Posted by: Lawrence D. Elliott | September 25, 2008

Do Our Decisions Really Matter?

Often, we’re told how our choices have consequences. Yet we rarely see what those consequences truly are. This past Wednesday, I got a horrible example.

I was heading to my office for a few hours. We’d be moving to a new location soon and I needed to clean out my desk. I looked in on my wife, who had been ill. Since she had not been sleeping much for the past week, I was glad to see she was asleep. She was hanging off the edge of the bed and I was worried she might fall and hurt herself. I debated moving her completely onto it—and possibly awakening her—or just allow her to continue sleeping as she was.

I chose the former.

As I moved her over, I could hear gargled breathing. I knew it was not normal. I attempted to wake her, but she did not respond.

I shook her forcefully, calling her name loudly. She still did not respond.

I patted her lightly on the face, still calling for her awake. She still did not respond.

I opened her eyelids and her eyeballs were rolling toward the back of her head. Her lips were a purplish blue. Her complexion was pale. I knew she was not getting oxygen. I dialed 911.

I recited to the operator her recent medical issues as I continued my attempts to revive her. As I sat her upright, she finally started to respond. She was completely disoriented saying, “What happened? What did I do?”

“Nothing, Babe,” I assured her. “Just sit here and relax.”

“Is it bad,” she asked. The question, along with the disoriented look on her face, were chilling. I don’t believe I’ll ever be able to get that moment out of my mind. I continued to calm her as I ensured she was securely propped up. I ran to print out her medication list, opened the front door a crack, and pushed our dog Lacie out into the back yard. I returned to her and waited for the paramedics.

I knew her condition was dire, but I was relieved she was finally responding.

I kept her propped up and ran to print out her medication list, propped the front door open, and pushed our dog Lacie out into the back yard. I returned to her and waited for the paramedics.

As I heard their voices, I called out “We’re back here! We’re back here!”

They took over and I watched helplessly as I answered questions thrown my way. I could read the look on their faces. They were concerned. They immediately prepared her for transport. Before long, they had her out the door and in the ambulance. The sirens screamed as they drove off. I followed behind.

Upon my arrival, I paced at the ER as the medical staff worked on her. When I was finally allowed to see her, I was relieved she didn’t remember a thing. The mind was protecting her by shutting out the entire event.

Now, after a week in the hospital, she’s inching toward recovery.

But I’m left with a very frightening question.

What if I hadn’t checked on her and I just had left?

“She would have been dead upon your return,” the ER doctor said to me.

It was something I think I knew. But like having a bucket of cold water splashed on me, it sent shivers through my body. The love of my life would have been gone.

Choices do matter, wouldn’t you agree?


  1. […] Then, Murphy’s Law showed its ugly head. My wife Lisa had been off work since November 2007. Her illness took a turn for the worst. We spent the entire summer in and out of hospitals. Sadly, I would have lost her if I hadn’t have revived her on an afternoon in September. […]

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