So I’m walking along the trail at Tilden Park, with Poochini in front of me and my mom behind me, when I hear the kind of cracking sound and wailing of pain that you don’t want to hear (not the kind you want to hear, mind you, the kind you don’t). My mom’s right ankle, happily in one piece just moments ago, is now fractured in three places (ok actually just one place – Tilden Park) and dislocated, and her foot is facing a direction unrelated to the rest of her leg. For your own planning purposes, just FYI: if you’re going to have a medical emergency, a remote trail in a vast park is not the way to go. Don’t panic. Don’t panic. Don’t panic.
Poochini and I consult briefly, and we both agree that I’ll go get the cell phone and call 911 while he stays with my mom. 911 rings several times until finally a voice comes on to tell me, "You have reached 911. All operators are busy. Please stay on the line." Now I don’t mind being put on hold for the next available operator when I’m calling for theatre tickets, or to order a jacket from a catalog, but at this moment, somehow I’m really finding the need to convey that I’m only calling 911 precisely BECAUSE IT'S AN EMERGENCY AND I NEED SOMEONE TO ANSWER NOW.
Eventually they do answer, and dispatch an ambulance that arrives along with a vehicle that can, fortunately, make it up the trail to put my mom into a skinny one-wheeled wheelbarrow that can get her to the vehicle that can get her to the ambulance that can get her to the hospital. Seven paramedics are on the scene – actually six, followed by an out-of-shape guy, huffing and puffing up the trail in a tie-dye shirt, carrying a thumb guard and going, "I remembered it this time!" (OK that part isn’t true but the rest is.)
As the ambulance heads off for the ER, I stop at home to drop off the dog, change cars, and meet the ambulance at the hospital. On my way out the door, I realize I can’t find my car keys. I look in the box where I normally keep them, I look on the kitchen table, the counter, the box again, then every countertop and surface I can think of, and I can’t find them anywhere – until finally, after five minutes of searching frantically, I find them in my hand. It’s that kind of a day.
One emergency surgery later, the surgeon – not endorsed by Rich Harden, thankfully – is putting seven screws, a bolt, and a plate in my mom’s ankle as I sit praying that the hospital has picked one of the doctors who actually took "Shop" seriously in High School. The surgery is successful, but for reasons all of you will understand I beckon the surgeon aside at one point and ask about how to minimize the risk of a pulmonary embolism. My mom doesn’t have one, and once the "Scooter Lady" comes by her house with the "A Leg Up" scooter, mom goes from being bedridden to tearing up the downstairs on four wheels and one leg.
Which gives me just enough freedom again to write for AN. Feel free to share your emergency nightmare stories here and as you make your New Year’s resolutions, if you’re not First Aid certified please consider taking the ½ day certification class in January, so that you will have the skills before you need to use them to help someone you love.