Take a Breath
Published in

Take a Breath

The help of a stranger

Yesterday, I fell. My mom and I were doing our regular grocery shopping trip a day late due to the holiday.

I was searching for the cans of pineapple and my foot met the water or clear whatever it was. I slipped, rolled my left ankle and went directly down to the concrete on my right knee all while still semi-holding on to the cart.

It all hurt. And usually I can hold my tears back and suck it up and get up but not this time. It really hurt, my eyes just started leaking tears and I could feel this sudden concern with what comes next.

My mom was right behind me when it happened and she instantly came over and checked on me.

So did the kind older man that was down the aisle. He partially saw it happen and came right over to try to see what he could do to help.

This is when panic set in. I struggle with anxiety and during this pandemic it has been a REAL STRUGGLE. From the mask wearing to not to touching others, my brain has been overwhelmed by all the things we have dealt with and are still dealing with.

The man left to go get help up front and my mom soon followed after to find manager. There was another woman in the aisle to that stayed with me while I was on the floor in tears and pain.

When they returned, my mom and the man tried to get me to stand to my feet however my brain was battling the fight of letting someone I don’t know touch my hand to help me up.

So many thoughts in my head, but mainly I was more worried that he would think I wasn’t being grateful for not taking his help. See anxiety has many faucets to it. The feeling of guilt if you don’t take someone’s help is one I struggle with. I worry about hurting them or disappointing them or even worse coming off rude.

I collected my thoughts and let him and my mom help me up. Pandemic has altered the way I interact with public. I have become more of I can do it rather than see the help I can get in front of me.

Injury, illness and definitely trips to urgent care are high up on the list of I don’t want to go there if I don’t have to. You may call it being paranoid but I don’t do well on my own in a hospital or urgent care setting. My anxiety is a mess so pandemic has my brain all about not having to go to those places.

As I stand I think that I thanked the man but now my brain thinks I may have not. I stood up and the pain in my ankle and my knee hurt. Remember left ankle and right knee, so standing was a challenge. Tears continued to roll down my face as my thoughts of having to head to urgent care or ER loomed.

Finally the manager and other workers came and they realized that someone trailed water or whatever clear liquid down the aisle. It stretched the entire way and they realized the seriousness of this incident. I thought to myself well I am glad this was me and not the older man who could have really been much more injured than me.

After looking down and in tears came my next anxiety challenge as I looked up and realized the manager talking to me didn’t have a mask on in the store.

Now before anyone says anything I fully believe that with the reopening and rules that people have the right to be unmasked if they are vaccinated however it doesn’t sit well with me. But this is my opinion and trust I don’t take it lightly however my mental health needs the masks on.

I am fully vaccinated as well as my family except my young daughter. So masks are still important in my family and what we do.

And yes, since the reopening of California I am struggling like crazy with it and adjustment isn’t very easy. So before one says I am judging others I truly am not.

So back to seeing the manager unmasked and asking me questions. I froze. Like the fight or flight. Yup, frozen. My brain was overwhelmed with all the things and I basically had to turn to my mom to have her respond.

Do you want ice? Mom said yes.

Do you want to fill out a report? Mom said yes.

Do you want a chair? Mom said no.

Trust me when I say having anxiety and freezing can be one of the most vulnerable feelings. I’m thankful my mom was there because otherwise this could have been even more difficult.

The manager asked if I planned on continuing shopping. Mom said, nope we are done here.

As I limped up to the front to fill out the report, an employee gave me the bag of ice. Well I couldn’t ice at that point so we just let it be until I could.

Anxiety can be a bunch of little things to a big thing. Most of all that happened was little things. Next was touching a pen that came out of the pocket of the manager.

Now again, before the pandemic I was concerned about germs but not to the extent I am today. So touching someone’s pen is a lot for me, but not having my full brain operating just made me grab the pen and get the report over and done with. She took photos of my ankle and told me to rest and elevate.

So much different than when I worked at Target and usually if someone fell we sent them to a clinic to get checked out. But that has been years since I worked there and maybe things change.

I decided to take a photo of the report just in case. Because let’s face it, if you know me, I’m gonna document the document. I sanitized my hands to the amount that made me feel comfortable.

My mom during this time had gathered all the two shopping carts and started to check out.

We left, got in the car and my body and brain finally caught up. I let out this breath that I felt like I was holding in this whole time.

Anxiety can be that way at least for me. I feel like I am holding my breath waiting to get away from whatever situation. Though this time I’m not really holding my breath it just feels that way.

I spent the rest of my day icing, elevating, rubbing CBD oil on my ankle and just resting.

As I reflect on what happened, I keep thinking about the man who stopped to help. Even in the pandemic, people stop to help people.

I would like to think I would be able to do the same thing. Anxiety can often trap me into not helping due to fear, but I pray and hope that if this was a situation in front of me I would help the person.

My mom did go back to the line he was in and said thank you again for helping me. I wish I was able to really know if the words thank you made it out of my mouth when he lifted me up.

To the man at the store who stopped what he was doing to help me, thank you. You may never see this but I hope you know how grateful I am for your calm demeanor and help during what I felt was a stressful situation.



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Alicia Edquist

Alicia Edquist

Daughter. Wife. Mom. Friend. Journalist. Journalism Instructor. STORYTELLER. Beach Lover.