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Daniel - Poker Journal

My Mother is Very Sick

08 Feb 2009


It all happened pretty suddenly. I saw her the night before, she brought over a ton of food for me, delicious as always, and when she went home she seemed upbeat, perky, and totally healthy. Previously she was feeling a big of neck and back pain, ever since the Bahamas trip actually.

The next morning I got a call from Patty. She was called to my mother's house by security because her home alarm went off. Patty got to the house, and said my mother didn't look well. The right side of her face was droopy, and she couldn't really speak, just mumble.

Patty called an ambulance, my mother refused to go to a doctor. She is old school, and no matter how many times I tell her I don't care how expensive the doctors are here, she can't stand to spend my money on anything. Even a $300 visit would feel like too much for her. The ambulance came within five minutes and they'd said she likely had a mild stroke. They took her to a stroke specialty hospital in town and I met her there. I was actually impressed with the treatment at the hospital. I'd heard horror stories about Vegas hospitals, but from what I could tell the doctors and nurses were treating her well.

She couldn't really speak well out of the right side of her face. She was also a bit out of it. The doctor would ask, "Can you say tomato, tomato, tomato?" My mother looked at him, deadpanned and said, "Yes."
The doctor tried a different approach and asked, "Can you say, let's go to McDonalds and have a hamburger?" He was trying to figure out how affected her speech was. Her reply this time was, "Nooooooo." She obviously wasn't fully understanding what she was being asked. Her English, which has become her primary language since coming to Canada in 1967 was escaping her and she seemed to be able to find more words in Romanian, but even still, she mostly stared blankly when asked a simple question.

The next day at the hospital, while her vitals seemed stable, her mind was in a scary place. At least it scared me. I asked her, "Did you fly to Vegas with U.S. Air or Air Canada?" She stared for a moment, processing the question and said, 'Wednesday. Tomorrow."

That day I looked at her and just wasn't entirely sure that it was her looking back at me. I saw her eyes on me, but the mind just didn't seem to be all there and that worried me greatly.

I went home for a bit and came back that evening. All of a sudden, it was literally like night and day! She could speak, she REALLY looked at me and not through me, and seemed to be way more cognizant. The doctors told me all signs were good, her face, once droopy on the right side seemed to be coming back to normal. She wanted to go home. Desperately. She kept thinking I was there to take her home.

The next day my brother arrived and she seemed to be getting even better by then and we looked forward to her release the next morning. When we got to the hospital, her bed was gone. They moved her to ICU (Intensive Care Unit). They explained that her oxygen levels had dropped dramatically. Not seemingly related to the stroke, but a problem she's had before. They worried it was either a clot in her lungs or possibly heart failure. They later ruled that she also had a heart attack.

The plan was for her to have an angiogram test done on Monday. Her travel insurance wouldn't cover it, though, and when she got wind of how much it would cost she refused to agree to it. She is old school, and no matter what, there is just no way she'd let me pay for it. The price, when I heard it, seemed completely absurd for a test and I didn't believe it until I went online to confirm. I saw the price of the test figured at $86,000. That same test in India would cost $1400, but we aren't in India.

I've done dumber things with that kind of money before. If the test has to be done I'd pay for it in a heartbeat. Problem is, I know my mother. I love her to death, but she wouldn't let me pay $8000 for the test let alone $80,000. That's just the way she is and she is not going to change her ways at the age of 69.

So the plan has changed. Tomorrow it looks like they are planning to put her on an air ambulance with two nurses and fly her back to Toronto where she can be cared for. They can do the test there, all covered by OHIP. She feels much safer being in Canada and I know she trusts the doctors there which is good for her spirits, which I must say, are pretty good considering.

She looked great today. She won't eat the food, though, all she really eats are bananas and skim milk. My mom is a great cook and is sometimes hard to please! Hospital food just isn't going to cut it for her.

She hasn't been allowed to walk at all for several days and she is still on oxygen but even her oxygen levels are improving. If we don't send her to Toronto, and instead agree to the Angiogram, nurses explained that the costs of her stay will likely exceed $200,000. If I paid them that money, I can promise you, that would only induce another heart attack for my mother.

Anyway, if you are a believer at all, a prayer would be much appreciated. If you aren't a believer, a prayer would also be appreciated. I have a friend who is an atheist, and he said a prayer for my mother for the first time in like 10 years. That meant a lot to me. It can't hurt right?

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I won't be doing too much until this all gets sorted out. I guess I'll have to just grind really hard in the $0.05-$0.10 game on PokerStars so I can pay for any medical costs that might come up. I read a funny/gossip article on a website recently that my friend asked me to read. At first I was confused by it and thought, what is this? Then I figured it was just a bad attempt at humor that just, well, didn't really have a punchline. The article explained that I'm playing micro limits because I'm too broke to ante up in the bigger games online. It was full of random absurdities and I think a lot of people took it seriously.

I mostly laughed it off, because I figured it was supposed to be funny, but I can see why people didn't see it that way. It was written as a piece of "news" and nowhere did it make clear that it was a joke. I would hope and expect that the site will do the right thing and clarify that their "news" piece was just an attempt at humor.

Either way, I don't really care. I have other more important concerns at the moment...

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