The Fugitive

I had a huge scare and a very, very rough week last week. My Aunt Rose, who raised me from the age of 12 on, suffered a minor heart attack and a minor stroke (if you can really use the word “minor” with either of those) and was in the hospital from Monday-Monday. She’s home now and, while not quite 100%, doing remarkably well for someone who’s gone through so much trauma, but as anyone who knows Aunt Rose can confirm, it wouldn’t be Aunt Rose if there wasn’t a funny story involved.

First, the non-funny part of the story: I was getting ready to go to a friend’s birthday dinner last Monday, when my phone rang at about 6:45 p.m. I didn’t answer it, because my cell phone said Blocked Caller ID, but I got a voice mail from Aunt Rose seconds later, so I called her back on her home phone. She was babbling nonsense and repeating the same nonsense over and over, and I realized something was very wrong, so I told her to sit tight while I drove from Hoboken into Manhattan to take her to the emergency room.

The entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel was closed, for some reason, and while I was waiting to get into the Holland Tunnel, a call came in from Aunt Rose’s phone. Her neighbor thankfully called 911, and it was one of the emergency medical technicians asking which hospital she should be brought to. I asked them to take her to Beth Israel Medical Center and met her there. Within one hour of being in the building, I was shocked by the words “heart attack” and “stroke” and extremely worried about how much she’d recover.

She got exponentially better each day, with each test bringing positive results, and late Thursday night, she was moved from the cardiac-care unit, which is equivalent to intensive care, to the cardiac-monitoring unit, which is a lot more relaxed. The only bad thing about her speedy recovery was that she was becoming quite stir-crazy, as she felt fine physically and was getting sharper and sharper mentally.

When I visited her Friday, she mentioned a couple of times that it would be very easy to slip out one of the doors, take the elevator to street level and walk home. I strongly discouraged this, and she promised that she wouldn’t do it.

While getting ready to head into Manhattan Saturday morning, a call came in from Aunt Rose’s cell phone, but the voice on the other end belonged to the nurse, which really frightened me at first. However, when the nurse told me she had no idea where Aunt Rose was, I laughed, shook my head and said, “I know where she is. Don’t worry about it. I’ll handle it and get her back there.”

I then proceeded to call Aunt Rose’s home number and, when she answered, I sternly requested that she return to the hospital. She went home because she felt like taking a bath and washing her hair, which could have been done at the hospital. She was just stir-crazy, but it was still dangerous and not smart. My favorite part of the exchange was her saying, “Ah, they don’t even know I’m gone,” to which I responded, “Really? Is that why I just got off the phone with the nurse?”

As I said earlier, anyone who knows Aunt Rose probably wasn’t the least bit surprised at that story. Aunt Rose does what Aunt Rose wants, consequences be damned. If there’s a line, Aunt Rose cuts to the front of it. If there’s a giveaway of one item per person, Aunt Rose comes home with a half-dozen. If the flight attendant makes an announcement that all cell phones and electronic devices need to be turned off, Aunt Rose turns her cell phone on to see if it works. This is Aunt Rose in a nutshell.

Anyway, Aunt Rose has been back home since Monday and continues to improve at a rapid rate. She’s fine physically and totally herself, and all that remains, hopefully, are a couple of follow-up appointments with doctors and possibly a little bit of speech therapy. She still occasionally says one word while meaning the other, but it’s becoming less frequent and she usually realizes when she’s doing it. Considering the potentially disastrous results of the combination of a heart attack and a stroke, she came out of this very well and will hopefully be 100% soon. After all, they haven’t built a hospital that can hold Aunt Rose.

Aunt Rose in a commercial for HSBC (that’s her at the very beginning):

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7 comments on “The Fugitive

  1. Jill says:

    Dave, you know I’m thinking of you and Aunt Rose down here in Philly.

  2. Deb says:

    Sounds like you have a book in the making– your Aunt Rose is a lovely and strong lady! So glad she’s doing better. You two should go and have a milkshake!

  3. jscirish27 says:

    I knew she was in the hospital but not the reason why… hope she has a speedy recovery…

  4. Leslie says:

    I’m so glad she is doing better. It is hilarious that she broke out of the hospital! Heh. I never would have thought of doing that!

  5. Shelly says:

    Dave, I just saw this, but I’ve been asking Sterbakovs for her status. I’m so glad to hear about her quick improvement, and I love that she escaped from Beth Israel! Please tell her I’m thinking about her.

  6. […] Aunt Rose gave me a huge scare, as she suffered a minor heart attack and minor stroke in October. It was very […]

  7. […] very well). And also on the subject of family, my Aunt Rose has been doing very, very well since a scare last October. I guess if I had to pick one area of life to be happy with, I’d pick family, so that’s a big […]

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