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By Tom Blake
Today’s story is a reminder of the importance of the acronym “ICE” (In Case of Emergency) in the lives of seniors.
The name of the woman who provided this information and the name of the man mentioned in her account of events have been changed at her request.
Last month, Joyce, 73, met Jeffrey, 70, online. She said, “Quickly, I felt he was very special. We had interesting conversations; he was respectful. He had a cute personality and was interested in me also. After caring for his wife as she fought cancer for many years, he was ready to find a partner and move forward.
“Jeffrey and I absolutely clicked,” she said. “We were into our third date in four days. We were walking up a steep driveway at my condo development. I was two steps ahead of him when I heard him say something. I turned to look and saw him falling backwards, straight-bodied.
“His head hit the cement with a loud crack, bounced up and back down, cracking again. He began convulsing; blood was running out of his ear and the back of his head. He was unconscious.
“I yelled for help and called 911. I thought he was going to die at any moment. A neighbor nurse showed up in a few seconds. A doctor friend of mine was driving up the driveway. He stopped his car and jumped out. He put his hands on each side of Jeffrey’s head to stabilize it. Blood was on the doctor’s hands and running down the driveway. Within five minutes, emergency vehicles arrived.
“A fireman was asking me questions and writing down my answers. He took my contact information and wanted Jeffrey’s relatives’ contacts also. I had none, other than their names. Jeffrey was rushed to the hospital.”
Joyce and the fireman searched Jeffrey’s unlocked car for information but found none. To help Joyce find the hospital emergency room, the fireman drew a map on his arm with a pen.
Although horrified and worried sick, Joyce said she drove herself to the hospital. She was led immediately to Jeffrey’s emergency room location. She said, “There he was, propped up on a gurney, conscious, giving me his cute smile and calling me by my name. It was unbelievable; I was so happy.”
Jeffrey could not recall his sons’ contact information, but his cell phone was on the gurney. With the help of a hospital employee, Joyce was able to eventually send a text message to Jeffrey’s oldest son who lived nearby. But much time had elapsed.
Jeffrey kept telling Joyce he wanted to go home. The doctor told her that Jeffrey had two skull fractures and bleeding on the brain. The doctor said empathetically that if Jeffrey went home, he would die.
Jeffrey was moved to intensive care. Joyce was allowed to go there immediately. A nurse asked Joyce about her relationship to him to which she replied, “girlfriend.” The nurse wrote, “significant other.”
Now, Jeffrey is in a nursing facility. He is having cognitive and ambulatory issues and is losing weight.
Joyce says, “I have not given up. He is truly a very special man. I believe everyone should carry a couple of names and phone numbers in their wallet in case they become incapacitated.
“In dating, especially later in life, each person should get an emergency phone number or two from the other. Much time was spent trying to contact Jeffrey’s family based only on the two names of his sons he had talked about.”
When I shared this story with Doug, a friend of mine, he said, “In addition to keeping emergency contacts in your wallet, add them to your cell phone as well. Mark both of them with the word ICE. An EMT told me that once a person is stabilized, the cell phone is checked for ICE listings and the numbers are called. Fire and police agencies also do this.”
Thanks to Joyce for sharing this heart-wrenching story. She and Jeffrey are in our thoughts. Don’t forget to add the word ICE to your emergency numbers in your phone and wallet.
Tom Blake is a Dana Point resident and a former Dana Point businessman who has authored several books on middle-aged dating. His latest book can be found online at www.smashwords.com/books/view/574810. See his website at www.findingloveafter60.com (Yes, after 60, time rolls on.) To comment: firstname.lastname@example.org.