Thursday, February 28, 2013

Excuse Me, Is There a Doctor on This Flight?

I hate that page on the flight intercom.  I sit half a second hoping against hope five other people will stand up.  Usually there will be one other.  You hope.

This time, I sat at the back of the plane with a full view of everything.  The first page came on. "Is there a doctor on the plane?"  Silence.  Then the second page. "Is there a nurse or paramedic?"  I paused for a second hoping a "real nurse" would stand up.  None did.

I went forward.  My license is out of date so flight attendants don't like me, but when they have no choice, sometimes they have no choice.  This time they had little choice.  Then an EMT showed up.  He hadn't worked in years either.  It was just the two of us.

A lady was unconscious.  No information besides that she felt bad, asked her seatmate to call for help, and passed out.  She was out cold.

We got oxygen on.  Checked for a pulse.  Faint, not palpable in the extremities, but she's alive.  Breathing slightly.

They handed us the blood pressure cuff.  Then told us that no one, not even doctors could figure the thing out and they thought it was broken.  Great. 

I noticed a package of half opened crackers in front of her. Maybe she is diabetic?  We asked for the glucose monitor.  No.  We can't let you use that.  Only doctors are allowed to use that.  Hmpf.  I wonder if a doctor would even know how - that is a nursing task.  An EMT for sure would.  But no luck.  They can only give it to a doctor.

I wasn't taking an easy no.  I simply stood up and in my very best mom/teacher voice that can reach to the end of a crowded plane asked if there was a diabetic on board who might have a monitor we could borrow.  Ha.  Got one.  Used it.  Not a diabetic incident.  It was a relief to know something.  I think we shocked the flight attendants by going over heir head, but the EMT and I were going to do our best regardless of stupid rules.

We were descending, looking for the closest airport, ready to land anywhere when just as suddenly, she fluttered her hands, and moaned.  Then her eyes opened.  She spoke. 

Quickly we figured what must have happened.  A mistake in blood pressure medication.  She blacked out.  But she was alert and making sense.  We called off the emergency landing.  Our real landing was only half an hour away.  We requested priority clearance through the air traffic and an ambulance waiting on the tarmac.  And we stayed with her.  Afraid she might black out again upon descent.  She was fine.

They were waiting for us.  We landed without delay in one of the busier airports around, taxied straight to the gate in minutes, and there were the lights.  Briefed the ambulance on what had happened, and shipped her out to them.  She'll be fine.

Then we were stuck.  By the front door.  Our bags at the back.  And the crowd in the aisles.  We settled in for a long wait.  And everyone filed by.  And everyone said thank-you.  "You are heroes."  Shook our hands. We smiled. Said thank-you.  What do you tell them?  Actually, we did little.  We couldn't.  This plane has little functioning medical equipment.  We just waited.  She woke up.  That's all.

But it would slow the line down.  So we smiled.  Shook a few hands.  And waited for the crush to quit.

As we had boarded, the plane was over booked.  They wanted volunteers to stay behind.  This young EMT and I had volunteered.  We were sad that they found a place for us.  The extra money for waiting would have been nice.  We smiled as we waited.... glad each other was there and we didn't have to do this alone. Glad they found that last seat and brought him on board.

Because as much as we really did nothing, and she came to on her own with oxygen.... when you are up in the air at least 20 minutes away from help with an unconscious woman with barely a pulse and everyone is looking at you .... that's scary.  It's really scary.  It was good to have each other.  Four eyes are better than two.

Sanity in Insanity

Monday, February 18, 2013

The River and the Road

The day started well, went well, everything was fine... until something tripped that switch, and it happened again.

Anger.  The seventh member of our family.

No where to hide.  No way to stop it.  Bruising everything it comes into contact with.

Didn't help anymore that it was Valentines Day.  Love, hearts, sweets, and... anger.

I went to work the next day dazed.  My heart bruised.  Yet somehow, when I am most hurting, I find the most comfort in comforting others.  The next day, early, I had to fly on a trip.  I was tired.  Tired, emotionally bruised, hurting, stunned.

I flew.  I sat in airports.  I flew some more.  Halfway through the day, my thoughts began to come back to me, and I stared out the window with a quiet heart. By this time, we had gone over one ridge of mountains and were over a plain with a smaller ridge of mountains coming.  I looked out watching the snow on the peaks, the patterns in the ground.  And then I saw this:  (trust me, it looked better in real life, but...)

