I drove to Costco for gas up the hill from my house. As I placed the pump in the tank, the ground began to sway as if there was an earthquake, but I was the only one looking around. As I put the pump back on the holster, I knew I needed to get home promptly. Joey was in the back seat. He usually put his front paws on the console, but this time he could sense something about my body language that made him remain seated.
On the drive home the road seemed to bend like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Somehow I knew to keep my cell phone in my right hand as I opened the front door. I let my dog Joey go in ahead of me. My legs buckled as the door slammed behind me. I couldn’t stop my descent and my head hit the floor. My little dog sat nearby while I made a few attempts to lift my head. I was able to call 911 and tell the operator I needed help. She connected me with a fireman who asked if I could get up and retrieve some papers from my room. I believe this was a test to see if I really could get up.
“I can’t even lift my head.”
“Turn on your side in case you throw up.”
I did as instructed and promptly lost my breakfast.
I heard the fire truck and ambulance sirens within minutes. The EMTs quickly checked my vital signs and determined I needed immediate transport to the hospital. I could hear Joey barking anxiously. I asked one of the firemen to get on his level and call him. I heard him say, “Come here buddy, it’s okay.” My dog calmed down as the fireman picked him up and shut him in my room. I asked them to leave the door unlocked so someone could reach him if needed.
At the E.R., I was unable to lift one leg to cross the other or touch the doctor’s finger as instructed. Everything became a blur of rectangular lights and far away voices as I was hoisted onto a cold metal table and slapped all over my head and chest with round sticky objects.
I could see white uniformed figures coming and going for what seemed like hours while a nearby machine beeps incessantly. Finally I was able to keep my stomach fluids inside, and the little pills that were supposed to do that job. I heard the garbled sound of people asking me questions which I was unable to answer. It was like being in a nightmare where you’re yelling but no sound comes out. Slowly I began to recover enough to answer questions and I was finally able to touch the doctor’s finger and cross my leg.
We need to keep you overnight for more tests.” The doctor said. “We need to do a neurological assessment and an MRI, even though your x-rays and e.k.g. were fine.”
“But, I need to get home and take care of my dog. He’s home alone.”
“Is there anyone you can call?”
“Yes, my daughter.” My cellphone was brought to me.
“Sarah, could you go over to the house and feed Joey and let him out ”
“Why, where are you?”
“I’m in the hospital.”
“I fell and I couldn’t get up. I had to call an ambulance.”
“Mom, I’m coming right now. Which hospital?”
“I’ll call Jeremy and ask him to take care of Joey.”
I didn’t find out what was wrong with me until months later when I was taken to another hospital following another scary episode. I was told I had acute vertigo and was sent home with a prescription for meclizine which I keep on me at all times. I was later diagnosed and treated for Meniere’s Disease at House Ear Clinic in Los Angeles.
To be continued…
(This was five years ago. I had moved to California from Washington State to be near my children. I had cared for my mother until she died in 2003. I was a single lady at the time. My daughter urged me to get a dog after we bought a house in 2009. I was 59. Joey peeked through the bars with his big brown eyes while sitting submissively on his stubby dachshund legs. He was six months old. That was it, my heart was hooked.)