I had something pretty cool in store for you on Wednesday, but as I was preparing my father called. ‘Can you pick me up in two hours’ he croaked. He was on a cruise with a friend of his that won a million on the lottery. I didn’t really think much of it, even thought he’d had a biopsy the day before. He’s had too much for breakfast I thought and kept on preparing my idea for you guys. Minutes later his sister called me, ‘there’s something not right’ she mused and wondered if I’d be able to persuade him to find help on the ship. I obviously agreed and called him back. This is literally 15-20 minutes after I first spoke to him.
This is by far the most terrifying phone call I’ve had in my life. Within seconds he went from mumbling semi coherently to not really being able to breath. He managed to give me an approximate location to where he was and which ship he was on, or rather where the ship had been and when they were to dock. Even though I went into panic where I literally shook to the core, I knew that the next few minutes would mean everything. I quickly pulled up Viking Lines contact details and franticly screamed at the automated voice that informed me which number to click for different services. There was no service for a father dying on their ship. I clicked three and was told that there was less than a minutes wait. My bearded man was on his phone to 112 and was quickly told that they could do nothing.
I begged of the universe for a swift crew.
The minute dragged on to two. By this time I was hysterical. They finally picked up and a very professional woman jotted down my information and asked me a few questions. It was obvious that we didn’t have the right information, it was fathers friend that had booked the cruise and therefor was the main name on the booking. I couldn’t remember his second name and had no idea what the booking number was. Simultaneously at this time I pulled up outlook and started trying to get into my fathers email, on the third attempt I was successful. The woman and I put the phone down, she needed to work quickly as to locate my father.
I searched fathers email with his friends first name and found his second name, then when searching for his “first name” + “number” I found an email where dad had sent an email to another friend with this friends details. I was in luck and immediately started dialling to the friend. No answer.
From this point on I don’t remember much, my bearded man took over the conversation. Hysteria is the word, I was sat on the floor at his feet and bawled that they had to move fast. At some point my father picked up the phone and I heard light breaths on the other end, I love you I whispered.
The woman called back and informed us that the paramedics were with him and they were doing everything they could. It’s a scary statement, everything in their power. Sometimes the power of a human being isn’t enough… I managed to think of many things before “pappa” finally popped up on my screen. He was breathing and speaking in full sentences. I was so relieved I just wailed at this point.
He was determined that he wouldn’t get in an ambulance and I was determined that he would. I tried to coax him with no luck, he ordered me in his captains voice to pick him up in the car. I retorted that that might be so but I was taking him to the hospital as soon as I got him. Finally a paramedic spoke to me and I warned him that my father is terrified of hospitals and would do anything to stay out of an ambulance, he agreed and said that dad was a tough old boy and they’d surely persuade him. If not they’d make him get in an ambulance.
By this time the ship was going to dock soon and I grabbed my longboard to cruise down Hornsgatan and further down the pier. I’ve never gone so fast on my board and neither had the guts to go downhill, but I was intent on getting to the ship and getting on the ambulance with father. At the security gate I explained what happened and asked for them to let me through. I was drenched in sweat and speaking at 100 miles an hour, the Finnish security guard put a heavy hand on my shoulder and told me to calm down. The tears welled up again. He was a professional, I’ve gone through the same training and recognised what he was saying to me. It didn’t really matter to me, I was just glad that someone was on my side and helping.
I ran onboard the ship with the ambulance and my bearded man. Dad emerged from a heavy duty bulkhead hatch (a door basically) with oxygen tubes in his nose and a bag of saline in one hand. He scoffed at the ambulance and looked at me “come on let’s get in the car”, before I managed to say anything both the crew and ambulance drivers were shoving him towards the stretcher. He continued to growl as they strapped him in securely. I continued to hear him inside the ambulance as we came round the side to hop in next to him. He really did not want to be there.
His blood pressure was low and he had an extremely high fever approaching 41. We traveled a little faster as they established this.
We sat in the ICU for the best part of the afternoon. Dad progressively got worse and drifted back and forth between reality and an alternative where he was on his way out from the ICU. He kept believing that they would realise their mistake and let him go. The ICU in itself was chaos, you might have read it in the paper – their whole computer system was down. They had no idea where their patients were, who they were, what was wrong with them, and what medication they were on. Doctors and nurses kept eyeing dad to see if he was who they were looking for. As they told dad about the systems being down he gruffly slapped me on the shoulder go sort it out will you, they might let me leave. I simply nodded and smiled at him.
He’s been hospitalised for the past few days for acute blood poisoning and has been lucky enough to receive the correct type of anti-biotics from the day we arrived. Apparently that can be an issue to, i.e. that the patient is given the wrong type of antibiotics and this is only found out a few days later. We’re hoping to take him home tomorrow so he can chill on our sofa and cuddle our beautiful little dog before I finally take him to my auntie where his dog, Emil, is waiting.
90 seconds, that’s the amount of time the paramedics had before… well, you understand. The urgency in this situation is what’s got me thinking of how extremely important it is that we have important information about our loved ones. Who they’re traveling with, where they’re traveling, company, cabin/seat etc… It’s so easy to think that parents are the ones to keep an eye on us, but having slightly older parents it’s now important for me to keep an eye on them. Mum don’t worry you might not be there quite yet.
So this is my plan for the future: TripIt. A web application and iOS/Android app. The service scrapes your emails and adds all relevant information to one easy overview. So what I’ve done is added my dad’s email to my account so I’ll automatically receive his travel details. My mums already on there from earlier. Now the problem is him being a little bit old fashioned. He’d easily just call up a service and book that way, or let his friends book (like above disaster) and not receive an email with the confirmation. Well, it’s all about habits and I believe that this old dog can learn new tricks and will make sure that his buddies forward confirmation emails to him. And if not I know that I won’t ever make the mistake of not asking him for all information before he goes anywhere.
For the more extreme cases there are apps like Family Locator – GPS tracker, which has some free functions and a lifetime subscription for 145 kr. The lifetime subscription lets the user live track a loved one, which I guess can be pretty handy. The free version seems to update location on an interval. I’m going to try it out and see if it’s worth the subscription.
If you’ve got any other tips or apps that you use please let me know!
On an ending note; technology saved my dad’s life and I will forever be grateful.
Much love, and dad if you’re reading this – go back to sleep,
My dad loves selfies (probably the only reason he uses a smartphone) and our pups! This is us just a few weeks ago :)