Thursday morning I got one of those phone calls everyone dreads.
Annie: Vivian, what’s wrong with Dad?
Me: What do you mean?
Annie: He didn’t know me and seems very confused.
Me: Okay, I’m coming home.
Annie: I’ll meet you there.
Click. Hyperventilate. Call home. Dad answers the phone.
Dad: Hello? (His hello sounds like he’s a million miles away. I’m hyperventilating again.)
Me: Dad? Are you okay?
Me: I’ll be right home, Dad.
Click. More hyperventilating.
Hold it together to get out of the office.
I dash into my boss’s office: Boss, something is wrong with my Dad. He didn’t recognize my sister and barely recognized me.
My Awesome Boss: Go.
Thus began one of the longer weekends I’ve had since Mom died. We didn’t take Dad to the ER right away because we thought it was a blood sugar thing, he seemed to recover when we gave him some food, Annie arrived first and made him eat some applesauce. (Hand fed it to him, really.) We had an appointment with his primary care physician and once there I was feeling relieved. Dad was sleepy but seemed to be getting better once I got home. About three minutes after the doctor walked in I knew I’d made a terrible mistake. The doctor turns to me after I described Dad’s symptoms and asked why I hadn’t taken Dad straight to the ER. My heart dropped and I knew that the doctor thought it was a stroke.
So, the doctor did some blood tests to see if it was indeed a blood sugar thing. This is the one time you could hope for a bad blood sugar result. Nope, in fact, the man got perfect scores.
So, the doctor wrote up everything, gave us some pretty detailed notes and sent us off to the ER.
I got there around 3 ish that afternoon. Of course it was packed. My sister Chaa* met me there, and it began. We were seen fairly quickly, I thought. I was wrong. Just the preliminary see ya. Off to the waiting room again. Then back. Then out again. Then back. Then out again. By that time Kiki had arrived and I don’t even remember what time it was. By then I’m starving, Dad is starving, Chaa is starving and so is Kiki. I wandered down to the cafeteria and realized that it’s 7:00 Pm and the Cafeteria is about to close. I dash around trying to find something remotely edible. The only thing close was the salmon skin sushi and I am NOT going there. So one bag of pretzels and a Lime Diet Coke later, I’m back in the waiting room with Dad and the girls. The packed waiting room.
We had been told to hang out near the back doors, so we did. None of us wanted to move Dad more than absolutely necessary, we sat in front of the doors and the only TV in the ER waiting room. Unfortunately I’d brought one book to the doctor’s office thinking it would hold me over, but I only had a chapter left. I finished that in 10 minutes. The sudoku in the paper that day was a hard one, I just didn’t have the concentration to finish it so I threw it aside. The newspapers were read, the local magazines were mostly ads and there weren’t even any US Weekly or People to mindlessly flip through. So, I watched the TV.
Oh. My. Dear. Lord. God. In. Heaven. Shoot. Me. Please.
It was stuck on E! I asked the nurse’s station if they could pretty please change, but they refused. Either they really had lost the remote or it was the meanest, most passive aggressive way they could strike back at all the cranky people in the lobby who bitched about everything endlessly.
Anyway, regrettably, I am now on a first name basis with Tara Reid’s breast implants.
Finally, the doctors decided that they would admit Dad for observation. YAY! I thought, he’ll get a bed. Of course, little did I know that he needed a bed in the ER first. Before a doctor can admit him, they had to clear out some patients from the ER, which meant in some cases admitting them. For whatever reason, the hospital was super full this past week. So, that meant that admitted patients weren’t being moved out of the ER very quickly, which meant that everyone in the ER waited longer to be seen, longer for treatment and longer for beds. They finally gave Dad a bed in the ER around 11 PM.
Chaa waited with Dad, Kiki took me to Denny’s for something to eat. I came back, Kiki left and Chaa stayed with us until around 1 AM. I decided to stay the night with Dad. The nurses kept saying that Dad would get a room soon. The chair in his little cubicle was invented by de Sade I think. They were utter torture. By 4 AM I felt like I was dying, I would get up and walk as much as I could, but I was exhausted, so I couldn’t do a whole lot. About 4:15 the nurse came in to say that Dad wouldn’t be getting a room until later that afternoon. I burst into tears for me. I was sad for Dad, but the man had a bed. I just couldn’t sit in that chair any more. I ended up taking a short drive to fill up my gas tank, buy a cup of coffee and then parked in the hospital garage just sitting in a comfortable seat. I was going to lay down in the back for a while, but Dad flipped his lid when I told him what I was going to do. Then he told the nurse and I got a lecture about being in a car on a cold night. (I still think I would have been fine. I sleep lightly, I would have warmed up the car first and I have a bunch of blankets in the back.) So, that nixed that idea.
By the time my coffee was finished I had my brain back.
My nephew Keg called me around 7 to ask if I wanted a break. YES!!! PLEASE!!!! Chaa was coming back to take over, but wouldn’t be there until around 11 ish. Keg could be there by 8.
When Keg got there, Friday morning, I felt like I’d been hit by a truck. Dad had had some tests, but he needed more. They still weren’t sure what had happened, but it was clear something had gone awry. His tongue was not working, but he could walk easily. He was having trouble with articulation, but that seemed to be easing. Shortly before I’d left, Dad was moved to a much nicer room at the back of the ER.
I went home, I thought to sleep.
There were lots of phone calls to make, phone calls to return and siblings to reassure. Also, like a bone head, I’d left my cell phone in the office in my mad dash to get to Dad. I didn’t get to bed until 11 AM.
Wake up at 3 PM to phone calls from Chaa updating me on Dad. Still nothing definitive. More tests. Dad is scheduled to get a room any moment now.
Get up, get dressed, get stuff together for a night in the hospital. More phone calls, emails, calls and calls.
I got there at 7 PM. Still nothing definitive. Everyone leaves, Dad falls asleep, fretfully. I read The Gunslinger, knit and soduko. No TV, dad just needs the quiet. More nurses’ checks. Blood pressure. Temperature checks. Blood draws. And so it goes through the night. Thank God this hospital has a couch where I can stretch out and lie down. It’s not a bed I ever want to sleep on again, but compared with the chair from hell the night before it’s a pillow on a cloud.
Around 7 AM on Saturday, Dad wakens for the day. He’s groggy. More nurses’ checks, blood pressure and temperature checks. More blood draws. The echo-cardiogram guy arrives to check Dad’s heart. It looks kind of like an alien inside him. The ECG guys tells me that he sees nothing to keep him up at night, that Dad’s heart could be a 70 or 60 year old man’s. So, still nothing definitive.
Keg and Yertle come to relieve me so I can go home, but I stay until around 12. Shortly after I get home, Yertle calls to tell me Dad has been released. The doctor came to say that they think, are really pretty sure, it was a mini stroke, one that caused no damage they could find.
Praise God! Dad is still not 100% back to where he was Wednesday, but he’s getting there. Thank God he never fell. Thank God my sister called when she did. Turns out she called right as the event, whatever it was, was happening and was able to be with Dad within 20 minutes. Thank God she did call and got him off the treadmill before it hit. I really don’t even want to ponder the might have beens of THAT possibility. *shudders*
So, Dad is home and recovering.
*Named changed to protect your innocence.