You know when you’re on the subway and hear those dreaded words, “attention, customers,” followed by an announcement that there’ll be a delay because of a medical emergency crackle over the PA system, and you can’t help but inwardly groan despite yourself since you’re in a rush/you already finished the stupidly easy Sudoku puzzle in the free Metro “newspaper”/you only ate a peanut butter sandwich and apple for lunch and you require more food than that and it’s been five hours and you are, to use the technical term, “hangry” (even though you of course feel bad for whoever’s experiencing said medical emergency because seriously you’re not a monster)?
Yesterday the person causing the stoppage was me, except I was on a streetcar—a remarkably enclosed space, I’d like to point out—and it wasn’t really a medical emergency, just a partial seizure that freaked out the poor woman who had the misfortune of sitting next to a lip-smacker. She called 911. Everything came to a halt.
To be honest, I kind of wish I hadn’t recovered so quickly because then I wouldn’t have been capable of experiencing such an elevated level of embarrassment. But embarrassed I was. Mortified. It didn’t help that almost none of my fellow passengers, as far as I could tell, saw fit to disembark while all this was happening, probably since it’s January in Ontario and taking an alternate route rather than waiting for the ambulance to arrive and remove me so that they could continue on in the same streetcar would have involved stepping out into the bitter cold.
Anyway, I sat there for a while, a little confused but aware enough to know that people kept shooting me curious glances, as human nature makes it so hard to resist doing. After what felt like an eternity but was probably less than fifteen minutes, the paramedics turned up, checked me out, and suggested that we go to the hospital, just to be on the safe side.
For the first time in my life, I said no to a heavily subsidized ride in the back of an ambulance. My reasoning was as follows: it had been a partial seizure without complications, and by the time I was asked the standard series of questions—what’s your name, what year is it, etc.—I was able to shoot off answers like no one’s business. It would’ve been a waste of my time and of tax payers’ dollars (you’re welcome, fellow Canadians) to lie around in the ER for hours only to be told that I have an extraordinary brain and that I should go home and have a relaxing bubble bath then go to bed.
So I signed a waiver and flagged down a cab.
I could, of course, rant and rave about how this all could have been avoided had the 911-caller been educated about epilepsy and seizure first aid. I could complain that the TTC driver could have dealt with the situation better. I could ramble on in excruciating detail about the humiliation I endured. And I just started to do all of those things, so there you go! But in all truth, I get why my seatmate did what she did: I’d have panicked too, in her position. I’ll be charitable and give the TTC driver a pass: maybe he was having a bad day. I’ll spare you the pain, this time, of reading my dramatic self-pitying: you do that enough.
I will, however, say that I’m happy with how I dealt with the ordeal, particularly, and perhaps weirdly, with the fact that I declined to go to the hospital (given that it was pretty clearly unnecessary). Self-awareness! Agency! Empowerment!
I wish I had a copy of that liability waiver so that I could hang it over my dining room table. Yeah, the one I never use.