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Rainy Night, or, Death and Life February 17, 2006

Posted by AkumAPRIME in : Life , trackback

I’m going to try and paint a picture for you.

Last night I stepped onto the subway car. There were about 20 Taiwanese men and women, and one foreigner, a white male. The man had long hair and sideburns, was overweight. He immediately reminded me of my neighbor. He was sitting and had his hand on his face in a notably strange manner.

I stepped past him, moving him out of my view. In the subway here, I can use the reflections in the windows to “look” behind me.

2 minutes pass and I hear a strangled gurgling sound and spastic motion. I use the reflection in the window to my right to see the 3 women behind me turn and grimace. I turn to see the foreigner having a seizure.

I move to his front and several other men all grab him down. A woman passes to another man to wipe the drool that is quickly accumulating. The man is non-responsive and my mind runs through options. Do I shove a wallet in his mouth so he doesn’t swallow his own tongue? I read that once. He has no medical wristlet. He has a bag. I check it for ID and/or medication. I worry that other passengers might think I’m robbing him.

The man is still seizing, Bad. “I think we’re going to need to stop the train.” But what does that mean to non-English speakers? I pantomimed, said other things. The message got across, and something was intercommed to the next station.

At the next stop, a man came in. I don’t think he was a doctor, but he did put on gloves. It was striking how much authority he quickly assumed simply by putting on latex gloves.

The seizure becomes noticeably weaker. I ask the man his name. I use my finger to see if his eyes follow. I snap my fingers. No response. I ask “Have you ever had a seizure before buddy?” A raspy and slurred, “No,” escapes his mouth before he is hauled up and out of the car.

I hope that guy is OK. I’m sure he is alive,
but it’s possible he has some permanent damage.

The rest of the night it rained. It’s still raining now.


1. Sylvia Boyd - February 18, 2006

It sounds as though you were impressed how you got assistance and got help at the next stop. Do you not think that would have happened in the U.S.? I also read about the wallet in the mouth and I do think an epileptic can choke on his tongue but think I’ve read of a better response. I’ll have to look it up. Take care of yourself. Love, Grandma

2. Arlene - February 19, 2006

I read this, and thought, “Wow, that’s pretty scary,” especially if you’ve never seen a person have a seizure before. But I have actually witnessed two people have seizures. Once when I was a summer camp counselor at a camp of handicapped adults, in the middle of the night, one of the campers had a seizure. One thing we did learn was to never stick anything in their mouth. It is a myth that a person can swallow their own tongue. Actually, putting something in a person’s mouth while they are having a seizure can result in breaking their teeth.

A few things: During a seizure do not restrain the person…let the seizure happen, and try to put something at the back of the head to provide some cushioning. Also, make sure people are not crowding around, and move anything in the way that might cause injury. If a seizure lasts more than 5 minutes a doctor should definitely be called, as seizures usually only last briefly. Once the seizure is done just make sure the person’s airway isn’t blocked.

The second time I witnessed a seizure occur was at the mall. I was shopping, and as I was passing by a store an older woman fell to the floor, knocking down a shelf full of boxes. I think her daughter was with her. She quickly came to the woman’s aid, and seemed to know what she was doing. This was probably not the woman’s first seizure. If the second woman hadn’t stepped in to do anything I think I might have tried to help the older lady.

It doesn’t seem like the man in the latex gloves was doctor….he wouldn’t have “hauled” the guy away like that. At least you didn’t stand around doing nothing…you tried to help the guy in some way. Props to you on that.