Under any other circumstance I would have said, “NO!” George is 70 years old and has a tendency to drive like Mr. Magoo. And I’m not kidding, he runs around town in a Model T Ford.
But, there my old friend was, his tires back spinning in the driveway as he pulled, a puff of dirt and dust smoking up from the road. “I got a call from your mom! About Phillip! Let’s go!”
About an hour before I received an email saying that Phillip had been taken to the emergency room. Not having a phone I panicked. I needed to get there. So I did three things. Email my mom and told her to call George. Emailed my friend Kara and asked if she could take me to the hospital. Then put in an order online for a yellow cab. I wrote up a letter and put it on the front door. “If you’re reading this, thank you! But someone got here first and I HAVE TO GO! THANK YOU!”
I sat on the front steps waiting….waiting for someone. There was George, the Yellow Cab right behind him. I made a quick dash to the cab. “Thank you, but my friend is here. I’m going to cancel.” Driver kindly said thanks and drove off.
We piled into George’s truck (today was not the day for the Model T). He pulled out fast as I asked, “Hey do you have Kara’s number?”
“Of course.” He dials her up.
“Kara? It’s George.”
“I’m walking out the door right now. I’ll be there in five minutes to get him.”
George quickly turns the wheel, careening us into traffic. Phone in one hand. Smoke in the other. Neither hand on the steering well. “Don’t worry about it! I got him!”
And off to the hospital we go.
“Dude, if you need to hit that bicyclist to get there faster, go for it,” I said.
He puts his hand on my shoulder. “Calllllmmmm dowwwwnnnn.”
“Sorry. Last message I got was that he was in triage.”
We swerve, weave through traffic at top speeds. I don’t give a damn. I don’t care. Get me there! NOW!
We make our way to valet admitting.
“George, just slow down and I’ll roll out. We don’t have time to wait for valet.”
He pulled up to the front door with a screech. “I’m out,” I said leaping to the sidewalk. “I’ll call you later!!!!” And off George drove, nearly crushing a few valet attendants as he squealed out of the parking lot. (That really is just the way he drives. Whether it be a dire situation or just a quiet drive to the corner store, that is how George drives).
I walk into the hospital with a big bag on my shoulders. I learned this from my mother’s advice. “Take a charger, some cash, and some crochet to work on.” So, I did.
I would also like it to be known that I was firmly at home this morning, just in my PJs when all of this started. The moment I heard Phillip was in the ER I grabbed the nearest pair of jeans (filthy, on the floor) and the closest t-shirt I could find. Phillip’s “MAD MAN KNITTING” t-shirt. It looked like a tent on me. So, I looked wretched to begin with….carrying this big bag of who knows what on his shoulder. To make things worse, I pull out my keys. A medal of St. Benedict is on my key chain. So, I’m holding and rubbing right in front of my chest what looks like a detonator. I saw it. I caught my reflection, wasn’t surprised at all that I was quickly flagged.
A few officers took notice, came closer as someone asked at the desk, “Can I help you?”
“I’m looking for someone who was recently admitted.”
“That desk over there.” The desk with the cops!
A police officer asked for my ID, printed out a badge, handed it to me than told me where to go. (They never asked to look in my bag).
And through some twisted halls and stairs, there was Phillip on a gurney behind a curtain. I went to him.
He was loopy, attached to an IV drip. “Phillip, you know the whole world is going to be dying to know how you ended up on life support long before sickling ol’ me.” I grab his hand, “What’s wrong, sweetheart?”
“I don’t know. I feel like my kidneys are failing. They took blood and made me pee. I think they’re taking me for a cat scan soon. My whole body hurts, like it’s on fire. But, I’m so cold!” Soon after they wheel him out and I’m left for the next two hours to sit and crochet quietly in that little screened off partition….that look on my face: a face that screams of fear and faith doing battle….
I notice a nurse walk by and do a double take. She giggles kindly and says, “I’m sorry. I thought I saw my mother for a minute.”
I can’t imagine I’m the only person to have sat in the emergency knitting or crocheting. Maybe people just don’t do that sort of thing anymore. Maybe they just pull out their phones. Or, just maybe the last time she remembers a scene so similar is when her own mom was sitting in the emergency room, waiting to know what’s happened to their loved one.
