I don’t usually take calls on my cell phone during meetings, least of all calls from numbers that I do not recognize.
Answer the phone, said a little voice in my head. It was the same little voice that has guided me many times in the past, the little voice that I always listen to, because when I don’t, I regret it.
I excused myself from the meeting and answered the phone.
To my surprise, it was the lady at the pharmacy down the road from my parents’ house. My mother had come in to the pharmacy to fill a prescription, and while she was there she had started complaining of abdominal pain. Could I please come and get her and take her to a doctor right away?
Bear in mind that this happened in a country that did not have 9-1-1. I was definitely a better and faster bet than the local ambulance service.
I made the fifteen-minute drive to the pharmacy in about eight minutes, only to find that my mother was not there.
“I’m sorry,” said the lady at the pharmacy. “We couldn’t wait. Your mother really needed to see the doctor immediately, so Michael drove her.”
I didn’t know who Michael was, but that was the least of my worries. I thanked the lady and drove to the doctor’s office. I was ushered into the consulting room immediately, and Michael – who turned out to be a kindly delivery man – was free to leave.
My mother was lying on the examination table writhing in pain. Her body was burning up with an ever-climbing fever and her face was the colour of paper. The doctor, who I had known for years and who had always, up until this moment, been completely unflappable, was trying everything she could. Although she was displaying an admirable calmness, I could see undercurrents of desperation.
An ambulance had been summonsed. It arrived and ferried my mother off to the hospital, with me following in my car.
At some point during all of this chaos I got in touch with my dad and my brother, who were out of town on separate business trips. While I took care of admission paperwork at the hospital, they were trying to get themselves onto last-minute flights home.
With the admin taken care of, all I could do was wait. I discovered that hospital waiting areas are every bit as bleak and depressing as movies make them out to be. After what felt like hours, the doctor came out to see me. The bad news was that my mother had an infection so severe that her kidneys were failing. The good news was that the fever was under control and the pain was being managed. I was allowed to go in to see my mother. She looked dreadful, but with the pain and fever taken care of, she was at least able to talk a little.
She was very afraid – and who wouldn’t be? I was terrified myself but trying hard not to show it. The doctor came back into the room and gave my mother some milky-looking medicine. She sipped the cloudy colloid as I gave her assurances that she was OK, she would be OK, the doctors were taking care of her.
I’m not sure when my dad and brother arrived. All I know is that at some point, they faded into the hustle and bustle as people entered and left the room, trying to get my mother’s body to work the way it was supposed to.
This story has a good ending. My mother recovered and thankfully she is in good health.
On some dreaded day – hopefully a long way in the future – I will lose my mom, because no-one lives forever.
But I am eternally grateful to whatever powers prevail that that day, Mom stayed with us.
For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Cedar challenged me with “She sips the cloudy colloid. ” and I challenged Leo with “Tell a story that makes a lot of use of contrasts, like light/dark, big/small etc.”