Hmm, so….I told my family not to drag me into dramas during my “away time” at the cottage. And they didn’t. Of course after the 4 hr drive home Tuesday morning, I found a frantic message on the house phone. It’s a landline, with VM. So people can’t reach us without really, really wanting to reach us. And we can really, really be unavailable.
The plan was I’d serve a second tour, Sept 15 to Nov 30, to spell my mother taking take care of Gran. And added bonus, Thanksgiving with family. Then home to 2 weeks of quarantine, after which: Christmas, New Year’s and Valentine’s with the Significant Other. Then back again, for a third tour of duty, Feb 15 to May 30. Then back home to 2 weeks of quarantine and another summer of love.
See no one in my family, no one I know, thinks there will be a SARs CoV 2 vaccine till at least March. And then normal people, not in congregate settings, not frontline workers, not first responders….they’re not going to be first on the list. So maybe normal people will be able to get a vaccine that actually has some efficacy in June of next year? Maybe August or September?
I’d be lying if I said this plan made me happy or sad. It just is. I accept it. This is reality. I can’t change it. I can only change myself, my attitude, and pray that all the sacrifices are seen at the throne of God and somehow someway, the financial hits will can be made up over time.
Personally, the repeated economic crash and burn that the rich enjoy, because it makes them richer… I don’t see that Samsaric cycle stopping. I mean I hope it does. I mean I think the rise of Black Lives Matter and other consciousness-raising events will lead to a fullness of time. Probably no coincidence Kali is the fullness of time, that destroys evil, and is widely thought of as Black.
The SO and I talked it all out when we got home and heard Mutti’s VM. It was a good talk. We came to some positive decisions. He keeps my car. I’d fly down and use Gran’s. That’s a win, given winter is not kind in northern climes and a motorcycle is less than adequate protections against the vicissitudes of the road.
Given the nature of things in the world, I’d make a major concession. I’d apply for dual citizenship. I don’t believe in dual citizenship, but it’s the only way to guarantee a life on both sides of a boarder when one country is politically chaotic. I’m talk about the US under the GOP and the potential the GOP continues to exist after 2020.
It’s just easier that way. I’m sure Joe Biden with his skills in governance will pull every lever to right the ship of state and steer it out of Covid and recession, if he’s elected, but I can’t count on that, or on consistency from the US down the road over the years to vote Dem. So, it just makes sense.
It’s easier businesswise too. The SO can’t take dual citizenship. My having it, means he can give me a perfunctory elevation to a (silent) place on his board, which means his biz will always in good hands, even if he gets stranded in the EU and it drops into my proxy mitts. It provides him with a sense of security.
And there’s personal security as well. At one time I thought we might, in the distant future retire to the US, maybe buy Gran’s house and live the So Cal dream. But our life is not US based. Neither of us likes the hot weather. Trips to the EU will get more frequent in years to come, for business and personal reasons.
Politically I feel safe in California. It’s got good governance. It’s stable Dem. But given the continuous cycle of devastating economic crashes brought on by federal GOP administrations, that impact the entire US, the entire world, I doubt we can afford to retire, ever. So, the EU or Canada are ultimately where we want to be.
Anyway, having a plan makes me feel a little better. Even though I understand plans can change. Like they did on Tuesday. I thought I’d be home for week, my last precious week. But no, Mutti was tearing her hair out. Gran was doing really badly. She never really got stable after the incident at the end of May.
Gran’s GP wanted her to go to the ER, but she was refusing. Would I please come? As we heard the message, together, the SO looked at me, I looked at him. He picked up the phone and asked about flights, I went and packed my 3 monastic outfits. He closed the door of my studio. While I sobbed on the pets.
I arrived in the dark hour before the dawn. When I got to the house, the sun was coming up. My mother was awake, and pretty much beside herself. I understood. She’s too emotionally involved. I can detach. Thanks, Buddhist friends! She said “I don’t know how you can get her to go to the ER.” She’d been trying to get her to go since Sat night. I said, “don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of it.”
At 10am I got Gran up. She was happy to see me. I got her dressed and gave her breakfast. While she was eating I called the medical transport and asked if they could take us to the ER. They said they could, in about 30 min. I said great. I let Gran finish her breakfast and watch Drew Carey, then sat down beside her and said.
“How do you feel?” “Lousy.” “Well, you aren’t getting better by sitting here. Your doctor wants you to go to get blood tests and an EKG and maybe a 24 hr cardiac rhythm test.” “I don’t want to stay in the hospital.” “Ok, what if you we go and do the blood tests and EKG in the ER. Maybe they’ll decided you need the cardiac test in hospital. And even if they think you do, you don’t have to agree to stay. We can still leave.” “Okay.”
Seriously, it was that easy. The van showed up 10 minutes later as I put on her shoes and gathered her paraphernalia. I told Mutti to just chill out and go to bed, I’d handle everything. And we went to the ER, and Gran didn’t have to stay after all. They did a bunch of blood tests, chest x-ray, and EKG. She got a crap load of blood pressure meds (to be fair it was 244/110 when we got there). And with 4 hours, we left with a referral to a cardiologist for today.
