It’s 1:30am on Wednesday.
We’ve been sitting in the waiting room for hours now, waiting for them to get her settled into her new room.
The ICU is like a culdesack of the most critically ill. My grandma’s neighbors are loud, their machines beeping and humming for hours on end.
Finally, the doctor comes in to greet us. It’s as if she is trying to say, “Welcome to the neighborhood. You’re going to be here for a while.”
She’s walking us to my grandma’s room. You can barely find her underneath all of the wires. The left of her bed looks like one big science experiment. There are so many screens and machines and bags, there can’t be one thing they AREN’T monitoring. Her eyes are still closed, her blood pressure is still weak. I’m still weak.
My mom and I walk over to her. I grab her hand.
“Grandma we’re here, can you hear us?”
Her eyes didn’t open. And then the smallest, almost undetectable head nod.
I screamed. I squeezed her hand. I hugged my mom.
Here was a woman that lost 3 L of blood, considered medically dead for 4 minutes. She was in liver failure, kidney failure, heart failure. But she was nodding.
We’re were going to be okay. She was going to make it. She’s Joan Jellerson, for Christ sake.
We were walked back to the waiting room or as I would eventually call it, “the spare bedroom.”
Doctor L. reiterated what the emergency room Doctor had told us. How she got here, how this never should have happened. She went over the number of blood transfusions they’d given her, what we should expect, what we shouldn’t.
“You cannot leave this hospital tonight.” said Doctor L.
And there it was. The fear was back. That head nod had slowed my breathing, given me hope, calmed me. But I was back to panic.
And then the beep, beep, beep of her pager. She was gone. She was running towards my grandma’s room. Her blood pressure was dropping. They were shooting her up with everything they could. She was on one and then two and then three pressers to bring her blood pressure up. There wasn’t a fourth pressor.
My grandma had heard us. She was fighting. Her body wanted to quit, but she refused.
We went over her medical history, signed forms and then set up camp on the couch. We turned the lights off and somehow both my mom and I managed to squeeze our bodies into a position just comfortable enough to close our eyes for a couple minutes at a time.
It’s 3:30am on Wednesday.
Two police officers are waking us from our pathetic attempt at slumber. They turned to my mom and introduced themselves. They were the first responders.
They went through their version of what happened. They told us about the two hook and ladder trucks on “the scene.” Ten paramedics, two police officers trying to cram into my grandma’s shoe box of an apartment, trailing blood across the floor, down the hall, into the elevator, soaked into the gaudy lobby carpet.
“We wanted to make sure we found you. You cannot go back to her apartment. We have only seen this kind of blood at murder scenes, horrific, grizzly crimes. Is there someone that can pick up her cat?” one officer asked.
My brain was convulsing again. All of the thoughts swirling in my head. I was spinning. This could not possibly be real life. These are the things that happen to other people. I was standing in front of two police offers whose sole purpose was to reassure us that there was no crime, even though the scene suggested otherwise.
But they were wrong.
We didn’t know it then, but my grandma’s apartment would be a crime scene.
A horrific, grizzly crime scene.