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"Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread."
– Edward Abbey  
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  Volume No. 16 Issue No. 9 September 2019  

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  Note to self
  By Mark Stoller

   Mark Stoller moved to Falcon in 2007. He and his wife, Andra, both U.S. Air Force veterans, enjoy life with their daughters, extended family and adopted rescue dogs in Latigo. Mark savors the privilege of his wife and daughters being his muse for topics, people to meet and places to investigate.
 
   She found herself in unfamiliar territory. He always brought her coffee in the morning. In fact, he had always done a great many tasks on her behalf. Now, recovering after his surgery, she quickly realized how spoiled she was due to his loving efforts.
   
   Looking back at the counter, the coffee she attempted to brew spilled all over the countertop — she didn’t know the nuances of the coffee maker. That was the moment she heard him call out, “I need help!” followed by the sickening thud of a body slumped to the floor.
   
   Her 911 call brought our ambulance to provide aid. The fire engine crew arrived first with us right behind them. Now, in this smallish home, seven men in full gear and life-saving equipment crowded the narrow hallway of the bathroom where he fell.
   
   Looking around, everything was in its place and nicely arranged. The only thing out of place was the wife’s ability to cope with the situation. She was shaken by crisis, and having first responders invade her home was visibly unnerving. Compounding her chaos, she couldn’t find the list of her husband’s medications. Wide-eyed and frantic, she ran to us with a cardboard box filled with 12 pill bottles saying, “Oh God, I hope these are it!”
   
   Her husband had triple bypass two weeks before, and now her world came crushing down with fears of the worst. She needed help too. We revived her husband, monitored his vital signs and delivered him to the hospital.
   
   It is widely stated, you never forget your initial call as a first responder. This gentleman was mine and he pulled through well enough to go home that evening.
   
   The diagnosis: He suffered an episode of vasovagal syncope. Vaso (blood vessels) vagal (vagus nerve) syncope (fainting). Simply translated — he passed out from pushing too hard while on the toilet.
   
   There are 12 cranial nerves controlling your body and functions. The vagus nerve is the 10th nerve which controls the heart, lungs and digestive tract. When the vagus nerve is suddenly stimulated (standing too long, seeing blood, fear of bodily injury, straining too hard during bowel movement), it sets off a chain of events within the body.
   
   One common reaction is fainting from decreased blood pressure, which causes decreased blood flow to the brain. After someone passes out, hopefully without further harm on the way down to the ground, they will regain consciousness in a couple of minutes.
   
   The lesson learned here is one of deliberate preparation. It is human nature to avoid unpleasant conversations about emergency situations. However, when the stuff hits the fan and you find yourself in the middle of a crisis, you’ll find that basic instructions — the note to self — are going to help you and the first responders care for your loved one — or them for you.
   
   Begin with a list of current medications and include vitamins and other supplements. If first responders need to use a drug intervention, it’s good for them to know what they are giving won’t cause greater harm when combined with what is already in the body.
   
   Attach to your list the names and phone numbers of people you can count on to drop everything, come to your aid, pick up children from school and/or care for your animals.
   
   Know your limitations in a crisis. Being too chatty/frantic or freezing up won’t help first responders. Having someone who knows you and can communicate with medical professionals is essential.
   
   Again, make that preparation a priority — talk with loved ones about how to handle a health crisis and ensure everyone is cared for properly.
   
  
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