Life's Blood

Saturday night, a few doors down, my friend Tom went to bed, as did I in my own home. His beloved dog Bear, given to him when his old companion Max died after more than a dozen years at his side, was there with him. A winter storm raged off the Pacific, flooding the local airport, lashing our roofs with torrents of rain and rocking our homes with strong winds.

That night something came for Tom and I. About 1 am, I awoke with a burning elephant on my chest: a heart attack. I was able to call an ambulance, who got me to a different airport the storm hadn't flooded. From there I was Lifeflighted to St. Vincent's in the big city and a surgeon that could pierce the clot in my heart so that it could pump blood again. They popped a couple stents in there to keep the blood flowing, and I feel hale and hearty, if a bit sore and purpled here and there.

No one even asked for my insurance information. They kept me in the ICU until late Monday, and then gave me the boot from the cardiac unit yesterday. My son took me home, taking the day off work despite his professional responsibilities. While in the ambulance en route to the hospital I had texted my family, friends, and neighbors what was happening, and they handled everything the doctors could not, enabling me to live another day. My rent is paid. My power bill is paid. Even my car insurance was paid by one of the people I do work for.

Monday my neighbors mentioned to the landlady they hadn't seen Tom, who daily helps out around the park. They checked on him, and found him crumpled on the floor. He'd been unconscious for a day or so, with Bear huddled next to him. They got him on an ambulance and to a hospital.

I did not know any of this about Tom until yesterday, when I got back from the hospital to my warm, dry home.

Tom was not able to make a phone call, and until a few minutes ago no one knew where he was, nor even how to find his mother, who had just moved where there is no cell service. His beloved dog Bear was being fed by the neighbors, but they couldn't do more without permission from him or his family.

I have had some challenges this year. My heater broke, and I was toughing it out to payday until Tom came by, discovered it, and gave me a heater. That heater broke, and he gave me another. That heater broke, and I got the one keeping me warm now from another neighbor. Tom would not accept any money, not even an IOU, for the heaters, and neither would Starla. Such is the neighborhood I live in, and the quality of the people that take care of each other in it. These people are why I live today, came home, and am warm and snug now.

I have no money, but wealth beyond imagining, Tom's friendship foremost among it. He had no money either, but did not need it to keep his friend warm.

I got back from the hospital and my truck was broken, but fixed it, though the storm still rages. I know where his mother lives from giving him rides to see her, and went there just now. She asked me to take care of his dog, and told me Tom had massive bleeding on his brain, but that the doctors got the pressure off and got him breathing again. A shunt from surgery in his infancy had failed, doing harm similar to a stroke.

Tom is hurt badly, and presently we don't know if he'll be able to walk or talk again. While I need for nothing, as I will be back to work and paying my bills next week, I can't afford a bag of dog food today. I borrowed money to feed Bear, and I'll have food for him tomorrow. He's warm and dry here tonight.

I keep thinking of how blessed I have been to be able to make that phone call that kept me alive, while only Bear knew of Tom's plight. Something came for Tom and I that night, but I escaped it in an ambulance that Tom couldn't catch. My heart is broken even though the surgeon patched it together, because I don't know what I can do for a good man I call friend.

When my life was on the line, my family and community saved me from certain death. When Tom's life was on the line, no one was there for him but Bear. I have never asked for anything here, and do not ask for me now.

I can work, and pay my way, but Tom cannot and needs some help. He was born with one leg a little shorter than the other and a withered arm, a bit disabled, but helps out around the park as he can. Despite his own poverty, he has given to me - to all that know him - without charge, and I will do the same for him as soon as I can work again. He is a good man, and if you knew him like his neighbors, nothing could stop you from doing what you were able for him that he needs.

The last thing he said to me, when he gave me the second heater and refused money, was 'I just want to help others.'

I will make a gofundme for him, with an account setup for the purpose at a local bank, and local businesses are seeing to setting up collections to help. If you want to create that wealth good neighbors are to one another, I offer you this opportunity to do so. I will post the specific information tomorrow, after I figure out how to set up a gofundme.

I cannot spend from this post, or in Steem at all, for Tom, because I don't have a bank account and there's no way to spend Steem on the ground in the village. I just want to make sure Tom won't lose his home, Bear, or suffer more than he has to from this calamity.

I don't know anything else I can do for my friend, and I have to do something.

