The following day, Tuesday, as we were sitting in her room, watching Anger Management, it happened. That deciding factor.
There was a small crash and a loud thud from the room next door. We were in a private room with a TV on, but the thud was loud. The thud was that of a body hitting a tile floor. A sound I’m regettably familiar with.
Another ortho patient had fallen out of bed.
Two seconds later, an alarm went off and lights started flashing. A voice began saying “Code Red” over the PA system. I had no idea what a Code Red was, so I poked my head out because my mother’s room was right in front of the nurses’ station.
I saw the nursing staff scrambling. There were white strobe lights flashing above our door and outside each patient’s room. There were alarms going off, melodic, but insistent.
I asked “Is everything ok?” The Russian nurse, Tatiana, smiled as she hurried by and replied, “Everything is fine. But go back inside and close the door. So it’s less noisy.” I nodded and did as instructed.
The alarm went on for a few minutes, then stopped. A few minutes latter, I heard a chopper coming in to land on the hospital heliport. Apparently the medivac had come to pick up the ortho patient that fell out of bed . . . and set his room on fire.
Yes, code red, I came to find out via a quick internet search of the hospital, meant something was on fire.
An hour later, the medivac took off, I presume for the region’s best trauma hospital. Ten minutes later, my mom’s surgeon appeared, still in his green scrubs and a hair net. Not Doc Holiday’s usual bedside appearance.
He said he was checking in on her. But I got the feeling he’d been up on floor trying to stabilize the fallen ortho patient who set himself on fire, and was checking in on her because he was “in the neighborhood.” Two birds, one stone. He’s efficient like that.
It was at that point I thought, I’m probably not the best person to call and ask to handle someone’s care, but I can be trusted to put up bed rails and prevent people from setting themselves alight.
So, I sent a text to my Da, saying I’d look after her. A profusion of thank you texts arrived within seconds. My mother was ecstatic.
Now some of you might be thinking, the sound of a body falling out of bed was the deciding factor. You might be thinking it was a reaction because of what happened to my Grandfather. But you’d be wrong.
Long before my Grandfather hit the floor, many years before, there was another body on another floor.
I was a tweenager, sitting reading a book in the public library. I saw a young mother walk in with her baby in her arm. She stopped about 20 ft away, to talk to the librarian at the information desk.
To free her hands, to get her library card, while talking to a librarian, this young mother put her baby on the highest part of the 4′ high counter top, like a sack of flour. She was eye to eye with her baby.
I saw her put the baby there and thought, “Bad idea.” But I was not it’s mother. I couldn’t scream across the library, “Hey, don’t do that.” I could only sit there.
She expected her infant to stay there. It did not. The child fell, head first, onto a cement tile floor. The fall was unbroken by any scream or attempt to grab the child. The mother was too distracted to see it happen. The librarian was behind a counter and could not reach the baby.
The sound was the most awful thing I’d ever heard. That loud, awful thud of a small body. It echoed through the open metal and cement building. The child shrieked in pain. I knew there’d be brain damage or worse. I thought, 911, get an ambulance rush it to the hospital.
That didn’t happen. The shocked and weeping mother, grabbed her child and hugged it. She desperately tried to pretend it was alright. I couldn’t believe it. She just went on with getting her card back, and then kept trying to comfort her child.
I just sat there, sick. And that was the deciding factor. Not the ortho patient fell in the highly regarded regional trauma center, or my grandfather who fell in skilled nursing, but that little baby, decades ago, falling in a library. That’s what made me say yes to caring for my mother.