Monday, May 21, 2007

Wherever you go, there you are

Last Friday night, as we sat down to dinner, the phone rang and it was a social worker from a local hospital calling to let Donn know his dad had fallen and been taken to their ER. His dad lives on an island, and she wanted Donn to come take him home when he was all fixed up. So we finished dinner and I offered my car to Donn, since it was easier for his dad to get in and out of. He left about 7:30 to go 5 miles away. I settled down to prepare for the weekend ahead to assist Chris Griffin in teaching a ChiRunning and ChiWalking workshop.

About 8:30 the social worker called to ask where Donn was. That was a little worrisome. I waited and she called back about 9:30 to say he still hadn't gotten there. Now I was genuinely worried. I ended up driving what I thought would be his route to look for my car, and didn't see anything. Meg called again to see if I had heard anything. I told her I didn't see my car, and didn't know what to do. She suggested I call the police to see if there had been any reports of an accident. I called my son, who was manning the phone at home, and asked him to do that. He also called the local trauma ER to see if they had Donn. No accidents and no Donn at the ER left me really baffled. How could he ride his motorcycle across the state and yet go missing on a five mile trip to the hospital? Meg had said she would see about sending his dad home in a cab.

Back home I called the hospital again to talk to Meg but she had gone home. The person I talked to said they couldn't send him home in a cab because the cab driver would not get off the ferry. I told her I couldn't take him and besides I was worried sick about Donn at this point. She condescendingly offered "Of course. That would be out of your comfort zone." (I wanted to use my foot to get her out of her comfort zone!) So she said they would send him home in an ambulance, which he would have to pay for. It would cost $500-$1000. I said go ahead because I wasn't going anywhere until I figured out where Donn went. By this time I was fighting going into convulsions and trying to stop shaking. I calmed my nerves, telling myself everyone has to go at some point, and maybe this was Donn's time.

I called the police again, and they had no reports of accidents, nor did the State police. Harborview once again confirmed no Donn at their ER. I called the police back to see about putting an APB on my car. The policeman suggested I not do that, beacause if they found it, with Donn in it, they would have to book him into jail. I asked about filing a missing person's report, and he said to wait a few hours, and then file, to give Donn a chance to show up. So all I could do at that point was to drift off to sleep. I decided I would call Chris in the morning to tell him I couldn't help out because I was looking for Donn.

About 4 am I heard Donn's key in the door. As he walked in, I yelled "where the hell have you been?" to which he replied "the waiting room at the hospital". He had gotten there and asked to see his dad (didn't say he was his dad but used his name) and the staff just motioned him back to where his dad was, without asking who he was. That's a violation of HIPAA rules. He saw his dad being worked on and the docs/nurses shooed him back to the waiting room. He would occasionally go ask about his dad, but always got dismissed. Finally, when he realized the last boat was about to leave Seattle, he asked again. They said they had already sent him home in an ambulance! What idiots!!! Donn lectured them about their snafu and about letting him go see his dad without asking who he was.

I went back to sleep for an hour or so (I think I got two hours sleep) and got up in time to bike up to the community center for the workshop. After giving Chris the short version of the night, I settled into teaching and really enjoyed helping the participants. It was like a refreshing break from a horrible nightmare.

At lunch, I called the hospital and asked to speak to Meg. I asked her if she remembered talking to me the night before, and after a moment she did. I asked if she knew Donn was in the waiting room the whole time, and she was really shocked and very apologetic. I also informed her about the violation of HIPAA rules, and suggested the hospital cover the ambulance ride back home. She agreed and said she would check into it with the staff supervisor. I felt a little vindicated for the grief I'd been put through, and went back to the class.

The nice thing was I was able to let it go and give my full attention to the class. It was, once again, a refreshing break from the trauma. I love teaching and helping people connect with their bodies, and watching them grow into the runner or walker they hoped to be. And watching Chris teach was, as always, really inspiring. We also had some new instructors helping and hearing their input was like a breath of fresh air. It was a great weekend despite a very rocky start! For this, I am grateful to ChiRunning coming into my life, and helping me to be in the present moment, whatever that moment is.

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