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Saturation Point

By Karey Burek
Nov 13, 2008 - 11:14:59 AM

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Adrenaline is a funny thing; it can make people take risks and do  things they wouldn’t ordinarily do in the face of danger. Take for  instance the little boy in China who was hailed as a hero during the 2008 Olympic Games. When an earthquake hit and crumbled his school, he made it out unscathed and went back into the pile of debris to rescue his classmates—he was 8 years old.  When interviewed afterwards about why he would risk his own life to save others, he simply replied that he was a hall monitor and that it was his job to keep his fellow  students safe. I admire this young man and hearing the story got me a little misty-eyed because I had always hoped that in the face of  danger I would show that kind of courage.My inner “mustard,” as I call it, was tested earlier this year. My  friend and I were making dinner and preparing for movie night, laughing and joking in the kitchen when we heard a scuffle by the front door, followed by someone pounding so hard on the door it vibrated the frame, and a voice yelling “HELP HELP, PLEASE HELP!” We looked at one another—whatever was chasing this individual had brought  them to our door, and we didn’t want any of that in our quiet and safe  sanctum. We whispered to one another, “should we open the door?” 
Rattle Snake

“Let’s open the door.” All the while, the pounding and screaming continued on and we opened the door a crack to see what was on the other side.  Before we knew it, a lady and her dogs bounded across the threshold and into our movie night. Our decision to open the door to this stranger only took a few seconds, but I was ashamed of myself that it took that long for me to come to the aid of someone in need. What if it had been one of my loved ones being chased by evil, looking  for help only to be turned away?

The woman in need of help had been out with her three dogs, walking them as usual, when another very large dog got loose from a nearby residence. The large dog ran toward her and her small dogs and  proceeded to attack her and the dogs, tossing them around like  ragdolls. The situation was solved after other neighbors became involved and the large dog’s owner was contacted, but this incident made me think about the fight or flight mechanism that we all have in our bodies.  Some of us are born fighters while others would prefer to run and hide. I always considered myself a fighter, perhaps a fighter that needs a second or two to think first?

According to adrenaline is a hormone that is produced in our bodies naturally by the adrenal gland. It makes the heart rate jump and dilates blood and air passages, which give us the pounding heart and fast breathing.  This hormone is naturally produced in high stress situations or physically exhilarating ones.  Some people seek out adrenaline inducing activities and a new store has opened called  “ADRENALINA’” that caters to this diverse crowd of individuals. You can even get your adrenaline rush on in the store by riding their man-made wave machine!

As with our flight or fight mechanism, scientists believe that this  characteristic was an early evolutionary adaptation so that animals,  such as humans, can cope better with dangerous and unexpected  situations.  That is why we hear of mothers lifting cars to rescue  their babies, or smaller prey animals outrunning and outfighting their  attackers—the dilated blood vessels and air passages speed up the  process of carrying blood to the muscles and oxygen to the lungs,  which in turn increases physical performance. (

My experience with the lady pounding on the door prepared me for  future encounters with danger; I swore to myself that if faced with  another situation where an individual was in trouble I wouldn’t stop to think, I would help. Just last week, I was guiding a hike along a  well-marked trail with a bunch of very inquisitive kindergarten kids.   We stopped to take in the sights and a little girl pointed to something by her foot on the ground, “Ms. Karey, what’s that?”   
Everything happened in slow motion as I pushed the little girl out of  the way and made a human wall with my body to shield the other children from getting too close to the rattlesnake that was sunning  itself only inches from her tiny shoe. This time, the adrenaline  flowed, my mind was clear and I protected someone from being harmed without even thinking.  This was the kind of person I had believed I  could be, but I needed a little adrenaline rush to get myself prepared.

© Copyright 2008 by The Observer News Publications and M&M Printing Company, Inc.

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