Yesterday morning I had to call an ambulance for dad. Mom called upstairs to me that dad needed some tea and if I could make it. When I came downstairs I looked into my parents' room to see my father. My strong father who, in my entire life has never so much had a cold, was folded over the side of the bed convulsing. Mom was kneeling on the bed behind him, throwing blankets over him and rubbing his back. The turned-on-TV with sound muted, mom's bed hair, and my father's sleeping apparatus still hanging around his neck made me anxious and shaky. I go downstairs and start heating water in the pot and taking out the green tea jar. I prepared a tray with some napkins, extra sugar, and a bottle of aspirin. I guess it was just a reflex to put the aspirin on the tray with the tea. I should have known it wouldn't help dad. What can you do when your father is sick and you're not a doctor with real medicine magic to help with? The pot was taking too long to heat, so I nuked some water in the microwave and brought that up on the tray of tea and aspirin. As I set the tray down mom is already walking past me.
"Watch your father while I get some things," she says to me. And so I do that. I watch my dad shake uncontrollably in front of me, his head just barely touching his kneecaps. I kneel in front of him, trying not to cry, and spoon feed him some green tea. Dad doesn't speak the best English, and in broken Filipino accents he tells me to hand him the cup and let him drink it himself. I push-shove the slight hill of comforters engulfing his backside so I can sit next to him. Dad is shaking so hard that the tea is rolling over the edges of the mug, probably burning his hands faintly. He makes horrible slurping sounds in between pants for air. If water could suffocate. If that was something possible in this world, it would sound a lot like what I was hearing from dad's mouth. With one hand controlling the shaking of the other, I try and rub the top of his head. First I comb over the top of his head with my fingers, then down the back of his neck, and then to the side and down his broad shoulders. Dad is sweaty and smells like an old memory of a trip to the Pocono's.
I say, "It's ok tough guy. Mom's getting stuff to help now. Are you cold? Let me try and pour the tea into your mouth. C'mon pop, you look great. Let me try and pour the tea into your mouth."
Dad can't hear me, or if he can, doesn't make any noticeable sign. He just pours hot tea down his throat, usually most of it dribbling down the sides and into the towel I placed on his lap. Mom comes back into the room and I'm too nervous to know what she was holding. I jump back from dad to let mom have full control over this situation. Mom's a nurse. In my life, I've seen her fix small bumps on the neighborhood kids and I've seen her apply emergency CPR on people in the throes of heart-specific seizures at company picnics.
Mom will fix all of this. She will not fuck this up into a situation that I cannot handle. Mom knows something special that she saves just for her family when someone is very sick. I watch her look quietly at my father drink the tea. I wait for her to fix this fucking situation. She comes to some conclusion and clicks something in her brain. She takes the cup from him and without taking her eyes of dad, tells me to call an ambulance. I run downstairs.
As best I can remember it:
"What is your emergency, sir?"
"My father is having convulsions and I need an ambulance ma'am."
"Is he awake, alert, and breathing?"
"Yes ma'am. He has shortness of breath and it's difficult for him to breath. He's sitting on the side of the bed. His eyes are closed but he can speak kind of. He's really shaking hard, ma'am."
"EMS services are on the way. You're being transferred to the ambulance en route."
I get turned over to the paramedic not driving, and repeat my father's condition. She tells me to hang up and wait outside to wave them down when they turn onto the block. Mom already has dad dressed in his robe coming down the stairs.
It is 1.30 a.m. when paramedics arrive, rig dad for movement, and we depart for Flushing Hospital's emergency room. Mom is a nurse who works the neonatal intensive care unit of Flushing Hospital. I've been on this drive to the hospital hundreds of time when I was a kid. My sister and I would accompany mom to work when Dad drove her at 7 p.m. every evening. Sitting up front with the driver, I repeatedly look in the back making sure mom is telling the other paramedic everything correctly. I shouldn't have to. She's more in control than I am right now. I know that my mom has seen horrible things that I'll never want to know the specifics of. My mom has trained in all medical departments. She assisted on the man who made the local news by getting shot in the face with a concealed make-shift pen gun back in 1986. She's worked the emergency room on many fourth of July weekends. She's seen the complications of pregnancy and still-births. I want my mom to holler at me from the back of that ambulance. I want her to scream in her strong, old Filipino accent,
"Allan! This is ok. Dad is ok now. Stop looking back here and upsetting me! You are more grown up than that!" I want my mom to scold me for still being scared when the situation is already well under control. Mom doesn't scream. And I am not rebuked. We get to the hospital and I've already died five times in the last twenty minutes.
The quick and dirty summary of the rest of this morning is good. Pop got his stomach pumped, was given cat scans, x-rays, oxygen, and medication. He's been observed by the medical and surgical doctors. Mom even called in special favors for specific doctors to come see my dad. Every Filipino nurse seems to know my mom in the emergency room. And that makes me feel better. Dad was stabilized and is now being held for observations on the third floor of the building. I said prayers that Pop will get away from this whole adventure with just some meds and maybe minor surgery on his gallbladder. I don't know yet.
So this is my thing with this node. I'm not one to write this kind of stuff and if you look at my previous noding, you'll see that I'm a pretty lighthearted dweeb. I like jokes and humor and laughter very much. And tonight, after seeing the first ever Iron Chef dream team episode of all French vs. all Chinese, I can safely say that Iron Chef is the best TV show to grace primetime since The A-team. For the most part, I've never had something like this happen to me. And now I can say, with absolute surety, that the worst thing I've ever had to do in my life was call an ambulance for my father. And in comparison to whatever 'pain' I've felt in this life, this has been the first real experience of knowing what fear and pain and aggravation are really all about. I have such little drama in my life that I tend to make big shits out of little, insignificant shits. No more. My point is that if you lead a life freewheeling yourself from one drama to another, living in the throes of some soap-operatic consciousness, please. There's a difference between that kind of stuff and real, horrible pain and fear. And now that I know that, maybe I won't waste my life so much with silly immature life-specifics. Maybe just *telling* you to be more real to yourself won't work. Maybe everyone in this world needs to feel what real fear, pain, and sadness is before making significant changes to their personalities. I don't know. Maybe I'm the only drama-prince left in this world and it's only me that needed this wake up call to what the fuck life is all about. It just bothers me that someone would get caught so mentally unprepared like I did yesterday morning. This node is a warning, I guess. Lighten up, buddy. If nobody's dying, convulsing, or somehow in harm? It's cool then. Your life is cool.
This node has not been submitted in the new write-ups column. I ask whomever might see this write-up to not C! it if they were thinking about doing so. You would have had to do a search on my stuff to find it. And if you went *that* far, I trust that you might respect my wishes.
Just this once. This write-up is just for me. Besides, my nodes where I say 'asshole' and 'fuck' a lot are way cooler.