I seem to exhibit a calm demeanor that encourages others to look to me for answers, to take charge, and to coordinate all aspects of the situation.
I KNEW I did those things but I had never before realized that is something I’m pretty good at. I don’t know where I learned them. It’s just something instinctual, I guess.
Whether it’s a fire or an accident or my son’s surgery, I don’t panic. I go to a place of calm, unemotional, rational, measured assessment while others tend to become stressed and unable to function.
My son once asked me how I survived his life threatening brief illness and major surgery because I seemed so calm. He asked me if I got upset or if I cried because he saw me as strong and capable during that horrible time and I told him this: during his surgery, I went into the bathroom in the waiting room and broke down and cried only one time. Then I looked in the mirror and told myself to STOP. What I never divulged to him was the mantra I kept repeating to myself, “If I cry, he dies. If I cry, he dies.” Truthfully, without the lifesaving emergency surgery, he would not be here now with those two adorable children. I felt as if I willed him to survive. And he did. After it was all over and he was on the mend, I was able to let go of my steely resolve a bit and helped to love him back to health. Every once in a while we talk about that dark time and how his wife and I never left his side, how we both spent every day and slept next to him every night at the hospital until he was released. SIGH.
I realize now with a little self awareness that I have been able to endure unspeakable pain by being stoic. It’s not that I don’t feel the emotion and the fear and the danger, but my mind seems to go to a different place and I compartmentalize (as my therapist would say) the feelings until later. Stuff needs to get done, someone needs to take charge and be a leader or there’s chaos.
If no one else steps up, you can count on me.
P.S. I made my first Anchor podcast — not my voice though because my microphone didn’t get recognized so I’m using Remy’s voice. Here’s the link, it’s kinda freaky. https://anchor.fm/enchanted-seashells/episodes/Situational-Calm-e16np97