“I don’t know what I’d do without you here.”
My father says in a quiet, subdued tone. He has gone into shutdown while my senses are working at a hyperactive quality. My GPS calls out directions. I silently thank the paramedic who corrected my coordinates so it didn’t think I was going to Australia.
My father’s anxiety permeates through, trying to find a way into my overactive mind. We find the hospital and then it’s a matter of finding the parking garage.
This shit is an epic adventure where my mother is alone, bleeding, in a city she doesn’t live in. In a place where my brother lives three hours away from my own home. We find a way into the parking garage and I park the rental car. I still remember my mother calling out that the insurance for the car rental is only for her.
All of my family’s past agitation, annoyance, and the huge distance between us is forgotten. The only thing I know in these moments is to get to her and make sure she’s okay. It doesn’t even pass my mind to call my older brother for help. He’s at work, in a job that wouldn’t let him off even if he told them his mother was in an ambulance.
My mother worked within the medical profession for thirty plus years. I know how shit works with this situation since I have my own degree in a healthcare field. She needs to have possible X-rays, cat scans, and be assessed if she did break her nose. I’m pretty damn certain she doesn’t have a concussion so that helps. I don’t need to worry about her sleeping and not waking up.
My mind keeps replaying the fall in my head. Why didn’t I stop her? Why didn’t I catch her? Why can’t she see damn step ups? I see the blood oozing from her face. It’s like something out of a murder scene. I rub the bloody, dried remains of her injury that has caked on my wrist. My father is silent, occasionally praising yet again my presence and proactive abilities.
We make our way across a bridge, then ask for directions again. It’s a huge medical teaching hospital that makes the ERs I’ve been in look like child’s play. We go down two levels and take a left, right, left, right and I lose count. I go to the desk and they take photos of my father and I to wear on our shirts.
When you’re having a selfie before the emergency room do you smile? I audibly wonder as the awkward picture is taken. I slap the sticker on my right chest. I lead my father over to a seat and try to console him.
“She just doesn’t see ledges. I don’t get how she doesn’t see them.”
“You just gotta keep a good hold on her.”
“She always pulls away when I try to.”
“I know, I know. But don’t worry, whatever you need I’m here, okay? We’re gonna get through this. It’ll be okay.”
My father laments on about her inability to see things and I agree. My mother isn’t much on her sensory perception. I can be the same, while my father rarely, if ever, trips. I’m aware that I’ve taken on the parent role again. It’s what I do, reassuring them they’ll be okay. I know my father is having a hard time processing it all, and that he’s terrified. He’s used to my mother handling everything and so he defers to me for what to do, where to go, and what we should do.
“She won’t let me drive the car. I don’t know how I would do this by myself. I try to talk her into putting me on the car rental insurance but she won’t.”
“I know, she likes to be in control. Which means you don’t get to take control of things. You can do more than what you think.”
The guard calls us over to follow him and we walk down more hallways and corridors than I can count. I’ve been teased with my family about getting lost easily so I try to get it to stick in my memory.
When we finally arrive inside my mother’s room she seems to be in decent spirits.
“The people here are so fucking nice!” my mother profusely exclaims. She tells me her Doctor’s name and how efficient they are. Being a nurse who has seen about every floor within a hospital so it’s hard to impress her. But, this place is efficient and she tells me they were taking care of her within five minutes of arriving by the ambulance.
I take a seat next to her and rub her head. She says how she screwed up again. That I was the one with the Mexican Martinis in my system and she tells the Doctor I should have fallen. I tell him how this isn’t the first time she’s missed a ledge and crashed.
“Maybe you guys should buy her a helmet.”
“You were my favorite Doctor up until that point,” my mother retorts.
I like this Doctor as he handles her overwhelming personality in stride. My mother is like a fierce lioness and an injured one can be more dangerous, but luckily she’s just embarrassed.
I keep replacing her gauze she uses to try to stop the bleeding from her nose without being asked. I jump up, sit down, jump up. Retrieving her insurance card, and getting the nurses if she needs to sit up and I can’t figure it out. My mother takes a selfie of her face and considers sending it to my brother.
“Please don’t. There’s nothing he can do right now. All we need to do is wait for you to be released. They don’t think it’s broken, you don’t have a concussion, so there’s no need to worry him.”
“He doesn’t care anyways.”
“Oh, you know he does. We can call him after we’re finished up here. But don’t send him that picture and freak him out when he can’t get over here for awhile with traffic and his work.”
I think I did a decent job talking her down from sending the picture. I believe she sends it on the car drive from the hospital.
In the back of my mind I worry if my brother will blame me for my mother’s fall.