Thursday, December 10, 2009

It all started with a little bleach

So, OL has an issue with laundry. She likes to use bleach. A lot of bleach. So much bleach that her neighbors are getting irate. They all share the washers and dryers on her floor, and have sent numerous angry letters to the building manager, complaining that her bleach has ruined the clothes of anyone unlucky enough to use the machines after her.

Explaining to OL that she uses too much bleach is impossible. “I only use a few tiny drops!” She cries. “Dos other peoples are just jealous of how clean my clothes are! Dey are spreading vicious lies!”

But she doesn’t want to get kicked out of the building, so recently she’s been bugging her son about doing her laundry at his place. He’s offered to take her stuff and wash it for her, but categorically won’t let her into his apartment, as the sight of his housekeeping is likely to send her into unrelenting hysterics. However, since she feels his housekeeping is on par with his laundry skills, she's horrified of him actually touching her clothes.

Thus we came to the decision that if she could navigate the stairs up to my apartment, I would let her use all the bleach she wanted at my house. She insisted the stairs wouldn’t be a problem, and so we set out yesterday for the laundry mecca that is my home.

Of course, as soon as we got to the top of the stairs, OL started complaining of chest pain. I asked her how bad it was, and she told me she didn’t know. Given this unimpressive report, I wasn’t really concerned, as previous similar complaints had all been forgotten within a few minutes. However, five minutes later, she was still rubbing at her chest, and I got a bit more worried.

Getting medical details out of OL is like trying to wring water from stone, but after repeated questioning she conceded that the pain was pretty sharp, and that she’d never experienced something like it before. I asked her if she thought she might be having a heart attack

“How should I know” she muttered “I’ve never had one before!”

Point to OL conceded, I decided to call her doctor and ask for advice. The doctor suggested I take her to the ER to get checked out, so off we went, back down the evil stairs and fifteen minutes to the hospital.

I kept asking OL how bad her pain was, and she kept rubbing her chest and explaining *where* it was. But she certainly wasn’t in so much pain that she couldn’t comment about the girth of a woman crossing the street, or about how much closer her apartment was to the hospital than mine.

Then we got to the ER, and it was the doctors’ turn to try and get medical info from OL. “Are you allergic to anything?” they asked her. “YES!” she cried, and as everyone waited expectantly, she got one of her biggest gripes off her chest: “My carpet! It makes me sick!”

Carpeting aside, things got a little crazy after that point, as a tech took an EKG, and suddenly a sort of controlled vortex of chaos centered on OL. It quickly became clear that the doctors thought she was having a heart attack, and nurses converged out of seemingly nowhere to take care of her and ask her questions. They didn't do much better with their question than I had, but a few nerve-racking hours and a trip to the Cath lab later, everything settled down.

It turned out OL hadn’t had a heart attack in the typical sense of the word. Although the EKG had gone crazy and some of her heart tissue was damaged, she didn’t have any blockages in her arteries, and her prognosis for recovery was excellent. The cardiologist said he had never seen a case of her incredibly rare syndrome before.

Once again, OL proved to be a one of a kind, and is now at home and resting after her ordeal. As she's never met a Jewish stereotype she didn't like, she's also been telling everyone who will listen (and a large majority of those who won't) that her son is clearly to blame for this unpleasant incident...if only he had taken her to do the laundry at his place, none of this would have happened. So far I've escaped all blame for living in an apartment without an elevator, but I'm expecting the guilt trip to start at any point now...

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