Yesterday, I saw someone who was knocked unconscious. Not sleeping, or under anesthesia medication for surgery. Bashed on the head, crumpled out and down for the count on the floor knocked unconscious.
It was a normal day at work. I was dishing out shakes and sundaes when I heard a loud thump from behind me. I turned around, and saw an older man, probably in his sixties, lying on the floor not moving, halfway behind the pass-out counter (the irony in that phrase was unintentional, but I’m not inclined to remove it).
Knowing how important it is to remain calm in an emergency, my immediate thought was “Oh no, he’s dead, he’s dead, he’s old, he’s dying, he’s dead, he’s dead, he’s dying, he’s dead!”
After all, he was at that age where a heart attack or stroke is not an unreasonable assumption to make. I froze up, and didn’t know what to do. Someone else had already seen him and called the manager, who was asking over the intercom whether there were any doctors or nurses in the restaurant. I had no medical expertise to offer, but I felt as if I shouldn’t just stand there. It’s strange to be so helpless in a situation like that.
I thought about seeing people be knocked out in movies or television. This happens quite often, rarely with any significant blunt force trauma, cuts, or concussions. It’s never very worrisome on TV, because you know that people who are knocked unconscious are people who are too important to the plot to be killed.
In real life, though, unconsciousness is jarring, especially if you don’t see it happen. Without knowing the cause, you don’t know if the person just fainted, hit their head, or flopped over dead with no warning.
In this case, the cause was reassuringly accidental. The man had tripped on a raised platform and hit his head on a counter, blacking out for a couple minutes. He awoke, got up, and walked shakily out of the restaurant, declining medical attention and saying he was fine. He had a cut near his left ear, and appeared stunned, but otherwise, he was apparently fine.
Sometimes death seems very close. A few months ago, some friends and I went to the Indiana State Fair. We saw that there was a concert there that night, and someone suggested we could go to that. But the tickets were expensive, and none of us wanted to stay that long, so we went home. Two hours later, while people waited to see the concert, a large wind/thunderstorm came to the area, and brought down part of the stage on the audience, killing five people and injuring dozens more.
People joke that young people think they’re going to live forever…but it’s true. We may be cognitively aware of the possibility of death, but we have too many plans to get out of the way to really consider our chances likely. But sometimes it’s just around the corner…
Well, this was darker than I anticipated. Still, it’s good to think about these things every once in a while. I’ll try to come up with something lighter for the next post, though. Until then, stay alive!