Saturday, March 26, 2016

PEOPLE JUST AMAZE ME


Thursday was an extraordinary volunteer day.  Happy.  Anxious.  Scary.  Friendly.  Hopeful.  Exhausting.  Fulfilling.

At 5:45 am I met Gunta.  She needed a companion to travel with her to Oahu for a medical procedure.  A lung biopsy.  She is a very YOUNG 78 year old widow from Latvia.  She lost her hubby 5 years ago.  Three stepchildren who live on the mainland, she is close to just one.  Starting in January this year, she has been slammed with health scares, beginning with pancreatitis.  While determining this problem, enduring scans and xrays and all sorts of tests .... doctors discovered a mysterious mass on her left lung.

Kaiser Medical flew us both to Oahu at 8am where we caught a 15 minute shuttle to the hospital.  Her biopsy was scheduled for 10:15 am ... and was delayed over and over again until 1:30 pm.  I was finally allowed back to visit about 11:30 am while she was waiting.  She's so chatty and interesting.  Her family had to flee Latvia when she was 5 years old because the Germans took over her village.  They had to find a sponsor in the USA to "accept" them ... and her parents were indentured for a YEAR for this opportunity.  I learned once again how lucky I have been.
She is so brave.  Apparently they do not put you out as you have to hold your breath and be aware of sensations.  UGH!  They let me back to visit as she was waking up.  We were scheduled for a 5pm flight home to Maui ... but since the surgery was so much later, no way could we make that. Finally at 4pm, her vitals were steady enough to allow her to get dressed.  I went back to the waiting room.

The upside to spending so much time at a place where there is NOTHING to do, I got a lot of computer work done.  The hospital has free wifi and the waiting room had three separate office cubbies complete with electric outlets.  I finished up the condo newsletter.  Wrote some additions to Maui HOA documents.  Caught up on email, online games with friends, etc.

Suddenly my leisure was interrupted by a nurse telling me Gunta had an "episode" and was being rushed to the ER.  I hobbled along behind them as fast as my body would allow, thanking my lucky stars that I brought my cane.  

Different doctors, different nurses and I helped her recount her day for them.  They had rescheduled our return on an 8:30 pm flight but all of them were pessimistic about catching that.  She was so worried about me but I was more worried about her.  She wanted me to leave without her but I just couldn't do it.  

They did another xray to be sure air hadn't leaked out of her lung or complications around the wound.  We both made a pact to be optimistic!  Finally we got to check out at 7:15 pm, took a taxi to the airport and arrived with time to spare.

The cab driver was also interesting.  Just moved to Oahu 8 months ago from Wichita, Kansas.  One child is a successful timeshare salesperson, married, living in a $6,000/month apartment in downtown Honolulu.  One daughter has her Doctorate in Culinary Art.  One son is a past contestant on American Idol who now travels the world opening for big name stars like Lady Gaga.  Sorry I can't remember the other daughter but she too was a success.

(Von Smith)

I tried to talk Gunta into spending the night with me as she has FORTY THREE stairs to climb to get into her home.  Stubborn little lady.  But she promised to call me the next day so I would know she is alive.  She said she felt like a horse kicked her in the side, but doing okay.

What a day!



8 comments:

  1. Wow! You are a very good volunteer. That was quite a day for you and for Gunta. I wrote a post the other day about going to the hospital for H's foot injury, and I mentioned how nice it is to live only a few minutes from a hospital. Well, I had no idea. I can't imagine having to fly. Poor Gunta. I hope she fares well. I'm sure it was comforting for her to have you there. We all need somebody in those situations.

    Now I'm off to catch up on what I've missed on your blog.

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    1. Maui DOES have a hospital but the more specialty procedures happen on Oahu. Less than a 30 minute flight!

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  2. You're the amazing one---volunteering that much time to helping someone in need. Is that through the Red Cross ride program by chance?

    I remember that boy on American Idol! What great opportunities the top 10 get after the show. Isn't it interesting how much you can learn about a person's life in a short conversation in a taxi? But then you must have the same gift with people that my husband had...never met a stranger he couldn't talk with.

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    1. Na Hoaloha is an independent nonprofit for the County of Maui, four islands. Partly funded by the County ... been doing this for 25 years! We have about 100 volunteers and about 300 clients. Both growing!

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  3. I imagine Gunta couldn't wait to be in her own bed and sleep, sleep, sleep. Why do all the scary things with our health happen when we're old and living alone? You are such a warm, friendly person - a reassuring presence. Wow - you've been doing this for 25 years. Kudos!

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    1. Thanks. I have only started at Na Hoaloha last Feb. But I had a special "adopted" set of grandparents in Oregon. They became very close friends and Grandpa George just recently passed at age 94. Had his drink before dinner, wine with dinner and a nightcap!

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  4. Flying terrifies me, so I'd be pretty scared having to go in for tests! What an amazing person you are to volunteer for these things. I think I am way too selfish to spend an entire day with someone I don't even know, especially someone in medical distress. BTW, we had two families who escaped Latvia come and live in our little town. Sponsored by our Church and a family. They were the most intelligent kids in our entire school!

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    1. This was the first of its kind of helping. Maybe there will be an award for the longest continuous project at this Sat's Volunteer Appreciation Lunch!

      Not sure I would do it again ... I was not prepared for complications or having to spend the night! Although I'm sure Kaiser would have sent me to a hotel ... at their cost.

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