Bermuda. The idea was to go and relax.

No worries, just enjoy that amazing little piece of paradise.

I brought my Mom. She worked hard in rehab after her fall. She really needs a new knee but I told her we could look into that when we got home. I would put her in a wheelchair and just make her be really careful. I even invited her friend, Marge. Marge is easy to be with and has a great sense of humor. It was supposed to be me, Jolene, Mom and her friend Marge.

I am all about being organized when I plan a trip. I had wheelchairs ordered at both airports for Mom and Marge. Mom is 78 and needs a new knee. She fell about two months ago but luckily did not break anything. I used the trip to Bermuda to motivate her thru rehab. She is stronger than she used to be but is now using a walker. I got her a wheelchair. Marge just turned 80. She is in good shape but still babying her broken ankle from a year and a half ago. I put her in a wheelchair too. We pre-boarded the plane and were on our way.

It’s a short flight to Bermuda from Philly. Mom is, well….let’s say the nervous type. Her main emotions in life are worry and panic. I had given her an Ativan to get her onto the plane and made sure I had more…just in case. Little did I know how much “just in case” there would be on this trip.

We landed in a thunderstorm. It was brief but very intense. The rain and wind were so intense it was actually raining sideways. I hate storms too but I tried to appear calm so she wouldn’t freak. We landed without too many bumps and the plane made its way thru the rain to the terminal. We waited while people departed. Mom waited and looked out the window.

Karri? Karri! … We’re still on the runway! People are going down high metal steps!!! Where is that tunnel thing????? I can’t go down that! She was right. There was no tunnel thing and the rain was still torrential. I approached the flight attendant. Excuse me? How will we be getting mom off the plane? Remember she came in a wheelchair? They just looked at each other. You mean she can’t just go down the steps? I looked incredulous. No, she cannot. That’s why she is in a wheelchair. The captain stepped in. Well, that’s going to be a problem.

Mom went from her nice Ativan mellow to panic. What does he mean it’s a problem? Somebody get me off this plane. Everyone is gone! I’mp here all alone and there’s now way to get me off this plane?? KARRI! DO SOMETHING! HELP ME!

I tried to use my “Be calm with your crazy Mother voice”.

Mom, we are going to get you off. We just have to figure it out.

One of the flight attendants radioed to the airport that we had a problem. They replied they would send out the hydraulic lift they use to lift food into the planes. It would take about ten minutes to get it there. When she was done with the call she scolded me for not arranging this ahead of time. How in the world would I know to ask for a hydraulic lift when I land in Bermuda? And by the way…..what the heck is a hydraulic lift?

I wish I hadn’t asked that one. She explained it and Mom went to 12 on the panic scale.

Calm voice… Mom, I’ll be with you. It’s all good.

Panic voice…’s not all good? There is a hurricane out there and they are going to put me on a metal thing like a piece of meat and watch me get hit by lightning? Get me out of here!

Calm voice… Mom, it is not a hurricane and it looks like it’s stopping. Just relax. Take three deep breaths like we do in meditation.

Crazy voice… I am claustrophobic and having an asthma attack! She shook their inhaler at me. See! I have my inhaler right here! I have to get out of here! And I am not going down on some lift thing! K…A..R…R..I !!!!!!!!!!

Slow calm voice…Mom, you are not claustrophobic. You are not having an asthma attack. Just calm down. Besides…the lift is here.

They opened a side door and a big metal platform inched towards us. Mommy said. We’ re all going to die. I just know it. I pushed her out to the platform.

The rain pelted us. I hung onto the chair. It slowly lifted us down.

See mom? No worries.

She bent her arms back to slap at me.

Our friend and driver, Philip was calmly waiting for us. He has such a gentle island energy about him and before long we were looking at turquoise water and his accented voice explained the history of everything we saw. We were staying at the largest resort on the island. It held around 1500 guests. Over the next day and a half we got settled in our rooms, had some wonderful dinners and toured the island with Philip.

Then came my first day of Pharmacy Education classes. The Golden Girls were going to the pool and I was off to class. Easy Peasy. Around noon I had a break so I called Jolene to check on them at the pool. Jolene said….stay calm…the ambulance should be here any minute. What???

