Last week taught me something important. However, I may have learned this lesson too late.
I learned that I could have been a damn fine emergency medical technician. I could have been an excellent nurse. I may have even been a super-dee-duper doctor. I am pretty sure I would have been good at Crime Scene Investigation, too.
I know this because when my mother telephoned me on Thursday afternoon–just an hour after picking up my 6-year old daughter–I calmly advised my work-mate that I needed to leave my computer. I told my boys I’d be back soon. And I drove to my mother’s house to help her up–she told me she had fallen and was stuck–without my heartrate accelerating at all.
When I arrived in the driveway, my daughter burst into tears. I put on the emergency brake, hurried over to offer her a reassuring hug and then turned to assess the situation which was worse than I had expected.
My mother was lying on her stomach near a photinia bush. She held a striped hand-towel to her bleeding head. Blood covered her neck. I saw drips on some leaves and a puddle on the driveway. Head wounds bleed so much. And my mother has limited mobility.
After several failed attempts to help her kneel, I suggested we roll her over to her back so I could pull her to her feet, taking advantage of the steep angle of the driveway. I told her that as soon as we got her up, I would put her right into my van and take her to the doctor. Once she was on her feet, I wiped the blood off the back of her jacket and helped her get into the front seat. I tried not to alarm her, but the wound on her head looked very bad. I folded up her wheeled walker and put it in the back of the van. I retrieved her purse from the house, placed the garden tools on the porch, locked the front door.
“ER or Urgent Care?” I said from the driver’s seat.
“Urgent Care,” she said.
The Urgent Care receptionist advised us it would be two and a half hours. I helped her get signed in and then realized I needed to retrieve her cell phone from her house. I left her at the doctor’s office, holding the towel on her bleeding head. While driving, I assured my daughter that everything would be fine. She was so brave–she saw my mother roll down the driveway backwards on her wheeled walker. She saw her collide with the photinia bush. She saw the blood. And then she retrieved the phone so Grandma could call for help.
I telephoned my sister, my supervisor, my boys, my neighbor, arranging my life around this crisis. I found her cell phone, picked up the children from school, delivered them at my house, and took the phone to the Urgent Care office. My mother now had an ice pack for her head and some gauze. She said she’d be fine–that she would call someone to take her home–so I left her at the office and returned back to my life.
Is that odd that I left her there? She told me she’d be fine. And she was.
After three hours, the doctor finally cleaned up her wound and stapled it closed with ten staples. She came by our house later than evening to show my daughter that she was fine. And she was, remarkably enough.
The next day, we stopped by her house to bring birthday gifts. We also checked out the scene of the incident. She showed me where she thought she hit the bush–but then I pointed out the blood drops. We looked closer and then I saw a bunch of her gray hair hanging from a thick branch. We totally recreated the scene–she’d turned sideways and managed to land perpendicular to the driveway. The branch gashed her head–and while it was scary and bloody–that bush probably saved her from hitting the cement road or driveway with bone-breaking force.
The weird thing is that at no point during this entire event did my heart race or did adrenaline course through my body. I was completely calm, objective, undeterred by the sight of the side of her head coated with blood.
So, we did good. My mom handled the whole accident with grace and good humor–after the initial pain and shock passed. My daughter was a trooper, following directions and managing not to freak out in the aftermath. I turned into an excellent EMT for a second there, following by a brief but successful stint as an accident investigator.
And we all lived happily ever after, even though I know now that I missed my career calling. Alas. You could have called me Dr. Melodee if only I’d made different choices.