March 16th, 2005

Chalkboard

Helping A Young Woman Having Seizures In Traffic

Hi Everyone,

Forgive me for my long absence. I actually have entries that I've written but never uploaded and I'm not sure how to post them. I'll figure it out somehow.

Today I was given the opportunity to be a good Samaritan to a beautiful young woman in trouble, and while I am so grateful for the experience to be of help to a sister being, I am feeling sad because I don't know what happened to her. I need to know that she is safe and well.

I think I'll call the police department tomorrow to see if they have any information about what may have happened to her. I don't know if they are allowed to release information to just anyone who calls but at least I can try. I feel like I need some kind of closure on this since I have been thinking about it all day.

I was on my way to do an errand in Beverly Hills this afternoon. I was driving my convertible, enjoying the lovely, sunny weather, and heading south on Sawtelle. As I was about to cross Santa Monica Boulevard, (a very busy, super-traffic-filled street near our home), I noticed that the lead car in the opposite lane -- the car that was facing me -- wasn't moving, and a line of traffic was backing up behind her. I couldn't tell what the person was going to do -- if they were going to turn right in front of me or keep going -- so I slowed to be safe.

As I crossed through the intersection on the green light I got closer to her and passed right beside her, that's when I could clearly see that something was seriously wrong with the driver. Her head was jerking up and down and her hair was covering her face and flipping back and forth. It looked a little bit like she was ignoring the green light because she was just really rocking out to her stereo. But this was obviously something much more serious because her head was jerking in this weird way and she didn't seem to be aware that she was in a car, in heavy traffic, stopped at a green light, with a dozen or more cars piling up behind her -- their drivers angry and honking like mad because she was blocking traffic and preventing them from being able to move.

I knew I had to help so I veered off to the right, parked in the red, bolted out of my car, and dodged oncoming cars while putting my hand up to get them to slow so I could cross to help this woman. When I got to her driver's side window, which was down, I could see that she had just had a seizure. I had a friend and neighbor who had epilepsy, and her little girl always knew to come and get me to help, so I've had a lot of experience with this. Everything about her appearance said seizure to me and her mouth was wet and her chin was covered with spit.

The woman driving the car, or not driving it, was strikingly beautiful. She was in her early twenties, tall, thin, with perfect pale skin, blue eyes, and long, long, red hair. I reached in through the window and brushed her hair away from her face so I could look at her. I put my hand on her forehead and brushed her cheek gently to get her attention. She looked dazed and surprised and said, "What's wrong?" I said, "Sweetheart I think you've just had a seizure. You're in your car in traffic. You're stopped at a green light. We need to get you some help right away." She just couldn't comprehend this and said, "Oh, why?" She said this same thing about six or seven times while I kept trying to reason with her.

Two men, who got out of two separate cars behind us, came to see what was going on, but no one offered to help, they were all mostly concerned about moving her through the intersection so they could get going again. She was in no condition to drive, she looked completely dazed and helpless. I couldn't figure out if she'd taken drugs or was having seizures from some kind of brain disorder. Nothing really made much sense.

I offered to drive her to the parking lot at the 7-11 across the street where we could call for help. But she would just look at me with her very pretty eyes and say, "Oh, why?" again, and the two guys behind me seemed fed up. One of them said, "Oh, she's out of it." I just wanted to get her somewhere safe, out of traffic, and take the keys away from her. But she wouldn't let me help her. Then suddenly she brightened up, began to take in some of what I was saying, started apologizing and said that she felt well enough to cross the intersection. I asked her if she was sure and she said, "Yes," so I got her to agree to meet me on the other side of the intersection, where I would try to do whatever I could for her.

I turned away from her and dodged a couple of cars again to get back to my car, but when I looked back over my shoulder I could see that she was having another seizure. Her head was moving erratically and her shoulders and arms were jerking. I turned around, ran back to her, and then we went through the same scenario again with my asking her if I could help, if I could call someone, if I could drive her to a doctor, or drive her home, and all she would say was, "Oh, why?"