I had been sad, thinking this is going on so long, and does anyone care, and when is it going to end, and what is my life like living with this.

And I saw the view.  And smiled.

You see, we think like people.  People want to get from here to there, so they draw a straight line and make a road.  From here to there - there it is.  But when God traced the path of the rivers, He didn't draw a straight line.  Speed and efficiency weren't even in His dictionary.  He let the river wind.  Back and forth it went through the valley, sometimes almost touching itself as it would back around.  Going nowhere fast.

But in-between, it watered the whole valley.

God doesn't work on our time or think in our patterns.  Where I see that we seem to be back to where we have been before, so we can't be farther down the path, He sees just another twisting of the river watering the plain.  The river still reached its destination.  Just on God's timing.

And quietly, I heard Him speak to me.

  Don't judge the progress by the road when I drew the rivers.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

"At Least They're Old Enough to Reason With"

Many years ago when my sister-in-law had her first baby, we headed down to visit when the baby was about six months old.  It was a twelve hour drive, but we threw our two and a half year old and one year old in their carseats and made the trip.  When we were getting ready to leave, we invited my brother and his wife to come visit us soon.

"Ah," they said, "It's such a long drive.  And with a baby....  At least yours are old enough to reason with..."

We managed to make it to the car before we snorted in laughter.  They're new parents... they're new....

We drove about eight hours and then were on a narrow road - two lanes on each side that went on straight for three hours without even a town or gas station or side road to pull off into.  The kids were fussy, and for distraction, we gave the oldest a quarter and told him he could use it when we stopped, if he was good, to buy a candy.

Well, the inevitable happened, and about two minutes later, he dropped it.

It was literally the end of his world.

He wailed.  He screamed.  He began screaming at the top of his lungs between huge, body-wracking sobs, "I WANT MY BIG MONEY!  I WANT MY BIG MONEY!"  Big, you know, as opposed to the pennies he had owned before...

There was no place to pull over.  Not even a place to safely slow down.  I had no other quarters.  There was nothing else to do.

Did I mention that this particular kid is the most like me and is incredibly stubborn and insistent?

He wailed on.  And on.

Finally, about ten minutes in, my husband turned to me and calmly said, "We could try reasoning with him."

That phrase has helped both of us make it through many other temper tantrums by tired toddlers. Got to laugh if you are going to survive parenthood.

Then there are days that I think God feels like a parent of a toddler when He deals with us.  In fact, I am sure of it.

And when I get too worked up to be reasoned with, He calmly sits back.  He doesn't try to answer me then.  If anything, He sends in a hug or a shoulder to lean on - see, He's a better parent than me and doesn't lose His cool and occasionally snap at a out-of-control toddler. 

But mostly He waits until I have finished howling.

Then, and only then, when I am calm, He speaks.  And calm, I hear Him.

This last Sunday, sitting in church, trying to focus, God just gently asked me some questions.

Have I been there for you through the last years as you've lived under this anger?

Have I been able to carry you?  Be your strength?  Be your dignity? Have I enabled you to live in it well?

Yes.  He has.  It's been long and tough.  It's been harder as I was also trying to work through my own pain from hurts in my past and heal in a pressure cooker of anger.  But He was there, and He was enough.

Even if nothing changes, will I be there for you and be your strength and hope in your situation?

Yes.  He will be.  He doesn't change, and I have no reason to doubt His commitment to me.

So what are you afraid of?  There is nothing that is going to happen that will change the fact that I will always be there for you and will continue to be your strength.

Hmm.  Hadn't actually thought of that.  I'd been so focused on what bad could happen and how that would be like.  And it is true - bad could happen....  but God will still be there.  He's seen me through what has been.  He'll be there for what will be.

I  could actually physically feel the tension leave my body, and I rested.

I thought back to a passage in Hebrews that came to mind when I said I feel like someone shook my world, and I am falling with nothing stable.  It says that God will once more shake the heavens so that what is shaken will be gone and what is unshakeable will remain.

I may feel that my world is all shook up, but I have still something that is stable - unshakeable, firm.

God, who has been there for me, is here with me, and will be there for me in what is to come.

And I was at peace.  He just had to wait for me to stop howling and wailing before He spoke calmly to my heart.

