Usually Adventures with Tootles appears here today. My life has been disrupted by a family emergency that I talk about below. Thank you for all your kind words of support on Twitter. You are all amazing and are keeping me strong. Writing and posting is keeping me sane.
Written at about 3:30 p.m. Friday:
Here I sit, on the floor of my parents’ bedroom. My son is playing Pac-Man on the TV. There are workers in the other room, replacing their kitchen countertops. My parents are not here.
This is a day I feared. It was I who, once again, exactly two weeks later, was dialing 9-1-1. This time it was not for my son. This time was for my mom.
At 2:30 p.m., just as I entered a weekly behavioral therapy meeting with my son, my phone rang. No one wants that ring. My dad, age 78, sounded defeated. He said he was going to have to take my mom, age 77, to the emergency room. He said she collapsed and was delirious. I asked if he was going to drive her. He’s been to the hospital before. He said he did not know the way. Clearly, he was very upset and I was not understanding the seriousness of the matter. I told him I was coming.
There was no one to call to take my son. There are no siblings. There is no “babysitter.” My husband was taking testimony from a witness in front of a judge 30 miles away. My closest friend, Jessica was with my husband, helping him on the case.
Hanging up, I took my son to the car, strapped him in, started the car and thought. He could not get her in the car and drive. My thoughts were so rudimentary. It was like I was actually debating what would be right. As I strapped in my seat belt, I called 9-1-1. On the way, I told my son that he would see an ambulance and fire truck when we got to Grandma’s house because she was sick. The ambulance was taking Grandma to the hospital. He listened. He did not react.
By the time, I pulled up to the house, the fire truck and ambulance were outside. The emergency personnel were all there, inside their bedroom. There were too many to count, probably six or seven men and my dad. My mom was moaning, confused and nonverbal. My father was pale. He is so strong but I know inside, he was crumbling.
My mom and dad have been married for 56 years. (By the way – that’s long before I came along). I am their only child. My dad is my hero. He has cared for my mom and done everything for her since she nearly died in 2004 of sepsis from an infection. She has Parkinson’s and diabetes.
In the last couple of weeks, my dad has been reporting that my mom has not been eating. I could not come over. My son and I have been sick with this virus and I feared making her sicker. It has been like a nightmare. One where you know you need to help and something keeps you from getting there. That something has been my own illness.
My dad reported that my little, normally-rotund mom, has lost weight. She has nibbled at food, outright refused food and only sipped water. She has been complaining of stomach pain. He took her to the doctor. The doctor recommended a colonoscopy. (Yes, anger later). In her state, my dad thought that was too harsh for her and he intended to postpone it.
The doctor also advised a consult with the neurologist for the Parkinson’s. My dad set the appointment – for 13 days from today. That was the earliest appointment.
The paramedics put her on the gurney, took her blood sugar, put a blood pressure cuff on her and placed her in the ambulance. They put her on an IV. My dad waited patiently in the front seat of the ambulance. I stayed behind.
My son was patient throughout the whole ordeal. What a wonderful boy. He sat in the living room away from the crowd, playing with a toy. He was quiet and well behaved. Where the hell did that come from? I think it was love.
I could not go with them. I could not take my son to the emergency room. The workers were still there.
I texted my husband and he and Jessica were on their way. The workers offered to leave. They were very kind. I told them they could continue until my husband arrived.
I ran out to the front seat of the ambulance to make sure my dad had his cell phone before the ambulance left. He did. I told him I love him. He cried.
In my whole life, I have only seen my dad cry once and that was when my mom went to the emergency room in 2004. This was the second time. I hugged my dad tightly. I told him that I will be here for him. I told him they would take care of my mama. Then, I went back in the house to care for my son.
Next, I cleared away the plastic trash from the emergency equipment torn open to aid my mother as they placed her on the gurney. My dad does not need to see this when he returns. Then, strangely, I took some clothes out of their dryer to fold and put away.
And here, I sit on the floor of their bedroom. writing. It is not time for me to cry. I must be strong for my dad and my son. I have no choice but to be strong. Whatever may come God, please let me be strong and do the right things. God bless my mom and dad. I love them.
Post Script: Friday 9:20 p.m.
As I post this she has been stabilized in the Emergency Room. She is cold, very cold. They call this shunting to protect the brain. She has been given Atropine in an emergent IV directly into her bone marrow to save her life. The IV has been replaced with one in her hand. She is moaning that she wants her blanket. They have given her at least 8 newly warmed blankets since I arrived, removing each cold one and replacing it.
She had a “vagal incident” whatever that means. They are checking for a stroke, moving her to a room near the nurse’s station. My dad is with her, holding her hand, tears in his eyes as I hugged him goodbye to come home to take care of my son.
God, please take care of my mom and dad. Amen.
Even in her worst moment, my mom asked to see a photo of her grandson.
Love you, Mama.