What’s Wrong?

It was January 2.  I was sitting on the conference room at our Board of Education, listening to our superintendent talk about the school budget.

It was a Parents’ Council meeting.  Several representatives from each schools’ PTO came to listen to the district wide news, what each school’s group was doing, from elementary onto the high school.  I hadn’t even thought of a middle or high school having a PTO, so it was surprising to me to see women with children that age still so involved with their kids’ schools.  Once a month we would meet and discuss anything going on at our schools, hear from the Superintendent, and listen to a guest speaker brought into talk about anything relevant to education.  Sometimes it was our First Selectman, or our State Representative, since they enacted policies that would fiscally affect the schools.  Sometimes it was a police officer talking about how kids were doing drugs these days (I’d never heard of “pharming” or “eyeballing” until one such meeting, and I had a kid in college).  Sometimes it was the curriculum director or the technology director.  The meetings were long but informative, and I was always glad to be a part of it.

I saw out of the corner of my eye a woman at the doorway, signaling to the Superintendent at the front of the room.  This happened sometimes, but not often; sometimes she would have to be pulled out of our meeting to attend to other things.  She walked over to the secretary at the doorway, whispered a few words, and then I saw them both look at me.  A nod went in between the two.

“Could you come with me?” the woman asked me.  “There’s a phone call for you.”

I stood up without thinking, mind racing.  It had to be one of the kids; the schools knew that I was a member of the Council.  Nothing else would be as important as getting me out of the meeting as a hurt kid.  The long walk to her desk where the phone with the answers was full of conjured up images in my head of the Worst Case Scenario.  By the time I reached the receiver gently laid on its side at her desk, I was sweating.

“It’s your husband,” she said quietly as she handed me the receiver.

Huh?

“Hey,” came the strained voice at the other end of the line.  It was R.  He sounded horrible.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, fully aware of the woman standing next to me, hearing my side of the conversation.

“Um, well, I need to go to the hospital.  There’s something really wrong with me.  The doctors here at work aren’t really sure what it is.  They wanted me to go in an ambulance, but I really don’t want to do that.  I need you to come here and get me and bring me to the emergency room.”

“What’s wrong?” I repeated, trying to process his words.  Any number of things could be wrong of course.  R was overweight, in the classic apple shaped way.  He had any number of risk factors for cardiac issues, which had been repeated to him many times by various doctors.  He actually had been going to one for the last year now, who had prescribed medication to lower his cholesterol and triglycerides.

“Remember I told you my side hurt?  It could be gall bladder, it could be something else. Because of my risk factors, they want a heart work up to be sure its not a heart attack. I can’t stop throwing up and the pain is off the charts.  Please, you have to come quickly.”

I assured him I would be on my way soon and quietly hung up the phone.  The secretary whose phone I was using looked quizzically at me.  “I have to take my husband to the hospital,” I said apologetically, already starting to run back towards the conference room to get my things.

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