Just like when my son calmed down, I was able to tell him that his big money was on the floor of the car and when we stopped, he could pick it up and still buy his candy.

Sadly, all that wailing wore him out, and he was asleep when we passed the next gas station,
 and you know the unbreakable rule of toddlers in a moving vehicle -

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Still Here

Still here.  I'm doing better.  Still tired, but doing better.  I phoned a friend.  I went to bed early several nights in a row.

Now there is a plan with a date, and my husband is working on getting us there.  So I know he's not going to object about going, and there is some relief in that.

Right now the challenge for me will just be to stay calm and quiet and learn to trust in the middle of all this.  It's going on about me without any warning or control, and that is not a situation I am very comfortable in.  It's really hard for me to trust people after watching people mess up for so many years.  But I have to come back to hearing God's voice.  He told me way back to last fall, to wait, that He is going to do something, and that it will be something that I am not the one to initiate.  So now I have to trust Him there.  I don't know the people working on it, but I do know God.

Pray that I keep my eyes on Him and that I am quiet enough to hear Him.  And that I know when to phone for help when I need it.

The Things They Do!

I went into the school the other day because #3 was late coming out.  I walked into his classroom, but he wasn't there.  His teacher said he was talking with the principal.  Why?  "Can you smell and guess why?" the teacher asked.  I smelled, but thought that perhaps they had burned popcorn in the microwave.  What was it?

Well, the teacher told me.  He had lit a match inside his desk making a small fire.  The teacher sent him to the principal, he told me, because he couldn't discipline him without laughing.

Later I asked him how he got matches.  "They were just in my pocket."  And why had he lit one? "They were just there."

Even later I learned that he had dissected the match into several fragments and then wondered if one of the little fragments would light.  It did.

Boys.  And especially boys with complications who just act on impulses without thinking.

Thankful for a school who understands this is just my child who doesn't think, and doesn't assume this is a child with destructive tendencies.  Thankful the fire only destroyed his broken pencil collection and not his text books.

And thankful for a sense of humor.  You need it with #3! 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Taking the Roller Coaster into a Dark Tunnel

The last few weeks have been rough on me.  I felt like I was free-falling in the dark.  Or riding a roller-coaster in the dark - no idea what would hit next from where.  It was making me physically nauseated.  Then I can't eat well.  Then I get tired.  And cold.  I got so cold one night that it took a few hours and some external heat to get me to warm up enough to rest.

Change is difficult.  As difficult as "normal" is, change is more difficult.  Of course, it has the potential to change to better than what now is, but change is difficult.  And change where you have no idea what is happening, little say in the process, and small trust in those making decisions is even more difficult.  I'm hitting almost complete exhaustion trying to cope with all that is happening.

I worked last night at the old people's home. In some ways, it is a good break from my life.  Comic relief, and I was in the tubbing room all night with the roasting heater on and steamy water.  At supper, I fed one sweet lady who doesn't like to eat. I kept coming back to try to sweet-talk her into just one more bite.  Finally she looked at me and said, "still haven't got rid of you yet?"  And I told her, "No, sweetie, you've just got the most beautiful smile, I just keep coming back for more."  And she replied, "Well, I'm working it, aren't I?"  Another lady was wandering all night confused and agitated, so a coworker gave her a hug and told her that she had beautiful eyes. She looked up agitated and said, "It's not my eyes I'm looking for, I'm looking for my brain!"  It is moments like these that give me a break from my daily life and make me smile.

But on a daily basis, I'm only just hanging in.  Needing more sleep than normal.  Struggling to manage all my tasks, and feeling on the edge of crying, feeling scared.  Trying still to be my kid's strong point, stable person in the middle of change.

At work at the school, I finally just popped into the office of a friend for five minutes.  He was busy, but that was ok.  All I really needed was to be seen by someone who knows what is going on.  To just be seen for a minute.  Those people who know and have been there for me.  Just to be seen.  To know there are people in my world who are there for me.

Change is terrifying.  So was "normal".  But I had established ways of coping for the normal.  This is like riding a roller-coaster in the pitch dark.  And nothing is going to happen until mid-March, so I've got to learn to function in this bewildering situation for a few weeks yet. 

I'd love just some time off - time alone.  But I always need to balance my needs with my kid's needs, and that is where like is a delicate balance at times.