Don't Shoot the Messenger 10-18-17


When the phone call came in at five in the morning, I knew the news could not be good. Late night and early morning calls always seem to bring adverse reports. And this call was no different. My mother had slumped to the floor after returning from the restroom and my dad couldn’t get her up. 

When my husband and I arrived at the house I quickly surveyed the situation. Mom was wedged between the bed, the closet door and the wall. She was confused and scared. I tried a little humor to calm her. “Hey mom, what are doing down there?” “Just leave me here”. Well I couldn’t do that. I quickly checked her over for injuries. While I didn’t find any, I could tell she was weak. My husband and I attempted to lift her back into bed and we couldn’t move her. She became limp and started to cry and demanded that we leave her on the floor. So I sat down on the floor with her and also began to cry. “Mom, I can’t do this without you. I need you to help me because I can’t leave my mother on the floor. And I only have one more lift left in me.” And my fierce, strong mother looked me in the eye and nodded.

Once we got her to bed I told mom that we needed to go to the doctor. And she refused. Adamantly. She would take sips of water but would only eat small bites of soft food. My professional training told my heart that she needed to go, but my daughter’s heart conflicted between her wishes and my education. 

In between nibbles of food and sips of water I would let her rest. I tried to stay busy doing little chores in between caring for mom. Finally,                   Dad and I were sitting in the kitchen side by side looking out the window. The last blizzard of Spring was blowing wet snow pellets sideways. My mom hates winter and snow. She hibernates from the first snowflake of Fall until Spring has been well established. “We have to go dad”, I quietly said. And he responded, “I know”.

The Lusk Ambulance Service arrived. They treated my mom just like she was their mother, with respect and love. And I will always remember their courteous professionalism and their genuine concern. 

When we arrived at Niobrara Community Hospital, the competent staff immediately began to care for my mother and quickly determined that she was septic and needed a higher level of care to survive. Her blood pressure was extremely low. Without blood pressure, you don’t have perfusion. Without perfusion, you die. The helicopter and fixed wing plane was unable to fly due to the weather. All roads in and out of Lusk were closed. No higher level facility was accepting new patients. As a family, we sat by mom’s bed and watched the automatic blood pressure cuff cycle every five minutes. We cheered for her. “Come on mom just a few more points and you’ve got it made.” The doctor thought we were crazy or maybe drunk, but we knew what mom is made of, and she began to defy the odds. She began to stabilize and the doctor continued to insist she be transferred. 

Spring storms in Wyoming are intense, but usually short in duration. I knew that my dad would follow my mom regardless of road conditions. Then I would have both parents to worry about. The doctor and I squared off, so to speak. His determination to transfer mom to a higher level of care clashed with my desire for safety first. Mother Nature won in spite of both of us.

Mom was safely transferred the following morning. 

I have heard criticisms about our local facility. I have also heard that there are those that do not want to pay extra taxes. And those opinions are your right. On November 7, 2017 I will be casting my vote for the 1% Specific Purpose Sales Tax. A  penny that I will hardly notice in my day to day transactions is money well spent, in my opinion. The extra time that we as a family have been blessed to enjoy with mom is priceless. Thank you Niobrara Community Hospital for being there for our family. Even though it isn’t always easy dealing with me.

More In Opinion