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Notes from the Road, #10

Photo of the entrance to a hospital emergency room, or Accident and Emergency department for those in the U.K. A lighted sign that says "Emergency" hangs from a gray tiled ceiling above the entrance.

It’s the middle of the night, and we’re having a bout of arctic winds roaring in from Northern Canada. It’s dark, the neighborhood’s a ghost town, and the only places open are a fast-food chain and a convenience store. In the past, I’d walk at this hour to regroup and distract myself. Not this time.

The ambulance just took a family member to the hospital. I heard it happen, and I went out to see what was going on, just to be on the safe side. They fell asleep in the chair, which happens sometimes, and I tried to wake them up. No response. They were still moving, and I noticed their oxygen tubing had come off. They’d fallen in a way that I couldn’t get past immediately, but I found a way to do it, and I grabbed the chair with my good arm to move it first. I lifted their head with my good arm, stuffed the pillow nearby under it, found the nose, and got the oxygen tubing back in. It hadn’t even been 5 minutes, give or take.

I called 911. They arrived in minutes, and got my family member to the hospital. It’s about a 2 to 3 mile walk for me, depending on the route, and this time of year, it’s far too dangerous to try to duke it out with my bike.

I almost fell on the ice again, but found safer ground just in time.

Skipping the bike was definitely for the best.

I got to the ER entrance, and filled out the requisite paperwork. I heard so many different things from different people. I felt so scared, hopeless, and alone.

Honestly, death for me would’ve been a kindness. I know this sounds really grim, but that was the way I felt when this was going on.

Readers, I want y’all to make healthy choices if you’re not already. If you’re already doing that, keep it that way. If you can’t do it for yourself, and I hope you do, then do it for your family, whether that means your birth family or your chosen family. Never underestimate how quickly tables can turn when it comes to your health, with or without underlying health conditions, especially these days.

I will. I’m doing this for my family, and I’m doing it for my future kids.

I never wanna put anyone close to me through anything like this. Not now, not ever.

As an update, my family member pulled through, and as of this posting, they’re in the hospital making progress, more than the doctors were expecting when the ambulance brought them in. They came off the ventilator as of the 9th. We’ve talked with their doctors, and the tests came back negative on some fluid they pulled. I learned about what was going on, and it turns out my family member had an infection that snowballed into something systemic quicker than either of us thought possible. They probably also figured they could power-duke it out and be the tough guy until they could get to their doctor’s appointment scheduled a couple months later, knowing them the way I do.

The pandemic probably also had something to do with it, and I can’t say I blame them any. I’m scared shitless of getting it myself. So far, we’ve been fortunate. Nobody’s been exposed, so we’re safe.

In hindsight, they were trying to deal with it on their own, based on what they were sending me out to get them. It also explains why they were acting the way they did in the few days leading up to this, too.

When they get home, it’ll be a preventative measure instead.

Since I couldn’t stay with them overnight due to the pandemic, I had to walk back home. Or at least, that was my plan. The charge nurse called a cab for me, and I waited in the main lobby for like an hour for them to arrive. I felt like I could’ve been home by the time they got here, but as I got in the car, I felt thankful the charge nurse insisted on the cab.

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