“I think you’d better call that ambulance”


Following a rough New Year’s Eve when Libby began vomiting uncontrollably, she actually slept well during the night and woke up feeling great on the first day of 2014.  We were confident that the suspected stomach bug had run its course, but then after getting dressed Libby developed a knee-buckling headache.

For the past 24 hours, Libby’s constant companion was a small pink plastic bowl that hospitals “give” to nauseous patients. Immediately following the crushing headache Libby was once again sick at her stomach.  I carried Libby, her pillow, her blanket and her pink bowl to the couch so she could lie flat.

The doctor had called in some anti-nausea drugs which Libby tried to keep down and I kept encouraged her to drink water and Gatorade so she wouldn’t become dehydrated.  By noon I had made the decision to take Libby to the hospital but she still couldn’t sit up, much less stand up and walk outside to the car.  Libby’s biggest concern was, of all things, her fear that she would ruin the seats and the upholstery in the car on the way to the hospital.

Lying perfectly flat on the couch and staring up at the ceiling, Libby was attempting some measure of control over the situation as she declared, “Call Miss Helen and see if she can help me get to the hospital.” Libby’s best friend, Helen Hawkins, had been  “Miss Helen” to our young boys and although they were grown, the habit remained.

To be honest I was a little hurt by Libby’s desire to have someone else help get her to the hospital so I asked a little too defensively, “What can Helen do that I can’t do?” Libby answered graciously, “Miss Helen will be able to hold my head in her lap on way to the hospital and I need you to drive us there…besides I want be as nervous if she is with me”.  I picked up the phone and began dialing, as Libby added “Oh yes, and tell her to bring some plastic Wal-Mart sacks and a change of clothes… this may get messy.”

Helen agreed to help but I was still wondering how we were going to get to the hospital, but Libby was still planning and she said, “Go into the basement and get that red ‘thingy’ that you use to roll under cars;  you can roll me off of the couch , onto the red thingy and then push me out to the car.  Then get your brothers to help lift me into the backseat like I’m on a backboard.”

mechanic creeper

I stopped laughing when I looked down at Libby’s face and realized that she was completely serious. I told her, “I am not about to carry you to the hospital on a mechanic’s creeper (red thingy) and the last thing you should be worried about is messing up the upholstery”. I was only half-way bluffing when I added, “If you can’t sit up in a car long enough to get to the hospital then I am just going to call an ambulance!”

Another 5 minutes passed as Libby tried, unsuccessfully, to sit upright on the couch and said “Barry I think you better call that ambulance…”

Because of some close calls while pulling out of our driveway over the years, I relocated our driveway to the top of the hill for better visibility, which caused me to have to move our mailbox. Moving our mailbox, in turn, resulted in a call to to an E-911 official who suggested that we should change our address because we were told that it could be difficult for anyone to find our house if we needed emergency responders (something I never thought I would need).

On New Year’s Day 2014 Libby and I both heard the faint sounds of the ambulance’s sirens within just of few minutes of my first ever 911 call.  I was in the bedroom packing a small bag “just in case” we had to spend the night in the hospital and Libby, who always looked to find the good in every situation (and in every person) called out to me from the couch,  “Now see, aren’t you glad we changed our address…everything is going to be alright…”




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