Taken by ambulance – you won’t believe what happened next!


It started with a ferocious leg cramp.

Like a  charley horse on steroids, it hit the muscle in my shin. Never felt anything like it. Whined like a baby as Brian tried to stretch and massage it.

I stood up and hobbled around the room. Finally sat on the steps leading upstairs and planted my feet on the tile floor. Tried to gently stretch the muscle back out.

We’d been hiking that day, but nothing too strenuous – three miles out and back. It had been hot though. Really hot. So maybe I just needed some water?

Brian gave me some electrolytes. Fancy stuff from the runners store. Tasted horrible, but I chugged some down.

Then I started feeling dizzy. Cold sweat. World fading in and out.

Cassie and Savannah had been out jumping on the trampoline. They just walked in when my world started going woozy. They tell me I turned shades of green, blue and finally ashen. Cassie grabbed frozen potstickers from the freezer and put them on my neck (we were out of peas – she made do). Mom got a cool wash cloth and put it on my forehead. Savannah went to a side table, pulled out a kleenex, sprayed it with water. She brought it over and pressed it into my neck. “This will make you feel better, Mama.”

Oh baby girl…

I started to come back around. Brian ran for the blood pressure monitor and they placed it on my arm. It tried to read my pressure two times before saying “error.”

The world started fading again. I was drenched in sweat. Brian was holding the phone in his hands. “You better call,” I said, before I dropped my water and crumpled down another step.

I could hear Brian talking into the phone as Cassie cradled my head – I was in and out. Although I do remember having the wherewithal to hope the EMTs might be handsome, young and single since I’d messed everything else up for Cassie’s second day in town.

The ambulance arrived. The guys asked me a ton of questions and hooked me up to an IV. I’d had some arm pain so they were concerned about my heart. They suggested I go in to the hospital to get some more tests. I was scared enough to comply.

They loaded me up on the gurney and into the ambulance.

Brian would follow close behind while Mom and Cassie kept an eye on Savannah.

The ambulance started moving and the EMT asked me more questions. I knew I was a little slow in answering, but I tried to stay focused.

Then he raised his arm to adjust something on my IV. His forearm was directly in front of my face and he had a very large tattoo.

The grim reaper.

Big. Shadowy. Dark cloak. Skull. Reaper thingy in his hand.


On his arm.

Facing me.

In an ambulance.

Suddenly I was no longer at a loss of words.

“Nice choice of tattoo.” I managed, quite clearly.

“Oh,” he said, as if it were no big deal that he has a GRIM REAPER on his arm in an ambulance with a potentially dying, delirious woman on his gurney. “I got that before I started in this job.”

Oh, you mean back when you were working as… a murderer? 

I kept my eyes open. Alert. Aware. Watched his hands. Don’t move a muscle mister. I watched Karate Kid 1, 2 AND 3. I got moves.

We arrived at the hospital and I was never so happy to be wheeled in to an ER.

They ran some tests. It seems it was all just a perfect storm of going hiking on a hot day with one kidney and little water. My calcium was low too, and that seemed to intensify it all. Follow up with the doc and maybe a few more tests, but all in all – not near as bad as it could have been.

It was not my heart. I didn’t die.

No thanks to the grim reaper.

So here’s the thing, I know tattoos are really popular these days. But if you have any type of cloaked figure, skull and crossbones, poison symbols – anything dark and deathly and you happen to work in the health care field – cover it up. Masking tape. Gauze. Paint. Long sleeved shirt. Anything.

Please cover it to avoid giving a perfectly healthy dehydrated human a heart attack.

So that’s the story. Oh, and while Cassie didn’t find the man of her dreams in the EMT crew, we did manage to have some fun for the rest of the week. And we also received some adoption news. to check that all out, you can watch the YouTube here.

Be safe my friends! And may none of you encounter a grim reaper this week!

14 Responses

  1. Great story, Elsa!!! And wonderful news about your other children on their way home from Haiti!

  2. Wow, I love the story except the part you judge him on his tattoos, or any person with a tattoo in the Healthcare field. Maybe that is a symbol of a dark time in his life. As Christians we are not to judge…

    If I am in need of help I hope that any human with a heart will help me.

    1. Kay, thank you for writing! I was totally talking tongue in cheek – trying to draw some humor out of the situation. Thank you for letting me know how it came across to you though – gives me the chance to say I’m grateful for all those who helped me!

  3. Elsa, I like how the tattoo snapped you into total alertness for the rest of the ride! 🙂 (I say this tongue in cheek, too. I add this parenthetical comment for those who don’t share my sense of humor but feel the need to correct others online.)

    1. Thank you, John! It’s all good – I’m sure it won’t be the last time I offend. My humor may not always come across well! I just hope not to do it too often. Smiles to your day!

  4. Loved reading this! So sorry about the “incident ” but it sure makes for an awesome blog post! Love your heart and humor and grateful you are ok! Thanks for praying that we don’t encounter our own Grim Reaper!!!

    1. Thanks Larissa! And thank you for sharing the post – sweet of you! 😀 I’ve been following your journey as well – you are such a courageous and lovely woman of God. So glad to know you!

  5. AH, so funny! And I’m so glad we can laugh about this incident now. Just so thankful that you are healthy!!

  6. Happy all turned out well for you. Love your sense of humor in midst of a health scare. So excited about the adoption news. God is good!

  7. Wow. 2016 ambulance ride. I applaud you calling out the paramedic with a grim tattoo. Medical people aren’t taught, as none of us are taught, to respect our amazing neurobiology. (on the 8th day, God invented science. As we left the garden, he said, “Here, you gonna need this”.) We know already we are mortal. Our amazing bodies, our amazing brains work to protect us during trauma. We don’t need to be reminded of an ancient reaper symbol from way back in our history as humans, there is a time and place for everything. In the back of an ambulance, in a time of trauma. Fight or flight? you bet. God gave us that skill, that superpower to protect ourselves. A kind of boundary, if you will. Good for you. Keep up the great work you do!

    1. Thank you so much! Is this Gretchen, my friend Gretchen, from years ago? If so, please contact me by email – elsacolopy@gmail.com.

      If this is another Gretchen, who just happened to post, thank you so much for posting! 🙂

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