A few hours later and the doctor greets Phillip warmly. “Hello! You’re perfectly fine. You have a terrible case of colitis. Your colon is so inflamed it’s pressing on the rest of your organs, which is why your kidneys are hurting you. Nothing to worry about. We’ll get you some antibiotics and you should be ok.”
I snickered with relief. His condition was painful, but not life threatening, nor even life altering. THANK YOU, GOD!
Once Phillip was dismissed, I used his phone to call us a cab to the Walgreens near home where Phillip’s meds were waiting for us. The cab pulls up, I open the door to let Phillip lounge in the back seat (they had given him valium before we left), then crawled into the passenger seat. To my great surprise, it was someone I have know around town for the last 20 years. “This is awesome! Oh, my goodness! How have you been, Gene! Are you still married to the Russian ballerina?”
He just laughs. “Actually no! This is quite the surprise! How are you?”
“Well, picking up the husband from hospital. Don’t worry, he’s just fine. I am so glad you showed up. I had no idea how long I was going to have to wait.”
He says, “Funny you mention that. I wasn’t accepting any calls right now. But, my phone lit up and it said, ‘Gregory.’ I thought, ‘It can’t be that Gregory. I haven’t heard from him in years. I wonder if my old friend could use a ride…..and here you are!”
We had the best ride to Walgreens, catching up and getting reacquainted and once we arrived and I tried to pay the fare, he wouldn’t allow it. “No, it was really good to see you again, Gregory.”
“Thank you, Gene! Like wise! I hope we see each other again soon!”
I grab Phillip out of the back seat and toss him into Walgreens. He ping pongs down the aisles stoned out of his mind. “Aim for that chair, sweetheart,” I say.
Once at the pharmacy window, everything was a breeze. “Sure, here you go. Your order is ready. Ok….total comes tooo….$975.”
I’m not fibbing when I tell you I shrieked, “WHAT?????” so loud that they heard me in the parking lot.
I start going through the bags of meds. One of them was $700! Another was $180! WHAT???? He doesn’t need life saving medications! He needs to relieve some bloat!!! WHAT????
She looks at me so kindly. “Do you have insurance?”
“Do you have any kind of discount card?”
“Do you know about GreatRx?”
“Have you ever seen the commercial?”
I swear I was waiting for her to ask me if I currently lived in this century. Instead she said, “Pull up the website on your phone and I’ll give you the codes to the medications and they usually offer discounted prices.”
So, I sat in that chair for a good 10 minutes coming up with discounts that still could in no way help us. Eventually I just tossed the phone to Phillip and got up. “I have to pee.”
Off to the restroom and back. On the way back to pharmacy I pass two coworkers talking to each other. I catch the eye of one and he catches it back. I look away then look to him again to find him nodding and smiling and saying, “Yes, it’s me!”
“Felix! WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE? I haven’t seen you in ages! How are you? You look great!”
“Your face looks so heavy, man.”
“It’s been a rough day.”
“You always seem to make those some of your best days though, don’t you? Least from what I remember. Chin up. You’ll be fine!”
“I can’t tell you how great it is to another friendly face right now.”
I head back to the pharmacy, grabbed the paperwork from the hospital, looked around at what each of the meds do and said, “Ok. We’ll take the antibiotic and the anti inflammatory.” I declined the $700 bottle of Metamucil.
And we were off! Headed home…..finally. I had time to think on the way back to Honeychurch.
Through every step of the journey I had run into someone I knew, a friendly face at every turn, reminding me that I had angels guiding me home, Phillip safely in tow. My agoraphobia might have really kicked in, might have really swirled in my head like the sort of maelstrom that takes you down, way down, and doesn’t let you back up again. But, no. I never even THOUGHT about my agoraphobia because I was distracted by so many joyful reunions!
Each of them reminded me with absolute sincerity, “You are going to be just fine. You are surrounded by loving friends.” My mom, George, Kara, that kind nurse (I bet I run into her in 10 years and go, “hey, I know you!”), Gene, Felix, and that helpful pharmacist….and to anyone who was praying for us…..I was surrounded by angels and loving friends. (Kinda hard to tell the difference these days 🙂 )
Well! My turn to catch some sleep!
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