Monday, June 02, 2008

A Trip to the E.R.

(Note: I also posted this on the Children of Hoarders Yahoo! Group earlier today.)

My mom went to the hospital around 11 PM last night, complaining of severe pain in her hands, arms, and sides, and feeling extremely warm, even though her bedroom was fairly cool. Now, my mom has had strokes and fought hard against getting an ambulance and going to the emergency room, but this time around, she thought it made sense to go, so I figured it must be serious. (I live a few hours away from her, so I get my clues where I can.)

My sister got to the hospital around midnight, and sat with my mom through the blood drawing, the Q&A with nurses and doctors, and then, just as she was figuring that it was time to go home and come back in the morning (it was around 2 AM), the emergency room doc came in and gave my mom some Tylenol and discharged her without further explanation. (Not going to go into details, but the doc seemed to be a real piece of work.) My sister asked the doc if he noticed that mom can't walk, mom is now pushing 200 lbs, and that sis is a petite 5 foot 2. Long story short, they had to arrange a medical transport service to take her home. By then it was a little after 4 AM.

Here's where it gets good:

When the doc gave her Tylenol, my mom wouldn't take it at first, because "I never take that kind of stuff." Nope. Not Tylenol, not aspirin...nothing. "Drugs" upset her body. "I don't want those chemicals in me." Of course, she'll take any supplement that she hears about on the radio or TV, by the fistful, but she won't take a pain killer when she's in pain. She says, "I'm a SURVIVOR! I adapt!" (She places extra, almost pouty, emphasis on each syllable of "survivor," like she's proud that she doesn't take appropriate action. She said the same thing when we were kids, and we couldn't let a repairman into the house to fix little things like ovens, furnaces, water heaters, refrigerators, etc.)

Anyway, back to the story...

We've discussed on the message board how hoarders appear to have some very distinctive speech patterns, like not being able to distinguish between critical information and ephemera, taking ten minutes to say something that could be said in one minute, due to unnecessary detail, etc., etc. Well, at 4:20 AM, my mom called me to tell me that she was back home.

She told me all about the ambulance driver, whose "name was Jeff -- isn't that something? What a coincidence! Another Jeff!"

Jeff, a very unusual name, of course, was the name of one of the kids I hung out with in high school, oh, 25 years ago.

"Jeff and the other guy were so funny; we had a good time! He lives in Springfield. I wonder if they know so-and-so."

Then she switched gears, and told me that she heard a little kid crying in the emergency room. "Gee, I wonder what was the matter with him. I didn't get a look at him, but I could hear his parents. They had some kind of an accent. I don't know where they were from. There was a lady who looked like she might have broken her arm, too, but she didn't look like she was in much pain. I had it worse than her, I think."

You get the picture. I managed to get a word in edgewise, and asked her, "Well, how about YOU? How are YOU? What did the doctor say?" Another roundabout story of how even her cat knew something was wrong with her, since he kept looking at her funny, etc. etc., and that she had dinner a little late, etc. Finally, I said, "Mom, it's 4:30 AM. Are you OK?" Like usual, her response to a direct question is, "Well, I have to tell you the story." "No, Mom, the ambulance driver's home town is not 'the story,' your health is the story. It's after 4:30 AM. Tell me if you are in any pain, or tell me if you are still overheated." After about two or three tries, I interrupted and said, "Obviously, if you are well enough to talk about the cat, I can go back to sleep now."

"Oh. Okay. Boy, your sister was bent out of joint."

Me: "Mom!"

"Are you coming down to see me today?"

Me: "You're fine, I'm going to go to work. Bye."

"Oh, everyone is in such a hurry!"


Another day in the life of a COH...