The Golden Girls had taken over an hour to put on their new bathing suits and pack everything they could possibly need for a day at the pool. They found chairs and got comfortable. Jolene and Marge took a quick dip in the water to stay cool. Marge climbed the pool stairs and stepped onto the mat. Then onto the wet cement. She fell hard. She hit her head and her leg. The staff rushed forward. Someone ran to get mom. Jolene couldn’t get out of the pool with everyone on the steps. She crawled out on her hands and knees. She rushed to Marge. Marge takes blood thinners. A blow to the head could be very serious. Her leg wouldn’t support her weight. Security got her back to the room. They dried her off and they waited for the EMTs.

I left class and ran into the room. She seemed ok but was clearly in pain. My mind raced. I wondered what the Bermuda hospital would be like. Would they have the drug to reverse Eliquis if she had a intracranial bleed? Would she need to have an emergency evacuation? Did she re-injure her ankle with all those screws and plates in it? Shit!

The ambulance came and we were off. There is only one hospital in Bermuda. The building we were seen in was new, clean and modern. The staff was well trained and efficient. The doctors were trained in the U.K. Within an hour Marge had been Cat scanned and X-rayed. I texted mom and Jolene every 15 minutes.. they were both worried and scared. Mom had already taken an Ativan and was still totally worked up. Jolene went to plan B. She took Mommy out for ice cream. It seemed to work even better than the Ativan.

The doctor came in and asked if we wanted the good news or the bad news. Marge said she wanted all good news but that wasn’t the way it went. Her head was fine. No bleeds. But….she had broken her tibia, the shin bone.

What now? Surgery? Did she have to be admitted? Did we have to get her home ASAP?

The ER doctor said he called their “Ortho Man” and he was on his way. He would be making recommendations. Their Ortho Man arrived wearing shorts and a golf shirt. His mirrored wrap around sunglasses were pushed up on his head. He was all muscles, dimples and tan. OMG.

The British accent just added to his appeal. Marge and I just stared.

When we were able to restart our brains, we learned that she could have a cast put on that would allow for swelling on the plane. It was not rush home but she would probably have to have surgery in the next 2-3 weeks. We got a script for pain meds and we were sent on our way.

One last FYI. Marge had purchased an extensive trip insurance policy when we planned the trip. The admissions office did not even want to see it. You pay the bill NOW. Cash or credit. No insurance. They are happy to send you an itemized bill to your home for you to send to your insurance but they wanted to be paid on the spot. Always travel with a big credit card.

We took a taxi back to the hotel. Moving Marge was not easy. She had a lot of pain and could only hop to transfer from the wheelchair to the taxi. We got her into bed and elevated the leg. She pretty much stayed that way until we left four days later. She was a good sport and kept her positive attitude. She became friends with Deborah from housekeeping. She came twice a day and checked on Marge when she was in the rooms. We kept her as comfortable as we could and went to the beach and dinner. We fell into a new routine.

Two days later was our beach day. The hotel provided us with a handicapped van with a lift. At the beach they had a beach wheelchair and a beach boy pushed mom out to a chair. It was beautiful as long as we didn’t think too much about poor Marge back in the room. The sun was very intense so after about 3hrs we headed back to the hotel. We took showers and put our pjs on. We settled in for a short nap before dinner.

Then it happened. The fire alarm. Flashing lights. A voice in the hall calling for evacuation of the building. We all jumped up. Jolene got mom into her wheelchair. Marge was already in hers. I opened the door and saw Deborah from housekeeping. Deborah, what should I do? I’ve got two people in wheelchairs! People were charging down the hall in all states of undress. Deborah swung into action. She ran into a room and called security. She yelled to me that Security knows and are on the way. I pushed Marge into the hall and then to the stairwell landing.

Jolene and Mommy were still making their way out of the room. Jolene works in fire safety at a large hospital. She told Mom it was most likely a false alarm. She was not pushing as fast as Mommy wanted. She started yelling at Jol to move faster. Jolene stepped to the side of the wheelchair and told her it was important to remain calm in an emergency. Mommy started slapping at Jolene with both hands. Screw calm! We’re going to die! Get me out of here!! More slapping.

