Writings

Thoughts from the ER


I did attempt a modest return of the blog a couple of weeks ago, but realized that I needed some time of complete rest before I bring my words to the page on a more regular basis again, so I am going to do nothing for a few days more, and having just arrived in the warmth of my parent’s home in Sweden, that should not be a problem…
Am taking a mini road trip down memory lane with my gal, visiting Malmö and Copenhagen, showing her what my life was before her, which will also give me something to tell you all
However Igor had a moment of inspiration today and wrote a piece that was brought on by an unfortunate event yesterday (that fortunately ended up well) It happened to our dear, wonderful Friend Pedro, and really shook us. So until I come back with my own words I leave you today with his. It's a good read. Soon, J.
After the working day ended we were supposed to meet my dearest friend Pedro and his girls to celebrate the birthday of the little one, Iomi's best friend, and discuss where we were going to surf today, a nice big swell is heading this way and we were both free from work at the same time, so eager to surf it. Instead we ended up calling an ambulance and taking him to the emergency room, scared for his life. He works as a handyman and had gotten seriously poisoned in the afternoon while working on a terrace with some nasty chemical product without a mask… Duh, Pedro! By the time he got to our home he could hardly breathe, was shaking uncontrollably and collapsed to the ground at one point. We called the emergency number, waited for the ambulance to come and I rode with him to the hospital where we had to wait another hour or so until we could see if the medicine was kicking in on time. A couple of horrible hours those were.

'Nothing' happened in the end and thanks to the nurses and doctors in the ambulance and the hospital, we were back home on time to eat chocolate mousse and sing happy birthday to his very relieved daughter.
He is still coughing and cannot breathe comfortably, he won’t surf today (give the man a couple of days) but will take his daughters to school and the dentist and will cook dinner, do the laundry and check his emails. We were lucky and it was all just a big almost.
While in the emergency room and later at home we talked and contemplated life, as one often does from the incredibly privileged vantagepoint we as holders of a European passport hold, and what we said, thought and remembered is what I want to share with you.

We are so fragile, anyone of us at any time can break. Without exception. My friend Dave almost cut his finger off with a trimmer last month and last week he got stung by a bee on the other finger. He is allergic to bees, yeah, ouchh. His hand made it both times but it was close. Another friend got stuck in a rip current on a big surf day at sunset last spring, struggled to get out in time. He is not a silly beginner like me, but a seasoned surfer and a professional diver. If it can happen to him... A parent from Iomi’s school had a car accident last year, he was alright but his car got destroyed. Two months later, his wife had another accident, this time the car ended up upside down. Both times with the kids inside, both times nothing serious happened... but it could have. Last week a fisherman fell of the cliff on a beach down here and died leaving a 10 year old daughter and a grieving wife behind. Any time, anyone. We know it, we all do, but I don't know if we really do. Cherish your life, Igor, love your people, forgive your enemies, it's all too short and unpredictable to do otherwise. Muy fragil.

Another thing that comes clear on a day like this is that the shortest way out of any devastating situation is another human being. The woman on the emergency phone line, the ambulance driver, the nurse, the doctor, the dude in the gas station that the ambulance filled up the tank, your friends and family or a kind stranger on the streets, disappointing and troubled as we might be, we people only have each other. Faulty humans depending on faulty humans. There were a couple of old folks at the emergency, one didn't have anyone to drive him home and so the hospital staff were reluctantly arranging an ambulance for him, the other one was diabetic and had no one to explain him the new machine he'd gotten so he ended up in the hospital due to improper use. They both looked very sad, really sad. Alone.

The miracle of technology and modern medicine was another topic. No matter how many trees we hug, when the shit hits the fan, that stupid addictive smart phone that is now giving us neck problems from looking down so much, is not so stupid anymore, it feels much smarter all of a sudden, god send in fact. The oxygen mask is god send, the roads, the ambulance, the hospital, the electrical installation that lights it when the sun sets are god send. And so is the cortisone slowly flowing into your vein saving your life. As limited as western medicine might be when it comes to understanding long term illness, when it comes to accidents and poisons and heart attacks, when our child's life is on the line, it becomes our true religion for That day, Hippocrates our one and only prophet, the surgeon our priest. 'Incense sticks will return at Ganesh's feet tomorrow' reads the sign. It's good to remember once in a while, I think.

And what about good old Europe. This rigid and frail ancient lady still watches our back. She is not as strong as she used to and might not be able to do it for much longer, struggling as she is herself to breathe, but she's still trying. Pedro is not wealthy and in the midst of the whole confusion, he told me, lying in the ambulance short of breath, that he was worried he was not going to have money to pay for the ride, the emergency room or the medicine. And what if they used expensive equipment... Don't worry, I told him, we'll figure it out, but had I been in his place I'd probably had the same concerns. 16 euros and 85 cents. That was it. The System paid the rest. Europe paid the rest. We talk so much shit about her all the time, I just thought of saying thanks for once. It might not last, it probably won't last, but Europe's far from perfect attempt on the last 100 years or so (300? 50? hard to tell...) to build a fair and solidary social structure might very well have been the closest we got to it. So thanks so much E.

And last but not least, there is of course the other side of the coin, what happens with you in a situation like this when you live on the other side of the euro/pound/dollar borders? No phone, no ambulance, no doctor, no medicine... no life. Yep, you are fucked, or worse, your child is fucked. It's not good, not fair, that so many are living in pain, poverty and lack of freedom. I know, a total cliché, but still true, we need to keep trying to heal this amazing world of ours, which inevitably means to heal this outdated mind of ours that sees separation and difference rather than similarity and proximity. Extreme suffering, human kind's self-created hard drug will one day kill us, without a doubt, like all hard drugs do. Empathy is the cure, I hope we are still on time.

Pedro is one of the most inspiring humans I know, he'll for sure keep trying. So happy you are ok my friend, I love you. And happy birthday Lia, you got the biggest present this year.

PS: When I took this picture he was already feeling a bit better, humor was starting to kick in and somehow I thought it'd be funny to get a pic of him vomiting. Missed it by just a second, which maybe was for the best…

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