The phone rings at an Unlikely Hour. Fortunately you are already up, which is also unlikely. You see from the caller ID that it is one of your offspring. The one who at that moment is traveling–driving–across country. “So where are you?” you ask, not bothering with hello. “Lying beside the road,” he answers. “There’s been an accident.”
From there, things start to get a little crazy. A nice man named Andrew takes the phone as Son is having trouble communicating. According to the nice Andrew, Son seems to be okay, but “is gonna have a pretty sore back for a while.” Indeed. You learn that they are awaiting the police and ambulance, there were no other cars involved, it’s dark (likely, at this hour), and the vehicle is a write-off. You also get a vague notion of their location. Andrew is cheerful and optimistic, and reckons Son is very brave. You don’t know what that means. Clearly, Son has charmed his Good Samaritan, even as he lay on the roadside.
A little later the phone rings again. The police officer explains what has happened, but has little more information than Andrew. He, too, thinks Son is swell. “He should be okay, but he’s gonna have a sore back for a while.” Got that. At least now you know where they are taking him: Tailem Bend Hospital. Then he’ll probably be transferred to Adelaide to a hospital there. Not sure which one. Okay, that’s a start.
Start looking for flights to Adelaide. The favoured airline won’t get you there until 9:30 pm. Rats. Grudgingly look to see what Qantas has to offer. Great–a one o’clock flight, getting you there at 5:20, in time to get to the hospital. What appointments need to be cancelled? What about the cats? How many days should you pack for? Call the rellies in Adelaide to warn them of your arrival. Sister-in-law is a Peach–offers to check the hospitals to see where he is. Will text you as you are en route. Great. Now, sort out the cats and cancel appointments, shower, get dressed, throw a few things in a suitcase. Out the door at 11:15. Oops! Forgot to eat. Never mind.
Finally get to Son’s room around 6:30. He’s lying flat on his back, looking vague, but alive. Thank heavens for that. Clearly in a lot of pain. Seems his pain medication is a tad overdue. Like two hours. Nurse takes his BP. He reminds her he needs pain relief. Okay, she says, and disappears. Another nurse comes in. He, too, is reminded of the needed medication. Off he goes to check. First nurse returns; no medication. Son has another problem which he hasn’t mentioned to the nurse. He can’t pee. Hasn’t done so for fourteen hours or so. You take it upon yourself to mention it. Nurse goes off to phone doctor, forgetting once again the medication. Son glares at you. Time passes. A boarding party descends on Son’s already-crowded corner of the ward. He’s to have an ultrasound to see if he really does have a full bladder. Son GLARES at you again, as words like catheter are being bandied about, but no mention of the medication. More glaring. You decides it’s probably a good time to depart.
Day Two. Basically a repeat of Day One, without the ultrasound. Nursing care deteriorates. Son’s mood darkens. Still can’t sit or stand.
Meanwhile, rellies take you to Coonalpyn to view the wrecked vehicle and assess the situation. Oh. My. Dog. How did he manage to get out alive?
Good news: all the books and tools are intact, and loaded into the boot of Brother-in-law’s Subaru. Something good to report to Son. Also, keys to Son’s car recovered so there’s a vehicle to use. You haven’t driven a manual car for years, and haven’t driven in Adelaide for even longer. This will be a test!
Son very agitated and still peeved about the mention of his bladder and the subsequent delays it caused. You feel a little sheepish, knowing you should have thought before you spoke, and waited until after he got the medication. So you beat a hasty retreat. Getting back ‘home’ is not so hasty, however. It’s dark and none of the streets or landmarks are where they are supposed to be. A city tour was not on your agenda… even worse, you get lost in the old neighbourhood, and have to phone and ask how to get there. :-[ How embarrassing.
Day Three. Repeat of Days One and Two, except the hospital care deteriorates further. Son’s anxiety levels soar. He’s determined to get up. Mainly to walk to the bathroom which is across the hall. Back in his room, he manages to sit in a chair for half an hour. All of this newfound activity means he can go for a vertical xray. Can’t go home until that has been done. The activity also means he’s in pain and grumpy. Guess what–he wasn’t given his medication when it was due. Another hasty retreat is called for. A hovering mother does not lessen the frustration.
Day Four. You get a strange text message suggesting Son can go home and is waiting for a lift. Scurry around and get dressed, eat a bit of brekkie, and head off to the hospital. Hooray! a parking space is available. Race up to the ward, where a nurse is stripping the bed. No sign of Son. “He went home,” says nurse. “Not very long ago,” she adds, rubbing it in.
Race back to the car.
Son is located back at his old house. He’s up and about, moving very carefully, but functioning much better now that he’s out of ‘that place’ and able to manage things himself. He’s much happier, and it looks like your job here is done. Time to beat another hasty retreat. On the four o’clock flight to Hobart. MM
the glaring son said:
Sigh. I knew I was a bit of a terror… but the thought that I’d glared at my own MUM!!!. Okay. Just a teensy bit mortified and more than a teensy bit disappointed in myself. She is ABSOLUTELY correct. I DID get a decidedly pained look on my face when she piped up that I hadn’t been to the loo. But… welllll… Ya see, these folks were very big on wandering off and not actually focusing on the central element. When they’d done an intial x-ray, I told them that they’d need to use hand signals to indicate when I was to hold my breath and all that… coz I am more than a little deaf. I told them this three times. They never really paid much attention. Found out later that they HAD thoughfully listed on my chart that I was ‘uncooperative’ as I’d refused to follow simple instructions.
The truth is, the only bright side of this whole event was the moment my mum walked into my room. It doesn’t matter how grown up you are; it doesn’t matter how worldly wise you think you are. When you’re battered and broken, leaking red stuff, and fear and pain hang about you like a nasty aftershave; in those moments, there is only ONE thing that can make you feel slightly less afraid, slightly less entombed in agony, slightly less like the nightmare is far from over… and that’s seeing your mum’s face. Mine travelled about 1200km just so that I could see that face and have that fear, pain, and shock lessened.
There are moments when words really just aren’t up to the job of articulating what we feel and experience. My relief at her arrival is one such for me.
Though… I well… I will admit… when they started talking about a catheter and where they were gunna stick it… I needed more than the sight of her face to strengthen my resolve! 🙂
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I am at an absolute grinning loss as to whether to tell you first that this post was hilarious, terrifying, or rip my hair out exasperating-via-empathy. I’ll settle on saying it’s just plain great. Trauma is right.
Found this post and site randomly; very much looking forward to reading more.
You gotta know when to hold’em, know when to fold ’em. Know when to walk away and know when to run.”