The scene: My father, who has dementia and is extremely verbally abusive, is found at a McDonald's restaurant inside the local Wal Mart store. It was one of those times, out of several over the summer, where he went somewhere and I and another family member had to go searching for him. Those are all long stories that I can't/won't go into for the moment. Suffice it to say, he's a big pain in the ass and after trying to get him put in a nursing home for months, we keep hitting a brick wall. No one will help us. He threatens. He shakes his fist while ranting and insulting those around him. He's unfocused. He gets dizzy spells and the list goes on and on. Still, the lawyers and a few doctors out of a majority of doctors say he has just enough marbles to fight against being put in a nursing home against his will- which is what it would take.
Please... don't ask any questions about the "Dad Dilemma." As I said, there are too many details to go into with this ongoing, depressing part in my family's lives and I would be sitting here, writing for hours, if I started to explain it all.
So I won't.
Anyway, we finally find the crazy, abusive bastard at a table at McDonald's. Dad is eating his french fries, muttering and ranting about whatever while my wife and I calmly listen and wait for him to shut up long enough where we can ask him if we can take him home- which will inevitably lead to a heated argument. Then next thing we hear, over Dad's ramblings, is a horrendous scream. At first, at least to me, it sounded like a coworker in the food preparation area of McDonald's had suddenly surprised another coworker. Like a prank scenario. And then everyone in the small dining area hears a loud "thunk" on the floor from the back. My wife, a young guy that's a Wal Mart employee and I go rushing to the open back door to the kitchen.
Sprawled out on the linoleum floor of the kitchen (or whatever they call it) is a woman who has a big gash in her head. Blood is gushing out of her wound and she is moaning and breathing erratically. I stand there, frozen. I can't move. My anxiety disorder kicks in and debilitates my ability to do anything positive.
Ever since my mom's death years ago, the vision of her in my mind of the way she looked when I saw her, in death, I don't respond well or not at all in intense or stressful situations. I have all the usefulness as a lump of fungus. In surprise situations, like the one that night, it's even worse.
I'm not trying to make an excuse. That's just how I am now.
My wife turns back and gently pushes me away from the doorway. The Wal Mart employee shouts, "I'm going to get help." He runs off. My wife takes the cell phone out of the holster on my belt and calls 911. Meanwhile, in a daze, I shuffle back to the table where Dad is sitting. He's still eating french fries, oblivious to whatever is going on around him. The only thing I can think about is all the blood on the floor in the back room.
The only other McDonald's employee is a nervous, crying young woman. She's as useless as me at the moment. She's wringing her hands and looking around, waiting for someone to do something for her fellow coworker, the victim on the floor. She kinda walks around in the dining area, fidgeting and looking afraid. I look at her and wish she would help the woman in the back kitchen area but then I wish I would do the same.
My wife, on the other hand, with a tone of controlled urgency, explains to the 911 dispatcher what has happened, as far as she knows, and where the accident has taken place. I watch her until it finally dawns on me of what's going on. Then several people walk up to the counter and begin to become agitated because they can't place an order. I become agitated because it is starting to become apparent that there is a real emergency situation afoot and these dumb fuckers are worrying about getting their next Quarter Pounder with cheese.
While customers are grumbling about being waited on, my wife goes into the kitchen and kneels by the poor woman's side. The woman was getting paler by the minute, according to my wife. A pool of blood was forming all around the woman and running into the crevices of the floor. Still, the woman was mumbling and trying to raise her head off the floor. My wife told her to lie still and not move. My wife likely helped save her life, just doing that part. Not to mention calling the emergency telephone number. I think she helped keep the woman alive several ways that night.
Minutes passed until a Wal Mart manager finally shows up. The manager was accompanied by two other employees. Instead of helping the woman on the floor, they ask my wife how the woman is. My wife tells them her breathing is erratic and she's lost a lot of blood. My wife is shaking now, at this point, afraid the woman is going to die. Still, she stays by the woman's side, crouched down, saying words of comfort near her ear. The Wal Mart employees at the door tell my wife to keep doing what she's doing. In my mind, they're being useless in the situation, as well.
The manager does do one thing. She grabs a towel and throws it to my wife, who she apparently believes is the only one who can do anything (even though my wife has zero medical training) and tells my wife, "You should put that over the cut in her head and apply pressure."
Fearing the woman is going to die, my wife takes the towel and applies pressure over the gash. Eventually, a couple emergency first responders show up and come into McDonald's. I point to the kitchen area and say, "Back there."
Dad stops eating french fries long enough to ask what's going on. When I tell him about the situation, he says, "Ah... I've seen people bleed before. It's no big deal. Who is it? Anyone I know? Why are you looking like that? You're acting stupid." I tell him, "I don't know what her name is. I didn't ask the woman her name or look at her name tag as all the blood was gushing from her head."
One of the customers, pissed off, said, "The service is really bad in here. I tried to get some Chicken McNuggets up front and no one would come up and take my order." I find this statement disgusting and for a second, oddly humorous. But then I become annoyed at this redneck's stupidity to the point where I walk over to his table, turn around and cut a silent but pungent fart, directly in his face.
Of course, since we were at a McDonald's, he probably couldn't distinguish the aroma of anything on the menu and my turd fog.
Worried about my wife's emotional welfare, I went to the kitchen and motioned for my wife to rise up and come out into the dining room area. She had done enough and it was time for the first responders to do their job. After coaxing her with gentle words and hand gestures, she finally leaves the woman's side and joins me. Around this time, the EMT's come to the back and do what they're trained to do.
I tell my wife how brave and kind I thought she was for doing what she did for the victim. I tell her how impressed I was that she took action whereas I and everyone else didn't do enough or anything at all.
My Dad sees my wife and asks, "What's that woman's name back there?"
My wife said, "I don't know. I think her name tag said Sarah."
And then my wife grabbed me and started crying into my chest. I rubbed her back and told her she did everything that could be expected of her and more and that everything might turn out okay. She was shaking and crying. I tried comforting her as best I could.
Meanwhile, people were grumbling and taking their sweet time in getting the hell out of the way after being told to move for the victim who was being taken out of the store on a gurney. At this point, I was telling them to move out of the way, as well and that it wasn't a sideshow act taking place. I was finally starting to return to my normal state of mind. Actually, when I farted in Mr. Chicken McNugget's face, earlier, I may have been getting back into my normal groove, my normal state of mind. Who knows?
Everyone reacts differently in extreme emergency situations, for certain. I'm just glad my wife took appropriate action when others didn't. In my mind, my wife had an important hand in saving the woman's life. There aren't enough words to describe how impressed I am of her and how much I think of her as a hero. Whenever I bring up the story to other people, it bothers her because of all the memories of the blood on the floor and the woman, in pain, come into her mind. I feel bad that it causes her this distress but I can't help telling the story because of how proud I am of her.
We found out later that Sarah, the woman who fell to the floor and almost lost her life, turned out to come out of the accident, alive. We were also told Sarah had a history of seizures, before. That night, she had had the most devastating seizure of them all. Sarah was released from the hospital two days later. I was surprised at that, considering how much blood she lost that night. She was likely released in only two days because the health insurance company didn't want to pay for her to stay at the hospital any longer. I've heard that with a lot of head wounds, people have a tendency to bleed profusely but the amount of blood I saw looked like something out of a horror movie.
In conclusion, I would say my wife is a better person than I, when it comes to helping people. She's certainly more generous with her time, when it comes to listening or taking action. I know she helps take care of me everyday and I try to do the same for her but I feel like I don't do enough at times. But that's my hang up. When I look back on that night and all of the varied ways she gives of herself, I feel blessed that I married a woman like that.