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Fifty Years of My Life (1939 - 1990)
A Memoir by Jeff R. Noordermeer

Sometimes medicines make you feel worse

It was August 29th, 1989, I had called a taxi very early in the morning which would take us to the Holiday Inn in Silver Spring from where we would catch a bus which would take us to the Casino in Atlantic City. That morning Lu Lu was up very early and ready to go. Everything seemed to be OK with her until we were riding the bus and she started to complain about very cold feet. It was a warm summer day, as they usually are in Washington area. The bus driver had the air-conditioning on and even asked the passengers if the air-conditioner was comfortable. Nobody complained about it. Since Lu Lu had trouble with her arthritis in her legs it never was a comfortable trip for me wherever I had to take her. When she started to complain about her cold feet I told to put them on my lap. I thought by stretching her legs she would have better circulation, and that might help. I could feel that her feet were ice cold and I felt so sorry for her that I took my own socks off and put them on her feet. This helped a lot. When we arrived at the Casino in Atlantic City, as we got off the bus I noticed that Lu Lu could hardly walk. I asked her what was wrong, she told me that her legs hurt her so bad and that she could hardly stand on her feet. There was a small hall from the bus depot to walk to the front door of the casino. I asked Lu Lu if she could walk that far, she said she would try. With much difficulty she was able to walk to the front door of the casino. The first empty chair I saw I told Lu Lu to sit down and wait for me. I knew the way Lu Lu acted that there was something wrong with her. I went straight to the front desk of the casino and told them that I needed a wheel chair for my wife who had suddenly become ill. The people at the front desk were very nice and in no time had a wheelchair for Lu Lu. I asked her if she wanted to play the slot machines and she said yes. As I pushed Lu Lu in the wheelchair through the crowd along all the slot machines I noticed that her speech was very slurred, and when she played the slot machines she didn't know where to insert the money. It was evident that something was wrong with her.

Casino slot machines

Judy was a card dealer in the casino. Judy lives with her husband and three children two hours away from the casino. We have been friends for several years, and Judy is very fond of Lu Lu. Judy worked full-time in the casino as a card dealer. She and Lu Lu had made arrangements to meet each other during her break time. When Judy met us during her break time she talked with Lu Lu and gave her some money to play. She could see that Lu Lu wasn't feeling too well, but she thought that was still from the open heart surgery she had. I just pushed Lu Lu through the casino and let her play on every slot machine she liked. Around 4 o'clock I pushed Lu Lu back to the bus station, and told her to wait there until I came back. After I returned the wheelchair I went to the boardwalk and looked around for a good restaurant where I could find some nice, crisp, fried chicken for Lu Lu. We both had not been able to eat due to all that confusion with the wheelchair. In the meantime, I bought Lu Lu a sweater so that she would be warm and comfortable for the return trip on the bus. On our return trip Lu Lu slept most of the time. We ate our food on the bus and that made her feel a lot better. I tried everything to make her trip as comfortable as I could. When we arrived back at the hotel in Silver Spring I asked the bus driver to call a taxi right away, he was very cooperative as he knew about Lu Lu's condition. During the bus ride on our way home Lu Lu had locked herself in the bathroom in the back of the bus. It was very hot in the back of the bus. Lu Lu was not able to open the door and started to scream in panic. I went to the front of the bus and told the driver that Lu Lu wasn't able to open the door and she was a heart patient. In no time he pulled off the highway and went outside and opened the window and climbed inside the bathroom and opened the door. People were laughing when Lu Lu was stuck in the bathroom, but the bus driver told them about Lu Lu's condition and they were very sympathetic toward her.

As the bus driver had called a taxi and we were on our way home, I asked Lu Lu if she remembered the neighborhood. She said she didn't know where we were going. Once I got home I slowly took her up the stairs. It seemed she was dead tired. As soon as I had her resting on the couch I called the doctor and told him what had happened. Of course he wasn't too happy that I took her to the casino without letting him know about it. The doctor said that Lu Lu's blood pressure might have gone up too high and given her all the problems. He said to give her a high blood pressure pill and let her rest. By the symptoms I had seen that day - the way Lu Lu was acting - I told the doctor that I felt she had a slight stroke. He told me to call him back in the morning if things didn't improve.

Early in the morning Lu Lu was up as always to take her medicine, but this morning she couldn't remember which medicine to take and she wasn't able to talk very clearly. I knew all along she had a stroke. I called the doctor right away and told him I was taking her to the hospital. In the hospital she was diagnosed with having a stroke. It even showed up in the test that she had a slight stroke before. What had happened to Lu Lu was all that medicine she was taking, some of the pills had given her a slow internal bleeding and caused her body to become weak. She had lost so much blood that she needed 7 1/2 pints of blood to get her blood count back to normal. Through all of this she lost her memory, wasn't able to speak very clearly and didn't know how to write anymore. For twelve days she was in the hospital, and when she was released she needed physical and speech therapy nurses to come to the apartment to teach her all over again. There were months I had to be very patient and understanding. The open heart surgery and the stroke had taken a lot of physical strength out of Lu Lu's body. She had lost so much weight. I knew that she needed my help more now than ever before. I knew I was going to be stuck in the house looking after her. As time went on, her speech improved and she was able to read a little bit again, and with some help was able to dial the telephone. In her case it could have been a lot worse, but thanks to God he saved her and let her live more comfortably than most people who have had strokes.

CONTINUED: Accept what life brings you
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© Copyright  - Antonio Zamora

- Foreword
- Old Rotterdam
- World War II
- After the War
- Coming to America
- Washington, D.C.
- Southeast Asia
- Philosophy of Life

- Book Index