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This morning, our plumber, who is also a friend, came over to do some work alongside our Captain, Brian Whiddon. For privacy reasons, I’ll call our plumber Donnie.
They were both working with their heads down in the lazarette. Donnie sat up while Brian kept working. Brian then pulled his head out to ask Donnie a question. He called Donnie’s name several times, but he wasn’t responding. He was staring. That’s when Brian realized he was having a seizure. Brian tried to catch him but Donnie face-planted on the deck of the boat. Brian yelled for me to come out and help, for Richard to call 9-1-1, and for Max to go unlock the gate for the paramedics when they arrived. I raced outside and it was absolutely TERRIFYING! Brian had turned Donnie on his side. There was a LOT of blood. It was POURING out of his nose. It was a bad seizure and Donnie wasn’t breathing while it was occurring. I was terrified he was never going to breathe again!
Our next-boat-neighbor, Rhonda, heard the commotion. She’s a nurse and she rushed right over. She helped Brian while I took Donnie’s phone out of his pocket, and started searching for his wife’s number. I didn’t know her name – or even Donnie’s last name. Nothing. I searched for “wife,” “honey,” and a variety of other pet names. (Turns out he did have her in there under a sweetheart, lovey-dovey name…but nothing anyone would think to search for.) So, then I looked at his text messages. There were numerous plumbing conversations. I bypassed those. His customers wouldn’t know his wife. I saw a fishing invitation. A ha! A friend! I called him. No answer. I then found a dinner invite and I called that guy. He answered. I explained the situation. He didn’t know the wife’s number but he knew someone who did so he took down my name and number.
By this time, the seizure had stopped but Donnie was unresponsive. He was breathing and had a pulse. He started moving a bit. He tried touching his nose. It must have hurt like a bitch because that’s what hit the deck first. He tried to talk, but could not. He couldn’t answer our questions. Brian kept reassuring him, telling him who we were, where he was, and what had happened.
The paramedics arrived while he was still unable to speak. They took very good care of him. He started speaking a bit, and was very confused. Brian said, “Donnie, do you know who I am?” He did not. When they inserted an IV, Donnie got combative. I was still thumbing through his phone, trying to solve the who-the-heck-is-his-wife puzzle, and letting the professionals do their job.
Eventually, they were able to get him to sit up. And, miraculously, to stand. As they were getting him off the boat to the rolling stretcher, his wife called my phone. Thank GOD! The paramedics needed to ask her about his medical history, meds he takes, etc. We told her we’d go with him to the hospital, and meet her there. By then, he had remembered who we were.
We followed the ambulance, and stood behind it as they unloaded him. He saw me, and said, “Angela! What happened?!” He couldn’t remember where he’d been when it happened, nor what he was doing, nor even what he’d watched on TV the night before. It was obvious his memory loss was REALLY frustrating him. The doc said that’s normal and that whatever he forgot might not come back. But, he knew his name, our names, how many quarters equal a dollar, the city we were in, etc. We had to tell him what happened several times. He was trying to make sense of it.
Turns out he had one other seizure five years ago. He’d run out of his blood pressure medication so his high blood pressure may have sparked this seizure. He said he gets a surreal feeling of déjà vu just before it happens but that he occasionally gets that without a full-blown seizure.
His wife finally arrived. The ER desk had kept her waiting for 10 whole minutes while we were able to just walk in with the paramedics. I felt so sorry for her! She was crying when she finally got into his room.
We explained everything that had happened once again so she’d know what to tell other medical folks who asked, gave her a hug, told him we’d drop off his glasses at his house later, (his glasses had fallen off when he hit the deck) and then left.
It was awful. Absolutely terrifying. It’s been about four hours since it happened and I’m still nauseated from anxiety. Thank GOD Donnie is okay. After it happened, we talked about the series of events that led to him being on our boat when the seizure occurred. I’d texted him last night because, despite all the plumbing being re-done, there was still a stink in the aft bedroom (near the holding tank). He said he’d pencil us in but, this morning, he called out of the blue. He was on a nearby boat, and said he’d walk down the dock to take a look. He and Brian quickly found the problem. A gizmo hadn’t been put back on the thingymabob so the watchmacallit was not venting correctly. He was here only about five minutes before the seizure hit.
The back of our boat is quite large. If Donnie had fallen on a smaller boat, or had he been alone on a boat, he might have fallen overboard. And, he most certainly would have drowned having a seizure in the water. I believe God had control of the timing of everything that happened so that Donnie would be okay.
Do your spouse a favor and add “husband” or “wife” after their name in your phone so they can be located in an emergency. Also, consider adding the app ICE to your phone, which will display your emergency contact info. on your screen even if your phone is password protected.
And, remember to take your blood pressure medication!
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Angela Hoy is a publisher, a blogger, and the author of 19 books. She lived on dirt her entire life before her family gave away almost everything they owned, and moved onto a 52-foot Irwin Center Cockpit Ketch. They all live, work, and play on board full-time.
Angela is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, a free source of paying markets for freelance writers and photographers. If you want to write for magazines, websites, businesses, or others, check it out. It’s free! Her publishing services company, BookLocker.com, has published more than 9,000 books over the past 18 years. If you want to publish a book, she’d love to hear from you! Abuzz Press is BookLocker’s hybrid publishing company. And, PubPreppers.com offers services to authors who are having their books published elsewhere.