Saturday, May 05, 2007
What was that about stroke symptoms?
My mother just called, saying she felt coherent for the first time in a long time. We were having a very nice conversation, and then she suddenly started slurring very badly, and then she stopped talking.
I tried hanging up and calling back: I got a busy signal, which must mean that the phone's off the hook. My sister and brother-in-law are two floors down in the basement, asleep, and my sister's cell is off.
So I called the Philadelphia police department, who connected me to Rescue, who took a brief medical history and are sending someone out there.
I really hope she just fell asleep. I really hope I'm over-reacting.
I'm sitting here biting my nails; I called one of our priests to ask for prayers. I'd been in the middle of doing a bunch of final grading, and I should get back to that, but I'm feeling a little distracted, you know?
The phone's still busy, half an hour after this all started. Aaaaargh!
It's now over an hour since I spoke to Rescue. The phone at my sister's house is still off the hook, which I have to take as evidence that no one's there yet. About twenty minutes ago, I started trying to call Rescue again to find out what was happening: the main City Hall number put me on interminable hold, and I called another police number where a helpful officer tried to connect me to Rescue and cut me off instead, and then I called my mother's police district, where a very nice officer said that he didn't have information on Fire Rescue dispatch, but that he'd send a car to my mother's house and call me back. I kept saying, "She may need an ambulance," but I know he's doing the best he can.
Am I crazy, or should all of these people be able to talk to each other more easily?
Or -- now here's a concept -- how about some easy way to call any given area's 911 system from out of state?
Yes, I know: Emergency services in big cities are completely overwhelmed. And it's a Saturday night. And I can't even wish that I were still there, because if I were, I'd probably be asleep, just like my sister and brother-in-law are.
She's fine. I finally got through about five minutes ago; my sister said, "You're the one who called the fire department?" sounding appalled. They're all tired and cranky, and, I suspect, furious at me -- except Mom, who called back just now (sounding completely normal) to say that she's fine and that she understands why I reacted the way I did.
She doesn't know why her voice got so slurry and then stopped, or why the phone receiver was tangled up in her sheets for over an hour. I suspect she may have had a small stroke, and I'm still worried, but the best I've been able to do has been to get her to promise to talk to a doctor about it on Monday.
As Gary pointed out, the moral of this story is that my sister needs to keep her cell phone on at night.
Mom just called again, sounding very prim, and said, "I'm supposed to call you."
"What?" Oh, no: is this a sign of altered mental status? Did she have a stroke after all?
"The police just came and told me I'm supposed to call you."
"What? I called the police back! I told them you were fine! I told them they didn't have to go there!"
"Well, your sister answered the door. If I were you, I wouldn't talk to her for a while."
What a mess! Among other things, this means that my sister will never believe me about medical symptoms again. (Crying wolf: my specialty.) But on the other hand, Gary and I were laughing at the absurdity of it all. "Emergency services will be showing up there every hour all night," he said. "They'll send a SWAT team. The mayor will drop by. And I'm sure your sister's going to call the Reno police department and have them check up on us at 3:00 a.m., just to get even."
Oh, lordy. Okay: so what should I have done? I still don't think I was wrong -- I don't think I had any real choice about how to handle it -- but if anyone has a better solution, please let me know.
Oh, and by the way, my mother had a TIA/stroke back in 1992; given that history on top of her recent medical issues, I really don't think I was out of line.
Just the same, I'm going to go crawl under a rock now.
A happy ending, and the medical mystery solved, here.