Thursday, June 7, 2012

911. What's your emergency?

Let me start this by saying Maggie is fine.

But we had a helluva afternoon. I think it is safe to say that the boredom of mom camp was shattered.

Yes that is a picture of the San Francisco Fire Department in my dining room looking at Maggie’s medical background for their paperwork.

Maggie was home with the nurse and I was running errands like a crazy woman, trying to get back in time for her next procedure. I knew I was going to be late, but she is ok for another 30 minutes or so and I just had to get some groceries. I was standing in line to pay when my phone rang and it was Maggie’s nurse, Fely. I answered and without waiting for her to speak said, “I’m almost done and I’ll be home in 20 minutes.” She said, Sally, something is wrong. Maggie is very upset and she is turning blue. WHAT!?!? Is she ok? She is now, but she is crying uncontorllably. Is she blue now? No. The trach was plugged and I cleared it.  I am giving her oxygen. Ok. 

Lest you think I'm inattentive, this does happen with Maggie. It's never good, but once it's over it's over. Still I wanted to get home to see for myself. 

Of course it took FOREVER to get checked out and for the first time in about 1 year I was shopping at a different store, not my neighborhood Safeway. I was at least 15 minutes from home but I had to get out of the store. As I loaded the groceries into the car Fely called again. She sounded more worried. I said, “I’m coming now. DO you need 911?” She said no. She was giving Maggie O2 but she seemed to be in pain.

I drove as safely as I could while fighting panic. Tim was at work in Marin. I called my neighbor who is an RN to see if she could pop in and do an assessment. No answer. I called Steve to see if he was almost home. He was still in his office. He said he would leave right away, but I know I would get home before he did.

When I arrived, Maggie was in distress. Fely was giving o2 and her respiratory numbers were fine – but her heart rate was in the stratosphere.  I made sure the trach was clear. I was perplexed, for sure and said, let’s get her in bed. As I tried to get her out of the chair, I saw it. Her foot was completely wedged in behind the foot box on her wheelchair.  I could not move her and I could not free her foot.

I grabbed the tools and tried to loosen the box but I was fumbling around like an idiot. I finally found the right sized wrench but I couldn’t budge the bolts.  I was freaking out. I needed help and I called 911.
In a way, this is like a normal kid problem, right. Granted, it involved a wheelchair, but she needed to be freed. She could have been up a tree or locked in a closet or something like that, right? This could happen to anyone, right?   As I kept giving information to the 911 dispatcher, I realized maybe it wasn’t so normal. 

“San Francisco 911 what’s your emergency”
My daughter has her foot wedged in behind a piece of her wheelchair and I cannot free it.
Is she injured?
She is definitely in pain, but I can’t tell if it’s injured or broken or just stuck (note – I was not calm)
How old is your daughter? 18.
How did she get her foot in there?
 I don’t know?  She has CP and gets herself into some strange positions, I have never seen her foot back there before.
Oh. I see. What does she say happened? Can she tell you how she did it?
No. She’s non verbal.
Oh. I see. How long has she been stuck?
At least 25 minutes I’m trying to get the foot box off, but I’m not strong enough to move it (shrieking a bit)
Ok ma’am. Take a breath. [When he said that I realized I hadn’t taken a breath in several sentences] The Fire Department and paramedics are en route.

It took about 4 minutes. That is a very quick response, but it is a very long time to wait.  I did have the presence of mind to put the dog outside so he didn’t bother the firemen when they arrived and to call Steve and tell him what was happening. I did not want him to have a heart attack when he saw the Fire trucks and paramedics in front of the house.

First came the firemen – about 5 of them. They surrounded Maggie. I couldn’t even get into Maggie room. I heard a “crack” and knew the chair was broken. I  Did Not Care.  More rescuers arrived.  They just kept coming. There were at least 10 guys in my house. The firemen left when the paramedics took over. We were down to five guys and then three. At some point Steve arrived too. The paramedics  determined her foot was bruised, but likely not broken. They were concerned about Maggie’s breathing and I assured them her weird breathing was her norm. When she started grinning at the firemen and doing her own version of flirting, I knew she was really ok. She pretty much owned every guy in the room.  She was stressed, but fine.

 I was just stressed.

A huge thank you to the very kind firefighters, emt’s and paramedics and everyone else who was here. We 
do not need help very often, but we did today. It is sure nice to know help is there when we need it. 


  1. That is a very long and scary day. Glad everyone is ok.

  2. OMG. I wish those 10 firemen lived with you 24/7! xo Lori

  3. I'm sorry for all the agita and stress, but good lord. I have to admit that I'm sort of jealous. I have a serious attachment to firemen.


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