Perhaps, I should’ve kept my big mouth shut. After all, as the saying goes: “be careful what you wish for”. However, I was quite clear about what I wished for. That was “fun”. I’ve barely been out of lockdown since late June, and it’s wearing thin. However, when I said I needed more fun, I certainly didn’t mention anything about “drama”, or God forbid…”panic”. Moreover, I’m doubly sure I mentioned nothing about medical emergencies, or wanting to live out the show: “24 Hours in Emergency”. I’d also like to add, that Nurse Nancy is a Little Golden Book character, and should also stay well within its covers, and well away from the real world. While we’re at it, I’ll also clarify that I’m a taxi driver, not an “ambo”.
However, that all changed today.
I was sitting inside having a cup of tea when the phone rang. It took me a bit to grasp what was going on. There was just a “hello”, and I was trying to work out who it was and what was going on. Of course, you’d expect me to recognise my own husband’s voice on the phone. However, the voice sort of sounded underwater. However, in what seemed like an eternity, I managed to ascertain that Geoff had had an accident in the backyard, and had a nasty gash to his leg. He also asked me to call an ambulance, and bring out the medical kit. I also grabbed a cloth nappy. Although I never used them as nappies for the kids, I still have my stash and they come in handy.
Heading out to the backyard, I found Geoff sitting on the step of the garage. On the phone to the ambulance, I handed him the nappy to wrap around his leg, while wrestling with the medical kit one-handed trying to get it open. Geoff also ended up having to open that up himself. Meanwhile, the operator was asking me a lot of questions about how Geoff cut himself, and the wound itself. However, by now Geoff is unresponsive, and I can’t get a word out of him. I’m feeling like Johnny come-lately. I know nothing about what happened. He’s also sweating profusely. Yet, while it should be panic stations, I was relatively calm. After all, I was talking to emergency and any minute those sirens will be blaring and everything would be okay. Like miraculous, heaven-sent angels, they’d soon be here to save the day.
Now, they’re asking me if he hit an artery. With no blood in sight, it doesn’t look like it. I should be relieved, but he’s still unresponsive, and he’s clearly not okay. While he’s not bleeding to death, I don’t want him to plummet down their triage list just yet, although I know he has. I’m well aware our hospital system and ambulance network is seriously overstretched responding to covid. However, fortunately Geoff perked up, and was probably more in shock. Despite being asked not to move him, it’s hot and muggy outside and we get him inside and into the air-conditioning – me too. My breathing isn’t good, and with my bad lungs, stress and humidity, I might be needing the ambulance myself.
A paramedic calls me back to touch base. We weren’t forgotten. With an extended delay ahead and Geoff doing much better, he explains it would be better for us to drive Geoff into hospital ourselves to get him seen faster. There is a risk of infection, and after six hours he’ll be needing intravenous antibiotics. Obviously, that’s best avoided, and someone else has been already been waiting for 12 hours in the queue. I ask the paramedic if he minded if I talked it through with him. I’m not quite sure I can do it yet. As you may be aware, I have disability and health issues. So, it wasn’t a straightforward consideration. To make matters worse, I wrote the car off in the hospital carpark a few years ago when I was taking our son to Emergency. However, I’ve come a long way since then and started believing more in myself. That I could do it.
Of course, I knew we could ring a friend, and ask them to drive us. However, I was feeling okay. Besides, we had help…our number one son. He turns 18 in a couple of months and now has a man’s strength. Indeed, he is actually quite strong. “Of course, he’s strong,” I hear you say. However, I’m his Mum. While I haven’t thought about him being “my baby” for a very long time, he might still be “my boy”. All these years, we have been his strength, even through the very worst of my debilitating muscle weakness. Now, in the blink of an eye, he’s grown up. Strong as a rock, he would be there to help get his dad into the wheelchair and into the hospital. That sounds so ordinary, yet it was incredibly profound. At least, it was to me. I hope it meant something to him too, and he was encouraged.
We arrived at the hospital. To my macabre sense of humour (which is always more heightened in medical emergencies), I felt like we were on the set of The Godfather. Instead of driving the red Alfa, I’m pulling up in a black, mafia mobile with really dark tinted windows, and we’re turfing him out on the pavement outside the hospital with a bullet hole in him somewhere, instead of this cut to his leg.
This is what happens to your loved ones these days thanks to covid. We’re not allowed to go in with him, and in all honesty, I can’t go in anyway. Covid is literally everywhere, and I’m very vulnerable. I do not want to go anywhere near the hospital. So instead of sitting lovingly by his side, our son fetches a wheelchair and someone to push it, and he disappears behind closed doors.
By now, it’s 6.30pm, and time for dinner. Geoff doesn’t eat seafood, so we head off to the local Chinese restaurant to order Honey Prawns. However, being Monday night, they were shut, and I had to settle with our son’s choice of KFC.
Meanwhile, after packing Geoff an overnight bag with PJs, a couple of clean shirts, undies, toothbrush, and phone charger, we’d barely got through dinner, when the phone rang. He was all patched up and ready for pick up. I’m not good with keeping track of time, but he might’ve been there for an hour. Apparently, the wound wasn’t as deep as he thought. However, it still warranted 18 stitches. So, to translate that into the Australian vernacular, it was an impressive “scratch”.
A scratch? We went through all of that for a scratch?
To be perfectly honest, we didn’t go through all of that for a scratch. It was for love, and as cheesy as it sounds, because we’re a family. Family isn’t confined to your genetics. It can also be a choice….a special connection, a bond. However, having someone to ring when you’re in trouble and who will be there for you in that special way, is life changing and it stops people falling through the ground when the chips are down. Of course, we also have our faith and know God is always with us. However, his ways aren’t always our ways and our time here is finite. That’s not something which stares me in the face every day, but it is something I factor into my expectations.
So, while I was looking for fun today, I found drama, but also a renewed appreciation of our family, and so much gratitude for the growth in our son.
I’d like to share a poem I wrote about him when he was five not long after he’d started school. I was helping out a lot in his classroom and helping to teach the kids how to write and hat all important thing of leaving a finger space in between the words, which for them wasn’t something they could just eyeball and get it right. It was quite a slow, conscious, and very physical process of actually putting their finger on the page and writing around it and they had to concentrate so much. It was hard work. I flashed forward from that moment to when he walked out of that gate and he’d become a man. He still has a way to go and he’s really been up against it with covid, but he’s getting there. Today, as they say, was proof of the pudding.
This post has covered quite a bit of ground, but I’d love you to respond with stories of your own.
PS I’d just like to add that the road hasn’t been easy for our family, and we have really toughed it out. I don’t know whether I’d describe us as particularly happy, but we’re not miserable either and that says a lot. There’s gratitude, but also envy, disappointment and being human. Whatever else we are and however we might feel in the moment, we are a family…us and our dogs.