Monday, August 13, 2007

Greetings from a hospital room in Tucson Arizona

Well, I came back from my three-week break in Seattle full of vim and vinegar and ready to start blogging again. But as I was soon to find out, even the best-laid plans can go awry and mine certainly did.

Late last Friday night I got a call from my mom's husband (they married 4 years ago and somehow referring to him as my stepdad doesn't feel right since he never played a father role in my life -- so I prefer to call him my mom's husband instead) informing me that she had taken a very bad spill and hit her head pretty hard on a rock outside in the yard. He said she was going to require a bunch of stitches to the back of her head and the hospital was going to keep her overnight just for observation. He assured me it would be ok to wait until morning to make the 2-hour drive down to Tucson. (And for anyone who has ever made this drive, I think you'd understand my relief at being able to wait til daylight to make the drive.) So I reluctantly agreed, feeling a little better that she was at least in the hospital under the watchful vigilance of doctors and nurses.

The next morning I left early and rushed down to Tucson. The drive went well until I got to the outskirts of the city (which is where they live). The night before they'd had torrential downpours (it's "monsoon" season after all) and as is usually the case in Arizona, dried washes can almost instantaneously become raging rivers, which ultimately flood many of the streets making it very difficult to get to your ultimate destination. I started to get panicked. I knew one, maybe two different ways to get to their house and both required using roads I knew would probably be washed out. And I was right. But eventually I made it to the house, a little rattled and very worried about my mom.

I pulled quickly into my mother and her husband's driveway and rushed to the door and rang the doorbell, fully expecting to get NO answer because my mother's husband would most assuredly be at the hospital waiting to bring her home. And so when no one answered, I figured that to be the scenario. But something told me that maybe I should at least use my cell phone to call their house phone before making another harrowing trek to the hospital through detours and washed out roads. And guess what? He answered the house phone! He hadn't heard the doorbell. He hadn't gone to the hospital. And he hadn't called to even inquire how she was. He was just too shaken I guess to do anything.

So when I said to him that we should head on over to the hospital that very minute, I fully expected that he would readily go with me, relieved that I was there to accompany him. He was definitely relieved I was there, but he didn't want any part of going to the hospital. He said he didn't want to bother them at the hospital and that he was sure they would make him wait in the waiting area and tell him nothing.

Ok, confession time: I'm frustrated at this point. I'm getting really upset. And I'm not really feeling like I have the time to assure him that it would be ok to go to the hospital and inquire about his wife/my mom. I'm also getting the feeling that he was not going to go with me no matter how many reassurances I gave him. And I knew that I needed to get over there and find out what was going on and how she was doing. And in addition to all of the above, I had heard from reliable sources (my mom) that he could be a very stubborn man, so I decided it would be best for me to go on over, find out what the situation was, and then either bring her home or go back and get him and bring him to see her.

He seemed quite relieved when I told him my plan. So I made sure he was going to be ok and then I raced off to the hospital, encountering two detours, but eventually getting there without getting too lost.

I went to the information desk and gave them my mother's name. They said she was still in the Emergency room. I said, "no, you don't understand, she came in 16 hours ago" and they said, "yes, we know, and she is in the Emergency room." I couldn't believe my ears. All I could envision was my poor momma laying on a gurney in some hall moaning and disoriented and feeling completely abandoned. I was heartsick and angry with myself for not having come the night before.

So off I went, with my security badge and directions on how to navigate through the maze of halls that would eventually lead me to two wooden doors that would electronically open and let me in once I got the lady behind the secured glass window to buzz me in. Oy, was this a prison or a hospital?

Once I got into the Emergency room a nurse at the desk led me back to the small dark room in which they had my mother. She explained to me that they had kept her in the emergency area because they were waiting for a bed in ICU to open up.

ICU??? Really ICU???? Oh my God, I'd really let my mom down!!!

I was starting to have a panic attack. What in the world was going on? I thought she was just going to need some stitches and then everything was going to be ok. But alas, that was definitely NOT the case. And as the nurse explained, she had suffered a brain injury as well and though the stitches and gash were on the back of her head, she'd fallen so hard that she had some bleeding on the front of the brain. This happened as a result of the brain sloshing around within the skull when she fell.

Well it is now Monday night. She has been moved out of ICU and she is slowly getting better. She has had 3 CAT Scans and things are looking like they will be ok. I'm told the prognosis is good and the bleeding has thankfully stopped. She is expected to fully recover. They just don't know at this point when she will be able to come home.

I'm sick to death that she has had to go through this, but so grateful for the people who got her through it. There simply aren't words to describe how indebted I feel to all those absolutely WONDERFUL people who have cared for my mother through this very scary ordeal. So to the paramedics (about whom my mother could not say enough --- are you reading this Ray?) who took her to the hospital, to the ER doc who looked like Doogie Howser, to the Neurosurgeon who came in on Saturday morning dressed like he'd just gotten off a plane from Maui, to all the compassionate and caring nurses who treated my mother as they would their own, I just want to say Thank You so much for taking such good care of my mom. I am overwhelmed by your dedication, professionalism, and compassion.

And to everyone else, Seething Mom is temporarily out of commission until Seething Mom's mom is back in commission. Errrrr you know what I mean… Share


Jarred said...

Best wishes for your mother's speedy recovery.

Anonymous said...

Wow! What a story! I hope that your mom gets better fast and you recover. One small thought, since perhaps your gay son may encounter it, is that being kept out of the loop when one's gay spouse is in the hospital is, I'm sure you know, a fairly common event. Now that you've experienced a similar situation, perhaps you can encourage him to make all the legal arrangements he can with his partner so it doesn't happen to him.

ms-teacher said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your mom. Quoting jarred, best wishes to her for a speedy recovery.

Anonymous said...

It's really nice to hear positive stories about all the healthcare workers involved. I feel like I don't hear those all too often.
Best wishes,

Carol said...

what a story, thankfully with good end in sight. Thoughts and prayers for a fast recovery, and I hope you are well-supported as you stay in town while she gets better.

tina said...'re a great daughter. Hope your mom feels better soon. Sounds like your moms husband is nervous about hospitals...?