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She Came to My House, Unannounced

Written By: Lauren Howard



She came to my house, unannounced, after yet another day of dialysis. She was in training to be able to provide it to herself at home, but she hadn’t graduated yet. Most people graduated in a matter of weeks. She was on month five and still working through it. But that was fine because they were kind and helpful to her, and she didn’t mind going.


Regardless, she was standing in my doorway. She was a little out of breath but she wanted to see the kids.


Sure. They could keep each other entertained and I could do work without having to engage.


Fine.


She asked for a chair because she did seem like she was having trouble catching her breath. It was impossible to tell if she really was struggling or if she was huffing and puffing for a show. She got her dopamine off of making other people worry, and she would get it even if you didn’t want her to have it.


Still, I got the chair. And I sat her in it before turning on my heels and going back into my office. I left the door open so I could hear as she huffed and puffed.


And boy, did she.


I wrote it off as yet another her-being-her episode. Eventually, I got up to check on the kids who were with a babysitter in the other room.


She was slumped over in the chair.


Instinct kicked in.


WHAT HAVE I DONE? HOW COULD I LET THIS HAPPEN TO HER?


I screamed her name and yelled for the babysitter to call 911. I kept yelling for her as she slowly started to respond through dry mouth and dysarthria.


And man, as weird as this sounds, I would have loved to spend the ensuing ten minutes genuinely worried about her and her well-being.


Instead, half of my brain was dedicated to addressing whatever this was, and the other half was wondering how this was yet another grift. Could she have learned to make her eyes roll back for effect? Would she purposely dehydrate herself to cause an episode of something in front of my children? Had it been so long since we spoke that she decided the best way to get my attention was by making me a captive audience in the back of an ambulance?


And yet there I was. One person on the outside, but split directly down the center doing the logical, rational things that you do when a person seems ill and was momentarily unconscious while also doing the gold-medal level mental gymnastics that I trained for my whole life.


I drew a mental line in the sand. I would help, but I would not upend my life and my children for this. Someone else needs to step in.


I grabbed her phone and called my brother. The one that I don’t talk to but who somehow lived across the street from my neighborhood. “Mom is sick and is going to the hospital in an ambulance. Can you follow her in your car and stay with her while they figure out what is happening?”


He was at my door less than ten minutes later.


I packed her into an ambulance, asked the paramedics to give me an honest medical opinion of what was happening, and tried to stop my hands from shaking.


“I think her blood pressure just dropped. She’s probably dehydrated.”


Ah.


He couldn’t know what was going on in my brain, but he kind of looked at me like he understood.


“Yeah. She’s gonna be fine, but we’ll get her checked out anyway. I’ll keep your brother up to speed.”


As they drove off, I held hands with my new best friend. Her name was Boundaries, and we were going to spend some time getting to know each other.


 

Founder & CEO at elletwo



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