Do you ever think things are going too good to be true and something bad must happen to compensate? I have always thought that way. When I met my husband, Mario, our life was wonderful. He was great, life was good, and we had our two little boys. I couldn’t imagine a better life than the one I had. But things did get bad; they got very bad. Life is unpredictable and can be changed by a single phone call; everything that I ever knew or believed in was forever altered.
My father died when I was eleven and as an only child my mother was all I ever had until I met my husband. When my husband and I moved to Sacramento there was no question about my mother moving also. It was just a question of how far down the street she would buy her house from ours. My family spent the weekends with my mother and I spoke with her on the phone every day at least once if not more. I lived at home with my mother until I moved in with my husband. I could come and go as I pleased, and only paid a small portion of rent. My mother depended on me for emotional support and for companionship. I was lucky to find someone who accepted my relationship and all the baggage that came with it and was also willing to give their love to my mother also.
That Saturday, forever changed my way of life. My husband and I were lying around and watching television. Our children were in the yard playing ball. At 3:00 pm the phone rang. My first thought was that my mother was calling to let me know my aunt was here. The call was about my mother, but not what I expected. The call was from the manager of Costco. He was letting me know that paramedics were taking my mother to Kaiser. She had collapsed while shopping and that my aunt would meet me there. Before I could even hang up the phone my husband was asking what had happened. I couldn’t speak; my mind couldn’t seem to process what I had heard.
Taking some time to compose myself, I shared the conversation I had with my husband. He took over the situation quickly and effectively. He got our children together and called his friend to see if they would take them for a few hours. He then locked up the house and got us all out to the car. His friend was going to meet us at the hospital to pick up our children. The hardest part now, was not knowing anything about the situation. Mario tried to reassure me by saying it was probably nothing and that my mom would be laughing about this later. I wanted so much to believe him, but I just couldn’t shake the fact that something was terribly wrong.
We arrived at the hospital before the ambulance and had to wait for about 30 minutes before we could find anything out. The doctor came out to see me, and without Mario standing beside me I’m sure I would have collapsed. The doctor said that my mom was in a coma and they were not sure at this point whether my mother was having a seizure or if she had a stroke. I of course began to pray for a seizure. I was told that if it was a seizure she would be fine by tomorrow. The doctor was leaning towards a seizure because of the symptoms she showed before her collapse. She did not show typical stroke symptoms. The doctor let us know that they were going to make sure she was stable and put her in a room for the night and would let us know what was going on. Now the waiting began. Oh, to know what I know now, to be so trusting of the medical personnel, to not question what the doctor said.
I spoke with my aunt who said my mother simply rolled her eyes and dropped to the ground. Can someone tell me what these signs are typical of? Those symptoms could be typical of a dozen different things. Mario reminded me to stay calm and focus on the fact that my mother would probably be fine. That my mother had been having some breathing issues and maybe the breathing problems brought on a seizure. The doctor had informed me that they were talking about a “Grand Mal Seizure”. All I could think, was this was my mother and I wasn’t ready to let go yet. It was going to be a long night. Little did I know the night would turn into a couple of long days.
When I got up to go the hospital the next morning I was beginning to think positive, that my mother would smile at me when I walked into the room. That it was only a seizure and no permanent damage was done. Not only did my mother not smile when I walked in, the nurse let me know the doctor had been waiting for me. The prognosis, my mother had suffered a cerebrovascular accident. In other words a very nasty, massive stroke centered in the left side of her brain. That wasn’t the worst part of the conversation. The worst thing was that her brain was currently swelling and at the rate it was swelling my mother wouldn’t survive the day. They informed me to stop the swelling they needed to give her a drug that if she had any type of bleeding within her body, the drug could kill her. They told me I had several decisions to make and they needed to be made quickly. I called my husband and told him I needed him right then.
My mother was given Heparin therapy, the swelling stopped. The damage was already done. My mother is now paralyzed on the right side, has a conditioned called aphasia, the inability to speak and now requires twenty four hour care. I now take care of my mother as she took care of me for many years. I bath her, take her to the bathroom and I dress her. I cut her food up and make sure she takes her medicine. My mother now has the emotional maturity of a two year old. She cries when she doesn’t get her way and she loves stuffed animals. She doesn’t like to take her medicine and she will pour her drink out if it is not cold enough. This is not what I expected to be doing while raising two children.
My life was turned upside down by one phone call. I now understand how truly precious life is. What a short time we may be given. One of the most important lesson, there are worse things than death. I love my mother, but I now feel guilt because I wished it had ended in the hospital that day, but I turn around and am thankful I was given this time to say goodbye. I no longer take life for granted, I realize that material positions are really only important to you, not to anyone else. I realize that you shouldn’t put off that special dinner, that special trip or put off that phone call. Sometimes tomorrow will never come. Sometimes a phone call can change your entire life in ways you never expected.
By: Sharon Pulido
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