42 Seconds Which Changed our Lives

Despite I am in Vietnam now and I have not been to China since June 2012, I am going to share a story with you which happened back in April 2012 (when me and Agness lived in China). This was such a thrilling experience for both of us and a lesson to learn, it would be the best to portray it as if it was happening now…

“The weather in China, at least in Xiushan where I live, is mixed in April. Some days it’s freezing cold and some days a t-shirt feels too hot to wear. It doesn’t matter to me much now, I’m too occupied with etramping. There’s always something to do and never enough time. Thankfully, I have few days off now. Recently, I have found Twitter and it starts to consume too much of my time, the same with Agness. I think she’s probably tweeting now, or writing a new post. How can you write so much and so efficiently. It’s like it doesn’t cost her any effort. No, it’s 8 pm, which means she’s running around school’s playground. How mad, to work this hard and run for 2 hours every day.

 Woo, that’s unusual, she’s calling me? Now? Agness is always sticking to her words and plans. It’s the time when she runs and I get a phone call from her? I go “Wasssup?!” as I pick up the phone, but her response is not as energetic as I expect. “Hey Cez, I don’t know what’s happening. My head aches so much and my nose started to bleed”. A sudden shock. I know Agness for many years and she rarely complains about any kind of pain or discomfort. There was something going on and I don’t want to worry all night. Xiushan, where I am, and Huayuan, where Agness stays, are 60 km afar. I have to get a taxi, or rather a private car. Not something I do every time, it’s not cost effective, if you know what I mean. Sarah and Jason (fellow teachers from my school) are not picking up. Stone (our boss) does, he orders a car for me. Within 1 hour Agness greets me at the door.

Although she’s worried, she feels much better. We spend the evening as we do usually, etramping, facebook and twitter…

In the morning, Stone picks her up to go to a doctor. In the school, he’s responsible for her, especially her safety in China. I want to go with her, that’s what I came for too. “I don’t need you to come with me, if they hospitalise me you can bring over clothes for me” – she said. Even though she was feeling worse every day for the last two months, and last night was the point when we all realised she has to see the doctor, nothing seemed to be wrong now, so I stayed at home.

“Why don’t they answer my calls?!” I thought. It’s more than 2 hours and Agness said she’s gonna update me every hour. I found myself walking around the room, minutes started to stretch and I am basically unable to do anything. I don’t know where they went, I can’t do anything. Finally, “Stone? Hey, how’s it going?” He mumbled something in response, but I couldn’t work out what he said. I am quite used to this, when Chinese people have to communicate something new over the phone, they pronounce it in hard to understand way. I know where to go now, I’ll pick up Agness’s clothes and just go. If I need to get something else I’ll just come back.

 

Stone waves to me as I arrive on a motorbike taxi. He then leads me to a private clinic where I find Agness in bed. She’s not the same girl I said bye to this morning when she left her flat. Pale, scared, powerless… “you wanna photo?” I joke. Although it’s half a joke to get her to smile and half a question, because I know she loves photos and I may get my head washed later for not recording this, she says simple “No”. Then she points at Stone with her eyes and I know she wants to tell me something, but not in his presence. Knowing, how much he (and all Chinese) love to eat, I invite him for a breakfast to the place next door. This is a clear attempt to get rid of him, so that I can talk to Agness.

“So, what the doctor said? Agness doesn’t look too well” I ask, “well, doctor doesn’t know what happened” Stone replied. Our conversation is interrupted with a phone call, from Agness. “Hello … hello … Agness? … hello!” nothing comes from the other side. We look at each other and start to run to the clinic. We find Agness in her bed, still holding phone and still calling me. She couldn’t talk, tears pouring on her cheeks. Stone brings the doctor, all nurses come around. They speak loudly in Chinese and their face expressions tell me it’s not good. When I see tear on the doctor’s face it hit hits me like lightning… something went terribly wrong, then…

… few words come out from Agness’s mouth. Words, which nobody wants to hear in this moment. They’ve changed my life – at this very moment. “Call my mom”. Now the tears roll out of my eyes, “I don’t have her number now” it bararely came through my throat. “I don’t feel my legs, my body’s shaking, tell my mom I love her”…

I can’t stand it no more, so powerless, I run to Stone and ask him to urge the doctor to do something.  “The doctor doesn’t know what’s happening. We need to go to the hospital”. We run together to pick Agness up and carry her downstairs and into the taxi. Then driving very fast, and most of the time on the wrong side of the road to overtake the traffic, we arrive in the hospital.

 

In the hospital, despite our panic, they are confident in what they do. They give Agness some medications and within few minutes she feels much better. After half an hour she’s all fine. 

Then, finally we have time to talk. Agness tells me what happened before I have come to see her, when I was waiting for her call in her flat.

She says “Stone took me to his friend, the doctor who you met first. Stone translated everything I said about my symptoms and the doctor’s diagnosis that I’m weak, because I exercise too much. There was nothing to worry about, and Stone had his classes, so he went back to his motorcycle while the doctor gave me injection. Before I lost consciousness I remember him running towards me pushing people aside”. “What?!” I exclaimed. “Yes, I fell on the floor unconscious after he gave me this medicine. Stone told me what happened next later, in the clinic. The doctor pressed his nail underneath my nose, so that the pain strikes me, he thought I would come back, but I didn’t. I already have a painful bruise. Then, seeing that I don’t breath and he can’t feel the purse, he ordered Stone to count seconds. The doctor said that they have only 3 minutes. He gave me CPR… after 42 seconds I came back to life…

Do you have what it takes to save a life?

Although it has happened few months ago, it’s still fresh for me and Agness. We come back to this every now and then. I have gone over this, over and over again. I still don’t know what would I have done if I was there at the time. If the worst happened back then, I would never forgive myself for staying in the flat. I’m grateful for what the doctor and Stone did. I hope that it won’t happen again…

I’ve seen many bloggers write ‘to save a life’ in their bucket lists. Of course, it would be great to succeed in this. However, to be faced by such opportunity is traumatic, terrifying and life changing in itself. There’s no time to learn CPR once you find yourself in front of someone who does not breath… Do you know what to do? Have you ever faced such situation?

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About Cez

I'm a tramp from Poland, travelling the world for less than $25 a day. I left my comfort zone in 2011 with just $400 and one-way ticket to Asia. Still going and blogging. Follow me on my journey by clicking on the buttons below.


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6 Comments

    • Not pleasant one, at all, but the lessons were learnt. We come back to this every now and then. It has indeed changed our lives. Have you ever experienced anything like this?

  • Oh, my… It’s so strong story. I almost started to cry when I was reading your post. Incredibly near to lost someone at the moment. Fortunately I don’t have any similar experience and to be honest I have no idea how I could react in this situation. Some theoretical knowledge of first aid is not a guarantee that you will act as it’s necessary.

    • Hi. Thanks for stopping by. It was one of the most frightening moments during our travels, but we hope it won’t happen again.

  • Wow guys I’ve only just stumbled across this post. I never knew this happened and that you required CPR Agness!

    Very powerful writing too Cez. Clearly I know that you are both well and in good health now, even still reading this I felt emotional and could feel your panic. Such a scary thing to happen.

    Quite recently we had CPR training at work and I agree it is a valuable and easy thing to pick up. You never know when you’ll need it, but if you do you’ll be glad you knew what to do.

    • Thank you Guy. This day will be one I will never forget. Also, good thing I didn’t have to do CPR because I’m not sure I would be able to back then.

      The training is something good to do, and it’s good to remind yourself from time to time.

      Hope you, or anyone else reading this, won’t have to do it.

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