It’s an Up-and-Down World

I had a delightful three days at my daughter’s home in Tacoma except for the exciting two hours I spent at the Emergency Room at Tacoma Hospital.

The weekend started with seeing my daughter and grandson on Friday while Rich was still teaching. Dawn and I walked around and talked for two or three hours before picking up Gavin at the baby sitters. He had been too excited about seeing “Pahtah,” that’s me, to take his afternoon nap so he was pretty excited when we picked him up. He ran the whole way hope, and it’s embarrassing to admit but I had a hard time keeping up with him and then carrying him the last three blocks home. We spent the afternoon playing and watching Shrek, Gavin’s current favorite movie, for a good part of the time.

After dinner, Rich and I went to Home Depot to pick up fence-building supplies, the main reason for this trip. It’s great shopping at Home Depot when you’re spending someone else’s money. I’d already spent my allotted money over the last few days when I picked up a new Hitachi sliding crosscut saw and a Porter-Cable cut-off saw to finish my deck project. But I still had fun helping Rich spend his money, too. After helping to load 10 60lb bags of several 12 foot long 4×4’s and assorted 2×4’s I was more than ready for bed after watching a dance movie starring Vanessa Williams until midnight.

We actually started working on the fence Saturday morning after a leisurely, but filling, breakfast. A bit impatient to get started, I started digging fence post holes at places we’d discussed the night before. I soon remember how seldom I used the muscles that are used for a posthole digger. After digging two holes, I was ready for another challenge, preferably one that used a different set of muscles. Luckily, there were more than enough choices. Moving 60 pound bags of concrete was one of my choices for a while until I decided that those muscles, too, had had enough of a work out. I ended up cutting approximately 100 8 foot long cedar boards in half to create the 4 foot high fence that we were constructing.

I was exhausted by the time I sat down for a delicious vegetarian Indian style dinner. But it was a good feeling having spent a long day helping someone you love a lot. Everything went well and I had even decided to stay a day longer to help work on the fence Sunday. About 8:00, though I suddenly started having trouble breathing. I tried to ignore the discomfort, but took a Benadryl, thinking I was having some sort of allergy attack. About 9:30 I went to bed, thinking I was just tired. I only lay there for a few moments, though, because I couldn’t breathe at all laying down. About 10:00 we, I with Dawn’s urging, decided that I had better go to the emergency room of the hospital since breathing seemed to be an important part of helping the next day.

I was admitted surprisingly fast, put on several recording devices, given an intravenous dose of Benadryl and Prednisone, and inhaler and a breath test, which I appear to have failed the first time around. Within an hour, though, I was feeling much better and had actually regained the ability to breathe. The doctor seemed somewhat hesitant to send me home, but after consulting with another doctor decided that I could go home with several precautionary medicines.

While waiting to be released, another patient was brought in, one who was obviously much sicker than I was, although he was only 17 years old. Apparently he was a diabetic who decided that he preferred to shoot meth rather than take his insulin medication. He complained loudly and profanely over the next hour, and suddenly I was feeling a lot worse than I had felt when I came in an hour before. He complained that the nurses were “hurting him” by putting oxygen in his nose (previous cocaine abuse?), complained that they weren’t giving him enough “pain medication,” though any pain he was feeling now seems to have stemmed from sedating himself from any awareness that he had a body that he should be taking care of. By now, I was considering just walking out of the hospital. I felt way too healthy to be sitting here listening to some 17 year old who seemed intent on killing himself complain about the quality of medical care at a hospital that probably saw far too many cases like this during a long, thankless night.

Sunday, after picking up my Prednisone, Albuterol Inhalation Aersol, and EpiPen 2-pak, to be used in possible extreme emergencies which the doctor told me was not at all unlikely, I spend the rest of the day helping Rich on the fence. Though it still wasn’t finished when I left for home at 5:00, I thought we had gotten a lot done during the day, especially since I hadn’t been too sure the night before that I would even be around the next day.