Monday, January 11, 2016

South Carolina From the Back of an Ambulance

Welcome to I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You, the blog that will accept Blue Cross/Blue Shield. I'm Davel and now, stick out your tongue and say "ah".  

OK, let's get serious a bit.

A few weeks ago, I commented on the blog that my mom was not in the best of health. While the particular health scare of the weekend is behind us, her long term prospects were not good. As I write this, however, we have made arrangements for her care in her own home for a while before she needs to move into an assisted living facility. I will write more about that when things get settled a bit more. 

In the meantime, I wanted to recount some of the absurdities that my mom and our family had to deal with over the course of a 16 hour period that weekend after Christmas. This may be on par with the goof up that happened around my father in law earlier last month

I want to recount the sequence of events of Saturday, December 26th. The times are approximate estimates. 

4:45 PM 
I get a text from a member of the family named Julie. Of all the people who have come together to help my mom, Julie has taken on so many tasks. She is a remarkable woman and I love her for all she has done. That said, I hate getting calls or texts from Julie. It's never good news. This text says mom's blood pressure is high and she is very disoriented. Julie is going to take mom to the hospital.  

4:50 PM
No, she's not taking her to the hospital. She's calling an ambulance. Mom is so unsteady on her feet, Julie can't get her to the car.  

5:30 PM
Get a text from Julie that mom is at the hospital. Meanwhile I'm getting calls from other family members making sure I'm in the loop. 

6:30 PM
Julie is having trouble getting someone in the hospital to help mom. She's nauseous and throwing up while her blood pressure is still rising. I live 3 hours away; I'm wondering if I need to make the trip. Mom's had episodes before like this and usually she levels off after an hour or two, assuming she gets some help. 

7:30 PM
Julie says medical staff have been in to check on Mom and said they need to give her medicine to get the blood pressure down. But so far they haven't given her anything and Mom's blood pressure is at 190 over....something, I forget but that number on top is scary enough.  It takes me a minute to grab a bag with some stuff and head out the door. I'm kicking myself for not deciding to leave sooner. I've got a three hour trip to make. Over the course of the trip, I steal quick glances at my phone to check for updates. The news doesn't get better but it's not getting worse.

10:30 PM
I arrive at the hospital in Loris SC. After conferring with family in the waiting room, I make my way to my mom's room. Julie is with her. Mom's BP is still too damn high but it's lower than 190. Julie says mom finally got the medicine she was told she needed over three hours ago. The doctor says mom needs to see a neurologist; he's concerned she may have had a stroke. But the hospital in Loris does not have a neurologist so she will need to be transported to Florence SC which is 90 minutes away. Julie said she's been told they will be taking mom out any minute now to begin the trip.

11:00 PM
Any minute now. 

11:45 PM
Really, any minute now.

12:15 AM 
Yep, any minute now. The plan was Crystal (who like Julie has done so much for mom) was going to follow the ambulance to Florence and I would ride with her. After my three hour drive from Greensboro, I was totally zonked. But as minutes melted slowly into hours, Crystal wasn't too sharp either. So we agreed we would go home to catch a quick nap. I head for my mom's house.  

1:15 AM
Mom's cat wants to sleep on my chest. (For more about Oreo J Bonkers, click here.) 

5:00 AM 
Phone rings and I wake up with a start. I check the time and wonder why Julie didn't call before now. I struggle to reach my phone (the cat doesn't want to be disturbed). It's Julie. She decided to follow mom to Florence to let Crystal and I get more sleep. Anyway, the ambulance got to Florence about 15 minutes earlier (remember, Florence is 90 minutes away so that means "any minute now" turned out to be 3:15 AM) where the not admitting her. What? Apparently Mom was supposed to go to Charleston SC instead. Apparently that's where the only neurologist in the state of South Carolina can be found, I guess. 

5:30 AM 
I have disengaged myself from the cat and I'm now behind the wheel heading to Charleston. Florence to Charleston is another 90 minute ride for my mom. Meanwhile, from my mom's house, Charleston is 3 hours way. Another three hour trip for me! The first hour I was driving in near total darkness that was engulfed by fog thicker than Donald Trump's hair gel. 

8:30 AM
I arrive at the hospital in Charleston. They have no idea who my mom is or where she is. 

8:35 AM 
My mom arrives at the hospital. OK, so I traveled three hours to meet an ambulance that only had to travel an hour and a half and I beat it there by 5 minutes? 

Thankfully this tale of wandering and wondering comes to an end here as mom was the hospital where she was supposed to be and she was seen by the only neurologist in the state of South Carolina who determined that no, she had not had a stroke so there was nothing further he needed to do, she could go home now and I'm prepared to punch a wall! 

To be fair, the only neurologist in the state of South Carolina was open to keeping my mom in Charleston overnight for continued observation which I was fine with. The last thing anyone wanted was to have mom go home after all this just to have her blood pressure spike again and we'd have to start this whole merry-go-round once more. 

Mom was in much better spirits by the next day even if she had trouble remembering where she was. It is a common condition of dementia to not know where you are but in this case, if I had been hauled all over the state of South Carolina, I'm not sure if I would have known where I was either. 

So that's that for today. As I noted earlier, I will share the story of my mom's new status quo when things are more in place. 

In the meantime, maybe I will have something to post here with absolutely no redeemable value. 

You all be good to one another. 

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