things to think about

today i am grateful for: POOH POOH POOH
December 7, 2010, 2:21 am
Filed under: Uncategorized
I was riding the 4 train home after: 1) work 2) work social 3) free haircut 4) writing work 5) workshop 6) talk to ehowe 7) talk to emmaia and 8) run into a strangerfriend on the platform. At Brooklyn Bridge, an older man went down – sitting on the floor and unable to breathe. They announced a sick passenger and I didn’t even realize it was in our car at first; I was all bundled up and making conversation. But he was right there in the door, sitting, and no one was going to him. There was someone on the emergency phone to the conductor. 

So of course I went to him. He was unresponsive. Someone said he had asthma. So I hollered out to the car to see if someone had an inhaler and finally sent someone specific to go ask in the next car if anyone a) knew CPR b) had an inhaler. But this didn’t look like asthma; it looked like dying. There was no fight. He laid back and he wasn’t responsive and his jaw was clenched. We got an inhaler and I tried to inhaler him. He had a very weak pulse. Finally, a lady who knew CPR came, and she and a med student from the back of the train started at it. I went to see if they had a defibrillator or something in the booth; they didn’t. He took one big breath there, lying down, like he was dying.

The paramedics came after his heart had stopped. They did their paramedic work with the paddles and got his heart started again. Everyone was crowded around to watch and they were really angry; we were all invested, though. We were all there! The 4 train must have been a disaster – no service on the downtown side at all. They started running 4 trains downtown from the uptown side and that is how I got home.

I guess tonight I am grateful for being pushy – for being a loudmouth who can organize people to go get people. That’s how the lady and the med student came. I am grateful that other people knew what to do when I didn’t. I am grateful, sort of, that that guy lived – I mean actually I don’t care that much – I mean, I am not a person who thinks of death as a tragedy unless it’s tragic. Sometimes it just happens. It’s easy to say that when it’s not your dad or uncle or brother who might’ve just died but for the grace of God and some people.

I am grateful that I am the person in a crisis, provided it isn’t a crisis about feelings, who can keep a calm head and direct people and do what I can that is actually helpful. I am grateful that I feel that kind of responsibility to other people and do so without thinking twice about it. I am not writing this to get pats on the back as much as to have the whole thing witnessed. There but for the grace of God go I.
Jews say baruch dayan emet on a death – blessed is the true judge. You have to let go of these things. I like Jewishness when it is about an incredibly visceral detachment – about engaging with both hands but realizing ultimately it is out of your control. I can armchair quarterback what I could’ve done – taken that CPR class in 2001, asked the booth people for something different, gotten something between his teeth so his airway didn’t close. But that is I guess what God is for me – it is challenging myself to the grace of not being in control. Of not being perfect, and that being okay. Of doing the best work you can. Of ritually distracting the evil eye just in case.

I am not even sure what I am grateful for right now. Grateful to be alive drinking silk nog and bourbon. Grateful that there was a cop (eventually) who helped out the woman who did the CPR without a face shield – helped her find out where to find out what communicable diseases he might have. I am impressed that she did it anyways. I am grateful that they figured out a way to run the 4 trains so they got me home. I am grateful for my bed. I am grateful for my luck. Many, many things.


2 Comments so far
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Thank you for writing what you wrote!


Grateful to have read it.

Comment by Davi

I am grateful for you, for the ways you have taught yourself to not let your fear be the part of you that owns you, which means that when an emergency comes, you are able to literally participate in the saving of a life.

I am holding you in prayer after this. Which might sound too personal. Too bad. I am.

Comment by Ms. Rev.

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