This evening my husband and I set for our evening walk on the bike path that goes past our house. We waved at a few neighbors and slowly continued walking down the path. It was later in the evening around 7:30PM, with lots of daylight and seventy-eight-degree- and- cloudy weather with 87% humidity. It was fairly pleasant weather and more agreeable with the occasional breeze. A teenage bicyclist rode towards us and alerted us, “There is a man down the bike path who is lying down there. He can speak, but he has fallen down and could be drunk”.
“Did he need help? Do you think we need to call 9-1-1?” I asked.
The bicyclist said that he looked OK, but he was lying down on the ground.
We started walking faster towards the man. By the time we got there, the man had slowly pulled himself to a sitting position with his legs stretched in front of him. He was bleeding from his chin. There were two other ladies who were walking their dogs. One of them mouthed to me, asking if the man was drunk. We got closer.
I looked at the man. He looked like he was in his mid seventies. His face was ashen white.
“Are you OK?” I asked him.
He said he was.
One of the ladies offered him a Kleenex because he had bled and cut his chin.
I am glad I always carry my cell phone. So I asked the gentleman if I needed to call 9-1-1 and he declined. My next few questions were series of open-ended questions to check if he was coherent.
The victim, whose name was Bob (pseudonym), took a little time to answer my questions, but was able to process information. He lived on a street parallel to mine. I asked him if there was anyone at home and if he could tell us his phone number. He could, and I made the phone call. We walk everyday on this bike path but my husband had to run down the path to check the name of the closest cross street.
Bob’s wife Dee (pseudonym) answered and said she would drive over to get her husband. While we were waiting for Dee, still seated on the cemented surface, Bob was starting to lose his sitting balance. My training as a physical therapist came in handy today. I sat behind Bob and steadied his back. I kept talking to him to make sure he did not pass out. I asked him if he liked to walk and he said, “yes”. One of the dogs came closer to Bob and the lady who had mouthed him as drunkard, by now had gotten softer and let him pet her dog. In a few minutes, Dee arrived in her car. My husband, Dee, and I steadied Bob on his feet. I held on to Bob’s belt as I kept giving him directions on how to get safely in the car. The bystanders had left.
Dee was grateful. She said to me that Bob has Multiple Sclerosis. I reminded Bob to drink plenty of water this summer. Bob had a smile on his face.
Bob was dressed in heavy trousers, winter socks and a full-sleeved shirt. He was possibly dehydrated, got lightheaded and had lost his balance on the bike path. People mistook him for being drunk. I am glad we were able to help him.
Dehydration is a very common condition and can be easily prevented, by drinking water.
Opinions vary on exactly how much water one should drink and more information is available here.