When I saw the blue and red lights flashing through our bedroom window I knew the ambulance had arrived to take me to the hospital. Tom could stop pacing, muttering, peering at me anxiously and bolting outside to see if he could spy help coming through the dark. As I told him once the EMTs had wrangled me down the stairs and settled me onto the gurney, this was payback for when he had his seizure and I was the one worried and bug-eyed.
We have since figured out that he should have just chucked me into the car and driven me in himself, but at the time I was feeling so faint that he probably would have had to carry me down the stairs. (I will here allow myself to note that Tom could bench-press me if he wanted to, so that could be an option.) It is often best to wait for help to arrive, but we choose to live a ways out on roads that are unfamiliar to most, and the route indicated by the computer might actually make the journey longer. Here I want to pause and emphasize the professionalism and competence of our emergency responders. We are grateful for all of those who stand ready to help in time of need, but we don’t expect them to achieve the impossible because of choices that we have made.
So Tom and I have been strategizing for the next time I wake up in the middle of the night gasping for breath and with my hands going numb. Or rather, we have been making plans for more serious events, since this one turned out to not be a heart attack (which was what was looming large in both our minds), or as it turned out, anything else which could be readily diagnosed.
Since that event I have talked Tom down from his initial solution, which was that I would sleep downstairs on a gurney which could be readily wheeled into the back of our pimped-up private ambulance, outfitted with monster tires in case my emergency occurred in snow season. We have settled on the more modest plan of taking some first aid classes and acquiring basic emergency supplies.
Of course, what constitutes “basic emergency supplies” varies according to the sort of website you’re consulting. Most first aid kits being advertised are little more than “ouchie boo-boo” kits that consist mainly of a big box of band-aids and some alcohol wipes. On the other end of the spectrum are the people who are preparing for total societal collapse and think you ought to be able to construct a home operating theater for when the bullets -- literally -- start flying.
That said, the survivalist websites did yield some useful information. This is because these people spend a lot of time thinking about these things. I had to sort the information according to my own notions of likely events and I decided against the dental extraction forceps. But by golly that Israeli battle dressing could be a handy thing in case of a chainsaw accident.
At this point we have a duffle bag of useful items on hand and have plodded our way through two-thirds of an online Red Cross course. We have also upgraded our smoke detectors and fire extinguishers on the principle that any fire we don’t handle ourselves will likely burn our house down before anyone can make it out here. And like most Taylor County residents, we have a closetful of defensive armaments, two of which I acquired on what Tom and I refer to as our “first date”. Of course I was much younger then. These days I assume that the emergency will be less men of nefarious intent and more cardiac event.
Of course, the best plan is to avoid such emergencies. Given that I don’t really know what it was that occasioned my visit to the ER recently, I’m just going with the general principle of increased exercise and improved diet being good for any possibility. It might be that there are better options for breakfast than chocolate cake.
Heat oil in a large skillet and add:
One bell pepper, chopped One small yellow onion, chopped
Saute until soft, then add:
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
Cook for about a minute, then add:
2 cups cooked black beans, with ¾ cup liquid from cooking or the can 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce ½ teaspoon ground cumin Simmer for five minutes, until slightly thickened. Stir in:
3 cups cooked rice
Cook until heated through and most of the liquid is absorbed, but still moist. You can add in cilantro, parsley or other herbs if you like and season with additional worcestershire according to taste.
Sally Rasmussen lives in rural Taylor County with her husband, Tom.