So we packed a truck with Mom’s belongings, and we piled into our minivan to head for Pittsburgh from Chicago. After a quick stop at Target, that is, to buy a stepstool. Turns out our minivan was too tall for Chiquita to climb in unassisted.
We planned to drive roughly halfway, say to Toledo, before we stopped for the night. Around dinnertime, we had just cleared the Illinois state line and were sitting in bumper to bumper traffic. That was when Mom mentioned her chest pains.
For a woman who’d had a heart attack and several stents put in to keep her arteries open, this was NOT a complaint I took lightly. We’re stuck in traffic, I have a 6 year old and 3 year old in the car, and Ms. Cardiac-Patient-of-the-Year offhandedly mentions chest pains, in the same way she might have said, “Hey, how ’bout those Bears?”
Doing what I do best, I began to panic. Quietly, of course. I calculated the time to the next exit, and when we saw the restaurants available, I proposed a dinner break. If something were happening, at least we’d be stationary at an address to give 911. Plus, my husband and kids could eat while I rode in the ambulance.
Ha ha. Heh.
In the meantime, I put in a call to my sister. She is much less panicky than I, and has the ability to see my situations much more clearly than I at times like this.
Couldn’t reach her.
So, we got off at the next exit and headed for the only restaurant available: Ponderosa.
“Here we are,” I sang. “Cardiologist’s choice.” That got a laugh out of Mom. We dropped her off at the door and went inside. Every two minutes, I quizzed her.
“How you feeling, Mom?”
“Are the pains gone?”
“Are you sure you’re okay?”
“You really want a STEAK?!?”
In the meantime, everyone else was ravenous. As we ate, I stared at Mom looking for signs of discomfort. She insisted she felt better, that the pains were gone, and that she’d probably just needed a break. We finished eating, and, against my better judgment, climbed back into the car to get a couple more hours under our belts. We pulled off for the night at a Holiday Inn Express on the far side of Toledo.
I didn’t feel right ignoring it, but I didn’t feel very well equipped to deal with it, either.
Jeez oh pete, if the woman was gonna be hospitalized, I was hoping it’d be at our destination instead of somewhere in between.