I actually got to use some of what I learned in my St. John's Ambulance First Aid course I took last month. I was lying on the couch, feeling yucky (I took today off work) when suddenly the front door closed and the dogs began barking their heads off. I went downstairs to find a little old man standing in my entry. I'd never seen him before.
He apologized for barging in and explained that he needed help. After a little questioning, I learned he had passed out and fallen, and he'd realized he needed help, so he had come into the nearest house to find it. He was 90 years old, named John, and lived alone around the corner and down the street from my house. He seemed a bit disoriented and shaky, and I asked him if he was diabetic. He was.
So I laid him on the floor with a blanket and pillow, keeping him on his side, and I gave him a fruit cup to sip. I called 911 and hurried back to sit beside him and keep him from trying to get to his feet and go home. He seemed sleepy, so I kept him talking. He had a daughter but didn't know where she was. He had lived in his house since 1977 and had to replace the aluminum wiring with copper. His family was from the Kitchener-Waterloo area. He'd always been in good health and took care of himself, and he didn't remember hitting his head or anything when he fell. He knew his last name but was hesitant when spelling it. He thanked me for helping him and I told him that's what neighbours were for. I was just glad he had sought help.
My husband came home while we were sitting there. He took it in stride, as if he came home to find a man stretched out on his floor every day of the week. He said hello and he was sorry they hadn't met under better circumstances. The little old man looked up at him from the floor and said very solemnly, "Good evening." I almost laughed.
Then the paramedics arrived and did everything I expected them to do. John told them he'd been trying to walk to the hospital (about a forty-minute walk away). He knew the address of the hospital but didn't know the day or month. The paramedics seemed to think he might have had a stroke. I went outside to speak to one of them, explaining what I knew of him, his name and age, that I'd given him some fruit juice, that he'd replaced his aluminum wiring with copper. (Well, okay, they probably didn't need to know that. But somehow it felt important to tell them at the time! I mean, it did demonstrate some lucidity and ability to carry on a conversation - on my part or on John's, I don't know which!)
They hauled him away with lights flashing. As the door closed, I told him again I was glad he had come to our house. And I likely won't know how things turn out, because, after all, his health information is not my business and no one is going to update me, no matter that he himself brought me into his story by walking in my front door. But I sincerely hope he's all right. I hope I won't see a house around the corner and down the street go up for sale in the next little while. If I do, I will know how the story ended. Ninety years or not, somehow it doesn't seem like long enough.