Sunday, July 4, 2010

Human Kindness

From the evening of June 22nd until the morning of July 1st, I suffered from the longest flu I have ever had. During the last few days I was able to get out of bed and do a few things and feel somewhat productive. By Saturday morning, July 3rd, I was feeling quite well and decided to go play in a weekly game of soccer--an ongoing activity that I have been participating in for almost four years now.

From the very start I realized that I wasn't going to have the normal energy that I have, so I stayed back by the goal and primarily played defense. Even though I was taking it easy, it didn't take long before I was throwing up in the bushes. A little while later I was on my back with my head and shoulders experiencing a tingling sensation much like when you lie on your arm and it "falls asleep." After about fifteen minutes I thought I would have enough energy to drive the twenty-five minutes home. I was wrong--I only made it about ten minutes before my entire upper body started feeling the tingling sensation and seizing up. My hands curled up and became rigid. Very concerned, I managed to pull the car off into a small cul de sac where I stumbled up to the door of the nearest house and pressed the doorbell. A clean-cut, middle age man opened the door, and I explained as well as I could my predicament and then asked if I could use his phone to call my wife so she could take me to the hospital. Barely able to stand and with my hands and arms curled up in front of me, I watched in astonishment as the man said, "Sorry," before closing the door on me. I have read numerous times when people just walk by a stabbing or shooting victim without offering any help, I just never thought I would live to see such calloused behavior myself.

I spent the next four or five minutes stumbling to the nearest house, where a kind lady dialed our phone number and asked my wife to come pick me up. I thanked her and managed to get back to my car where my symptoms became much worse. For the next fifteen to twenty minutes I was unable to move and I was concentrating as hard as I could to maintain consciousness. If I had been physically able, I would have returned to the second house and asked the lady to call 911--something I should have done the first time.

My wife finally arrived and took me to the Emergency Room at TMC. Fortunately, I regained a little of my movement by that time and was able to climb into our other vehicle. Just before getting out of the vehicle I started throwing up again, this time into a grocery bag that my wife handed me. As you may know, however, grocery bags almost always have holes in them, so I was a mess when I walked into the ER. A good friend of ours watched our kids while the doctors did a variety of tests including an EKG, blood tests, etc. After four hours and the first IV I have ever had, they indicated that they thought I was suffering from heat exhaustion. My brother has suffered similar symptoms in much cooler weather, so initially I was skeptical, but I now think he was probably right in my case.

Since this all happened yesterday, I have repeatedly thought back on the behavior of the first man who refused to offer any help. What kind of person is he? How could he simply close his door on someone who was in obvious distress--particularly when that person was asking so little? Did my staggering and my slurred speech make him think I was drunk? If so, couldn't he still have called the police to tell them about a drunk person stumbling around in his front yard? If I had passed out before making it to the second house, I could have been lying on the very hot Tucson pavement. Even if someone had found me in such a state, would they have bothered to call for help? This case and several like it makes me wonder how I or any of my friends would respond in a similar situation. The answer seems so obvious, yet just a couple months ago a homeless man who intervened to help a woman being robbed in Queens, New York was stabbed. Although a number of people passed by him, it took almost an hour before anyone bothered to call for help. Surveillance cameras showed one man take a picture with a cell phone, but he didn't bother to stop and assist the dying man or even press a few more buttons on his phone to call for help. What is going through the minds of people like this?


fawndear said...

Unbelieveable. My only thought was that maybe he thought you were drunk, regardless he should have called police. So sorry that this happened. Hope I would never do anything like that.

Anonymous said...

Your simptems were very similar to Spencers and I am sure they were a bit scary. I feel bad that people in the world are so scared or insinsitive that those who need help can die without someone will assist them. Get well soon! Mom-ah

Richins Family said...

So glad that you are O.K. What in the world is going on with so many family members at the hospital? Crazy.... Are you drinking Gatorade? That should help with the electrolyte issue. Better yet, just get better.

I would have said that maybe it is the 30ish thing that Spenther brought up in a family email a while back, but I have to take it back because he lead the way.

As for human kindness, I experienced an act of human kindness the other day that made me crumble and sobb. I then made a point to reflect back on the tender moments when someone has shown tender mercies to me and my family, and I always seem to feel that those mercies have been directed from above. I am so grateful for all those times.

Any more, I think I am not shocked by the calousness that was displayed in your case. Maybe that is why a genuine act of kindness knocked me off my feet the other day.

I guess the question I should ask myself now, as you did, is when have I shown tender mercy to someone else and do I act in all times of need, not just the desperate.

So thankful you didn't pass out on the hot Tuscan sidewalks. Get Better Brother. Thanks for taking care of him Debs.

Trena Doll said...

I'm glad you're ok, and I'm sorry that people were so cold in your hour of need, but I have to admit...I don't know that I would be very willing to help a stranger behaving suspiciously on my doorstep. Maybe it's the years of living alone in impersonal apartment communities, or all of the sensational horror stories played over and over by "news" programs like dateline or 60 minutes, but my first impulse is for self-protection. Sorry, it's nothing personal...and it's really sad. If it makes you feel better, I probably would have peeked out at you from my window and called 911 if you'd collapsed in my yard. :P Hope you're feeling better.

rantipoler said...

Wow, that's so scary! I'm glad you're okay and I'm sorry that you had such a bad experience with that guy. I'm generally pretty suspicious, so I might not have let in a stranger, but I certainly would have called 911 for him/her! And even if the guy thought you were a scary axe-murderer, he should have called the police anyway, and they could have helped. It's sad that people are so afraid/unwilling to help their neighbor.

Em said...

Wow, what a story! I'm glad that you made it out of the ordeal all right...