Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Lesson Learned

One of the things that surprised me most about moving to a big city was how isolated one becomes. It seems the more people that occupy a given space, the more alone one becomes. In fact, I can see you easy it would be to live in a flat for decades and never know the person who lives below you.

I must admit, I've kind of fallen into that same mentality. I do greet my neighbors whenever our paths cross, but I have never invited them into our home, or taken the time to get to know them. Partly because I assume they are too busy to want to take the time, but mostly because it's easier to just live in my own little shell and not step out of my comfort zone.

But after today, that will change!

I was climbing the steps to our flat after returning from the grocery store. When I approached our door, I could hear yelling upstairs. I just about put my key in the door and ignored it, telling myself it wasn't my business what went on in the neighbors flat. But then, I made out a "help" among the screaming. I ran up the stairs and was surprised to see the keys in the door. So I opened it and found my neighbor laying on the kitchen floor surrounded by throw-up, having a seizure. I had never seen anything like it before. I quickly ran back downstairs and opened our door just long enough to yell at Jason to call the medics.

I returned to her side, but was clueless what to do. She was trying to tell me something but her mouth wasn't working, and only gurgled sounds came out. I tried to calm her and reassure her help was on the way. But that's when her body starting convulsing like nothing I have ever seen before. And then she went completely still.

That's when true panic set in. She had only passed out, but with my lack of experience to anything that goes beyond Neosporin and a band-aid I was terrified she was going to die. I quickly grabbed her to make sure she was breathing and her heart was pumping and then just starting praying as hard as I could that she would be alright and that the medics would get there "NOW"!

They finally got there. I felt embarrassed that I couldn't tell much more than her first name. But I was grateful that I at least knew that, and that I knew she was a single mom and had a baby and a 6 year old daughter that needed to be picked up from school. After the medics took over I found her baby sleeping in the other room. I picked him up and brought him down to our flat (the girls were ecstatic to have a baby in the house), and called the daughter's school to tell them what had happened and have them phone her emergency contact (luckily I had seen the name of the school printed on her daughter's uniform).

In the end it all worked out. Turns out my neighbor has epilepsy and these fits aren't too rare. She took a really bad fall to her head and is spending the night in the hospital. The daughter is with cousins, and the baby is with it's dad. And I'm still recovering from the fright of it all.

I am grateful I was in the right place at the right time to be of assistance. And I am reminded that despite what our natural tendencies tell us - we really do all need each other. We need to take the time to reach out to others and get to know them. If I hadn't been in the stair well to hear her screams before she passed out, it would've been hours before anyone found her and her baby.

So, I am repenting. I will get to know my neighbors - including the family below us that only seems to talk to us when they have a complaint against us. And, I will learn a few first aid skills - like what to do when your neighbor has a seizure. Because, really, you never know when you might need to step off your little island and help someone else.


Sonja said...

Wow! What a day. Really, you were in the right place at the right time to be able to help that woman. It must have been so scary, but I'm sure your help was heaven sent.

love you!

Michelle said...

I can't imagine how scary it must have been to find your neighbor in that situation! Thank goodness you came home when you did and were able to check on her!