Bad luck always comes in threes

This has been quite the eventful week. My mom and her lovely partner, Jan, are visiting us for a few days — something I’ve been looking forward to for many weeks. The visit got off to a very iffy start, though: They were scheduled to arrive at JFK at around 8PM on Wednesday evening. Extensive mechanical problems in Pheonix (and JetBlue’s lack of an effective Plan B) resulted in a huge delay. Huge. Jonathan and I tag-teamed, with him manning the phones Wed. night while I slept, and me getting up at around 3:30AM Thursday morning to go pick them up.

I got them home and they promptly went off to bed to try to sleep for a few hours. I, however, was wide awake. So I had breakfast and figured we’d use the day for shopping and recuperating from the night’s travails. And we did have a good day of shopping, a nice dinner at home and copious amounts of wine.

Cut to 10:30PM. We’re settled into our little beds — or so I thought — but I hear Jan calling my name from the hallway. I think, oh, they need to know where the glasses are or something. Instead, it seems that my mother has discovered one of our broken — and dangerous — double-hung windows. One of the windows that acts like a guillotine when you try to open it. Top half of window has slammed down on the second finger of her left hand and crushed the nail. She is feeling faint and freaked out. And I am feeling like the worst daughter in the world.

The three of us head over to the closest emergency room, where we wait. And wait. And wait. What’s the deal? This is Bronxville, for God’s sake — one of the richest square miles in America. Well, here’s a tip: while Lawrence Hospital has great inpatient care, their emergency room is staffed with exactly one physician. There are other, better emergency rooms in the area. More on that in a moment.

She’s finally seen to. I wasn’t allowed to stay, but I know whatever they did to her involved a boatload of novocaine, plus sharp knives, stitches and three pounds of gauze. At around 2AM, she’s released and we’re walking through the parking lot, joking about what could possibly happen next to complete the triad of bad luck events.

It didn’t take long to find out.

We arrive home. Jonathan is still awake, but bleary-eyed given his lack of sleep the night before. I am approaching the 22 hour mark of having no sleep, having had around 4.5 hours prior to that. Mom and Jan head off to bed and I head off to the bathroom and steal one of Jonathan’s 3mg Lunesta pills. I head back into the bedroom, ready to try again for sleep and…and…where is Jonathan? Ah, of course, he’s gone downstairs to use the half bath.

And at the moment this explanation enters my mind I hear a very loud crash and thump downstairs. I call out to him and there’s no answer. I am overcome with a sinking feeling. I run down the stairs, at the foot of which is our cat, looking quite stricken, and round the corner to find Jonathan face down on the floor, unconscious. He has passed out cold.

I shake him and he comes to in about 10 seconds, but he’s somewhat confused and — very unlike him — babbling. We later figured out that the door broke his fall (and was responsible for the loud bang, which I’d originally thought was his head hitting the floor). Miraculously, aside from a cut on his cheek, he’s not injured himself. Even his glasses are still intact.

Fortunately for me, Jan is an MD (and very calm in a crisis!). While she tends to him and checks his vitals, I call 911 and request an ambulance. The fireman first responders are on the scene within about two minutes, followed about a minute later by the EMTs and ambulance. I am done freaking out, as Jonathan is lucid, able to answer basic questions, and not in any pain or other distress. So: no stroke, no heart attack and (I hope) no concussion.

The ambulance takes him to our second emergency room of the night, St. John’s Riverside on the Hudson. Folks, this is the place to take people in the middle of the night. The place is well-staffed and they were all over him pretty quickly (although, to be fair, I’m sure that passing out cold when one has no history of doing so is seen as potentially more serious than a smashed finger).

He saw a doctor fairly quickly (45 minuntes?), who decided to admit him in order to do a CT scan, EKG and numerous other tests to rule out anything serious. We left at around 5:30AM just as they were preparing to check him in. During these hours I discovered that it’s possible to resist the effects of a sleeping pill, but it’s not easy. I also learned why sleep deprivation is such an effective torture technique. Combine just 24 hours of no sleep with some high-stress stimuli and you can make someone who is normally pretty even-keeled fall apart quite easily. Which I did. For about 10 minutes after we got home. Then I collapsed into bed for three hours of sleep.

I spent most of Friday at the hospital keeping Jonathan company through various new test procedures, as well as napping on a waiting room couch in the deepest sleep I’ve ever experienced in a public place. Finally, finally, he was released at 5PM, with a more or less clean bill of health (but no explanation for the fainting episode; just one of those wacky things…).

Friday night featured pizza, lots of wine again and — at last — lots and lots of sleep for everyone.

We salvaged the trip for the two days we had left, spending Saturday at Storm King Art Center in Rockland (a perfect day to go there) plus a little drive further West into the Delaware Water Gap for more leaf peeping. Then dinner at a local Thai place. And today was spent driving up the Taconic to Beacon for lunch and a trip to Dia Beacon. Unfortunately, we got to Dia at 3:30 and the place closes at 4:00 on Sundays. But that was fine. Because at this point any trip that does not involve an ambulance as a means of conveyance or a hospital emergency room as the destination is a good one.

Bad luck always comes in threes. Believe it. But I am very lucky to have such a great family. Even if they are a little accident prone.

5 Responses

  1. When I visit NY, I’ll keep Riverside on the Hudson in mind. That’s a dramatic few days.

    I can relate to the falling down episode – I have an allergy to most types of fish (luckily lobster and octopus is fine), and any trace of fish in a meal makes me pass out. Having low blood pressure probably contributes. This has produced ‘entertainment’ for my friends when out for a meal, but luckily no episodes for 15 years or so.

    I hope all is well with Jonathan, and you’re both back running soon.

  2. Oh, dear me. What a time. If memory serves, last time you saw Mom and Jan, somebody died, too!
    :-) (really! it’s GOOD to laugh!)

    I’m so glad, deliriously glad, that everyone is OK for the long haul. Glad you got to know just how much you love your loved ones (enough to not sleep for way too long), and they got to know how much you love them. You’re a wonderful daughter, partner, sibling, person.

  3. OMG, thank god the triad of evil is over and done with! That’s a ridiculous amount of crisis in such a short time. At least it makes for a memorable story (gotta get something good out of it!).

  4. […] my mother, who has plans to come here next year, also in the spring. The last trip they made was something of a disaster, so I’m glad we’ll get another […]

  5. […] windows that are approximately 20 years old. Half of them have broken mechanisms, meaning they behave like guillotines if you try to open them. Some don’t even close properly at the top, so we have cold air […]

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