My daughter came into the bathroom this morning to chat with me as I was getting ready for work. She looked at me oddly and said, “There’s two of you.” I looked at her oddly and said, “You’re seeing double.”
“There’s a black hole right here,” and she held up her hands in front of her face in the shape of a globe.
I looked at her closer, drilled down into her eyes which were black, bottomless pits. “You’re not going to school, today,” I assessed, with the astuteness of a cum laude college graduate.
“Mommy, I can’t see you.”
That’s when I lost it. Lost control of everything. There was nothing in the eyes, they were open, but nothing there, the blank vacant stare of a blind person. She started to slump down the wall, I grabbed her and she fainted into my shoulder. I’m talking to her the whole time and she is not responding, when she does it’s a whimper. I pulled-carried her determined to get her to the car where I could acquire medical attention. I’m strong when adrenalin-rushed and never short of determination. I can do this I thought. We can do this. Her whimpers to get me to stop slowed me down and I managed to plop her in a chair in the kitchen. She was pale as an ivory bone and I could tell from her eyes she was not full functioning.
I’m chattering the whole time, nervous rush, ‘drive you to hospital, emergency room, can you get to the car, I’ll carry you, you don’t want me to carry you, calling an ambulance, 911, dialing.’ Someone without any sense of the pressure-panic I’m under answers the phone and asks thoughtful questions, what is your emergency, what is your location, what is your name, is she responding, can she see you now. I answer each question in airless whispers, realize I’m not breathing, sweat is trickling down my back, later it will pour. I’m getting hot, any minute I’ll be the patient.
The 911 operator keeps me talking, assures me help is on the way, reminds me to assure her help is on the way, instructs me to unlock the front door, turn on a light, make sure any household pets are put away. Dogs in kennels. They’re on their way, they’re on their way. 911 tells me they’re hanging up now, if anything changes in her condition, call right back. They’re on the way. Next call to my sister, not because she can help, but because, because, just because. No, don’t come, I’ll call you and let you know what’s happening. Noise outside, I’m thinking I need my insurance card it’s in the car, I fly out grab it from the car, rush back to my drifting daughter, and leave the door open behind me, guy walks in with a big bag and kenneled dogs burst into bellows. No one can hear themselves think let alone talk. I carry three kennels down to the basement one-by-one three trips that leave my frightened child alone with strangers with big bags, lots of equipment. It’s the equipment that scares her.
When I re-appear and settle back into her emergency, three big, brawny guys in blue are hovering and a very nice lady is asking her question after question, out comes the medical equipment, taking her blood pressure, more questions, she is propped in the chair, pale-pale, blank face, big eyes watching, no ‘yes’ answers, takes too much effort, only uh-uh and a shrug of the shoulders. Phone rings, phone rings, phone rings. Probably sister, probably mom. More questions for me, more questions, questions. I ignore the phone. Tension slackens, they don’t think they need to take her by ambulance, she doesn’t want to go with them anyway. I ask her if she’ll go with me, uh-huh. I sign their form and wonder why no one asked me for my insurance card. Don’t you have to pay…
Emergency room, not busy, lessens my guilt that I’m bringing my child in for a fainting spell. It’s not for me, it’s not for her, it’s for my father. Only a doctor with a degree will determine if his granddaughter is okay. I KNOW he won’t take my word for it. Insurance card, four pages of information I could care less about, nurse, room, pee in the cup. She can’t. Nurse will take sample later. Nurse Byrnne, twenty-seven-year -old Asian from Orange County who became a nurse in two years, I want to ask what nationality she is but I already asked her how old she is and she patiently answers my rude, nervous mom questions with the fortitude of a pretty saint, really pretty. Nurse Tammy is my age, don’t ask her anything, I KNOW that age (old) except can my kid leave her bra and panties on, doesn’t want to take them off. Nurse asks her more questions and ends with, “Do you feel like you are in a safe environment.” “Yes.” Am I glad someone asks those questions to give other kids, who are not safe, a chance at life.
Later, thirty-two-year-old physician’s assistant Andrew asks, “You’re not pregnant right?” Answer, no. Then a laugh like ‘duh.’
Blood pressure laying down, standing up, drops. Slight fever. But she can stand, raise her hands above her head, answer questions. But she can’t pee in the cup. Andrew gives us the scoop. Vassal vagel, which he must explain again to me before checking us out. Not unusual to faint given these circumstances: sick for four days (fever, coughing, sneezing, ear pain), loss of appetite (applesauce for breakfast-lunch-dinner), dehydrated. Gave me the wicked symptoms to watch out for and if any change bring her back. Now we’ll hydrate, they bring in pop, my kid doesn’t drink pop, they came up with orange juice and Gatorade, which she hates. Okay, I’m thinking how much is this orange-juice-gatorade adventure costing me? Unbelievably, I don’t care. Next, I’m wondering how much I’m going to SLEEP when the adrenalin flood drains out of my body (about three hours).
We got home and she slipped off, as in SLIPPED off the hospital band, and tells me the blood pressure glove they put on her finger tip wouldn’t stay on either, fingers to slender. I’m looking at her like I should fatten her up.
Okay, that brings us up to the moment. Now, I’m thinking…we’re those paramedics CUTE? I can’t remember! Neither can she. Man, we were out of it!