Continued from The Intensive Care Experience Part 1
Climbing into the ambulance with legs as heavy as concrete blocks, I sat crying in the front seat. The paramedics’ radio rattled with other emergencies, but the sounds coming from the back of the ambulance had all my attention. Muffled voices talking of blood pressure, heart rate, and using words that I did not understand. My brain was trying desperately to cope with the fact that I was in an ambulance with my daughter.
I had no choice but to sit, staring out the window. I began to sob. Looking down into my open purse, I saw my cell phone. I knew I needed to call people. Finding the phone number for my brother-in-law, I spoke to him for a few moments and then hung up only to continue crying. I knew between him and my mother that everyone in the family would be contacted. It is a comfort to have dependable family members.
I felt so helpless.
Wiping my eyes, I dialed Alyssa’s school counselor followed by a call to my boss at work. After each call, I stared out the window, sobbed and rung my hands. The helpless, terror filled my whole body, totally blocking most of my rational thoughts. The paramedic driving the ambulance was silent. The cars around us continued on their journey – some of them moved out of the path of the ambulance and some of them didn’t act like an ambulance was on the road at all. It hit me then that this was one of those moments that the world should stop! My world felt as though it was falling apart, so how could people keep on living as if everything was fine?!
I knew there was one phone call left to make before we arrived at the hospital.
“Well, Good Morning,” Alyssa’s father, my ex-husband, said cheerfully.
“Something terrible has happened,” I managed to blurt out between sobs. “Our daughter is in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. You need to get here.”
The conversation continued with both of us in disbelief and terrorized at the thought of losing our only child. There was nothing I could say to make the situation better. It was all feeling very surreal and I just wanted to wake up from the nightmare.
Upon entering the hospital emergency room, it became chaotic. Nurses, doctors, questions, tubes, machines, and all the answers given to me were things I didn’t want to here:
“We will have to wait and see…”
“We don’t know…”
“Some people are allergic and the mixture of these regular medications for a teenager can be lethal…”
“You should call your clergy if you are religious…”
When I heard that last statement, I felt faint and had to sit down. The gravity of the whole experience was overwhelming me and I couldn’t stand the pain associated with possibly losing my only child.
Meanwhile, my family arrived at the hospital in complete disbelief. We were all traumatized and I don’t remember anything I said to them. The prevailing thought in my head was that I needed to be careful and not upset anyone.
Alyssa is a bubbly, happy person who can brighten the room when she enters. Everyone enjoys being with her and she can relate with old and young alike. She is also full of an energy and excitement that has always been contagious in our family. This tragedy just couldn’t be happening to her!
After a short stay in the emergency room, Alyssa was moved to the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit) where I learned the sad and frightening details of the effect that these regularly prescribed drugs were having on her small, petite body.
In silence I watched her motionless body laying in the bed as she was rolled to the PICU. I did not feel that I was in my body any longer.
I couldn’t think.
I couldn’t remember.
I couldn’t feel anything except frightened sadness.
My thoughts were constantly vacillating between “What is going to happen to my Alyssa?” to “Please Heavenly Father, don’t take her from me.” I couldn’t even put the thought of “not my will, but thine be done” in my begging plea because I wanted her to live even if it wasn’t the will of God.
As the elevator lifted towards the correct floor, I thought of my husband. Tom hasn’t had an easy life by any stretch of the imagination. Three of his children (from an earlier marriage) have passed away at different times…A son at six months (SIDS – Sudden Infant Death Syndrome); a son who was eighteen years old (fell asleep at the wheel while driving home); and a daughter who lived only seven days and never left the NICU due to a Congenital Heart Defect. I do not and did not understand how Tom was able to cope with the loss of three children. How did he continue to live a normal life?
I was flailing in dark pain as my daughter hung onto life by only a thread and death kept looming closer and closer.
Nobody could help me.
I was drowning in sorrow.
Continued to The Intensive Care Experience Part 3