ER is nothing like the tv show...
Saturday, December 29, 2012
So last night, shortly after I posted my blog, my mom called and said she was dizzy, her head and neck hurt, and she felt like she could pass out at any second.
I live just across the parking lot, so I threw on shoes and a jacket and ran over. She wouldn't let me call an ambulance, instead wanting me to drive her to the ER.
So we took a trip to the ER.
We've done this before. Usually on a Friday or Saturday night or VERY early morning. Something doesn't feel "right" and she wants to go to the ER. And so I take her.
The hospital closest to our house, thankfully, is less than 5 minutes from our house if you do about 50 the whole way there (ok..so 5 mph over...which is honestly slower than normal for me.) And it's kind out in the middle of nowhere--not a lot of anything around it yet, so it's very dark. It's still scary to have your 76 year old mother in the car screaming at her head/neck to "STOP POPPING!!!" and sobbing that she will pass out at any second.
Last night was a pretty busy night for them. As I got her inside, there were about 12 families with multiple little kids in jammies...and one parent or the other being admitted--several carrying trash cans in case they puked. Admirable that they thought to even bring one. I can't imagine loading a herd of kids into a mini-van to take my spouse to the ER... So really, though she was in pain, we had it pretty good.
Got her signed in, and one by one, the families and kids were admitted who had been there before us, one who came in after us going first because his need was greater. Chest pains trump just about everything else.
We get through the initial questioning and all that, and they get her to a room...and the waiting begins. About an hour after we arrived, a nurse came in check on her and the doctor followed shortly afterwards.
Clearly an ex-military guy, using phrases like "standby" and "affirmative," with a very straightforward bedside manner, I think she appreciated those qualities in him. He had a slightly dry sense of humor, but was all business and answered the multiple questions (sometimes the same question multiple times) with kindness and honesty. He told her he wanted to have a special x-ray done to rule out something having to do with her arteries being impinged by something in her neck, and speculated very little, which *I* appreciated.
During the course of the next two hours, she had a fantastic tiny little nurse come in and fit her with a cervical collar (oh the whining!), and another amazing nurse draw blood and such, and who said probably the most important words a patient and her family can hear "I love my job--I love everything about it and I can't see myself ever doing anything else!"
As someone who adores her own very difficult and underappreciated job, to hear that nurse say that she loves her job and then goes on to explain why she loves it so much, it made me feel so much better. Somehow knowing that someone who is passionate about what they do in the same way I am about what I do made things a little easier.
A while later the xray guy came to do his thing. The xray guys tend to be the odd-ducks. Nice guy, but just...odd. He looked like the "doctor" on Back to the Future, which amused me greatly.
The doc came back and told her that she'd live, the dizziness caused by vertigo and something up with her inner ear, and the popping in her neck is arthritis. He referred her back to her doc, which peeved her a little--she thinks our doctor is a child (he's EXACTLY two days older than I am, which makes him ineligible to be a good doctor I guess...). And prescribed the same stuff I take to not puke on school busses for the vertigo.
And at 3am we returned home...six hours later.
As I was sitting there in the tiny room in a somewhat uncomfortable chair, answering her questions (same question, phrased six hundred different ways) and chatting about much of nothing, there was a stabbing that arrived, a poor little girl screaming and crying for about 2 hours that her ear hurt and she wanted to just go home and finally that she was tired and why won't her ear stop hurting, and lots of families with multiple kids there with parents/siblings who were ill. And one older woman who somehow managed to get her own daughter to come get her and bring her to the hospital for something (she ended up being admitted) without waking her husband. When the nurse said should we call your husband, she responded, oh no, he's asleep, I don't want to bother him--I left a note.
So, she'll live. And I am running on two hours of sleep.... So I am going to take my Christmas tree down, maybe bake some cookies, and finish my grade reports so I can not think about them anymore. I am on my third cup of coffee. I suspect I will crash in about 2 hours.
And I will continue to be anxious for several more days, even though I know she will be fine.