The last few days have definitely been different — stressful to the max, it’s hard to believe everything that has happened in such a short period of time. On Tuesday, my next door neighbor fell somewhere downtown and shattered her right wrist and suffered a compression fracture of the T12 vertebra in her spine. She tried to drive herself to Lancaster, but realized she couldn’t so she returned home. She tried reach me and the other neighbor by phone. When she couldn’t reach either of us, she called 911. The ambulance took her to Antelope Valley hospital’s ER, where they x-rayed her wrist, stabilized it with a splint and released her. They didn’t do anything about the pain she was having in her spine. She called the neighbor to her left (I’m on her right as we face the street) at 11:30 p.m. and they drove to Lancaster to pick her up and bring her home. The neighbor suggested they stop at the In-and Out and get something to eat — she agreed and they ate in the car while heading back home. The ER doctor had offered her a prescription for Vicodin pain tablets but she told him she had some at home.
Once home, she reportedly took one Vicodin tablet and went to bed. I knew nothing of all of this until Wednesday afternoon about 3:00 p.m. when her brother called and said he couldn’t reach his sister by phone. He thought I was the one that had taken her to the hospital–I knew nothing of it, but said I would go over immediately and check on her. I found her door unlocked, which is good because I didn’t have a key. I called out and finally went down the hall to her bedroom. She was sleeping on top of her bed but her breathing was very strange. I tried to rouse her but couldn’t get her to keep her eyes open. I left her and returned home to report to her brother. I called him and said she was ‘dead to the world asleep’ and I would give her 20 min. and go back over and try again.
I went back over 15 min. later and took a clean washcloth, wet it with cool water and went to wipe her face and arms, trying to stimulate her enough to wake up. Finally, I began shaking her, quite severely and could not rouse her. I found her cell phone in her bed and called her brother. He asked me to call 911, which I did. The operator kept me on the phone and asked me to get her off the bed and down onto the floor so CPR could be started. He heard her breathing through the phone line and asked if she’d been breathing like that long and I said yes, ever since I initially came in to check on her. I had told her brother that the ends of her fingers were blue, so I knew she wasn’t getting sufficient oxygen. Back to the 911 operator, I told him I could not physically move her by myself and I would call for my husband’s help. I went out onto the deck and called over to my husband, telling him I needed his help, NOW. He came over and we literally dragged her off the end of the bed because there was more clear space there than by the side of the bed. I was all set to begin CPR when the emergency personnel showed — thanking God for the timing as I know my CPR skills are rusty. They took over and I stepped back out of the way. Long story short, her oxygen level was at 59, which is dangerously low. I don’t know how long we was at that level — they managed to get her stabilized and on a gurney and took her by ambulance to Tehachapi Hospital. I followed a bit later and waited until 6:15 p.m., when they said I could go in and see her. She was in and out of sleep, and her heart rate wouldn’t stay up. They gave her medication to counteract the Vicodin that she’d taken, and she then was able to state that she couldn’t hear and that her ears hurt and her back hurt really bad.
I went home when they said they were going to keep her. At 2:00 a.m., the hospital tried to reach me (they called my husband’s cell # but I couldn’t find it in the dark so went back to bed). I didn’t know who it was, but thought if they were trying to reach me, the house phone would have rung. When I woke at 6 a.m., I checked his cell phone and looked at the missed calls list. I saw that the hospital had tried to call, so I called them and they said yes, they had tried to notify me that they had moved my friend to San Joaquin Hospital in Bakersfield. I felt 2:00 a.m. was a strange time to be moving patients, but thanked them and said I would call San Joaquin.
My friend’s brother arrived in town Wednesday afternoon; her step-daughter (and HER mother) came to Tehachapi Hospital that night. The brother called me again Thursday morning and said that he would possibly head back home that evening, depending on how long they expected to keep his sister. He said they’d decided to install a pacemaker to keep her heart rhythm up; I told him I’d noticed that the ER nurse at Tehachapi Hospital had trouble with it the night before. I thought installing a pacemaker was an excellent move.
When I went to San Joaquin Thursday afternoon to take some clothes and personal effects to my neighbor/friend, I arrived just after her brother and step-daughter. We spoke with the nurse, and she told us they were giving her antibiotics intravenously because she had pneumonia, and that they would do a simple procedure on her T12 vertebra, injecting a glue in it to stabilize it. She said she thought the procedure would be done Thursday afternoon or Friday.
This morning, I received a call from her brother who reported that they had been prepping his sister for the pacemaker procedure when she quit breathing. They immediately put her on a respirator and took her to ICU.
At this point, I’m in shock at how quickly things have progressed downward. My friend had complained about her ears hurting and that she couldn’t hear. Our mutual neighbor had done some internet research on lack of oxygen and told me that loss of hearing was something that could be caused by lack of oxygen. We don’t know how long she was oxygen-deprived since she was breathing very heavily when I went to check on her the first time. We don’t know how much time it takes before the body’s organs are affected by a lack of oxygen.
We’re just waiting to hear …