It is Friday late in the afternoon and already dawning as all of a sudden, I see nothing but red. It is blood. My blood. It is running out of my mouth – inexorably, like a dripping faucet. I lean forward, form a bowl with my hands in order to catch it. Paradoxically trying to save my clothes, which is pointless. There`s just too much blood. As if it was remote-controlled, my tongue starts to scan the mouth, bumping into a frayed stab of meat that is hanging from my upper lip. This explains some, but why is my left ear kind of closed now? Why do I hear nothing on that side? Carefully, I run my hand over the spot and feel, there too, warm blood is running.
Wild geese and the dream of freedom before the deep fall
What happened? Totally fascinated I had just observed a flock of wild geese. They were flying high above our Mühlen-pond in their typical V-formation. Twice they had come back in a huge circle, gaggling more and more urgently each time. Until finally the last of the four young birds that had stayed behind on the pond have dared to swing themselves up in the air in order to follow their conspecifics to the south. It is a wonderful picture which repeats itself year after year in the autumn right before my doorstep. A symbol of freedom, cohesion and confidence that always fills my heart with longing and sentimentality.
I live on the south-eastern outskirts of Hamburg, where the idyllic Sachsenwald and the picturesque Boberger dunes invite you to hike or simply go for a walk. And I am extremely fortunate to have a small nature reserve directly adjacent to my garden. Of course, I walk around there quite often. Just like today, and – as so often – family dog Tapsi has accompanied me. Towards the end of our walk a big male mongrel crossed our way. A handsome boy, still relatively young and full of energy. Sure thing, Tapsi was attracted, and so the two raced wildly across the terrain. Until at some point the master came a best ager and well-groomed appearance with whom I changed a few words, before each of us kept on walking in the opposite direction. All I remember then is the picture of the geese, high up in the sky and then a huge blow, which hit me out of nowhere on the back and threw me to the ground.
Civil courage, compassion – what´s ´that?
In retrospect it is clear: The dog must have decided in the fare distance to continue its cheerful hunt with our little lady. Therefor it had been running back to us with full speed. And at the very last minute it obviously thought it would be fun to involve me in this game, too.
Up to this point one could regard the whole as a for me rather tragically, but otherwise quite normal incident in life. But the story goes on. When I lifted myself up from the ground, I saw the man take his dog on a leash in the distance, ready to walk away. I had no cell phone with me, felt the blood dripping from my chin and shouted desperately: „Stop! Please help me! Call an ambulance! “ After some hesitation, the dog-keeper in fact turned around and came towards me a few yards. But when he saw me close up, panic seemed to grab him. Instead of helping, he turned around and hurried away. „Oh, no, please, help me,“ I gasped as I slumped down weekly. But the man had made his decision and did not look back. Luckily, however, another walker approached. He may have been mid-50th, strong and quite tall. When he had finally reached me, I beseeched him to call me an ambulance. By now it was almost dark. Except for him there was no one to be seen. Then, the most unbelievable thing happened: the man looked ice-cold into my eyes and left me without a word.
No time for humanity in our virtual world?
Hey, folks – I am asking you: How could we end up like this? Have we already moved our lives into the virtual worlds where there are no real feelings? Have we all been desensitized to a point already where we can no longer feel the pain and suffering of others? It was more than obvious that I needed help. My hair, my face, from the temples down to my neck and décolleté – everything has been blood-stained, as I should find out later.
Had I lost my consciousness that evening, I could have been bleeding to death that night. But I’ve survived. And if you ask me now, what my feelings are: I have absolutely no grudges against the dog. It had a lovable character. Just lacks education, but that is not the dog´s fault. And how do I feel about the two men? There are only two emotions: deep sadness and some sort of compassion. I am not a holy Samaritan woman, but I feel very sorry for the two of them. Most of all, for the guy who saw me last. A man with such a cold heart is certainly not able to feel any love and therefor nothing in the world will be able to warm him.
Pacifist thanks the medical team of the Federal Armed Forces Hospital
Now this story should not end full of drama, but with confidence and gratefulness. I want to express my gratitude to the paramedics, who I called myself in the end from home. Thanks also to the policemen, who came automatically to my house to record the accident. And most of all, a big THANK YOU! to the emergency team that awaited me in the shock room of the Federal Armed Forces Hospital Hamburg: the neurologist, the brain surgeon, the plastic and reconstructive surgeon, the ear, nose and throat surgeon, the radiologist and all the surgery nurses and assistants. After medical primary care the paramedics had feared the worst, and therefor had alerted all of them. But after having done several quick tests with me plus an MRT from my head, most of the doctors told me good bye. „Misfortune and luck hit you at the same time,“ the Chief Physician told me with a smile. „There are no cerebral haemorrhages to be expected, and nothing is broken except for a small bone in the auditory canal. We hope that will heal without surgery, and our plastic surgeon will now sew your lip together beautifully again. “
Wow! – that´s really called luck! – especially as the majority of the gaping wound is inside my mouth. Probably there won´t even be a large scar left behind on my face. You see: …barely survived and there my ego returns with my vanity. Which is human. And I think that is the moral of the story: the humane – our feeling and thus also the ability of compassion – this is what we should preserve for ourselves and all living creatures.