2000: Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
2002: One Hump or Two?
2003: Gone, But Not Forgotten
2004: What to Say?
2005: Move Over, Julia
2006: Slowly Mounting Panic
IN MY OPINION
Books Read in 2008
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2 June 2008
They lull you into a sense of complacency, you know. You look at the nearly empty room and you think "well, maybe this won't be too bad." Then they call your name almost immediately, and you think "Hey, this isn't bad at all."
That's when the "bad" part starts.
My mother called Saturday night and when I asked her how she was, I could sense immediately that she was not good at all. For one thing she answered "terrible." That definitely is not my mother. I don't remember her answering "terrible" even at her worst during her broken ankle. For another thing, she sounded like she was fighting tears. I mentally began checking off all the possible friends or relatives who might have died.
But no, it wasn't a death. It was her back. She told me that on Thursday she had been down on her hands and knees scrubbing her bathroom floor and waxing it, that her back hurt a bit when she finished, but that on Friday when she woke up, she could barely move for the pain. I told her that I'd always felt that housework was bad for your health.
She made an appointment to see her doctor, which is really a sign of how bad it is. My mother hasn't seen her doctor in three years and doesn't believe in going to her doctor unless she's VERY sick, because if she's only slightly sick, she doesn't feel she should bother the doctor. And a "well check up" is out of the question. Of course she didn't tell anybody how bad her back was and, in fact, went out to lunch with friends because she didn't want to disappont them by canceling. She then drove herself to the doctor's office.
The doctor gave her motrin, told her to ice the area where it hurt, to call if that didn't help. Well, apparently on Saturday it was worse, so she called Kaiser again, spoke with the advice nurse who gave her some other suggestions and said that if it wasn't improved on Sunday to go to the emergency room.
After I spoke with her on Saturday night there was no way I was not going to go down to San Rafael on Sunday to make sure she saw a doctor. Walt was going to a Giants game, so he dropped me off en route. My mother was lying on the couch with ice on her leg. The pain had traveled from her lower back down her leg. She had been reading medical books, diagnosed herself as having sciatica, determined that there wasn't really anything a doctor could do for her so she saw no point in going to the emergency room.
I should also add her parenthetically, that she related that when she got out of bed this morning she almost fainted from the pain, but she got up and got dressed and then realized that she was wearing electric blue slippers, which did not go with her green outfit, so she got down on the floor to rummage around in her closet to get the right matching slippers. Because God forbid that she should make coffee in shoes that didn't match her outfit. I rolled my eyes a lot.
After watching the EXTREME pain she was in trying to move, there was no way I was going to let her get away with not going to the doctor, so I fixed us lunch (she said we'd "fix it together" and I told her to sit down and rest) and, over her suggestions to "wait a little longer because they might be at lunch," we headed off for Kaiser's emergency room. I knew it was pointless to suggest she take the walker she had from her broken ankle, or the cane someone wanted to loan her at that time, because that would make her look old, and in pain...and no 88 year old woman who can't walk without grimacing wants to look old and in pain, right? She did, however, decide NOT to put on makeup before leaving the house, which reinforced just exactly how much pain she must be in.
As I said, I was encouraged that there were only six people in the waiting room, a father with his daugher, who had her hand in ice, a mother with a toddler who had a big cut on his head and who was sound asleep (who turned out not to be as sick as I thought he was for the first hour), and someone else. I figured this would be a piece o' cake. We'd be home in no time.
She saw the triage nurse, who determined that yes, she needed to be seen. We settled in for what I was convinced would be a short wait. At hour 2, I sent a text message to Walt at the ball park telling him we were still waiting.
The waiting room by this time was down to just the mother and toddler (who by now was awake and running around the room) and us, and a new woman who had just come in with a sprained ankle. Gurneys had come out of the ER with oxygen tanks attached to them and headed into the hospital. We continued to wait.
Finally around hour 3 they took us back into the business end of the ER. That's where it all started to look like the TV program of the same name. Most of the rooms were filled and overflow gurneys lined the hall. People ran hither and thither. Obviously all the action does not necessarily pass through the waiting room!
We were taken to a double room, where another woman was waiting to be released. She told us she had been there since 10 a.m. (it was 4 p.m. now). But she'd also had to have x-rays, which added to the time. She hadn't been to the bathroom, though, because she was afraid she'd miss some crucial person coming to see her. We told her to go and we'd keep whoever showed up there while she was gone! She seemed quite relieved, in more ways than one.
My mother didn't want to take off her clothes, but did and got into bed, and we waited some more.
Finally Dougie Howser (with grey hair--but he was still 13, I'm convinced) came in and confirmed my mother's self-diagnosis of sciatica. But, contrary to her feeling that the doctor couldn't really do anything for her, he was able to expain what was going on, what danger signs to look for, and to prescribe Vicodin, which he felt would help the pain more than Motrin. He sent me to the pharmacy to pick up a couple of prescriptions for her, and I was amused at the name of the elevator I was told to take to get there.
To get to the Peach elevator, you follow the peach linoleum, which winds around the bowels of the hospital, so that ultimately I have no doubt but that I got my exercise in today (especially since I first mistakenly took the BLUE elevator, which goes to an entirely different place and had to retrace my steps).
There was a line forming at the pharmacy to pick up meds because there was only one clerk who was dealing with a woman who was probably going through her entire medical history, checking her bank balance, going over her insurance policy, and probably pulling out pictures of the kids to share. Those of us in line looked at each other and rolled our eyes.
(Yes I rolled my eyes a lot today)
Finally I had her meds, met her back in the emergency room waiting room and we were off for home. I told her I'd fix dinner, but she started pulling out food and limping painfully across the kitchen. I ordered her to the couch and we got chicken to thawing, while we waited for Walt. I also called Ashley to ask if she could feed the dogs, since I knew it would be 10 p.m. before we got home. (I am so incredibly grateful to have Ashley and I hope she realizes how much she is appreciated!)
Walt came, we had dinner, watched the new "Million Dollar Password" and then came on home. She was already talking about remembering NOT to take the Vicodin in a couple of days so she could drive to get milk when she ran out. I told her in no uncertain terms that she was to CALL SOMEONE if she needed something. Her stepson lives nearby and his daughter lives just a mile or so away. She promised she would, but I know she'll be in the car by Tuesday.
As I said, I rolled my eyes a lot today.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
MILES TO NOWHERE: 46 miles