The Emergency Room or A Mother’s Love Only Goes So Far
First, to counter criticism from my daughter and son-in-law, my mother was as loving, giving and wonderful person.
She did however, have her “Gracie Allen” moments, and sometimes acted in ways that made everyone shake their heads. But we all loved her and she loved us.
Now to the story.
I had gotten married the year before, and was living in my aunt’s former apartment in Rego Park, Queens.
It was a great apartment with large rooms and it was rent controlled.
My aunt had gone to the landlord and threatened to stay there forever unless he rented the apartment to me.
For those of you who don’t know, Rent Control kept rents at the same level without an increase, unless an improvement was made to the apartment or the current tenant moved out and the new tenant while still under Rent Control got an increase in the rent.
Competition for these apartments was fierce, hence my aunt’s threat. She was moving because she had gotten married around the same time as me and she moved into her new husband’s apartment.
I had gotten a very bad cold, with fever and went to see the doctor. The same doctor who had advised my mother to hit me with a chair.
He gave me a shot of penicillin and prescribed sulfur and penicillin tablets for me to take for a week and sent me home.
I started taking the tablets that night right before we went to sleep.
I had a reaction.
I was having difficulty breathing, I was sweating, and I could feel my face swelling.
I quietly got out of bed and went into the bathroom and turned on the lights.
My face had swollen up so it looked enlarged, by eyes were slits. I looked like a fat Asian person. I had hives breaking out and they were itching, my breathing became more labored.
I decided to wait a little to see if it would get better. I had never had a reaction like this before and wasn’t sure just what to do or what had caused it.
Around 1:30 AM, I decided to go to emergency. I went back into the bedroom to get some clothes. I tried not to wake my wife, who had to work in the morning.
I was about to leave when my wife woke up.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
“Don’t worry, I’ll be right back,” I answered. “I have to go out for a while”.
“Go where?” she demanded.
“I’m going to the emergency room, I’m having some reaction,” I said.
She turned on the light and saw my condition. She was shocked.
“You can’t go by yourself,” she said
“Sure I can,” I wheezed out.
“I’m calling your parents,” she said.
My parents lived across the street in another apartment building with my sister.
They came over and insisted on taking me to the Emergency Room. My wife stayed home at my insistence.
We arrived at St John’s hospital on Queens Boulevard, about 10 minutes away, at about 2:00 AM. We entered the Emergency Room. The only one there was the nurse on duty.
We approached the desk.
“Who’s the patient?” he asked.
Of the three of us, I was the one wheezing, swollen, eyes swollen and tearing, covered in red blotchy hives, but never the less he had asked.
“I am” my mother replied.
I looked at her in amazement.
“You are?” I said incredulously.
“Ma, I can’t breathe here,” I wheezed out.
“Don’t be so dramatic, you’ll live. Besides, I was just reading how important it is to get your blood pressure taken every chance you can” she replied.
My father started to ask his usual question of her “Jean, are you an imbecile?” but was cut off by the nurse taking my mother into the next room to get her blood pressure taken.
I was left to wait my turn.
Sure enough when the nurse had finished with my mother, he asked us if there was anything else.
“Yes,” I replied, “I can’t breathe”.
“Oh, why didn’t you say so?” he asked.
Perhaps he was blind.
Eventually I got taken care of.
They gave me a shot of Benedryl and sent me home with the warning not to take the pills. They explained the dangers of taking penicillin in the future as being potentially life threatening.
Good to know.
By the next morning, my breathing was better; the swelling had subsided, as had the hives.
Oh, and my mother’s blood pressure was 120/80.