The importance of first aid

red_cross.gifA little over half an hour ago, I was walking home down Seventh Avenue after doing some errands. As I neared the supermarket, I saw a small crowd gathered around what appeared to be a person lying face down on the sidewalk in a pool of blood. I stopped and asked if I could help out. Someone was on the phone to 911, another told me the elderly woman had just tripped on the sidewalk and fallen face first down to the ground. I told her I was certified in first aid and asked if I could assist her. I sent someone into the supermarket for a first aid kid. I asked her name, her age, her address. She didn't want help, she said, she wanted to walk home. She said she was fine.

But she wasn't. Emily was 81 and she was alone. She was bleeding all over the place, but from where? A cut on her head? Her nose? I asked her to stay with me and we talked about her routine of getting groceries, about what she'd bought. Anytime she realized we were waiting for the ambulance, she tried to get up and said she just wanted to go home. So I asked her to sit with me and tell me about her weekend, and how she was managing in the hot weather. People brought out ice packs from the gym, water and paper towels from the market. I'd put on the gloves from the first aid kit, and cleaned her up a bit, but mostly I just talked to her and held her hand.

Two doctors happened by which made her nervous again. They tried to check her out a bit and we got her sitting up and then moved to a bench, only because she kept trying to stand on her own. We really wanted her to stay where she was. Finally after ten minutes the ambulance arrived (outrageous really, as St. Vincent's is only two blocks north!) and I was able to talk to the EMTs and they took over. I picked up my bags and walked home, hoping that Emily would accept their help, wondering if I should have stayed to take her home.

It's kind of crazy, I was certified in first aid and CPR for years back in the eighties and early nineties and never used it once. I got re-certified a little over a month ago and it sounds weird to say, but I'm happy I was able to use it. I'm happy I was able to arrive in the crowd and know what to do. Walking home, I realized being certified isn't necessarily about providing the aid. I didn't stop the bleeding, though it subsided on its own. I didn't try to examine her. This was in part because she refused my help initially but also because I knew the ambulance would be along soon. Mostly it was about providing comfort to someone in a difficult situation, helping them feel ok, and letting them know they weren't alone. The certification gave me the confidence to do that: to kneel on the sidewalk, holding an old woman's hand, and to help make those scary few minutes hopefully just a little bit better.

If you're not certified in first aid, I can't recommend it strongly enough. It takes four hours of your time at your local Red Cross and with what you'll learn, maybe you'll be able to assist someone like Emily one day.

Ollie loves mussels

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Though I posted this to Flickr, I can't resist adding it here because to me this is the MOST AMAZING THING Ollie's ever eaten. In general he's a really good eater, and he's always liked fish from about when he was weaned. But mussels? The past two times I've had moules frites while we've been out, he's asked to try the mussels and I've given him one or two. He seemed to like them. So last night I bought 2 lbs and steamed them for us and he went to town!

He plucked each meaty mussel from its shell and jammed it in his mouth. No kidding, he must have had twenty, if not more! Funniest part was that they weren't even that good. I was pretty so-so about them. Imagine when he gets a good batch?!

I'm so proud of him.

Exploring the real world Busy Town

Out and aboutOne of the most unanticipated effects of having Ollie's been the change in my relationship with our neighborhood and the city's streets. Ollie's big enough that he walks around holding my hand, so we spend a lot of time just strolling around, looking at things. Today on the way home from our swim class, we stopped to investigate some Con Ed workers around an open manhole. One day we walked along slowly as the garbage truck collected trash on the block, making just the right time so we'd catch it at each stop, it would speed ahead, and we'd meet again at the next collection point. Ollie loves watching all this activity and narrating it.

After we saw the Con Ed men, we stopped to watch a guy getting his car battery replaced on Fifth Avenue. Then we swung by our local fire house, a huge favorite. Alas the doors were down and the truck was out, so we peered in the window identifying coats and boots and spare hoses. What's really neat is how friendly all the guys are. The firemen invite Ollie inside to sit in the truck. The Con Ed man showed Ollie the frayed and burned section of electrical cable they were replacing. The car guy narrated as he installed the new battery.

