Maria cared for my dad when he needed more help than my mom, Mike, and I could give. She was a nursing student with a huge heart in a tiny body.

Fast forward eight years. Maria was getting married and our entire family was to attend the wedding. It’s all my mom talked about for weeks.

How will we get there?

Who’s going to drive?

What time should we leave?

What are you going to wear?

51942695 - group of medics carrying woman patient on hospital gurney to emergency
Copyright: dolgachov / 123RF Stock Photo

Mom’s excitement grew as the day drew near. She mentioned she felt better than she had in a long time. Until Friday, the day of the wedding.

Instead of a trip to the Delta King, we took a trip to the emergency room. Mom could barely stand. Her speech was slurred and she couldn’t keep her eyes open. She was talking nonsense. It looked like a stroke.

All the way to the hospital, she kept murmuring, “I want to go to the wedding.” She didn’t get what she wanted. Instead, she got an express ride through a packed ER waiting room.

All it took was for me to say, “I think my mom is having a stroke.” They whisked her through the door of no return so fast I think I got windburn. And a lot of glares from folks who’d been waiting for hours to be seen.

As it turned out, Mom wasn’t having a stroke. She was severely dehydrated, which is dangerous for someone her age. Drinking enough water is imperative to keep an aging person’s kidneys functioning. Especially if they take a lot of medicine, as Mom does.

I don’t recommend announcing to the emergency room staff that your loved one is having a stroke or a heart attack, but I can tell you it sure sends you to the front of the line.

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