The Phone Call.

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.

Grandma and Grandson

Grandpa and Grandson

Even in her worst moment, my mom asked to see a photo of her grandson.

Love you, Mama.


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About solodialogue

I'm a lawyer and the mom of a 6 year old boy with autism. I work part time and spend the rest driving here and there and everywhere for my son's various therapies. Instead of trying cases, I now play Pac-man and watch SpongeBob. I wear old sweaters and jeans and always, always flat shoes to run after my son. Yeah, it's different but I wouldn't change it for anything. The love of my child is the most powerful, beautiful and rewarding aspect of my life.
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19 Responses to The Phone Call.

  1. Jen says:

    I’m so sorry. I will be thinking of all of you today. Big hugs.

  2. Lizbeth says:

    Oh God, Karen I’m sorry. It is at times like these I absoutley hate the internet and I wish I could come over and help in some small way. Know that I am thinking of you, your family and Tootles. Seeing so much of anything at once may take time for him to process and he may react later, at least that’s what Alex did and I was thoroughly confused. Highsight is 20/20. But I digress, I’ve come to know you in such a short time and really wish I could be closer and give you a hug and support. At minimum I could cuss out someone for you. Hugs, hugs, hugs–L

    • solodialogue says:

      Lizbeth, when you were here – I was there. You cheered me up with your post today like no one else could! And, I’m quite sure you could cuss some hospital staff out for me! Thank you for being here.

  3. Kelly says:

    I am saying a prayer for you and yours today. God bless and keep you all. Stay strong Karen – until you need to cry. Then let it out with abandon. Hugs and warm thoughts being sent your way.

    • solodialogue says:

      Thank you Kelly. Writing and reading is keeping me sane while I wait. It’s taking the edge off the stress. Already went to see you today and I feel those hugs when I read your posts every day.

  4. Grace says:

    I sincerely wish the best for you and your family.

  5. Big Daddy says:

    My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  6. Spectrummymummy says:

    Oh my, I’m so very sorry. Now I understand what you meant by it not being your time to cry. My thoughts are with you and your family, wish there was something more I could do. Hugs and tissues for when you can let yourself cry. Love.

  7. Stephanie says:

    So sorry for everything you and your family are going through. I’m praying for your mom and dad, you and your husband, your dear son, and for wisdom of the doctors and nurses. I understand the desire and sometimes necessity of staying strong. But when you need to let it out, please remember that it is OK. You need to keep yourself healthy in order to take care of all of the loved ones that need you. I have found that if I am needing to be strong and really need to cry, that the shower is a wonderful place to let it out. The tears just wash away and you can feel a bit refreshed and ready to continue. Sending many prayers and some virtual hugs.

  8. Karen, I’m so sorry for all this sadness and pain. It’s so difficult to watch people you love going through the difficulties of age and illness. Make sure to make time for yourself, and hold everyone you love very close. You’re in my heart and my thoughts.

  9. eof737 says:

    Karen, I am so, so sorry to read this news and I send you, your mom, and dad prayers for healing, light and lots of love. This is difficult and I don’t know how you found the courage to even write about it. My heart goes out to your parents… You are on my mind… Love to all.
    Eliz

  10. Heather says:

    I am so sorry Karen- your family is in my prayers!

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