This blog has bad words in it.
Yesterday was my weekly mental health day. Usually on Thursdays, I’ll do some reading or Left-brained Creative (LBC) work, or otherwise just chill before my volunteer shift at the Maryland Horse Rescue. Oftentimes I’ll hang out at my childhood park (aka “the duck pond”) and work from my satellite office (aka my car). But yesterday was beautiful out and I decided to go for a drive and walk around my other old stomping grounds: the battlefields of Gettysburg.
When I got to G-burg, I parked in one of my usual parking spots near Roundtop–which is kind of off the beaten path and not one of the larger parking lots. Just as I was about to leave and hit another of my favorite spots, Devil’s Den, I saw through the trees, an elderly man stumble on the rocks.
Then, I see through the woods, his female partner try to catch him… she falls… and screams… and continues to scream. I throw my car in park, grab my phone, and run up to where they were on the hill. I find them both on the ground–he’s able to get to his feet on his own, but she’s down… and she’s panicking.
As I reach out for her hand/arm to help her up, I see her wrist does not look okay [insert wide eyes emoji]. So her partner and I help her up from behind, and get her over to a rock to sit. They’re both sitting on the rock now and she’s clearly in pain and hyperventilating. The man, Bill, and I try to calm Theresa down. I find out she’s 69 and he’s 70.
I say, “Uh, I think your wrist is broken, you need to go to the hospital.” But this poor woman is beside herself. Bill and I ask her if she wants to go by ambulance, and she says, yes–there’s no way she can make it back to her car.
I call 911 and let the dispatcher know what’s going on and he asks me my location. Uh, I don’t know if you’ve been to the battlefields before, but the roads aren’t exactly marked. However, technology to the rescue! He’s able to locate me from my phone. [Insert “thank you” praying hands.]
Meanwhile, Theresa is freaking out. She’s in a full-blown panic attack. I know how those feel, so I start asking her all kinds of random questions and talk to her about everything but how much pain she’s in. That seems to help.
A few minutes have passed by now and I realize, there’s no way they’re going to find us–we’re off on one of the walking trails… on a mountain in the middle of nowhere. So I tell Bill, I’m going to go meet the first responders back at the main parking lot at Roundtop. I give myself a little mental high-five–thank goodness I know my way around this park.
My Legs Feel Like Sh!t
I used to run a 5 mile loop through the battlefields in my 20s. I’m 35 now and have since gained and lost 100 pounds within a year. That’s no exaggeration. Reminds me of the It’s Always Sunny episode where Mac tells the therapist he’s gained and lost 60 pounds in 3 months. [High-fives to you if you know this reference!] I’ve lost the weight, but I haven’t gotten back to running.
Image source: Reddit. Image source link.
Anyway, I take off running for the main drag. My legs feel like shit. My arms and legs are flailing all over the place. But the trek back to the parking lot is long enough that my body remembers how to run again. I control my arms and pump in a forward / backward motion, not side to side across my chest; and I lengthen my stride. Oh, okay, that feels better. Foreign, but better.
Just as I get to the main parking lot, I see the lights of the first responders–oh thank God. I flag them down like a crazy person and run next to the car to show them where to go. Turns out the first responders are park rangers, and a few minutes later, the ambulance pulls up. Awesome, now I get to stay out of the way and catch my breath.
Theresa is still wiggin’ out. Been there. Last time I was hauled off in an ambulance, I was fine until they cut my clothes off with giant scissors. For whatever reason, that was my breaking point and I went into a panic attack.
That Explains It
Around this time I overhear Theresa say she needs her Klonopin. Ooooh okay, that explains the panic–my girl Theresa has seen some shit in her life. I know about that, too.
She’s worried that the EMTs won’t be able to lift her onto the stretcher. My heart breaks for her. She’s not big–I could throw her over my shoulder and carry her down this mountain if I had to. But it’s her insecurity, I get that.
The EMTs get my girl loaded up on this wheelchair-type stretcher and start taking her down the hill. For whatever reason, this trek is triggering her panic. She’s worried they’re going to drop her, but the more she wigs out the more likely they’re to do the thing she fears the most. I’m behind the EMT team and I can see Theresa over their shoulders. I lock in on her eyes and yell to her to focus in on me–you’re going to be fine.
The EMTs get her loaded up. They’re going to York hospital because Theresa complained of head, neck, and shoulder pain, and she’ll need the trauma services that Gettysburg hospital can’t provide.
Bill, who also fell, seems a little shaky… and very stoic about the entire situation. I offer him a ride back to his car since now, we’re on the other side of the mountain from where he parked. After I load up Bill and take him to his car, where… I wish I were kidding… he can’t find his keys.
The park rangers and I searched all over. Nothing. Ranger Doug jimmies his way into Bill’s car where he had his spare set of keys. PS: who has their second set of keys in their car?!
Bill still seems shaky to me and not quite with it. York is an hour away from where we were. I didn’t have anything to do until my shift at the barn, so I offered to escort him because Theresa is absolutely going to need him there. Bill agrees to this and he follows behind me in his car.
You guys. I haven’t driven the speed limit since I got my license. (Okay, or when a cop is behind me or I’m near speed cameras.) Don’t judge me. I’m just saying, it was painful to drive this slow, but I didn’t want to lose Bill behind me. Which of course I did and needed to pull over twice. Lol, oh Kel.
But I got Bill to the hospital safe and sound! I gave him my card and told him to send my best to Theresa. I could tell in his eyes how thankful he was. Between Bill, Theresa, and the park rangers, it’s as if they were shocked by my kindness. Really? Have we gotten so far off track as a society that we’re shocked by people being decent humans?
Good Work for Good People
I think this story illustrates what I mean by, with LBC, I want to do good work for good people. I have no idea if Bill and Theresa are good people. But at the time, they were people in need of help. That’s good enough for me.
In LBC context, “good work” to me, means providing the best service I am capable of… every time. In this moment, the best service I could provide was just being there. And thank goodness I was! And with regards to LBC, you can bet your ass I show up for my clients.
In the end, Theresa ended up with a broken wrist and some bumps and bruises. It could’ve been a lot worse. Just ask poor Theresa–she definitely thought she was dying!
I also earned this sweet badge, courteous of Ranger Doug and Ranger Pam! At the tender age of 35, I’m a junior park ranger. I’ll happily wear this badge with honor.
Kelly Strine is the founder of Left-brained Creative, a brand marketing and graphic design firm dedicated to partnering with small businesses and nonprofits who are working toward creating positive social change. If you have a project you want to team up on, let’s chat!