Welcome to the series where you can share four of your links from your archives here on my blog to a new audience. Perhaps posts that you wrote at the beginning of your blogging experience that deserve another showcase. If you have book promotion posts then please contact me separately for other options. Details of how to get in touch with me at the end of the post.
This is the last in the four posts by Robert Wertzler and one that I thought would make us all stop and think. We forget how gut instinct, backed up by years of experience can make a powerful combination. Bob shares a story that demonstrates how sometimes people and events all fall into place, but also that when you make a difference to one person… you could be saving another.
Five Years by Robert Wertzler
This happened a long time ago, nearly twenty years. I was working as Crisis Therapist at a mental health clinic. It was at the end of the day. Well, the office day, not my day as I was on-call after hours. About five minutes to five a client called asking to speak to his Psychiatrist. She had just left for the day and the call came to me. The receptionist had told me the name, so I had his entry in the database up on the screen.
Me: “I’m sorry, Dr. ______ has left for the day. What did you need to talk to her about and how can I help?”
Client: “I just wanted to say goodby.”
Me: “Oh, are you going out of town?”
Client: “You could put it that way” CLICK (He had hung up.)
My stomach did one of those, “This is not good,” flips. I trusted it and dialed 911, requesting a welfare check.
It happened that there was a Sheriff’s Deputy on his way home from work who heard the call on his radio and was only about a block and a half from the house. He went to the address, found the front door ajar and entered. The Client was in the front hall with a box knife. His left forearm was shredded from elbow to wrist with bone exposed and a lot of blood. The officer acted. He knocked away the knife, put both hands around the man’s arm above the elbow, and squeezed with all his strength. He made himself a human tourniquet until the paramedics arrived a few minutes later. The Fire Station was only a few blocks away. They applied a proper tourniquet, started a Saline drip, and loaded the man into the ambulance for the trip to the hospital about ten miles away in the next town.
The hospital was ready when he got there. The surgical team was waiting and he went directly into surgery. He was in surgery for eight hours. The damage was that severe. I don’t remember how many units of blood they used, but a full refill and then some. They pulled him through.
So many ifs: If he had not called to say goodby; If I had tried to call him back, or tried to think about what was going on for a few minutes; If the Deputy had not been so close; If the ambulance crew had been farther away or busy with another call; If the hospital had been much farther away; If the surgical team couldn’t be assembled so quickly; If there had not been enough blood available; That man would have died that day. I am no great believer in Divine Intervention, but that’s a lot of luck for one guy on one day.
When he was medically ready to be transferred to the Psychiatric Hospital, I was off duty, so I didn’t see him and make those arrangements. I didn’t meet him until five years later.
I was at the ER on another case when that man and his girlfriend brought in a friend (all three were clients of the clinic) who was intoxicated and suicidal. After the friend was settled in I saw the man’s arm, the scars on his arm told me who he was. He didn’t try to hide them. I asked him, “How are you doing?” All he said was, “Five years Clean and Sober.” Then he went to help look after his friend.
It had taken a lot of people to keep that man alive one day. Actually saving his life, that was his own doing.
©Rober Wertzler 2016
About Robert Wertzler
Currently I am retired from almost twenty years in the mental health field in California and Arizona. There are times I like the title, “Recovering Therapist”, but that does seem a bit excessive. In 2006 I retired to move here in Western North Carolina at my father’s request, and found him in the early stages of Dementia. I took care (with some help in the late stages) of him in that worsening condition until he died in late 2013 at the age of 98. Before all that, I worked at various times as a soldier (US Army 1967-70), community organizer, cab driver, welfare case worker, wooden toy maker, carpenter, warehouse worker, and other things.
I cannot look down on what anyone finds they can and must do to make their way in the world that is not intended to do harm. An undocumented migrant farm laborer, for example, deserves as much respect as the CEO of a major corporation, perhaps, in some cases, more. Politicians are often a different category.
But, there is a life beyond work and keeping myself fed, clothed, and sheltered, and for me that has been much involved with reading, writing, and listening. I leaned to read and love books from my father reading to me at bedtime and gradually transitioning to me doing the reading. It was not generally those things called “children’s books” that I remember, although there must have been some.
My sharpest memories are of the works of Jules Verne, Robert Louis Stevenson (What 6 year old boy wouldn’t want to meet a real pirate like Long John Silver?), Robert Heinlein, Louis Carroll, Edgar Allan Poe, Ernest Hemingway (age 7 – “The Old Man And The Sea”), and others. Nothing the school presented could hold a candle to those story tellers. I credit whatever skill I have as a writer to that experience, and those examples absorbed as if by osmosis. Parents, whatever else you may do about your children’s education, read to them. Read the great writers and classic stories.
Connect to Robert on his blog and social media.
My thanks to Robert for sharing his post with us over the last four weeks and I hope you will head over and follow his blog and his current posts.
I am so delighted that so many bloggers are sharing posts from their archives that deserve another audience.. MINE.. if you are interested in participating just send four links to firstname.lastname@example.org. I am looking for human interest, informative, entertaining and humour…if you would like to promote your books.. then still email but we will look at doing a FREE promotion instead.
If you would like to share some of your archive posts from when you began blogging, then please send up to four links to email@example.com