Finally an Asian looking man with an accent came up to her and very assertively made her understand that she needed to drive through the intersection, which I didn't think was a good idea at this point. She looked up at the light, realized that she needed to go and pushed on the gas pedal, but she was in park so her engine just revved up. Then before I could stop her she managed to put the car in gear and drove slowly through the intersection with her head flopping around. I wanted to stop her but there just wasn't anything I could do so I ran back to my car and called 911 three times but each time I got a busy signal.

Finally I thought that the best way to help her would be to get in my car and try to follow and find her again, because in the shape she was in, it didn't seem like she would get very far before stopping again. Just as I got in my car I heard sirens and saw paramedics and a fire engine. I got back out of my car, ran back to the intersection, and then ran across Santa Monica boulevard to try to catch them before they left.

When I reached them, the paramedics had driven away and were making a U turn up ahead, but the fire engine was parked, so I crossed the street to get to them and called up to the men in the tall truck. Someone had called them about the woman, but they told me that since she had driven off, they wouldn't be able to do anything for her. I said, "She can't be more than a block or two ahead of you. If you just head that way, towards the VA, you'll find her, and she's really sick and needs your help." But it turns out they aren't allowed to pursue someone in order to offer them help, or at least that's what they said. So I just stood there feeling kind of confused, sad, and frustrated because I had had this chance to help this woman, who could at this very moment kill herself or someone else by driving a car in this condition.

Heading back to my car, again, I saw a police car and flagged him down. I told the officer in the car what had happened, but it turned out that he was a Federal police officer and only had jurisdiction over anything that happens on the VA lands. She had headed in that direction, and if she had kept going straight, that's where she was most likely to end up, so he took the information and went off to look for her. Then I called the Purdue police station, just in case she hadn't made it to the VA, or had turned on any of the many little side streets. I told them everything as well, and that was really all I could do.

I hated leaving without having been of more help. I wanted to know that she would be all right. I wanted to know why this had happened to her in the middle of a sunny day in Los Angeles -- why someone that attractive, driving a brand new car, (a light green Volvo with paper dealer plates), with an expensive laptop sitting on the seat beside her, had ended up in that condition. If she had epilepsy wouldn't she be aware of this and be able to recognize what was happening to her, and if she had taken drugs, why would she do this in the middle of the day, then get in her car and drive? She just didn't fit the mold, you know, she didn't look like someone with a chronic illness, and she didn't look like someone who would be doing drugs, but I know I'm being stupid and naive, anyone can get sick and anyone can do drugs. Oh well, I did the best I could do, I just hope she's home safe and no one was injured.

I'm watching today's Oprah on my DVR. It's so sad and moving -- stories about people who have done amazing, heroic things for strangers, and parents reading the last letters of their children who were killed in the war. So sad : (

Tomorrow I'm going with Atra to a preschool near here to keep her company and help her communicate with the administrators, teachers, and possibly the kids, at this school. She doesn't think her English is good enough. I think it is. I think she's really great. I can't imagine going to Iran and doing what she does in Farsi. For her class in early childhood education she needs to observe a class for an hour. I am not looking forward to getting up early, but I like helping my pal, and I looooove being with kids, so I'm both looking forward to this and dreading it. I'd better get to bed.

Big loving hugs,
Your Pal -- Wacqui
Chalkboard

Preschool, Homework, Anger Management, Japan, Tahiti, Larry King and Marlon Brando

Oh man am I tired. I had to get up early to go with my friend Atra to a local preschool and observe a class so I could help her write up a kind of observational review. It was fun. I loooove kids and haven't had the opportunity to watch preschoolers for a long time. I've missed this so much. I loved going to Beau's preschool Sunshine and interacting with the kids. It was a big loss for me when he graduated because we were both so happy there -- volunteering and being a room parent took up a lot of my time and it was a social experience as well. Because I got to babysit the kids when the teachers had their regular meetings it was almost like getting to be a teacher without having to go through all of the training and I loved it. So today was fun for me but I couldn't really let go and relax with the kids because I had so much work to do for Atra and we were told not to interact with the kids : ( I wanted to interact like mad.

