Bed pans, walkers, Depends, catheters and all those things are not part of my working vocabulary. They are age-specific terms that I associate with nursing homes and geriatric centers. I used them temporarily while my mother remained bedridden for several years after suffering two strokes. After she had died I archived them somewhere in the lower regions of my brain.
I was a working adult in relatively good health and had no need to use geriatric terminology. Even after learning that I had type 2 diabetes, I was sure that I was able to control it with the proper diet and exercise. It was not unusual that my doctor sent me for a routine CT Scan at the hospital when I informed him that I had been experiencing severe headaches all weekend. I went to work on Monday and successfully completed all my duties, so there was nothing to worry about. I even told my daughter to drop me off at the hospital gate, strode to the front desk and handed the medical assistant the permission form my doctor had given me.
She asked me the usual questions and sent me to the radiology department. It was late in the afternoon, so I did not have to wait very long for the scan to be done. It took only four minutes, and I was ready to leave, except that the x-ray technician told me to sit for a few moments. She advised me that it would be best that I should call someone to pick me. I told her I had no intention to drive because my daughter had brought me there.
I thought it odd that she made those remarks, but I sat down for a few minutes. When I attempted to leave again, she told me that she did not like how I was looking and I should lie down. She also insisted that I should go to the emergency room – a warning that I ignored. She realized that I would not relent so she brought out a wheelchair and offered to push me to the lobby of the hospital where I could wait for my ride. She was not going to take no for a response, so I acquiesced and decided to enjoy the ride.
If I thought that my cooperation in sliding in the wheelchair was a way of getting rid of her, I was in for a surprise. She told me that she was concerned about my “look” and she was going to wait with me to make sure I was alright. My daughter was not able to return to the hospital, so my husband who happened to be at home at that time came to pick me up. My husband rarely gets home early, so it was unusual that he picked up the phone when I called the house.
When he arrived at the hospital, I was so happy that I about to be freed from my “captor.” However, I was not so lucky, and she ran to meet him before he entered the lobby. She asked him if my behavior and appearance were normal and he answered in the negative. He agreed that I should go to the emergency room. Before I could protest, I was literally at a loss for words. My head was flailing in all different in every direction that I did not want it to go, and I was unable to speak. My “captor” placed me in the wheelchair again and was speeding me down the hallway as fast she could to the emergency room with my husband running behind her.
A million and one things were going through my mind. I could not understand why I could not speak. They rolled me onto a bed, and hospital personnel was milling around me. I could hear everything, but I could not respond in words. My “captor” and husband were doing all the talking. The doctor in front of me told me to smile several times. As I was trying to make sense of this, the nurse who was hooking me up with IVs and other medical accouterments declared, “I see the droop on the right.” The doctor concurred and said in a matter-of- fact way, “Yes, she is having a stroke.” The nurse piped in, “We can reverse it. She was here at the right time.” She turned to me and said gently, ” You’re lucky you are here when this is happening. Since you’re within our three-hour window for reversal, we have a drug we can use to reverse this.” The doctor elaborated, “This drug is very good, but it has side effects. Think of it like DRANO in your sink that gets out all the gunk; it is a blood thinner that it will remove any clot in your blood system. Do you give consent for us to go ahead and order it?” I slightly shook, my head and my husband answered, “Yes.”
Suddenly my “captor” turned into an angel. I realized that she had saved my life. Had she not been so persistent and waited with me despite my obstinacy, I would have left the hospital and suffered damage from my stroke. My husband was also in the right place at the right time and made the right decision to take me to the emergency room. My doctor also showed wisdom in sending me to the hospital for the CT Scan.
As a result of the timely decisions of various people, I did not suffer any brain damage from my stroke. I also regained my speech and the ability to walk with some help. Today, “catheter” is a word I use with ease because it was a necessary appendage for my survival. I continue to improve every day and thank God that he is always on time.