An event unfolded beside my work desk yesterday afternoon (4.00PM, 9th Feb 2012) that made me realise why people should undertake post-traumatic therapy. Not that this event was overly traumatic, yet it took me all evening to realise just how much that I had been effected by what I saw.
But because I didn’t recognise the symptons of somebody about to have an epelitic fit (and right beside my desk), and because I didn’t know how to handle the moment, I became both embarrassed and angry with myself.
So I was very thankful when another colleague with experience and knowledge to deal with epelitic turns, particularly with the person who went down.
But the moment happened in slow-motion, from one moment to the next.
I remember hearing the person say “I don’t feel well”, to which I unwittingly replied “None of us feel well this afternoon”. I wasn’t wrong. I had popped two NurofenPlus (headache release) tablets only a few moments prior, and was still sweltering from a hectic non-stop Thursday afternoon.
I remember seeing, mere moments after my verbal response about none of us being unwell, the young man turn around, put one hand on his head and lean against the cupboard. I’ve kicked myself since for not recognising this as the first sign. He doesn’t usually lean on things, so I should have asked more of the moment. Damnation.
I sat at my desk as the event unfolded just around the corner. It was quite unpleasant to hear the epelitic fit happening, the grunts and groans. I popped my head around the corner once, then stepped backward. There is no dignity during a fit, so the last thing required was gawkers in the corridor.
When asked to assist I did all that was asked of me. There was some trouble … but you don’t need to know about that. I will no doubt be involved with ensuring future events of this nature have simple procedures on hand, even if only what not to do.
I had been about to step into a meeting just before this all took place. When I realised the other attendee was part of the process to the person’s predicament, I quickly moved the meeting to another time-slot. I had organised the meeting, so knew the choice to move would be accepted.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not blaming myself – I am merely venting. Post traumatic therapy must surely enable people to talk about what they have been through. Which is what I am doing. Yes, it didn’t happen to me, this does sound all quite egotistical. But is not. I have not dealt with anything of this nature in a very long time, so was quite stunned at seeing first hand.
The last time I assisted with a fit was for a Downs Syndrome kid in the back of a Adelaide City bus about ten years ago. All we did was sit on him while he shook and vomited on the floor. He was very strong, as they usually are; By the end of it, he had bruised and bloodied his knuckles, plus left a few nasty bruises on myself and the two other guys holding him. Yet we knew we had to do it. He had been lieing in the aisle between seats. Without us holding him down, he would have broken his arms on the steel tubing legs of the bus chairs. I remember the driver taking us to his depot in the city where an ambulance was waiting.
Out of all this, without stealing the calamity of the moment, I highly commended the guy that DID recognise the symptons. He had quickly ensured the area was clear, the moment was dealt with, and all with an amazing calmness that helped not only the man going through the fit, his voice and mannerisms helped us all realise all that was about to happen. I won’t go into details, but as it happened, myself and other staff offered pillows, chairs, ensured doors and elvators were available for the paramedics arriving and departing, and gave support as required.
It actually binds me up inside as I remember the moment. More than anything for the comradary and teamwork that a diverse group of staff, including management, were able to pool in seconds. We worked as a team, albeit without fully knowing what to do. I watched people of all ages, many of whom had all helped the last time this same person have an epelitic fit, plus a few of us with no prior experience, jump into action within moments.
I have to take my hat off to anyone who can handle these situations. I offered my hand to commend the young man who helped ensure the situation ran smoothly, easily and to a close … which he quietly accepted and moved on towards his cubicle.
Now I can also move on. Writing this up enabled me to release, vent, express and breathe out finally.
- How Trauma Leads to Depression (everydayhealth.com)
- A Veteran With Depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (everydayhealth.com)
- Should we erase painful memories? (salon.com)