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Sunday, April 10, 2005

Doggone Scary Scene

It was like a scene out of an Animal Planet or PAX TV animal miracle television show. Yesterday afternoon the kids and I went to my mom's for a visit. My mother asked me earlier in the week to take her dog home with me because she wasn't adapting well to the new place and was causing all sorts of trouble.

Since the move, my mom would take Ginger on at least 10 walks everyday, trying to get her to do her business. The dog refused to do anything, sometimes for days. As soon as my mom fell asleep or left the apartment, even just to check the mail, the dog would dump and or leave a gigantic puddle right on the carpet.

I planned to take the dog to my friend's animal sanctuary with the agreement to be able to take her back should my mother change her mind. With my dad's recent passing, losing her house to foreclosure, moving into a tiny apartment and trying to live off of measly death benefits, the dog shitting and pissing on the Champaign colored carpet was just too much for her to deal with.

The kids and I walked up to her ground level apartment. The dog wasn't barking, and no one was in sight. I walked in, ushering the kids and telling them to take their shoes off. My 21-year-old nephew walked out of his bedroom.

"Hey, did you see Grandma out there?"
"No, why?"
"She took Ginger for a walk and they have been out for a long time."
"You hangout with the kids and I'll take a walk."

I walked outside and was greeted by Ginger. Her leash was dragging behind and my mother was nowhere in sight. The dog wasn't wagging her tail and trying to jump up on me like she normally does. Instead she was trying to get me to chase her. I ran after her catching her leash and dragging her back to the apartment and told my nephew something was wrong. I should have let the dog take me, but I didn't.

"Ginger came back without Grandma."

My nephew and I ran outside to go find her. I didn't know at the time but Lane 1 ignored my order to watch the little kids and also ran out, leaving behind his sister and cousin. My nephew and I decided to go in two different directions because the apartment complex courtyard is huge. As we parted ways, I heard sirens in the distance. I yelled for my nephew, "This way! Hurry!"

We ran up on a scene that will never leave my memory even if I live to be one hundred. I could see a fire truck, seven police cars and an ambulance, a police officer was holding Lane 1 back trying to keep him away from the scene. My nephew ran up and two officers were trying to hold him back. They weren't successful. Trying not to look as terrified as I felt, I approached, I offered a half hug while telling my son to get back to the apartment and stay with the other kids.

My nephew tried to stop me by grabbing my shoulders.

"Aunt Lois, don't! You don't want to see her like that!"

I pushed my way through, fell to my knees at her side. She lay in the street. Her eyes were open and rolled back, her shirt, hair and the concrete were saturated with blood that was pouring from her head. There was a pool of blood surrounding her head and four streams of blood were rolling down the hill. Above her right eye was a lump as big as a baseball. I held her hand to my face and tried to talk to her like everything was fine. Paramedics were working feverishly on her and asking a lot of questions. She was unresponsive.

At this point, no one knew what happened to her, if she was shot in the head, hit by a car or anything else. People began coming out of the woodwork as "witnesses".

"Mom. Hey. Can you look at me? Hey mom. You need to look at me and tell me what happened."
After repeating that a few times, while tapping her hand, she looked at me and whispered, "I don't know."

None of the "witness" stories were matching up and none of the witnesses spoke English. Gathering what I could based on my little knowledge of the Spanish language, I heard one man say someone on a bike intercepted the dog's leash, yanking my mother down to the ground, cracking her head wide open on the curb. Another said the dog was out of control, attacking and dragging my mom down to the street where her head got smashed. A woman said, she just fell. Another man said something about a scooter and a purple bike. By the time the police officers had a translator, all of the stories were the same. "Her dog did it."

I rode in the ambulance with her but had to sit in the front. I turned in my seat and kept talking to her. We arrived at the hospital, where they swarmed her and wheeled her into the trauma center.

The admissions lady approached me asking for insurance information.
"You're fucking kidding me right?"
"How about you go over there and fuck yourself while I make sure my mother is gonna be all right? Okay? Okay!"

They let me stay with her as they hooked her up to all sorts of machines. As they moved her with the back board and onto the gurney, blood dripped from the ends of her hair. The stretcher was covered in blood. They tried to see if the blood was coming from more than one spot but because her hair was saturated in blood, which had begun to coagulate, they opted for a CAT scan.

Her vitals were coming back to a good safe level and they began washing the blood off of her face and hair. I called my nephew letting him know that she would be having a CAT scan and it would only be a few minutes before the results were in. I told him her vitals were looking pretty good and that I would call him soon.

My sister Anita arrived, trying not to cry. We held onto each other for what seemed like an hour.
"Anita, she looks terrible. Her vitals are good though and they have her in getting a CAT scan. I hate being here."
"Me too."

We couldn't help but think about the last time we were at that hospital just two months earlier with our dad. A flood of memories came back that neither of us were ready to deal with.

They brought Mom back from the CAT scan and she seemed to be coming around. She still didn't know what happened to her. The results came back and the doctor scared the shit out of us.
"It looks like her brain is fine but I see a couple of broken vertebrae in her neck. I want to take her in for another CAT scan."

As it turned out, they were old fractures from a previous accident. Her brain was fine, that was what mattered. We waited and watched for any signs as they monitored her. She was coming around more and more and asking to get the hell out of there.

After a few hours the doctor told her if she could walk to the end of the hallway and back, without passing out or vomiting, she could go home. She couldn't get off of that gurney fast enough and that's when I knew she was going to be okay.

Anita drove us back to Mom's apartment and because it was getting late I said I would take the dog some other time. Having time to rehash what happened during the ride back, I realized what the dog tried to do and wondered if my mom really should just keep her. Since Anita was spending the night, the kids and I headed home.

Today my mom is doing a lot better. Her whole face is swollen, black and blue. The lump on her forehead is now more like the size of a golf ball. But she woke up this morning knowing what happened. Some kid on a purple bike rode right into the thin part of the retractable leash between her and the dog. She still doesn't remember hitting the concrete head first, which I think is a good thing.

I didn't talk to her about taking the dog to the sanctuary yet but I have a feeling she might have changed her mind.