Be at peace. Keep in mind that blood is thicker than water, and more precious than gold.

Comments 12

So glad you are well and recovering
@valued-customer. I'm sorry to hear
about your friend. I am hoping he too
will heal and recover, well, and soon.

16.01.2020 08:29

Me too. It's kind of surreal, but the experience of my personal mortality has dramatically reshaped my perception of what is valuable. I am left discounting my sense of regret because my friend needs help, not my self pity and reflections.


16.01.2020 09:39

Very sorry to hear of your injury, and I hope your healing is quick and full. Also sad to hear about your friend, but good to know he's got at least 1 person caring about him.

You have received a Peace Token!
PEACE is a currency (which you now own 1/47000th of) within the Steem blockchain ecosystem, accessible through Steem-Engine! As a Peace Token holder, thank you very much for your efforts to spread and sustain peace.
16.01.2020 09:56

Thank you my friend!

16.01.2020 10:05

How very strange that the two of you should be struck down at the same time. I'm so glad you're ok and hope the same for Tom.

16.01.2020 14:31

It is the talk of the neighborhood; the curse we are under here. There are several cancers as well. It is clear that the folks living here didn't begin the health problems here when you consider their histories, but over the fence gossip ignores such facts handily.

Hopefully I won't be burned at the stake as a witch for surviving my heart attack =p


17.01.2020 09:37

Sometimes I find your comments a bit cryptic, but I fully got your story here - sorry all that happened - you have a great attitude which will help a lot I'm sure - all the best from the far side of the planet

17.01.2020 07:37

I am glad you persist in trying to penetrate my verbosity, and succeeded here. It's a simple tale, and I tend to tangle things up in complexities many find unnecessary. I had a few minutes to grasp what was happening and call for help, while my friend got dropped to the floor in a moment and had only his dog for aid during the crucial 'golden hour' when help can make the most immediate difference.


17.01.2020 09:41

Penetrating your verbosity is a Steemit sport. I earned an honours degree in English many moons ago and have been reading voraciously for nigh on 50 years and still I keep a dictionary at hand when tackling your posts.

17.01.2020 15:28

"That night something came for Tom and I." If it wasn't real I would have said, what great a story. Live can hit hard sometimes. I am glad to hear you are better now and even can care for your blood friend ( blood is thicker than water, and more precious than gold.) Hope he will go through.

17.01.2020 07:51

He has endured trials unimaginable. That day or so immobilized on the floor did a lot of damage. I have been told he has been able to sit up, which indicates two things: he's not paralyzed, and he's not a vegetable. His mind is intact to an unknown degree, because he cannot speak, and it is difficult to ascertain at the best of times to what degree any of us have competent minds through our speech. Determining what damage he has suffered is complicated by the damage his speech centers have undergone, and this slows therapy that will be necessary to effect such recovery as he can undertake.

I have some challenges I must dedicate myself to presently, cannot sit at his side in the big city hospital, and thus must await news of his condition from his family. I am undertaking to care for Bear, which is a far larger challenge than one would expect. Bear is an English Spaniel, which are extremely active, high energy, intelligent working dogs. Tom was a softie. He didn't like telling Bear what to do, and didn't establish boundaries most of us would consider essential for Bear.

As a result, taking Bear for a walk is like chaining yourself to a hurricane. He's only 20 kilos or so, but it's all muscle, and he's used to dragging Tom to whatever he wants to smell or pee on. Curbing this dragging technique he has learned and teaching him he'll get to smell or pee on things if he just waits while I dawdle on over to them is going to take a few days, at best. Given my markedly fragile condition, it is far more challenging than I expected it would be, and training dogs has been in the past.

While I'd also like to make some repairs on Tom's home, which needs much, I presently am hopeful to delay paid work I was in process of completing for folks while I heal myself, and not to lose that. I'm unlikely to be able to fit Tom's home into that schedule this winter, as I'll be lucky to keep the several jobs already being delayed. Neither do I know if Tom will return home.

He hasn't been able to walk yet, and I don't know if he's going to return to independent living.

I hope he will, as you note.

Your kind words for strangers are deeply touching. Thank you very much.

17.01.2020 09:24

Very glad to hear you're on the road to recovery. My thoughts are with your friend and with Bear being so loyal I hope Tom heals quickly and is able to look after him and keep a roof over both their heads, respect to you for being a true brother. Take care @valued-customer

17.01.2020 21:27