Shirley Thompson

North Shore Update

Is There a Doctor in the House?

Okay, I know it is winter; I know it snows.   But, you would think three inches would not be a problem at least it shouldn't for those used to winter in Minnesota. 

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving my husband had an appointment at the VA clinic in Superior, WI.  The care van was to pick us up at 12:30 because his appointment was at 1:30.  At 12:45 I called them; they said the driver was running late but would arrive in about 5 minutes.  At 1:00 they called to say the driver could not get the van up the driveway.  Okay, I know the driveway is over a mile long and it is uphill but I had gone down into town earlier in the morning and had no problems getting down the hill and then back up the hill.  Okay, it had snowed the night before; a whopping 3 inches.  Whoopee, it wasn't a problem for me. 

I said to them, "You've got to be kidding, I drove down the driveway today and back up and had no problem."

They replied, "Well, mam, our vans are not very good in snow and your driveway isn't plowed."

I replied, "We only had 3 inches of snow.  This is Minnesota, if your vans are not good in snow that makes you redundant for 8 out of 12 months here in Minnesota."

They replied, "We're sorry, we can't get to you to get you to your appointment."

I called the VA and left a voice mail message to cancel the appointment.  Now, earlier in the morning I had called Midwest Medical to see if Rich's electric wheelchair was fixed.  It was and they were going to deliver it to the VA clinic at 1:30 since we would be there.  When I called the VA to cancel the appointment I told them that Midwest Medical would be delivering Rich's chair and that I would be coming into town to pick it up for him.  We needed that chair.  For the last week Rich had been using his old manual chair and it was a nightmare gone bad.  He could not transfer from or to the chair unless I helped him.  I told Rich that the appointment was cancelled, made him a quick lunch, and fed him.  For the last week I've had to hand feed him because he hasn't been able to do it himself.  I put him into his bed and told him I would go and get his chair but that I had to drive to Superior so it would be awhile.  He was okay with that as long as he got his electric wheelchair back.

I headed into Superior and the sun was out and shining.  I arrived at the VA and told the receptionist that I was there to pick up the electric wheelchair delivered for Richard Thompson.  She looked at me and said, "they were just here 15 minutes ago and since the appointment was cancelled we sent them, and the chair, back."

I dropped my head onto the counter and started banging it.  She felt sorry for me, or was worried I was going to hurt myself, I don't know which.  She told me she would call them and see if they could come back with the chair.  She immediately called them and they said the driver had a cell phone and that they would try to get a hold of him to bring it back.

I sat down and waited, and waited, and waited some more. The receptionist called them again and they couldn't get a hold of the driver because he was delivering some medical equipment to a home and had his cell phone turned off.  But, they would keep trying to reach him.  So, I sat, sat some more, and then sat even more.  Finally, I told the receptionist that I had left Rich in bed and that he could not get out of bed unless I was there; I really couldn't leave him alone any longer.  The phone rang and it was Midwest Medical and they had gotten a hold of driver and he was heading back with the chair.  So, I sat and waited, and waited, and waited some more.  I was just getting ready to have her call them again when the van arrived with the wheelchair.

The driver and I loaded the chair onto the lift I have attached to the back of my truck.  I started for home, I had arrived at quarter to 2 at the clinic and it was now after 4 in the afternoon.  The wind had picked up and with the chair riding attached to the back of the truck the drive across the Blatnik bridge over the Superior/Duluth harbor was not much fun let me tell you. 

Just before reaching Two Harbors it started to snow; or else the wind was rearranging what snow we had from the night before.  It was now dark out and after 5 in the evening.  I stopped at the bottom of the long driveway and got out to make sure the chair was strapped in tight enough so it would not tip and fall off the back of the truck. 

I started up the driveway and reached the first inclined and prayed, and continued to pray at each new incline all the way to the top and into my garage.  unloaded the chair and rode it into the house and into Rich's bedroom.  He was so happy to see that chair but I was exhausted and hungry.  Let us not forget that I am a diabetic and not eating can have certain affects on me. I hadn't had anything to eat since early that morning and I had one HELL of a headache let me tell you.  I was also shaky and not feeling too well.

Well, he has his chair; he is happy.  I survived and cooked Thanksgiving dinner the next day.  Our two sons arrived with their significant others and we had a nice Thanksgiving dinner.