Tuesday, September 9, 2008


As I continue packing boxes, two thoughts pop into my head at the same time. "The dog has to pee" and "I need to call my friend Schaa". I grab a poop bag, the leash, and my phone. The dog and I head down the hallway stairs of my apartment building. Halfway down the stairs, I hear a moan. I look down and see a man collapsed on the floor of the first floor hallway. I scurry down the stairs.

I ask the man if he is okay. I recognize him as the building manager, who I know from sight but have only ever exchanged nods. He struggles to stand. I see a broken pair of glasses and a set of keys on the ground nearby. I ask if he fell down the stairs--should I call 911? He mumbles, but manages to reply in a low voice, "nooooooooooooo". I tell him I do not want to leave him alone until I know he is okay. He appears to me to be very, very inebriated and he can not stand. He also smells of cigarette smoke. The smell is so strong I feel nauseous. I keep my distance. I tell him I want to call 911. He mumbles again, "noooooooooooooooo". Then he stares at me very intently. The look in his eyes is so intense, I immediately feel threatened and intimidated by this man.

The dog whines. She still needs to pee. Reluctantly, I tell him I am going to step outside but will be right back. I walk up and down the block as I hold my cell phone tightly in my hand. When I come back, he is still on the floor. I call 911. I let him know and he becomes agitated. A group of neighbors enter the building. I inform them that I have called an ambulance and that I've been advised to watch the man's breathing, and even if he asks do not give him food or water. The man is drenched in sweat. Within two minutes, the ambulance has arrived. I pick up the broken glasses and keys to get them out of the way. They begin to ask myself and the neighbors questions. We do not know much. I look down at the man's keys. I see a diabetes tag. I show the EMTs. They take the man's belongings and then they are gone.

I can't stop thinking what happened. I should have called 911 sooner. I should have picked up his keys. Why was he so adamant that I not call an ambulance? Is he going to be mad at me? Is he as disappointed in my reaction as I am? As he lay there on the floor, did he sense how much he was scaring me?

I have never been put in a situation like this before. My mind is full of thoughts on how I wish I could get a second chance to do the right thing. At the same time, I hope I never get the opportunity.


robayre said...

Wow, that made me cry. You did a great thing. You did the right thing and made the best choice in a very hard situation, despite what he told you, despite the threat he put in you, you called for help. Another person could have easily just left and let someone else find him later, possibly dead.
That was very heroic. Despite what that man would think, I'm sure his family and friends would be grateful to you. Not to say that when he is in a better state, that he would not be thankful as well.
You have some good karma coming your way, for sure :)

zarafa said...

i think it sounds like you did the right thing. maybe he didn't want you to call the ambulance because its crazy expensive and he can't afford it or something, but you couldn't just leave him there.

so NOT cool said...

I've had type 1 diabetes for 25 years, and it sounds like he could have had hypoglycemia, so ... you did the right thing. Not that there was any doubt. :)

The Coconut Diaries said...

You did the right thing, even if he doesn't realize or appreciate it. The best measure of it is would you want someone to do this for someone you love? If the answer is yes, pat yourself on the back and get some ice cream!

Andrea said...

I think you definitely did the right thing. You respected his wishes at first, giving him the opportunity to prove he was right. But then you called, and got him some much needed help.

And hey, even if he ends up being pissed off at you, you're moving!

Vixen said...

Most of the time when diabetics are falling down like that (drunk or not) it means they are totally unable to remember what happened later when they finally get back to a good sugar level. In fact, being angry/confrontive/threatening is one of the symptoms of hypoglycemia. So you did the right thing!

Good job.

flurrious said...

You did the right thing, and you shouldn't feel bad about not realizing sooner that he was diabetic. Normally, you wouldn't know unless you were told. And when he told you not to call 911, he either didn't know what he was saying, or he was embarrassed about being sick, which people sometimes are, especially if they're older. You did a good thing; don't worry!

sheasy said...

Thank you for all of your kind words. All of your nice thoughts have encouraged me to call and find out if Mike (his name) is okay. I wasn't feeling like I was entitled to know, but maybe if I know he is doing all right , I will feel like I did an okay job.

All of you: I can't thank you enough! But THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.

RC - Rambling Along... said...

Hi -

First, thanks for stoppy by my blog!

Second, you did the right thing in this situation.

Good job and if he was hypoglycemic, as someone mentioned, it is possible that he has no idea what he was saying to you. And if he was drinking, there is a big possibility that he hasn't been controlling his sugars.

Jill said...

I would have called 911 also... regardless of whether or not he wanted you to!

Hope he's all right.

MSBABY said...

You had to make a judgment call and you made the best one with the information you had to work with. It's hard to second guess an adult telling you "NO" when your instincts are screaming "YES", but I believe that this individual will thank you for overriding his wishes as he was not thinking clearly.

Jan from My Everyday Mom and Baby Blog.

AMomTwoBoys said...

I ABSOLUTELY think you did the right thing.

If he had just been drunk, he would have had the opportunity to get up and out of there while you were outside.

But, clearly that wasn't the case and he needed more help. Which you got for him.

Nice work.

Mama Kalila said...

Yup did the right thing...

Maura said...

Scary moments for both of you, to be sure. As everyone has told you, you did the right thing, but I don't blame you for hesitating. It's HARD to know what's right in a situation like that.

My mom is diabetic and I'd hope that someone would do that for her...and she doesn't always make perfect sense when she's not having a low-blood-sugar episode!

I hope he's OK.