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I was headed back here to Barnes & Noble yesterday evening to get online for awhile and let my toes thaw out after a day of cutting up fallen tree limbs in the snow when my cell phone rang. It was my dad telling me that my mom was in an ambulance headed to the hospital with respiratory distress.

Suddenly, it didn’t matter anymore that we have no power, that my toes have been frozen for a week, that we’re all getting on each other’s last nerve – my mom couldn’t breathe.

They live 60 miles east of Tulsa, on a dirt road out in the woods, 13 miles from the nearest town, and 30 or so miles from the nearest hospital. The volunteer fire department was the first to arrive – 15 minutes after Dad called 911. The first guy showed up in his personal vehicle, as it was closer for him to just come from his house than to go into town and jump on the rig. They aren’t equipped with oxygen, though, but he did a great job of helping keep Mom calm and focused on breathing until the ambulance arrived.

It took the ambulance 30 minutes to get there (he got lost), but once he got there, he got Mom on oxygen, started an IV and made sure she wasn’t going into a heart attack. (Mom has congestive heart failure and asthma.) When he got her all ready for transport, the first fireman that showed up drove the ambulance while the ambulance driver rode in the back with Mom. Dad followed in their van. That’s when he called me.

Fortunately, my sister, brother-in-law and Second Son were coming to Barnes & Noble with me, so they were already in the car. Prima Donna Daughter was with her father (which is a post of its own), so we jumped on the highway and headed that way.

Now, I want major points from all of you for the fact that I DID NOT speed on the way out there. I set my cruise control and bit the inside of my cheek instead. I figured with the week we’ve been having, the last thing we needed was us to crack up on the highway trying to get there.

The good news is Mom is ok. Her blood oxygen level when the ambulance arrived was only 58, but by the time she arrived at the hospital, it was up to 94. They did x-rays of her chest to make sure she didn’t have pneumonia, gave her breathing treatments and said she could go home.

When we got her back home, I sat down with my dad and asked him if he knew CPR because 15 minute response times wouldn’t have saved Mom if she’d been having a heart attack. He looked really scared and said he didn’t.

So, I went through the basics with him and reminded him that if he ever needed this knowledge, that a) 911 would stay on the phone with him and talk him through it, so he wouldn’t be alone and b) all he had to do is do it until the first response person showed up, which we now know would probably be a volunteer fireman.

In the face of this, what’s been going on this week has been a minor inconvenience. Funny how what you define as a ‘disaster’ changes with what you have to compare it to.