My mother ended up in the ER Thanksgiving eve. She’s home now, after a 6-day stint in the hospital. This past week has been a horrendous roller coaster of emotion.
My brother, David, was the one who found her. He lives on Cape Cod, and my mom lives in Maine. (She’s 25 minutes from me; I’m in NH.) He wasn’t due to her house until later that evening, but at the last second he decided to swing by for a quick hello before shopping at the outlet mall.
David saw her feet sticking out from behind the kitchen counter. She was unresponsive but breathing.
While his son called 911, my brother called me. I answered, expecting him to ask if I could bring more beer or tequila. When my family gets together, it is never too early to drink.
“Kate. Mom’s on the floor, unresponsive, and foaming at the mouth.”
I burst out laughing.
“Listen! She’s not moving. Her eyes are fixed to the right, staring at me…”
I continued to laugh. “Well, Thanksgiving does take its toll.”
“Kate! I’m serious! Tom’s calling 911 right now.”
He rewound the scene again. This isn’t one of my brightest moments, I admit. It was the mention of her foaming at the mouth that did it.
Finally, I got it together. “Okay. When the EMTs show up, have them take her to York hospital, not Portsmouth. She hates Portsmouth. I’ll meet you there.”
Five minutes later, David called me back. “They’re taking her to Portsmouth. They have a better neuro facility. By the way, I can’t find Sarah.”
Sarah’s our sister, who lives down the road from Mom. She doesn’t have a landline, just a cell. I told him to stop by Sarah’s house in case she’d turned off her phone.
When I got to the hospital, a nurse ushered me right in. I asked the desk nurse to let my family know I was inside, and then I disappeared down the corridor. They had her listed as Jane Doe, so I had to give them her name, dob, history, the whole 9 yards.
They invited me into the room where the ER docs were struggling to intubate her. I tell you, it was a scene straight out of Grey’s Anatomy. I was familiar with the terminology, procedure, and equipment. If it weren’t my mother, I would’ve found the entire experience fascinating.
Before long, I picked up on the fact they couldn’t get the breathing tube in. She was too ‘anterior’ and tight.
Next thing I knew, sauntering down the corridor in their blue scrubs, were two surgeons. No one told me they were surgeons. I just knew it from the way they walked and held themselves. Grey’s Anatomy, I’m telling you. It’s educational.
They went right up to my mom, took over the apparatus and tried to get that damn tube down her throat.
Then she woke up.
She kicked and thrashed and they had to hold her down while they got that thing down her gullet.
Finally, they succeeded, but not without leaving a bloody trail in their wake. The ER doc let out a nervous chuckle and said, “Good to see you guys had a tough time, too. Now I feel better.”
One of the surgeons said drily, “Glad you feel better.”
The surgeons sauntered out of the room the same way they sauntered in, never to be seen again.
I was then summoned for various tasks having to do with Medicare and her belongings while they took her for a CAT scan. When they returned with her, she was awake and trying to talk around the tube.
They beckoned me over to her. I showed up at her shoulder, and my mom took one look at me and smiled.
I talked a bit, telling her where she was. I asked her if she knew what had happened to her, why she was in the ER.
* * * * * * * *
I’ll stop here. I’ll continue over the next few blog posts, as there is a lot of story here.
I know I don’t usually share a personal tale here on the blog, but this event has become a central focus in my life for the past week.
I try to count my blessings every day, from small things like dessert to big things like my kids’ health. This particular event, like all events, runs the gamut from small blessings (having enough gas in the car to get straight to the hospital) to big blessings (my brother finding my mother early enough to help her).
Have you counted your blessings today?