Today I witnessed a truly humbling event.
A young man — about 30, I’ll call him Brad — was experiencing a panic attack. His condition greatly resembled that of a stroke, as he was unable to move his extremities, his face was nearly paralyzed, and he could barely speak or breathe.
His friend, I’ll call him Alex, another 30-something-year-old guy, brought Brad to the ER. It took a few medics to get Brad into a wheelchair and inside due to his inability to move most of his body.
As I watched the events unfold, I was touched by Alex’s gestures. After registering Brad, Alex found a box of Kleenex and pulled out a handful of them to wipe Brad’s tears since he was unable raise his arms due to his condition.
Within a short period of time, Brad had four other friends by his side. By then he was laying on a gurney in the hallway of the ER. The docs had also given him a shot of something, which calmed him down. His friends were rubbing his shoulders and head, talking to him all the while. Eventually, Brad regained the ability to move his arms and to talk normally again. I overheard him calling home and how he told his parents not to worry, promising them that he was okay.
It was incredible to watch these friends, both of whom were seemingly healthy young men, as they went through this trauma. I left the ER that evening thinking about how much stress impacts our bodies. That a panic attack essentially left Brad unable to move most of his body, in pain, and barely able to breathe or talk.
Even more so, it made me think about stress on another level. The level where it involves all the hatred spewed in Facebook’s public forums — the horrible comments and names that people call one another (mostly aimed toward people that they don’t even know). Is all the passing on of hatred and carrying, and then expressing, all of that anger worth the stress and the impact on the physical body?
As we go into this year of election turmoil, let’s take a deep breath — and a chill pill or an extra glass of wine — so the ERs aren’t filled to the brim with panic stricken peeps… and, no, that’s not an open invitation to bash Obamacare. The kind of compassion and empathy that Alex showed his friend are what this country really needs — more than anything — right now.
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