It's odd what dreams may come...here I am trying to sleep and all I can think of is the person who helped me while I was alone at the bottom of that waterfall. I don't know if he was really there, or if he was a figment of my mind, or if he was what my faith would call an angel. All I know is while lying there he helped me. I frantically begged him to tell me if Kate was ok, then had a vision of Kate walking back down the mountain with her son in hand and our friends girls in tow. He calmed me, gave me a peace that I by no means should have had. The medical/rational side of my brain tells me it was either a real person or a hallucination from the trauma and the massive endorphin release from my injuries. While my spiritual side tells me I was met by something supernatural. How else could I see Kate walking down that hill, feel her fear and anguish of not knowing how I was. The first responders I have spoken to have made no mention of anyone being with me. I was alone when they got there. This isn't the end of the oddities or blessings, depending on your belief structure. I had said ever since I met the man that a certain physician is the only person I would trust to save my life. This doctor received a call prior to ever knowing I was coming. The caller did not identify himself, only told my doc that "Joe Riffe is being flown in from Fort Knox, he's hurt very bad and needs you." Moments later the bat phone rang at University and Air Methods advised them I was in the air and on the way. I haven't remembered these things since my first hospitalization. I can feel the burning in my ankle, the last feeling I would ever have in that part of my leg. Even before the amputation I couldn't really feel anything from my knee down. The last sensation I remember is the searing pain I was in while this mysterious stranger tried his best to comfort me. As I have said before, I crawled out from under the spray of the falls with my home made splint. Once I made it to my final position this person cradled me in his arms, showed me Kate and was gone when Fort Knox fire and rescue arrived.
In my life I have experienced many things in which I can't explain. I've been blessed enough to watch life return and leave. I've been that person holding onto someone as life left them. I've seen the blessing of life return and that person walk out of the hospital to his family. Never have I had this favor returned to me by a stranger until that day. I can't explain who or what this person was, I can say he had an integral part in my survival. I begged God to let me live. To give me the chance to have a life with Kate and our sons. He gave me that, and part of that came from the comfort of a total stranger.
I try to relate this blog to EMS when I can. There is no more pure representation of who we should be as a profession than this person. Take away all the medical technology and medical theology and we are all strangers welcomed into the lives of others at the worst moment of their life. It amazed me the comfort of a simple touch, just knowing I wasn't dying alone. I'm not saying we shouldn't treat our patients and use all the fun gadgets we get to play with, just remember, sometimes the best thing you can do for your patient is assure them that they aren't alone and a simple touch can take away so much anxiety. I know. I experienced it first hand. There are Angels among us, sometimes you get the blessing of being that Angel.