Thursday, October 06, 2005

The adventures of Andy and grandma

Miss me? I’m back!

Well, it was last Wednesday when I was working on my DVR Project (update coming soon). I was upstairs listening to the web broadcast from so I didn’t hear my phone. After significant time went by I checked my hotmail. Mom had sent me an urgent message and wanted me to call her cell phone.

I called and she told me that Grandma was hallucinating. We thought she took the wrong pills and that was the cause of her confusion and seeing things. Being the only relative in town I needed to go over and check things out.

So I turned on the VCR to tape Lost (Later on you’ll find out exactly why I need to finish this DVR project).

I get to Grandma’s house and she’s counting her pills. Three of these, one of these, two of this… Lost count, and starting over. For the next hour I watched her struggle through “Thursday” while keeping in touch with mom via phone.

Then came my first experience with the hallucinations. “Run your finger behind those papers… Do you see that? That’s the net from my book.” Apparently she was seeing “nets” webs and other such tactile objects. Earlier on the phone she had told my mom that she saw “a little girl in rollers.”

So I called 911.

The paramedics arrived at about the point Grandma was insistent that I take her to pick up a prescription. They arrived, took a look at her vitals and only found that her heart rate was low and she should see a doctor. They offered to take her, but she declined. Apparently if someone says no the paramedics would be guilty of kidnapping… Damn lawyers!

Back to the story. Grandma was a little more calm, or at least knew how to show she’s not insane. I told her that I’d come by tomorrow and take her to see her doctor.
I left her for the evening, called mom and got home around midnight.

I tried watching my Taped episode of Lost while eating my dinner of 4 Oreo cookies, but my tape wasn’t at the right point so I missed the final few minutes… Another reason for the DVR project to be accelerated.

I tried sleeping but was so upset by the evening’s events that the wind blowing outside caused me a night of restlessness.

The next morning I got up, took my time, emailed a supervisor about my situation and said I will be in only part of the day. Grandma called me over breakfast and told me that she called her doctor. She said “nobody wants to talk to me” I told her I’d see what I could find out and called the doctor’s office myself. After navigating the automated voicemail system I got a nurse and was able to schedule an appointment for the afternoon. I called Grandma back and told her that I’d be by this afternoon to pick her up.

Now at this point, Grandma’s voice is pretty strong, she’s upbeat and alert. Hasn’t mentioned anyone that wasn’t there and otherwise doing well from my vantage point.

Well after a rather unproductive morning at work I head to Grandma’s. I was in touch with mom and one of Grandma’s friends during the morning and told them about our appointment at 3:45. I decided to go by early and spend some time getting a feel for her condition before going to the doctor.

I get to Grandma’s apartment around 1:50. She was still in her nightgown. Her voice was soft, her head hung low, she barely lifted her head to look me in the eye.
She admitted to not feeling well.

We went to sit in the guest room, I was on the couch, she at the desk chair. I asked her how she felt, and she said maybe we shouldn’t wait to go to the doctor. This is a 180 turnaround from last night. I told her I’d drive her to the ER… but as she was getting ready she asked me to call an ambulance.

Once again I called 911. I explained the situation. I then called the nurse at her doctor’s office to explain the situation, and even though they can’t give medical advice on the phone she said that was the right thing to do.

If this were Vegas the smart money would have been on stroke. All the signs were there, slurred speech, confusion, seeing thing. Glad I don’t gamble though.

The paramedics arrived and Grandma was still alert. She seemed to perk up at the attention from lots of people.

I’d like to take this moment to commend the emergency service of Columbus Ohio, and extend my complement to all first responders. In my two instances of calling 911 I was met with courteous professionals, dedicated to helping others who gave a genuine sense of professionalism. Never underestimate the ability of your 911 responders!

After strapping her into a wheelchair we drove to the hospital. There I met her in the ER room and gave the nurses on duty all the information I had about the situation. She quickly fell asleep and they told me her carbon dioxide levels were very high and they were going to put her on a pressurized breathing mask to help her oxygen levels rise.

So it wasn't a stroke. So the smart money lost at Ceaser's Palace. However "Resperatory alement" was paying out 21:1.

After an hour or so of this she was sound asleep… well she was pretty disoriented when we got there, but shouldn’t have been so sleepy without sedation.

I had been on the phone with mom, and even a couple friends called. Mom got there about the time they had finally started admitting her to the hospital. The male nurse told me she’d be in room 4126 to which I immediately said “Alan Fannica, Rod Woodson”

Now I don’t want to say anything about this male nurse who was doing a genuinely great job, but he looked at me funny when I said that.

“Alan Fannica is number 41 for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Rod Woodson is number 26” I explained. (It turns out she was going to room 4129 which would be Dewayne Washington, I believe)

That’s when I noticed the Hello Kitty stickers on his ID badge. He must not be much of a sports fan.

Mom and I got to ride in the service elevator up to the ICU room. We talked with the nurse on duty and waited for a doctor. By now we were a little tired, I’d been at the hospital for over 7 hours and had nothing to eat… basically I was going on adrenaline still.

Mom bought me some of the leftovers they still serve at 10:00 in the hospital cafeteria and we went home. Me to my condo (speaking of which, I’ll need to post some Mr. Pimpmobile updates soon) and mom to Grandma’s apartment.

That was a very long day.

I allowed myself to sleep in a bit on Friday, but made it to work for a full day. Immediately after work I went back to the hospital and met up with mom. She took me to Max & Erma’s and insisted I have a beer with dinner. She kept telling me how grateful she was that I was able to step in and handle an emergency with my aunt out of town. To be honest, when waiting for the ambulance on Thursday I had to give myself a pep talk to keep from loosing it back there.
I waited around at the hospital until my Aunt and cousin were able to get there. I also had a chance to meet with my pastor.

She’s been in the ICU since Thursday. Mostly on a respirator, she was off of it on Monday, but her CO2 levels went back up and they had to put her back on.

She’s still very sleepy and quite annoyed at the tube in her mouth.

She’s survived several hospital stays where we were about to make funeral arrangements, she may very well survive this.

So I guess this kind of makes her like the Terminator… except instead of shooting people she sends birthday cards with twelve dollars in them.


Anonymous said...

My thoughts are with you and your grandma. What a nightmare. I recently had a scare with my dad. Lucky for me John's an EMT and we rushed over to their house and took dad to the ER. It definitely isn't fun hanging out at the hospital all night. Been there done that several times.

You take care of yourself and for goodness sakes, eat a real meal! Don't make me come over there and cook!

azoric said...

Panda, YOu know my rule on women who cook.... "If you can cook I ca propose!"

oh, John might not be too pleased with that though.