My mum nearly died today.
First I got the call from my sister-out-law, that something had happened to my mum and an ambulance was already on its way to her home. When I rang Mum, hoping to speak to her friend who just happened to be with her, at first I thought I'd rung a wrong number, because I couldn't understand the voice on the other end. I kept saying "It's me, Mum - what's going on?", only to hear a distant voice that sounded as though it was talking to someone else in the room.
By the time I'd arrived at her house, my brother was already there and the paramedics were wheeling her into the ambulance. They were having trouble finding out what had actually happened, because she was speaking incoherently in Cantonese. To me, she only repeated over and over that she was feeling very faint and light-headed.
It turned out that her heart was beating very slowly, which was affecting her blood pressure. This had caused her to almost lose consciousness, and the oxygen debt was affecting her brain. I am so damned grateful that someone was there to call for help.
At the Emergency room, staff in green scrubs, blue scrubs and office clothes (that would be the cardiologist) bustled around getting blood and checking her vitals. At one point, I was asked to put my finger on her arm, where they'd put a needle in. And that's when it happened.
My brother and I had been trying to talk to her, but she wasn't responding. She didn't seem to hear us. Then she was making strange gurgling sounds, and one of the green scrubs was hoisting my mum's chin up so hard that it left finger marks around her jaw. There was a brief commotion involving an oxygen mask and more chin-hoisting, before we were asked to go to the back of the room i.e. get the heck out of their way. Seconds later, there were audible sighs of relief. The leader of the green scrubs (the chin-hoister) said something to her colleague about Mum "nearly giving up" on her, and that was when I realised how close my brother and I had come to being orphans.
Although they aren't sure, the general consensus is that the problem is likely to be due to some of the medication she's on for high blood pressure. Mum's okay now, resting in the cardiac unit for overnight observation. Her blood pressure and heart rate are back to normal and she's already started to complain about the food. As far as she knows, she merely dozed off for a while this afternoon.