Thursday, June 4, 2015

911 ~ What is your emergency?

5am on Sunday morning I awakened to hear a noise of someone trying to open the bathroom door.

That was so odd.  I was sleeping on the couch in the living room so I could keep an eye on Rich.
Apparently I was so exhausted from last week's events and Rich's hospitalization that I hadn't heard him get up.

I didn't grab m glasses, but ran to the door and opened it.
Rich was at the door desperately holding onto the door frame.

When he spoke, he sounded scared and desperate.

"I can't feel my right side," he said, his voice was a bit higher than normal and a bit slurred.

I can say that a multitude of things ran through my brain and they ended back up at the same place over and over.  

Stroke.

I put my arms around him and felt him shaking and trembling.  He couldn't move his right foot nor help at all with his right hand...the arm hung useless at his side.

I looked around and said to him, "I'm going to need you to hang on with your left hand to the door frame and I am going to help lower you to the floor, okay?"

"I can't move," he said, it was nearly a cry.  

"We need to get you safely to the floor, okay?  It is the only way I can call for help."  I grasped him tightly under his armpits and somehow we ended up on the floor.  I had no idea how I did it, but he was now safely on the floor.
I grabbed a pillow from the couch and laid his head on it.  I made sure he was laying on his side.
Somewhere in our yearly training for medical emergencies, I recall that we were supposed to lay a person on their side ... 

I jumped up and grabbed my glasses and dialed 911.  

I also grabbed a blanket to cover Rich in.  He was still moaning and crying. I knelt by him as the dispatcher answered.

Thank goodness, I was sure that it was the dispatcher who had grown up only a mile or so away from our secluded location.  He would be able to instruct the ambulance to our place.

"911, what is your emergency?"

"My husband who is a cancer patient who is receiving both chemo and radiation has no feeling suddenly in his right side.  He is now on the floor, conscious with a steady pulse.  He has complaints of numbness and seems a bit disoriented."
I spoke on the phone but have no idea who this totally calm person was that was talking.  I know it was me, but I didn't feel calm.

Yet.
I had to be totally calm.

The dispatcher asked for our address and I even gave him the letters ... 'E'... Edward...and the numbers distinctly and clearly.  Not a shake or shudder in my own voice.
Who was this person?

The dispatcher hung up and told me that Tri State was on the way.

I continued to monitor his pulse and his breathing and tried to answer his questions.
He was frightened, I tried to comfort him ... and held his head as I dialed his daughter's phone number.

Stephanie answered and I think our conversation went something like this.

"Stephanie, I think your dad may have had a stroke, I just hung up with the 911 dispatcher and the ambulance is on its way.  They will take him to VMH and I'll call you as soon as they have him in the ambulance."

I hung up with her and leaped up to push furniture out of the way.  I unlocked both the north door and the south door.  The south facing door was wider, a stretcher would fit through there.

In between making room I kept kneeling with Rich and holding his head.  I talked quietly to him and calmly to him.  

Fast forward:
At the ER admissions they asked me if I had POA for Health.
I pulled out the huge Estate Book and dropped it onto the counter, then flipped to Rich's Power of Attorney section, next I handed her the Living Will packet to copy.
I couldn't believe I was actually having to invoke POA.  My heart fluttered and I felt the walls closing in on me...
How bad was it?  What was happening?
I took the paperwork back from the secretary and she let me in to the ER room where Rich was 'stashed'.
He'd been taken for a CT scan.  

The attending doctor said the scan showed no brain damage which was hopeful for a full recovery.
He then proceeded to call the Madison VA Hospital to make arrangements to send Rich via another ambulance to there once he was stable in Viroqua.

I called Stephanie and gave her the information.  Still ... this calm person was talking.  Stephanie asked if I was okay.  I replied yes... and was she? She answered yes also.  Then she said, "I'm numb."
I agreed, that was the best description of what I was feeling.

Emotionally detached, yet concerned, and full of an empty numbness.

Steph and I put a plan together.  She'd meet him at the ER in Madison as she was closer.
I'd go home and make arrangements for some neighbors to do the farm chores and have the farrier or someone run over and put a round bale in with  5 mules.

After making arrangements, I grabbed Rich's CPAP, some clothes, his blue folder [it has a calendar with all of the appointments in it], the Chrome Book, clothes for me, Rich's VA ID, and two bottles of water.

I shut the door and started the Subaru.  Then proceeded to take the longest drive of my life.  Twice I had to pull over and regain composure.

On the way in Stephanie called, she gave me her dad's room number and I simply asked.
"I need to stay with you tonight.  No way can I go back to the house, okay?"

By the time I'd made it to Madison, Rich was able to move his arms and legs.  His right eye had some blurred vision and his speech was clear as a bell.

That night after we got to Steph's house and I had some pizza...oh, did I even eat that day?... Hmmm, I don't think so...

After eating I went over and lounged on their couch.
I woke up much later.
And went to bed.

So many questions, so many unknowns.


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