Did you ever have anything happen to you in the middle of a very busy day that just seemed so weird that you had to stop and think “what is this?” Something, say, like a strange text message from an old friend living thousands of miles away.
Michelle Tennant Nicholson of East Flat Rock, North Carolina, recently had one of those moments.
May 20 started off as just another very busy day for Nicholson, who is very heavily involved in convincing the Henderson County Planning Board to oppose rezoning that would allow the building of an asphalt processing plant near her rural home.
“At that particular moment, I was managing correspondence from some 13,000 residents who have joined in the fight,” Nicholson said.
But the strange-sounding text was just too weird to ignore.
“It said, ‘I just don’t have the strength to do (sic) to the ER today ... taking a nap and I’m going to pray,’” Nicholson said.
It’s a little hard to explain, Nicholson said, but there was some history behind the message that was hard to ignore.
“The text was from a friend, Taylor Ivy, who now lives in rural Cushing, Texas. We had met some 25 years ago when we both were living in Cincinnati, Ohio, and were taking a leadership course offered by Landmark Worldwide. We stayed in touch over the years mostly by phone and email. We did exchange Christmas cards each year and that turned out to be critical,” Nicholson said.
Just before Nicholson received the text, she said she had just signed up for another virtual Landmark course where the homework for the day was to take control of anger and current problems.
While Nicholson admitted that she has been upset over the proposed asphalt plant, she said those emotions, coupled with the odd text prompted her to call Ivy.
The phone call didn’t go well, Nicholson said. Her friend did not sound well. Nicholson described Ivy sounding out of breath and very weak — some of the same symptoms Nicholson thought she recognized.
Nicholson’s mother has Afib and Ivy’s condition seemed too similar.
Afib, also known as arrhythmia or an irregular heartbeat, is a condition that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications.
“We went back and forth on the phone about calling 911,” Nicholson said. “Taylor insisted she didn’t need help; I insisted she did. I thought I finally had won when she agreed to call the hospital and promised to call me back. Twenty minutes went by and no return call. So, I called her again, but this time she didn’t answer.
“Now I was really concerned. I had no idea where in Texas Cushing was so I just started calling 911 centers in Texas. Finally, on the third call, I was pointed in the right direction and I called Russ County emergency services. And, yes, I was assured that they were the right people to contact. All they need was an address. I thought for a moment, dove into my Christmas card list and found the address. With that, the police were dispatched,” Nicholson said.
An hour later, Nicholson received a return phone call from Russ County Police. Ivy had been found unconscious and was rushed to the hospital. She was not breathing when officers arrived but they were able to revive her. She was diagnosed with Afib and remained in the hospital for five days before being released.
The next day, Nicholson got another text from Ivy.
“Thank you for saving my life.”
“The lesson here,” Nicholson said, “is listening and being present to the small details in life. I had a funny feeling when I read that text and I just felt I needed to call to help even though I was in North Carolina. I’m so glad I listened and was paying attention.”