Friday, October 13, 2006


Last week, I got a call about a woman in a wheelchair that seemed disoriented. I drove to an upscale neighborhood and found a woman in her late 40's in a regular (not electric) wheelchair. I asked her if she was okay and after some effort, she told me she was fine. From her manner of speech, I initially thought she was deaf but soon realized she was in far worse condition. Her left arm and leg were paralyzed and her speech was very labored and difficult to understand. I was able to obtain the phone number of her son and learned she was a stroke victim.

She was dropped off at a bus stop on a major intersection and was supposed to take the bus several miles north to meet her ex-husband. He would be getting off work and would drive her home. She was confused about what street she was supposed to be on and wheeled herself over four miles (about 40 blocks) to where I found her. It was over 90 degrees and she could only use one leg and one arm to propel her wheelchair. I don't know how she made it that far but she was clearly exhausted, sunburned, and dehydrated. I called her ex-husband and asked if he could come and get her. He told me he couldn't get off work and was agitated about her missing the bus.

I helped her into my car and drove her to the original bus stop. On the way there, she told me how four years ago she had three strokes in three weeks. The first paralyzed her leg, the second affected her arm, and the third took away her speech. The strokes were the result of some high blood pressure she didn't know she had and was a total surprise. She said her quality of life was destroyed. It was very awkward since I could barely understand some of what she was trying to tell me. She tried repeating some things several times but would then give up in frustration when she couldn't make me understand. As soon as I wheeled her under the covered bus stop it started raining. I waited until the bus arrived and made sure she was on her way.

She made me think about how quickly and unexpectently life can change (and how it's usually for the worse).

There's an indoor shooting range at my precinct and my squad spent a half day practicing. I haven't fired my gun since the academy (9 months ago) and it showed. We shot from 45, 15, and 6 feet away using timed drawing, reloading, and firing exercises. We also shot with one hand (right, and then left) which is harder than it seems. My score was okay but I know I can do much better and will start practicing more frequently.


At October 13, 2006 7:53 AM, Blogger frhe sjgg said...

Officer Gary,
What you said about that woman and life being unexpected is so true. Good health is the most precious thing anyonce can have. Without it, the challenges of life can be pretty overwehleming sometimes.

Be safe out there.

Anne Elizabeth

At October 13, 2006 8:33 AM, Anonymous Ronda said...

You know, sometimes it is a good thing that we encounter people like this woman. Unfortunately, her misfortune makes us realize how greatful we should be.

Keep Safe, we love you.

The Hamaker's

At October 13, 2006 9:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, practice practice practice. You never know when your life might depend on it.

It must be, at the very least, mildly disquieting knowing that you work in a profession where, if you die, there is a decent chance it was a purposeful act and someone intended to do it, whereas with most other professions it could only be from an accident.

Well, hopefully I shall find out for myself when I am able to join up.

At October 13, 2006 10:36 AM, Anonymous gamma said...

Gary, I'm so proud of you and your compassion for that woman, and the others you encounter. Be careful. Love, Mom

At October 16, 2006 9:33 AM, Anonymous LC said...

You are such a positive example of what an officer should be. Your compassion makes you stand out. How many others would have just called someone else to handle that woman. I hope you never lose your caring attitude. There are so few of you in this world. I am proud of you! LC


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