It's making me feel so connected to the city in an entirely new way. I just worry that it all seems so male, so stereotypically boyish to see and visit these things. I've realized that there aren't a lot of female jobs on the street that we come across, aside from the rare policewoman or mail carrier. We do stop and look at babies in strollers, and chat with nice grandmotherly women who say hello. But somehow it's not the same. I'm beginning to realize a lot of "nurture" happens outside the house, beyond my control.

Not quite in the saddle again

A slight little tweak to the design — removing the foodness of the site — and I may just be back to blogging here again. Shortly after Ollie was born in July, 2007, I kind of abruptly abandoned this site. And it took me a while to realize the reason: I wasn't so interested in writing about food. My life had expanded quite beyond food, but the site was limited to that one topic. And so everything here just stopped.

Removing the constraint of 'food', I now hope to find some time to write here again. Not as much as in the past certainly, and probably not as linky as it's been. I don't spend a whole lot of time online anymore, at least compared to the ten-plus hours a day I used to.

So what's that mean? First, don't get your hopes up, this might be one of my (many) projects that I want to do (ahem, like the violin lessons I undertook back in January) but don't really have the time for. Second, there are probably lots of things broken around here.

I really rushed this "redesign" so that I could just get writing. That was supposed to the point all along, wasn't it?

Was the change in fish…

Was the change in fish consumption recommendations influenced by cash? Until recently, experts recommended women of childbearing age eat no more than 12 ounces of fish a week, and no more than 6 ounces of canned albacore tuna, because of high levels of mercury. But recently a new recommendation was released encouraging the consumption of at least 12 ounces of fish a week, the logic being that omega-3 consumption was important and outweighed the possible mercury risks. Now the New York Times is reporting that money from the seafood industry may be behind the new recommendations. Guh, and I was just about to go back to eating the nice albacore tuna too.

Are they breakfast cupcakes?

Normally I'm not one for muffins in the morning, but there's something about cranberry muffins (especially when they have a hint of orange and they don't have nuts) that I love. The other day I spied a package of them at Whole Foods on sale so I bought them. And each of the past few mornings have been delightful, until my husband said, "Muffins? Isn't that just like eating cake for breakfast?"

Now in my heart I know that's not true, but it's hard to argue with him. Muffins do seem to be really sweet whenever you buy them at a coffee shop. I have a sense they've gotten sweeter over the years, going from a bread-like treat with fruit to a cupcake-like treat without frosting. I'm trying to remember what muffins were like when I was younger. Were they sweet? Sort of sweet? And now, are muffins really as bad as having cake for breakfast? Because I'm really craving a cranberry-orange muffin!

Cupcakes and birthdays and pies

"Cupcakes have recently been marched to the front lines of the fat wars, banned from a growing number of classroom birthday parties because of their sugar, fat and 'empty calories,' a poster food of the child obesity crisis." And apparently folks aren't happy about the fact they can't send a bundle of cupcakes to school with their kids on their birthday. I actually think it's a good idea to prohibit birthday treats, but for different reasons. When I was little, my school didn't allow anyone to bring cakes or cupcakes or anything on a birthday. One, it was unfair to the children whose parents didn't have the finances or time (or both) to bake such treats. And two, the kids whose birthdays fell on weekends or over a holiday break were left out from hosting their own celebration. I appreciated that because my birthday was always over the Christmas break. Seems like that logic still holds, regardless of the fat content of cupcakes.

Also in the same article, I was saddened to read "that in the modern age, the cupcake may be more American than apple pie — 'because nobody is baking apple pies,' Professor [Marion] Nestle [of New York University] explained." Damn these cupcakes, for ruining the West Village, for making kids fat, for disrupting school activities, and for making people forget about the glories of pie! If Ollie's allowed to bring sweets to school for his birthday, and happens to go to school in July, I will send him with a pie! I think I'll also bake one this weekend because the greenmarket is filled with apples, and there's nothing like a nice apple pie in the fall. Mmmmm…