Sunday, August 12, 2012

Web, M.D. - Katrina Montgomery



            Last year Easter was recognized on April 4th on calendars throughout the country. I woke up excited to go to church that morning because the previous Easter I was too sick to attend. That morning was the same normal routine: wake up, make the bed, take a shower, eat breakfast and get dressed. But this was Easter; everyone goes to church. It can be considered as an American pastime.
            Many recognize Easter as a special holiday. People put on their best attire to wear to church. Women wear different sorts of hats as if they were guests at the royal wedding. These hats never fail to match the dress or pantsuit women wore. Don’t forget the shoes. The shoes have to make the pitter-patter­ sound on the sidewalk or they just aren’t right for the occasion. The Easter rabbit, colored eggs and Peeps are considered afterthoughts because everyone focuses on going to church and celebrating the resurrection of Christ.
            My mom and I attend a church where “you can come as you are.” I was scheduled to work after church so I had on my work clothes. I was fully engaged in the service: the triumphant singing, the prayers and the meditation.
            The sermon began. The evangelist talked about the crucifixion of Jesus. I inched forward in my seat trying to listen to his speech. Initially, I heard what sounded like someone kicking the back of a seat but it seemed like it was coming from a short distance away. My friend tapped me on the shoulder. Maybe she wants a pen.
            “Katrina, I think there’s something wrong with your mother,” she told me.
            I turned around completely towards the direction my mother sat. What I saw was unusual. My mother was shaking violently. Her arms flared in the air in all directions. A group of people nearby surrounded her in a circular form.
            “Catherine, are you okay?” One person said while attempting to place their hand on my mom’s moving shoulder.
            “Get off of me! Jesus! Jesus, save me!” My mother yelled at the top of her lungs exposing her tonsils.
            “She’s got the spirit!” the preacher said. “Why don’t we say a prayer for our sister?”
            How could he be so lighthearted about this? Clearly, something was wrong.
            As people tried approaching my mother to help her, she kept pushing them away. I got up and slowly walked up the stairs and out of the auditorium. There must have been at least 800 people who came to church that morning. As I exited out of the auditorium, I heard snickering and laughing coming from some in the audience. They must’ve thought this was a stunt. Something in me helped to refrain me from rebuking them for their ignorance.
            Outside the auditorium, a person approached me:
            “You’re Catherine’s daughter, right?” I nodded.
            “Follow me.”
            Together, we walked downstairs into a murky basement area. The walls were white colored similar to that of bleach and the lighting was focused towards the center of the hallway. I saw a group of people circled around my mother who sat on a chair.
            My mother’s head swung back and forth like she was head banging at a rock concert. Her voice was unusually high like she was a cartoon character. Three men stood on opposite sides of my mom holding onto her arms. One man noticed the strange look that I had on my face upon seeing this and said,
            “She fell on her head while we were trying to get her down here.”
            Although we were in a hallway, the space seemed to get smaller and smaller as more and more people crowded the room trying to help. Questions like arrows darted at me: Is there a history of mental illness in your family? How old is your mother? Does she take medication? Does she have health issues?
            All I knew was that my mom was diabetic and that she took insulin for it. I didn’t see how that could lead to my mom behaving so unusually.
            “Do you know who you are?” One man asked my mother.
            “Yes my name is Catherine. Who are youuuu?” she replied, while swaying backwards and forwards and elongating the vowels in the words she spoke.
            The man laughed; he was a comedic actor for a living and did this to keep her calm.
            I wanted to cry so badly; I had never seen her act like this before. I was bombarded with questions. I felt guilty that I didn’t know the answers to many of the questions. A friend told me to be strong and that if my mom saw me crying, it might cause a turn for the worst. I had no idea what was going on with my mother. Someone in the congregation called 911. Two EMT workers arrived on the scene.
            “Who here is related to the victim?” the female EMT asked.
            Raising my hand and stepping forward I said,
“I am. She’s my mother.”
I told them that she had diabetes. The female EMT pulled out a glucometer and measured my mother’s blood sugar. We stood waiting for the results the machine would give us. Three dashes appeared on the screen. What does that mean?
“Her blood sugar is so low that the glucometer cannot measure it,” said the female EMT.
She and her partner quickly entered an IV into my mother’s arm to try to help raise her blood sugar.
“Does she have anything to drink or eat in her purse?”
I looked through my mother’s purse and found a small carton of orange juice.
“Here, drink this,” I told my mother, handing her the carton.
“Can you hold her things while we get her on the gurney?” the male EMT asked me.
After strapping my mom onto the gurney, we headed out the secret passage to the ambulance truck. A group of people stood nearby to make sure everything went smoothly.
“She’s gonna be alright. Stay strong,” said one person from my church, giving me a hug.
Before I climbed aboard the ambulance truck, the male EMT approached me.
“Can you sign here, here and here?” he said, pointing to the various places where my signature was required.
My hand trembled as the pen slowly transcribed the name that my mother gave me at birth. It had always been the other way around, my mom overseeing me, signing her name on all the papers. Now it had become my turn, adulthood.
Upon arriving to the hospital, it took awhile for my mom to receive a room. There was a drunken man in the emergency room giving the cops and the hospital staff a hard time.
“Either you calm down sir, or we’ll arrest you. Which do you prefer?” said to the officer to the intoxicated patient. Looking around the emergency room brought me into a further depression. Patients covered in blood and gauze laid in their beds as the heart monitor played its song.
 Finally my mother was placed in a room and a nurse came in to check her vitals.
“It’s a good thing the ambulance arrived when it did,” she told us. “Or else you might have been in a diabetic coma. My friend was recently in a coma and it took awhile for him to get out of it.”
Soon the doctor assigned to my mother entered the room. By now, my mother was acting normal but she looked weak.
“What happened this morning?” the doctor asked.
“I woke up and prepared my breakfast. I ate only one packet of oatmeal; I normally eat two but I ran out. My doctor advised me to gradually increase the amount of insulin I take. This morning, I took 30 milligrams. When I got to church, I felt a sharp pain at the back of my head. I don’t remember anything that happened after that,” my mother said.
“Ok, thank you.” The doctor exited the room.
He came back and informed us that my mother experienced hypoglycemia, a condition that happens to those with diabetes when their blood sugar decreases.
That evening, my mother was released from the hospital. When we arrived home, I went on my computer and looked up hypoglycemia on the Internet. I researched for a long time obsessing over the day’s experience. I had never experienced seeing my mother in that condition but after researching it on the web, things began to become clearer. When I told my mom about how she yelled during church service and how she ran around, she said she experienced hallucinations, one of hypoglycemia’s many symptoms. Other symptoms include mood swings, frequent urination, convulsions, blurry vision, and migraines.
This experience helped me to create a greater personal awareness of the disease my mother and many Americans have: diabetes. I’m not a doctor but here I am reporting to you from off the page, Dr. Montgomery, Web, M.D.