That Scary Call

I went to bed around 4:20. That’s typical for me. It didn’t take long to fall asleep.

It hadn’t been a full hour when Helaine woke me up. “It’s the phone,” she said.

God bless Helaine. She’s the best part of my life. But, she is petrified when the phone rings before dawn. It can’t be good. Answering these calls is my job. It goes with killing trapped bugs and seeing what’s making noise downstairs.

It was Steffie on the other end of the line. She didn’t sound good.

Steffie has been suffering through a persistent cough for three weeks. A trip to the “Wellness Center” on campus brought no relief and no sympathy.

Now there was another problem.

Steffie was calling from the communal bathroom in the dorm, so she wouldn’t wake her roommate. She had broken out in hives. She didn’t call them hives, but that’s what she described. And, everywhere she had hives, she was itching like crazy.

Like I said, Steffie didn’t sound good. She wasn’t in pain, she was fearful because she had arrived at a situation she didn’t understand and couldn’t control. And, she had already lost confidence in the “Wellness Center.”

It didn’t take more than a few seconds for Helaine and me to decide a trip to college was in order. While Helaine hit the shower, I called work. They’re not used to hearing from me before 6:00AM.

We were in the car by 6:30. Helaine thought the Parkway might be faster than the Turnpike, so we headed that way. Who knows if that was true? I do know the Parkway was s-l-o-w. How do people put up with this on a daily basis?

The trip to school was brutal. We’ve made it in 1:45. This time it was 2:45.

We got to the school as Steffie was coming back from the “Wellness Center.” They wouldn’t be able to see her until 10:00 AM. That was actually a good solution. We knew no local doctor. A trip to the hospital ER could take hours.

We headed back to the “Wellness Center” and Steffie was seen almost immediately. This time her experience was much better. The nurse practitioner in charge was very nice and warm.

Make no mistake about it, warm counts. Good bedside manner is very important in putting a patient at ease.

She prescribed two drugs – one for the cough and an over-the-counter antihistamine for the hives. We headed to the drugstore.

I’ll cut to the chase. The jury is out on the antibiotic for the cough, but the antihistamine was a magic bullet. Within the hour Steffie’s hives were going down. Tonight there is a world of difference.

We took Steffie to a diner for lunch and a supermarket so she could restock her refrigerator with fruit and drinks, but our real purpose was support. We were glad to do that… glad we were asked.

The trip home was easy… Well, it was easy for me. I was exhausted and passed out as soon as Helaine got to a spot she recognized. We were home in under two hours.

Four and a half hours on the road seems like a lot, but it was very little all things considered. It’s at times like this we’re glad she’s not at UCLA.

3 thoughts on “That Scary Call”

  1. Glad to read she’s OK. Having suffered this myself a very long time ago, it is scary, but thank goodness there are antihistimines and steroids available. I never knew what caused mine, I wonder if Steffie has any suspicions on the cause of hers. If so, hopefully she can avoid a repeat.

  2. I hope Steffie will continue to improve—and I’ll bet a flow of “care packages” (of goodies from home) will contribute to her wellness in a major way…

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