Now I'm helping Beau and Atra do their homework, bleh. Beau needs to write a paper about Belize so I've just been helping him with some of the research. Atra is beyond overwhelmed, she has so much to do with this brand new catering business she just started, and she is in over her head in this class she signed up for, but she can't drop it at this point or she will get an F. She has a kind of open book essay test in her class tomorrow so I've taken two of her questions and am doing the work for her. I imagine that this will provoke reactions in some of you, but I'm just trying to be a good friend, and I'm enjoying learning things in the process. The subjects I'm writing about are anger and the healthy expression..

Oh my God I had the Simple Life running in the background on the TV and something caught my attention, maybe because the girls were screaming, so I looked up and saw Paris holding a white rat with a pair of tongues that she was about to feed to a bird of some kind. I have pet rats. I can't believe I had to see this -- had to listen to Nicole say, "Squeeze it. Oh my God there's blood coming out of it's nose." See, this is the kind of thing that really hurts me, freaks me out and makes me feel depressed, helpless and angry. I feel really, really sorry for that rat. I feel it's pain. I can't differentiate between it's pain and suffering and my own and I'm not even sure that I want to.

I just picked up my stripey cat-friend Sydsu and gave him a cuddle, that helped a bit. And then I had to be a strict-ish parent and get on the phone and remind Beau that I had told him he couldn't talk on the phone anymore tonight because it's super late and he has a project due tomorrow. I also had to remind him that he can't play his guitar with the amp on after nine because the neighbors complain. He was talking to a ton of people on the phone, I don't even know who they all were. Someone told me to, "Shut the Fuck up," so in my very mature way I said, "No, you shut the Fuck up," and then explained to all of these anonymous people that I had told Beau he had to do his homework and that if he didn't he could get kicked out of his school. Parenting, feh.

Anyway, I was writing about anger and Atra's report. The first topic was about recent Harvard and Duke medical studies that suggest finding other ways to handle anger than by openly expressing it. It doesn't feel like too long ago that we were encouraged to express our anger, to "get it out" by yelling, hitting pillows, ripping up phone books, etc., and I used to go to this anger workshop where each person was encouraged to take a turn in the center of the room getting as wildly angry and emotionally out of control as we liked. I always felt more upset and angry afterwards so I stopped going. The other topic she delegated to me was to pick two cultures who handle anger in a positive way so I picked the Polynesians and the Japanese.

While doing a Google search for anything having to do with Tahiti and anger, I found this old transcript of an interview that Larry King did with Marlon Brando. I enjoyed reading it and reexperiencing it. I regret never having had a chance to meet him. Here it is in case you're interested; Collapse )
Chalkboard

Making Up For Lost Photo Time

Remember the heavy rains we had here in California recently? Here are some pictures I took on one of our last rainy days. This is a waterfall that appeared right around the corner from the Getty center. I took all of these pictures right along the 405 freeway where things are usually so dry and brown that we have to worry about brush fires.



This was actually a double waterfall but it was hard to get a shot of both of them. It was so surprising to see this that I actually got off of the freeway, doubled back on it, parked on the shoulder, and got out in freeway traffic to take this shot to share it with you. I was so happy to see a waterfall I wanted to prove that it had been there.



These other two shots are of some berries I saw along a fence and this normally ugly dry patch of scrub that is just alongside the freeway offramp by Scott's house. I wish everything would stay lush and green like this. It reminds me of Hawaii, sigh, oh how I love Hawaii.





And here finally, and especially for Tuatha who probably doesn't even read my journal anymore, is a picture of our new dog Flora-bella/Scrappers. She won't sit still for even one second so it is nearly impossible to take her picture. This was the most focused shot I could get of her.