Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What Happened at the Library Today

A woman just had a seizure behind me. I'm at the library at Chicago and Ashland, and she started to convulse and almost scream. Loud, inhuman, angry noises, and her body seemed to twist as if trying to pull itself apart.

She's sleeping now, gently snoring, sprawled across a few chairs. The man who's with her - a homeless guy I've seen at the library a few times before, held her throughout. He whispered "there, there" to her as her body bucked and fought. He was concerned, but not alarmed. He ignored the stares of the other patrons, told people grabbing their phones that they didn't need an ambulance. It was just a seizure, she had them all the time. Normally she had them in the mornings, but today she was having them in the afternoon. She'd quiet down in a few minutes.

He was calm, collected. Once her shaking had subsided and she had drifted off to sleep, mind and body exhausted by contortions, he turned back to his computer and waited for her to wake.

What's scarier? The loss of control? The realization that the human body, brain included, is not under the sole jurisdiction of the conscious thing we call "I," but merely a collection of connected cells that can suddenly cascade in painful, humiliating ways?

Or that this man, who I've judged before, for having less than me, for not always being able to bathe every day, treated what must be an incredibly stressful daily occurrence with grace and dignity, while I sat here, scared, and fucking BLOGGED about it.

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