After making the comment about the parking structure at UCSF, this story popped into my head. that means, it is time for another trip down memory lane.
Maggie was little, maybe two, maybe not quite. Though not positive of the date, I can confirm it was a terrible time for her medically. That was the case for the entire first three years of her life. The morning started at 8:00AM with a potential problem with the shunt in her head. I cannot recall the symptoms now but I had to make a mad dash up to see the neurosurgeon. That is never good.
As I drove toward the massive parking structure at UCSF, I spotted a car leaving on the street. Impossible! (In the 17 years I have been going there with Maggie I think I have parked on the street about 5 times.) Even though there was a parking meter, we can park all day with the handicapped placard. This spot would save me at least 15 minutes. I snagged it.
I started down the long hall to Neurosurgery. (For those of you who know UCSF, it was in a different location then.) I passed Pediatric Surgery, a different department. Maggie’s surgeon Dr. deLorimier was standing in the hall. He asked what was happening and I told him. He looked grim faced and wished us well. (see earlier post on Dr deLorimier at Maggie World: Big Al)
We spent the day undergoing various tests, a ct scan, a nuclear medicine test, etc. Finally about 8 hours after arriving, they decided Maggie could go home and be monitored there. It was 4:45 PM. As I left, I saw Dr. DeLorimier way down the hall. He was heading up to the hospital to do his rounds. He raised his hands as if to say, “What happened?” I gave him a thumbs up and he clapped.
This is before Maggie had a wheelchair and I carried her everywhere, which was not easy. She was little and light; but she has never had head control, and it took two hands to keep her steady. We loaded back into the car. Someone saw me leaving and immediately stopped to grab the coveted parking spot. I started the car, fastened my seatbelt, put on the blinker and pulled the emergency brake.
The handle of the brake release came off in my hand.
For a moment, I thought I pulled the hood release by mistake. That doubt was erased when I looked at the thing in my hand and it read “BRAKE RELEASE.” I can still see those words as clear as day. Sadly, the brake did not actually release when it pulled out and I could not move the car. The driver awaiting my spot was honking. The traffic was backing up behind him. I showed him the brake release and hanging cable as if to offer some explanation.
I unloaded Maggie and went back inside to find a phone booth. (You remember those…back in the days before cell phones.) Naturally, at 5:00PM there was a long wait for AAA just to pick up the phone, not to mention the wait time for a truck. I balanced Maggie on the little area next to the payphone and waited for them to answer. I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and there was Dr. deLorimier again, returning to his office from his rounds upstairs. He said, “Are you ok.” I silently handed him the brake release, which was still in my hand. He was very sympathetic.
He said, “Can I DRIVE you someplace?” I smiled and said “no. I have to deal with this and I need the car. I’m sure it’s just some button to push, but I don’t know where it is." He looked at an obviously exhausted Maggie and a frazzled mom and said, “Are you sure?” I nodded and gave him a grin. I said, “My life is a Fellini movie.” He doubled over laughing. He knew I was right.
The tow truck came. I learned how to release the brake with my foot, which I did for about six months until we got around to fixing it.
Maggie and I went home exhausted. The next day they had to do the surgery.