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I don't remember breathing for quite some time after Kimit said that last. I do remember thinking, to myself this time, “We have got to go much faster. That T-Rex is in the freakin' rear view and closing. Don't they see? Why don't they see? I see!” And I was so rock solid with tension and that billions of scared, I nearly prolapsed my uterus.

But, these wonderful women and men finally got it. (I found out later that since he was talking still, and his facial muscles were showing no signs of droopaging, they truly didn't realize just what a room full of razor blade infused eggshells we were walking on, ergo, the slow train to hospital land.) Bu they finally did it, hoisting him bodily, these marvelous burly men, up the short but extremely narrow staircase, and out the door and across the dew-covered lawn, nearly falling themselves twice.

This is when, after somehow thinking to grab my purse and his wallet, that I followed them out the front door, and saw that my entire neighborhood was standing out there: on their own lawns, in the street, and my next door neighbor, “Kitty” (yes, it's a nom de lawsuit, but she is real, and... is saint too strong a word to use just yet? Ah, who cares), was right there, in my face, in her jammies, her hair wet from the shower. She grabbed me into a bear hug and whispered “What is going on?!” I tried to tell her, but remember that 'no breathing' deal? I couldn't talk because I couldn't breathe. Kitty made me breathe. She held me at arms length and said it: “Breathe! Sam, what is happening? What can I do? Tell me what to do!”

She was one of the first people to save me that day: I breathed . I  breathed because Kitty demanded it. I told her what the EMT's had said, the thing that I already knew, and she grabbed me again and said quietly, “I am right here, and I will do anything you need. Tell me.” So, I did. I gave her the keys to my house, and the code to the garage door, and asked her to call my husband's sister, who worked at the university. I didn't have a clue as to my sister-in-laws cell phone number, or the department where she worked, but I gave Kitty her name and asked her to find her and tell her. I asked her to drive my car to the hospital.

A police officer approached at that point and Kitty stepped from the on-deck circle to the batter's box, and told him she  had my keys and the garage code and he said, “Good, we'll lock up the house and make sure everything is secure.” Kitty, amazingly enough (and possibly the reason I have given her this name) told him to keep an eye out for our cat, Echo and not let her out. He said he would make sure they found Echo and keep her inside before they left, and not only that they'd step up patrols on our street to make sure no evil doers could cause mayhem and thieving because they knew the house would be empty (save the cat).

Step up patrols?? Wow, I took a moment to think, and to marvel, “We really aren't in Los Angeles anymore, are we, Toto?”

They loaded Kimit into the ambulance and the driver, the wonderful bitch who I had needed to be a bitch to  make me wake up and help them rather than be in the way, grabbed my arm and pulled, saying “We have to go. Now.” I didn't even have time to say good-bye or thanks to Kitty; I walked, stiff legged and petrified to the front of the bus (ambulance; ten plus years working in LA hospitals had made me extremely familiar with code words for hospital stuff, I'm not being pretentious. Not right now, anyway) and climbed in the passenger side. The driver hopped in, she shouted “You guys good back there?”, and they hollered back, “Yep, let's go” and go we did. As the driver turned the bus around in the cul de sac, I caught a glimpse of the little lovely forest at the end of our block. It looked cool and leafy and serene. I wasn't cool or serene, but possibly leafy. One of the EMT's the back, with Kimit,  shouted, “You okay up there, Samantha?”

Since I was still biting K's jacket, I made a “Mmph ,fkachach”” noise which they took for  “Yes” since the EMT responded, “Good deal.”  The driver got the bus turned around and headed back down our block toward the hospital, and she became the second person to save me that day when she patted my leg and said, “He's going to be fine. I promise you.”

Did I believe her? Did I believe that we'd get to the hospital within “The Golden Hour” that doctors say is the time within which they can pull Stroke patients  back from the brink?

Did I believe any of  this was real? Was I having THE worst nightmare of all time?

It was real, of course, but I felt a lot like Karen Silkwood: I had been yanked out of my comfortable routine and thrown naked into a freezing cold shower and Malcolm Macdowell was leering at me, asking “You okay, baby?” I know, I mixed my movie imagery but you get the point.

And those squirrels? They had become really pissed off wolverines, and they were chewing chewing chewing on the very little part of my brain that was still coherent. It's difficult to think when there are wolverines gnawing on your cerebellum.

And the reason for “You Picked Orange” is getting closer.

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