We were running errands in town when I heard Andrea on her cell phone talking with my mom. “I have to go now Nana, I’m going to have a seizure,” she said.
As a result of an auto accident in 2013, my daughter, Andrea, suffers with a post-traumatic seizure disorder and post-concussion syndrome.
Andrea sees an aura, which is a rainbow-like spinning wheel, seconds before a seizure begins.
Familiar with what to do, I pulled over into a parking lot and prepared for a grand mal seizure.
“Andrea, take off your seat belt and put your seat back,” I said, while I rushed around to her side of the car.
She was losing consciousness by the time I reached her. Her body tensed and her limbs stiffened. Then the horrible convulsions took control of her body.
The adrenaline rushed through my mommy heart and into my finger tips. Trembling and sweating, I couldn’t make contact with the keys on my phone to call 9-1-1. After several failed attempts, I managed to use my thumb to activate voice recognition.
“9-1-1!” I said into my phone.
“Due to high call volume, all circuits are busy. Please stay on the line and an operator will respond shortly.”
What! Are you kidding me? Shocked, I hung up. Andrea turned gray from lack of oxygen.
I needed the paramedics now! I searched the area for someone who could help. The strip mall was full of cars but not a soul was walking about.
After what felt like an eternity, a car pulled into the parking lot. I made eye contact with a lady in the passenger seat of the vehicle. With one hand on Andrea and one hand in the air waving, I pleaded for the car to stop. The car slowed down but rolled passed us.
“NOOOO,” I wailed with desperation.
Then slowly, the car backed up. The lady rolled down her window.
“CALL 9-1-1!” I screamed. Relieved help would be on the way, I refocused my full attention on Andrea.
Minutes later, the lady from the car held up her phone on speaker for me to talk to the 9-1-1 operator. She had also been put on hold but waited on the line until the dispatcher finally responded. It seemed like forever for the paramedics to arrive. They administered oxygen and monitored vitals until Andrea recovered. After the paramedics left, the sweet lady, who I later learned was named Jesse, and her husband, Charles, had waited to make sure Andrea was ok.
We remember the people who show up in our darkest moments.
“I’m so sorry we took a minute to stop,” Jesse said. “You were obviously freaking out, I was worried that you were dangerous or had a gun. We’re not from around here. You know, it’s not always wise to engage crazy looking people in a deserted parking lot in a strange city…but I’m so glad we did. Everything’s going to be ok. Can I give you a hug?”
Jesse hugged me with the biggest bundle of compassion. I can still feel her warm heart squeezing her love into me.
“Thank you for helping us,” I said. She handed me her music CD with her contact information and asked me to call her later so she could check on us. That evening I called to let her know everything was ok and thank her again.
People are good.
9-1-1 failed us in our immediate need, but the strangers, Jesse and Charles, didn’t.
Jesse Maclaine is a classically trained singer, pianist and composer with extensive studies in musical theatre, jazz, pop, rock, and world music. Her performances and compositions traverse many genres and she performs and produces albums under the name Aural Elixir. She has recently been commissioned to compose a musical for a local production company and she can also be found performing across Colorado, producing her next CD, and promoting her current release: Better.
New Orleans’ Offbeat magazine describes Aural Elixir’s unique sound as “…Joni Mitchell’s sly and perceptive confessional meets Fiona Apple’s confrontational doomed romantic, with little hints of Tori Amos’ gonzo earth mother and Carole King’s practical warmth.”