Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Finding my father

I called my 87-year-old dad Saturday morning to tell him I was coming up to help him run errands, pick up his mail, perhaps take him over to the rehab center to visit my stepmother.
"Don't bother coming up," he said in a quavery voice. "I had a bad night and I really don't feel like going anywhere."
He's been suffering from chronic pain in his right hip for weeks now and the deep muscle shot he'd just received had apparently aggravated his condition.
"Uh, OK, if you're sure. If it gets worse, call your doctor," I said, putting down the phone. I was both relieved and a little disappointed.
I had plenty to do but it had been a couple of days since I'd seen him and I wasn't sure when I'd get another chance to help him out.
I went about my day until around noon when my dad's neighbors started to call.
It seemed an ambulance had come screaming in and taken my father away. Did I know what happened?
I did not.
In fact, it took my brother and my sister-in-law and my niece the better part of the day to find out not only what happened but where he'd gone.
There are a lot of hospitals in Salt Lake City.
We called them all including one place that had a guy with nearly the same name who'd been admitted to the emergency room earlier. We talked to him twice.
My brother started dropping in to various facilities in person.
Meanwhile, good daughter that I am, I went off to the movies.
(I'm not completely heartless but I had committed to covering the LDS Film Festival and since we didn't know where my dad was, I decided I would just go ahead until I heard anything more. I did keep my phone on vibrate.)
Between all of us we found him much later on in the Veteran's Hospital up by the University of Utah.
Seems he'd decided he was in so much pain and discomfort that he needed to call 911.
They sent an ambulance to his home in West Jordan, compliments of we taxpayers.
Now he's in a bed in the VA hospital scheduled for probable hip replacement surgery within the next couple of weeks.
He's happy that somebody is finally taking his complaints seriously and enjoying the three square meals every day along with plenty of pain medication.
Meanwhile, we're trying to let his ward members and neighbors know where and how he is.
It's just a little embarrassing to have to admit we didn't have a clue as to where he was for the longest time. It's not as though he ought to have called one of us. We come off looking so disinterested in this frail and elderly man.
"Yeah, he took off in an ambulance but we found him anyway."

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