The ambulance came in record time, as did my son in law to pick up his slightly traumatized daughters. And to the hospital we went. I neglected to mention that for years we had been “off the grid” medically, opting for the less than traditional options for our care. We had no primary care physicians, and since my husband’s retirement required us to pay for it ourselves, no insurance. Funny how you think you can’t afford insurance until you end up in the ER without it. This gave opportunity for my first post stroke experience of people not appreciating my sense of humor. In the midst of the discussions about treatment options and tests that needed to be run, the ER doctor said he would be referring me to a cardiologist. I said in my most charmingly joking voice, “Make it a cheap one.” The look he gave me indicated that not only did he not think I was funny, but that he was already formulating the note he would be putting in my husband’s chart about his whacko wife. I really was joking, sort of. I can’t help it if I have had 50 years of practice dealing with every and all uncomfortable situations by finding the humor in them. Actually, he was lucky I didn’t break out in song – I do that too, start singing songs that seem to apply. Even while I was signing the 30 pages of “I can’t pay my bill, please send help” from the business office, I couldn’t help but notice that the lady was handing papers to me to sign and then passing them to my friend to hold as if we were in an episode of sister wives. It’s just the way my mind works. I was sure there would be a time to fall apart later, but for now I would cope with whatever humor I could muster.
Well, as anyone who has ever been in an emergency room knows, there is a lot of waiting involved. They had administered the TPA (aka clot buster), and we were waiting for the technician to come get him for the first of many CT scans. And Strokeman has to pee. So they gave us a urinal and pulled the curtain over most of the opening (because we all know those curtains don’t meet). And Strokeman tried to pee laying down. No go. He said, “I need to stand up” I said, “You can’t stand up” and he said, “I know, but if you could just help me up so I could lean against the bed…” Now here is one of those examples where I think they assumed I understood more about what was going on than I really did. Someone should have taken my little face in their hands and said, “One of the effects of strokes is that the brain begins to forget about the effected side. Strokeman here is going to think he is just fine, and he is not. Do not let him talk you into trying to get up because he will face-plant.” But instead, they said, “Here’s a urinal,” and pulled the curtain to. Well, after he took a nice slide down the side of the bed, with me yelling, “Help! Help! Help!”, they ‘splained it to me somewhat like scolding a child, and then most likely went and entered another scathing note in the chart about the whacko wife. I have to say that I have never been so happy to see our redheaded EMT friend Cory in my life. He just “happened” in a most providential sort of way to be walking by when I started yelling. Those nurses needed his and his partner’s strength to get Strokeman back on the bed. He is no small man, my husband.
I think it was at about this point that I no longer had any ability to see the humor. And my second mode of coping started to rise to the surface. Let the crying begin.