Yes, I’m awesome. And the nurses and doctors, awesome too. But I’ll tell you this I wouldn’t recommend going this ER. Gran’s GP said it had great COVID protocols. I’m sure it does. Problem was, they weren’t following them. It was bad. Really scary bad.
We got there and a big sign said, “wait here.” “Wear a mask.” They let us in and the covid screening was “Do you have…. a fever, cough, chest pains, difficulty breathing?” No one was actually checked for a fever. There was a sign that said use the hand sanitizer on the way in and out. The screener didn’t point it out or make us do this. Uh, yes, it was a bad omen.
We waited on the far side of the waiting room. Socially distanced. We look out at a tall 20-something, white, well dressed, drinking from a large water bottle and coughing so hard his body shook. He could clearly afford a mask, everything on his body was branded and pricey. But he have one.
Eventually, they let him in, WITHOUT a mask. As he walked through the waiting area, past a woman draped over a chair already with an IV in her arm, who was talking to an admissions billing clerk standing at her mobile desk, he passed in back of my gran, 6′ away. He chose that moment to hack into his hand like a barking walrus, and then went into the bathroom.
I said to the admin, “Uh, that guy has no mask and he just coughed right there behind my Gran.” And she shouted, literally shouted, 20′ to the screener. “Hey, this woman here says that guy coughed and has no mask. That’s what SHE claims.” as if I was a liar. Part of me wanted pistols at dawn.
And the screener replies “That’s ok. I screened him. Bryan doesn’t have covid.” And I said, “Right, because there’s no such thing as Asymptomatic spread.” Idiots.
At which point, coughing boy, walks out of the bathroom and admin sees he has no mask and is coughing. And screener runs and gives him a mask and hustles him into see the triage doctor. After a few minutes, coughing boy comes out — with his mask around his neck. WTF?!
Bryan sits at the other end of the waiting room, not socially distancing, looking at his phone, and coughing all over. Booming loud cough. Into his hand. WTF?! I look daggers at the admin. She right away goes to the screener and says “He needs a room.” And they hustle him away into the ER. No one comes to decontaminate.
So, yeah. That’s not great.
As my Gran’s visit concludes and we’er in room, that isn’t a room but half a room separated by folding curtain, I say to the nurse, “Uh, no one from admitting came and got her info, for billing.” “Really?” “Really.” They right away send a woman in. She goes through all the stuff and I say “Can I have a copy of all that.” She says “sure.” I never get a copy.
She has me sign endlessly on an iPAD, while she disappears for 20 min. She’s very busy she says. Ok. Sure. I’ve been there when people are lying on gurneries in the hallway, while every room is filled, and cops try to taze and out of control addict on PCP screaming in another room. Trust me, you aren’t busy.
Eventually she comes back. She leaves with her ipad. Then we wait some more, for someone to come help my Gran up from the bed and onto her wheelchair. And we wait. And wait. 30 min go by. I ask the discharge desk guy, can he help? He’s busy. He’ll get there. He has other priorities. I get that.
15 min more go by. The Dr treating Gran walks by and says “We need that room.” Discharge says “I’m working on higher priorities, I’ll get there.” At that point, I closed the glass door and drew the curtain. Screw this. I took off all the leads and O2 monitor and BP cuffs and threw them on the bed. Then I dropped the railing and sat Gran up.
She still had a pick in her arm. Eventually her nurse shows up and removes the pick and transfers her to the chair. Takes all of 2 min. And we leave. Total amount of time trying to leave? 2hr. Equal to total treatment time. 2hr. So basically a 90 yr old covid vulnerable person sat in an ER for 2 hours more than she needed to getting exposed to …. whatever was there. Priorities?!
And this is a great hospital, with fantastic doctors. It’s a got awards and accreditations. But damn. I’d never go back to that ER in time of Covid unless I thought it was so serious I might die anyway. They got protocols. They don’t follow them. They don’t make people follow them.
I didn’t tell the SO what happened, or my Mutti. They’d just freak out. I just came home, put Gran to bed, threw all her clothes and mine in the wash, decontaminted her wheel chair, our shoes, the car, everything. Then I ate a bunch of candy (don’t judge my vegan-lapse), and watched the Tour de France. Later I went and picked up Gran’s new blood pressure Rx. And more candy.
Gran was better the next day. Better than she’d been in 3 months Mutti said. And today, we’re off to the cardiologist. Where there will probably be some at home, wearable, heart monitor attached to her for a period of time. Hopefully the new meds will do the trick. And if the monitor turns up anything, it will be minor and and easy in office procedure to fix.
Tomorrow Mutti goes home. She really needs to. She looks frazzled. I get it, most of the “homeland” is a burning hell. She wants to be with Da in case. And unpaid caregivers of adults have a 30% “thinking of suicide rate” per the CDC. She wants her own life back. She just wants to do her job from her own home without the added burden of caring, but with the support of someone she loves. I 100% get that. It’s just not my reality.