by Leslie Sittner

Sitting quietly at the computer writing,
blood explodes from my nose onto the desk.
Racing to bathroom sink to rinse off,
blood pulses, pumps into pools.
It doesn’t stop. I pinch the nose sweet spot, head back.
10 minutes, 20 minutes, it doesn’t stop. Stress.
What do I do? Fearing a hospital visit, knowing I can’t drive myself
I grab another towel, head tilted back, stumble to the neighbors.
They call an ambulance, escort me back home.
The dog is racing around room to room, inside, outside
confused, afraid from the tumult. Stress.
Ambulance arrives with two EMTs,
several more neighbors hover on the lawn.
Bedlam. Stress.
Dog must be contained before they enter with the gurney.
Challenge. Stress.
Professional, kind, genuine concern, they can see the issue,
tell me no, no, no, hold head forward and down
so I don’t swallow or choke on blood.
You’re doing it the “the old way.” Stress.
Politely sitting me down, they record my medical history
take my stratospheric blood pressure. Stress.
I remember to grab my purse, give dog care information to the neighbor
before I’m gently strapped atop the gurney, trundled out the front door,
raised into the waiting ambulance.
Blood has been flowing for 45 minutes,
taking my BP several more times, it lowers slightly.
Nervous, I ask about their runs of the day.
Smiling, they tell me I’m the first call of their shift,
they and the transport are newly refreshed, disinfected.
Do they think I’ll be kept overnight?
Probably not, they want to get folks out as quick as possible.
Reassurances. Less stress.
In transit, laying there, strapped down, my phone rings.
Managing to access it, my distant daughter and grandsons
are calling to wish me a Happy Mother’s Day.
Smiles and ironic laughter all around.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: An ambulance from the corps that transported me to the hospital.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Adding to the fear of this scary development was my panic about going to a hospital during this pandemic; recently a friend experienced a minor stroke and was driven to an ER by her husband. After a long interval in the waiting area, she was placed in the COVID ward for 24 hours. I was determined to go by ambulance. My EMTs were the epitome of professional, patient, helpful, and comforting responders; they got me to the hospital safely and calmly. When I contacted the unit to request the names of my EMTs for this gratitude piece and hopefully get their photo, I was told this isn’t possible: They consider all runs to be “just doing their job” and prefer no special recognition, especially photos and names. I honor their brave service and respect their humility. Thank you.

PHOTO: Lawn sign honoring all first responders.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leslie Sittner’s print works are available in The Apple Tree by Third Age Press (2016 -17-18-19-21), Adirondack Life Magazine, BraVa anthology, and read on NPR. Online poems and prose reside at unearthed, Silver Birch Press, 101Words, 50 Word Challenge, 50 Word Stories, Epic Protest Poems, and Adirondack Center for Writing. A collection of essays about European travels with her ex-husband in the late 1960s awaits publishing. Leslie is currently editing the memoir written by her ancient dog while compiling her own book of haiku with photographs.