So, we took a trip to New York this past weekend. Our main goal was to see PIPPIN (comments to follow in a later post), and we took in ALL THE WAY (a play about LBJ, starring Bryan Cranston — comments to follow in that same later post). The trip started out beautifully, with a whole slew of New Yorkers being fun and inviting and just about the opposite of every stereotype of New Yorkers. (I’m talking about the guy at the fast food counter who made me laugh, and the guy in line at TKTS who joked that he was buying up the last 60 tickets for GLASS MENAGERIE and giving them away to people who could answer Tennessee Williams trivia (only to discover that I stage managed a Williams play and knew more trivia than he’d bargained for), and the dozens and dozens of people who seemed to be in just a good mood, making our trip fun.)
And then a Bad Thing happened.
We were heading for dinner at Katz’s Deli, walking from the closest subway station, and we hit a patch of black ice, out of nowhere, in the middle of a block that had been perfectly clear at the corner. I was just about to tell Mark to be careful, when I saw him fall. His feet swept out from under him, his back hit, and then his head smashed — hard — against the sidewalk. I yelled for someone to call 911, and the closest two people stopped, but they were from out of the country and didn’t have working cell phones. The third closest guy stopped, and called. I thought at first Mark was having a seizure, but then I (slowly) realized he was just trying to breathe.
In the midst of my panic, and waiting, waiting, waiting (it seemed like forever, but was probably 10 minutes), Cell Phone Man stayed with me. And dozens of people who walked (skated!) by stopped. People offered to help, offered to call, offered to do anything they could.
When the EMTs arrived, they took a quick assessment, attaching a cervical collar and getting Mark on a back board. (Their treatment was interrupted by two other people slipping on another section of the same ice — those people weren’t injured, just shocked.) It took me and a helpful bystander to brace the gurney for the EMTs to shift Mark onto the device, and then the EMTs needed to “sled” the gurney down the ice before they could raise it.
Mark was conscious, but somewhat disoriented, and the EMTs recommended that we go to Bellevue, because it’s the local trauma center. We agreed, and they took us there. Along the way, Mark’s memory continued to clear (although he *still* doesn’t remember falling.) At Bellevue, the EMT walked us through the triage process, and we only waited about five minutes before a doctor came by for a preliminary exam. He strongly suggested a CT scan, which we agreed to.
We waited an hour for the exam (having been moved from our original emergency room bay, after they brought in an agitated, aggressive man who seemed to be drunk or high — there were police in the emergency room for another case, and it seemed the hospital workers wanted Mr. Agitated near the cops). Ultimately, the scan results came back, showing no bleeding in the brain (YAYYYYY!). We talked to the doctor one last time, were told that the dizziness and headache and memory problems could last for days, weeks, or months, and Mark was discharged.
Everyone at the hospital was wonderful. Nurses kept us informed and answered questions about timing and waits with patience and accuracy. The doctor was reassuring and kind. The man who handled discharge patiently explained where I could get food (it was nearly 9:00 when they took Mark to the scan, and I’d only had a bowl of soup for lunch hours ago….) even though he must give those directions dozens of times a day.
The next day (yesterday), we headed down to Penn Station, hoping to change our tickets to an earlier train. The gate agent was wonderful, slipping us onto a virtually sold out Acela (a faster, more comfortable train than the regular, with priority on the rails, in case of backups), for only the difference in ticket price. A Red Cap escorted us to the train for pre-boarding, so that we didn’t have to deal with the scrum that always forms, as people with reserved tickets jostle for seats as if it’s the last train leaving Saigon. (Okay, *trains* didn’t leave Saigon, but you know what I mean…)
In the end, we got home about six hours earlier than we would have. Mark is sore from the fall, but the bump on his head isn’t as troublesome today. He’s still getting dizzy if he moves too fast or leans over, but he’s feeling much less foggy.
And I’m left more than a bit unnerved about how bad it could have been. And so grateful for so many people who stopped to help strangers. And wishing there was some way that I could thank everyone involved.
And thinking I’ll only try to go to Katz’s in the summer from now on…