It hadn't happened in nearly a year and I thought we were past it.
But at 10 this morning, I had a call from Atria letting me know my mother had been unresponsive when they tried to wake her up and they were sending her to the emergency room. While the initial reaction is to wonder "is this the time?" in my heart of hearts I knew how it was going to happen, and I was not wrong
When I got to the ER, she was still unconscious and they were trying to wake her, to no avail. Her eye lids were blinking very quickly, but her eyes never opened. Everybody tried to wake her up, but unsuccessfully.
They cut her out of her shirt because she wasn't able to help them get her undressed. They put on diapers, but first took a urine sample so they could test for a UTI. She slept through it all.
The nurses left and I saw her eyes flicker, like they had been, but also to open a tiny bit, so I got up and talked to her and she started to come alive. I asked if she knew who I was and she slowly nodded.
About then Ebonee came in to take blood. She had about the very best dreadlocks that I've seen. I'm sorry I didn't take a picture from the front because it was truly beautiful.
She had lots of blood to collect and fortunately she had a great sense of humor, so she got my mother chatting and laughing. She was now coming back to whatever her normal is, which was a relief.
Then we played the hurry up and wait game, waiting for time for her to be taken for EKG, CT-scan, and chest x-ray.
I think it is not an exaggeration to say I had to explain to her 100 times where we were and why we were there, after which she always said she didn't want to be in the hospital and why hadn't I told them to just leave her alone. And then she would ask again where we were and why we were there.
They finally took her off for her various scans and after she returned we waited again ("where are we and why are we here? I can't understand a thing you say...")
Finally the x-ray guy came back with the report that all was fine, so we waited for the doctor to give her the all-clear. And waited and waited and waited. He finally came and told me what I knew he would--they can find no sign of anything. She has no UTI, her blood sugar was fine, there was no sign of stroke, lungs are clear, etc., etc., etc. He mentioned her going home by ambulance, but I told him I would drive her.
So we waited and waited and waited for the nurse to disconnect her from all the machines. She does not wait patiently and asked me many times what we were waiting for. I finally had to go and get someone, because they were waiting for the ambulance. They got her dressed, and gave me a gown to replace the shirt they had to cut off, and while I went to get the car, they got her into a wheelchair and outside.
Naturally there was no parking to be had at Atria, so I parked illegally and told the girl at the desk that I was taking her to memory care and asked if I could borrow a wheelchair, since I didn't want to walk her through the building in a hospital gown.
A woman we know in town whose mother just moved into Atria was happy to see me and started chatting, but I had my mother who kept trying to get out of the car, and the wheelchair that was not arriving and I was probably kind of rude to her and her mother.
Finally a new desk person called again for a wheelchair and then two of them came. We got her into one and someone pushed her while I followed along behind as the beast of burden, carrying a bag with her stuff (mostly her sheets), pillow, doctor's orders, my cane and my purse.
We got her to her apartment, which she has never seen before and didn't know where she is. Most of the aides came to see her and I realized that though this was her fourth trip to the hospital, she had never had one of her spells in the memory unit so they were much more worried about her than I was (though one of these days she's going to surprise me and die during one of these "normal tests" trips to the ER)
I was going to leave her when they took her to the dining room to get some food, since she had not eaten anything yet, but she was terrified, said she had never been there before and didn't know anybody. I tried to explain to her that someone would help her get back to her apartment, but she didn't know she had an apartment.
About then there was a blackout. All electricity went out and an alarm started to ring and the aides were looking worried. Automatic doors slammed shut. Just what my mother needed! It didn't last more than 5 minutes, but when it was over, all the aides were off somewhere discussing it, and nobody was around for me to ask to take my mother back to her apartment. She started crying and asked what she should do if the two of us got separated.
I finally found someone to take her back to her apartment and I got the heck out of there ASAP. My patience had about reached its breaking point. I told Walt she was worse than a toddler and I just had to get out of there.
And I do feel guilty about that. But at least I left her in good hands. I feel guilty that I forgot to kiss her goodbye and that guilt will probably bite me in the butt and she'll die tonight and I'll have to live with my last act being to ignore her when she felt alone, lost and frightened.