I no sooner wrote about benignly neglecting my children and garden than the phone rang and it was T.D. calling from the (giant) University Hospital ER. Where she had already been in an exam room for five hours. (SCREW HIPAA and the horse it road in on. What is this crap where you don’t call a 19 year old’s mother? That’s rhetorical because, doing the work I do, I know all about HIPAA. Screw it.)
The story was she was getting ready to go kayaking with a couple of buddies and passed out cold. Then they couldn’t revive her very well and when they did she passed out again with terrible pain in her lower belly. So these two lads called for an ambulance but just assumed someone would call us.
After 11 hours the ER staff decided she was "probably okay." The best hypothesis they could come up with after extensive tests and ultrasounds was that she got dehydrated enough to throw off her ketones and hypotensive, passed out and simultaneously had an ovarian cyst that ruptured, which is extremely painful and requires emergency intervention. Or, in this case, 11 hours of benign neglect.
The thing that had them puzzled was her low blood pressure and heart rate. She never really got above 76/48 and a pulse of 52. But then they didn’t have the background information her mother could have supplied if they’d bothered to call. She’s an alien, remember? This child never has had much of a pulse or blood pressure; she just cruises through life barely batting an eye, let alone pumping blood. There must be some connection between this and her ability to live underwater.
That ER? They were stacked up like cord wood. All 31 exam rooms were full, gurneys lining the hallways and the family waiting room had been emptied out to further triage patients. T.D. was fortunate enough to have an exam room with a TV (they must anticipate long waits) but the only station was some ESPN 24 hour boxing channel. She said after the nurse took her blood and urine and started an IV she took a three hour nap and the pain was already mostly gone. When she woke up from her nap she asked for a phone to call her parents but they were too busy for another hour and then when she got the phone she called both her Dad and me, and by extension F.G.
We all three arrived at the same time and spent the next several hours sitting with T.D. and talking about how to furnish her apartment when she leaves for college next month. Very bizarre. Also, I must have "helping person" flashing on my forehead in subcutaneous neon letters because along the way I was translating for a Russian speaking person who had questions about where to put her urine specimen and then I was calming down a street person on a gurney in the hall. They were busy enough that no one had noticed that he still had his bottle in a brown paper bag and was sipping away and getting increasingly agitated as time passed .
At 2 AM the nurse returned to say that T.D. could have a snack from the vending machine and F.G. produced an entire box of Cheezits. At 2:30 AM the head ER physician came in and was careful and attentive and gave her a good once over after reviewing all her tests. He had to ask her to stop chewing so he could listen to her heart. He explained that the cyst had ruptured and was self-resolving so we could take her home and have her followed by her internist and then he noted that she just seemed to "run low" on her vital statistics. They had taken those every fifteen minutes or so and even got her up and moving to see if they could elevate her pulse. With activity she got up to 53 for a minute, then settled back at 51. He told her to drink more fluids and eat more Cheezits and that was that.
So. Another example of how T.D. is a freak of nature. And another example of how things can often heal themselves, given a somewhat attentive eye and the company of those who love you. Which reminds me: I am going to start writing, as promised, about why one should be skeptical of psychotherapy. As soon as I thank my lucky stars and get some sleep.