March 29, 2012

Hitting the Floor

I chaperoned Mary's 5th grade class field trip to the Halle Heart Center last week.  We all rode the school bus there, about 25 minutes away.  Our group (all girls) settled in the theater for an introduction and a short film about heart attack symptoms and how to respond in an emergency, especially if someone is having a heart attack.  The video was well done..... good acting and very realistic.  It was quite a traumatic scene, with a girl about the same age as Mary responding to her uncle having a heart attack.  Flashing lights and images were involved, along with dramatic music.  The "paramedics" (actually, they were played by real local paramedics) arrive and take care of the man, wheeling him off to the ambulance.  It was all quite effective.... maybe a little too much.  I found myself getting a little bit choked up.  The room was also a little warm and Mary had her sweater one.

The film ended and the tour guide got up and began talking again.  Suddenly there was Mary tumbling forward out of her seat onto the floor.  She was convulsing for a moment, and naturally we were all pretty freaked out.  After a moment she came to, but she was incredibly pale and not really responding to our questions.  It took a while for her to regain her color and start responding normally, and by then the real paramedics had arrived and checked her out.  She was fine, but it was rather alarming.  I was SO grateful that I was on that field trip... it would have been much harder (for both of us!) if I hadn't been there.

I think Mary was grateful that our group was all girls (we had to be divided up into groups anyway to fit, and at that age it's much better if they are separated), though she didn't seem to be the slightest bit embarrassed.  In fact, everyone was pretty impressed. 

Mary has a tendency to be a little squeamish sometimes, but I never imagined anything like this would happen, especially since we hadn't seen anything gory (though there was some talk of "blood").  But I think it was just a "perfect storm" for fainting.... warm room, wearing a sweater, dramatic scenes, flashing lights and images, etc.  As it turns out, a few of the paramedics said this was their third call to the same place for the same reason in the last 2 weeks.  The museum director confirmed that, yes, it does happen on a pretty regular basis.  I think they need some better air conditioning in that room.

So, there we were.... miles away from home and my car was back at the school.  Mary was OK, but she needed to go home and take it easy, and it certainly wouldn't have been a good idea to have her stay there and view the rest of the tour, which was infinitely more squeamish-worthy than what we had seen so far.  I suppose the bus driver would have taken us back, but that would have been weird.  I knew that Jay was in a conference all day at a location about 45 minutes away but I called him anyway.  Then I called my mom.... no answer.  Then my sister.... she was at least 30 minutes away.  Then a paramedic mentioned that the department had a non-emergency van a few minutes away that could take us.  That worked.

Mary spent the rest of the day resting, knowing she wasn't missing anything (no work anyway) at school, which was good because she tends to stress out about things like that.  All her friends called to check up on her later that afternoon, and she was the talk of the class the next day.  It's a good thing she enjoys attention (unlike Jack; he hates it!).

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