Panic Attack

One day, in early 2012, I was out in the university café having nice lunch with a good friend of mine. The food was delicious (I ate a cheese and onion bap), the company marvellous. All in all, I was having a wonderful time. Sadly, it seems that I was the only one of us who was having a nice time. Shortly after I’d finished eating, my friend clutched her stomach and started crying.
    “Oh dear,” I said. “What’s the matter?”
    “It’s fine,” she said, almost out of breath due to pain.
    “Well, that’s clearly not true,” I said.
    “Hey, shall we go for a walk now?” She tried to sound upbeat, but I think she was embarrassed to be around all the people there.
    “Yes, okay then, so long as you’re up to it!”
    We left the cafe but then my friend stopped moving, clutching her stomach again.
    “Would you like to sit down?” I asked.
    She insisted otherwise, but then a few minutes later collapsed onto the floor. A member of staff spotted us and, after helping up my friend, led us into a nearby building. He explained that, by the university’s policy, he had no choice but to take us to the hospital. My friend was very insistent that we not go there, but he took us all the same and after a short ride in the car, we were both waiting in the emergency room.
    “I’m sorry I couldn’t do anything to help,” I said, feeling quite sad about it. “I was really quite useless.”
    “No, don’t be silly,” my friend said. “I’ve had this happen before and anybody else would just get all worried and make matters worse, but you were just really casual the whole time, like nothing was happening. It’s very reassuring.”
    I always thought that was very kind. Since my friend was seemingly feeling much better, I was feeling much less concerned too. Sadly, however, she soon started having a panic attack because she was worried about it all and urged me to go and get a bag for her to hyperventilate into, so I got up and headed towards the nurse behind the check-in.
    “Excuse me,” I said, “my friend is having a panic attack and they’d like to borrow a bag, do you have one?”
    “What, to breathe into?” she asked.
    “Yep,” I replied.
    “Hmm,” she looked around and then spotted something. “This is all we have.”
    She gave me a bin bag.
    Since I wasn’t likely to get anything else from her, I said “Thank you, I’m sure that will be fine.”
    I went back to my friend.
    “I’m afraid she only gave me a bin bag,” I said.
    “Great,” she said, and discarded it.
    Thankfully, a few hours later we were all done there and my friend and I left the hospital. I always thought it was quite funny how a bin bag was offered by a professional nurse for hyperventilation purposes.

(Don’t miss today’s Finger Puppet Show!)

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