It's early morning and I hear my mom say "Michelle, I'm gonna need your help." Naturally, I figure she needs help with my grandma who is staying with me. So, I pop out of bed, unsure of the time but know it is early, it's still dark out. I quickly go to the bathroom and walk into my mom's bathroom and ask "what can I help you with?" Only to find her sitting with her head cocked back and to the left. Her mouth is slightly a jar, breathing in a way that sounds unfamiliar to me. It sounds raspy and labored with each breath, not typical. I call her name, "Mom, Mom!" I put my hand on her shoulder to gently shake her and then the breathing stops. I stare at her chest. Telling myself "breathe, just breathe." It feels like and eternity, so I took my fist a rubbed her chest in a way to stimulate her breathing. Thinking she is having a stroke. She started mumbling incoherently. 911 is the only option.
We are in crisis now, I'm good at crisis, so I think. I'm calm, call 911 and give them her information. Now into action I go. Grab the dog to put her outside, close my bedroom door to minimize what my children, who are peacefully sleeping in my bed, are exposed too. I need to protect them so they aren't forever scared from seeing their grandmother in this condition. As I put the dog outside, unlock the front door, I see my grandmother dressed and in the bathroom. Her walker is in proximity, but she needs help. I start to walk with her towards the family room, still picturing my moms face. Now I understand why my mom wanted me. Grandma is struggling to walk. I need to help them both now. In my head, I'm wondering do I need a second ambulance for her? I need to get back to my mom, Grandma is trying to walk but not moving. Staring at the chair I want her in as though I could move it closer by glaring at it, but I can't. The phone beeps, it's Jackie, "what do you need?" She sees the ambulance in the driveway. "I need you here!" EMS opens the door, they are my life line. As they walk in and see me struggling with my grandmother, I quickly say "not this one" and give them directions upstairs to my mom. My calm nature evades me for a moment as I burst into tears and say "I just need her to sit!" One of the paramedics gently and kindly help Grandma into a chair at the kitchen table. Jackie walks in the door. My calm is restored. How is all of this happening at the same time? I'm not ready to lose my mom, I'm just not ready.
I'm back to calm and focused, EMS is checking on my mom, now back to the action plan. Call my sister in law to get my brother in route to the hospital, she will also call my sister, get Grandma's medicines together, grab clothes for mom, medical cards, what else? What else? I call my uncle to get my grandmother. Ok, now I can tell my children, but what should I say? I don't want them to feel the shear panic that I am feeling on the inside. "Grandma was having trouble breathing so I called 911 just as a precaution to make sure she is OK." I get a thumbs up and they roll over. Whew!
On the way to the hospital, my grandmother is struggling to get in my uncle's car. She needs to go to the hospital too. It seems to have been the perfect storm. A mother and her daughter both taken to the hospital within minutes of each other! The longest few minutes of my life.