Jolene pushed her to the stairwell with mommy crying and slapping. A man in the hall told me it was a false alarm but did I want to put our lives on it? Jol tried to explain that stairwells were fire rated for 2 hrs for just this reason and she still doubted it was a real fire. Hundreds of people were coming down the steps. Mothers dragging kids, ladies in bathrobes and men trying to keep track of their families. A young couple came down and saw us. Mom was having chest pain and Was taking sublingual nitroglycerin. The man took it all in. He told his wife to go on and he would stay with us. Mom kept yelling for someone to get her out. The man was calm and introduced himself as Steve. He said he was from NYC and said he didn’t believe in false alarms. That’s what they had told the people in the Twin Towers. He would carry them down if he had to. Marge said she would go down all 6 floors on her butt if it came down to it.

I decided to go down and find security to see what exactly was going on. I jumped into the flow of people and made my way down. When I got to the bottom there was a woman from security holding the exit door. She could only tell me that Security knew they were there and needed help. I turned and headed back up the steps. I had to push against the crowds. I ran up 6 flights of stairs. I am NOT in good shape. I did it on adrenaline. I thought I was gonna die and not from a fire.

The head of Security finally arrived. He reassured them that it was a false alarm and got them back in their room. ( We didn’t even have our room keys) A cart in the laundry had accidentally hit the pull station. Everything was OK. It took a good hour for Mom to calm down. Deborah knocked. She was checking on our Golden Girls. She was so kind. Steve disappeared into the crowds. They called All Clear on the Red Alert. I made myself a drink.

The next night Steve and his wife came up to our table at a local restaurant. They saw us and wanted to check on our girls. Mom thanked him profusely and we sent drinks over to their table. The kindness of strangers always leaves me in awe.

Marge’s pain leveled out and it was time to head home. She moved herself to first class and we made a detailed plan on how to best move her from hotel to airport and home. I alerted the airport that we needed wheelchairs at the airport entrance. We needed the hydraulic lift for two. We needed an aisle chair too. I tried to think of everything. When we arrived the chairs were waiting. Perfect. The attendants pushed us through check in, customs and to the gate. They would come back when it was time to pre-board. I propped Marge’s leg up on a suitcase and we waited.

The attendant was on her second day of work at the airport and was excited to ride on the lift. Mom and Marge..not so much. After a while she came back and told us the other attendant had been pulled to another job. She would take us one at a time. She took hold of Marge’s chair and was off. I grabbed my carry on and duty free liquor and chased after them. If I had looked back I’m would have seen my Mother reaching for her asthma inhaler and hitting Jolene.

Follow them! Don’t just sit there! She’s not coming back for us! Karri left me! Jol remained calm. The lady said she would be back in ten minutes. We can’t follow, you need security to access that elevator. She was sucking on that inhaler and hitting Jolene again. Finally someone noticed and took them to the tarmac.

Meanwhile Marge and I were being raised up to the plane. First class had already boarded and families were starting to push in from the other side. When the flight attendant saw our wheelchair she said Marge would have to leave it behind to enter the plane. I told her that she couldn’t walk. Her leg was broken. That’s why she is in the wheelchair. (Where do they find these people?) she turned to the young Bermudian who ran the lift. He was built like a grizzly bear. He nodded to the stewardess and bent down over Marge. Before we knew what was happening, he scooped her up and pressed Her to his chest in a huge bear hug. Then he waddled down the aisle holding Marge. We all yelled for him to stop. Marge was in the very first seat and he was already down three rows. He walked backwards, still holding Marge to his chest and then plopped her down in her seat. The man sitting next to her said, well I’ve never seen anything like that before. Marge was speechless.

I turned and looked behind me to see Mom’s panicked face coming up the side of the plane. I stood her up and put her cane in her hand. People were still pushing to get on. I stepped into the flow and tried to walk backwards to steady Mom. It wasn’t working. She was too wobbly and I knew she was close to falling. Mom kept saying, I can’t do this. My legs won’t move. I knew I had to get weight off her bad leg. I turned my back to her and wrapped her arms around my waist. I said ..If you can’t walk, maybe you can do the Bunny Hop! She held onto my back and I started singing the Bunny Hop song as we struggled down the aisle. The people in first class were mesmerized again. Some lady with purple hair and a funny hat was Bunny Hopping an old woman down the aisle. The old lady was complaining and threatening the purple one singing Hop-Hop-Hop. Since I had everyone’s attention, I announced to the crowd that Mom did not really have a bad knee, she was just really drunk. Mommy squawked again and promised to kill me as soon as we got home. I heard them laughing as we approached our seats.

We got Marge and my mother home.

I made myself a drink.

I guess I need to go on another vacation if I want to relax.