Tuesday, June 21, 2011
One summer afternoon , Sis and I were playing behind the house when she screamed and started to cry . Before my eyes , I could see her face puffing. "Mum ! There's something wrong with Sis ! ", I yelled through the kitchen window .
When Mum rushed from the house and saw my sister she picked her up and rushed inside , with me close behind . Sis would not respond to her questions of what had happened . She just lay there swelling and beginning to turn blue around her mouth . Sis was struggling for breath . Her eyes were swollen shut . Mum knew that within minutes she would be dead . Suffocated .
Mum rushed to the kitchen cupboard and grabbed the narrow hose that she used for bottling wine . Within seconds , she had forced the tube into Sis's throat down past the swelling . Dad was at work so she called a taxi to rush her and Sharon to the hospital , giving the neighbour instructions to get hold of Dad and tell him to meet her at the hospital .
By the time the taxi drove off , Sis had swollen into an unidentifiable mass . Every hole in her body was blocked shut...a great round ball with a plastic tube sticking out of the top . I was terrified that that would be my last image of my sister . That I would never see her again .
I sat on the front porch on the old couch , watching across the tracks waiting for Mum , Dad and Sis to return . "Everything was going to be alright" , I kept reassuring myself . Later , just about supper time , I saw Dad return alone .
He explained that Sis was going to have to stay for 'who knew now long' . Mum was staying to help out . The first concern was the swelling . No one had any idea what the cause was , so treatment was limited for fear of making things worse . The second concern was for her heart , as it was under severe strain . Her kidneys had also shut down with the swelling . " She might not survive this " , Dad explained . All I could do was cry . There were no words inside me to let out . The hospital she had been born in might also see her death .
That night gave me no rest . My sister for the first time in our lives was not sleeping in her place beside me . I missed her horribly and the pain of thoughts made me cry most of the night .
With me in tow , he had me walk through what Sis and I had been doing . Where she was standing when she had screamed . He searched the ground . Nothing . On the back wall of the house there was a hole about eight feet up , which was left when the old magneto phone was exchanged for the new dial phone . All around it , hundreds of yellow jacket wasps were busy going in and out . Dad was familiar with the aggressiveness of this wasp . Just our presence was working them into a frenzy . This was their territory now and we got out of their way . This was the cause , Dad was sure .
The doctor was grateful for the information . Nurses , the Doctor and Mum pored over Sis's body for any trace of a sting . Mum found it above her eyebrow - a small purple puncture no bigger than a grain of sand . North Bay Hospital sent a serum against bee stings . This was the first case of such a reaction in Mattawa . Now the serum would be part of the pharmacy .
Within a hour , Sis was given the first shot . The swelling began to dissipate . She was going to be fine in a couple of days . Shortly after , the tube that Mum had in desperation forced down Sis's throat was removed . The swelling had diminished enough for Sis to breath normally .
The tube had been left in place for fear her throat would close before the medical staff could replace it . For twenty-four hours , it had been her only source of air . The Doctor made sure that Mum knew that her quick response had saved Sis's life , for she would have died before ever reaching the hospital without it .
None of us ever regretted the wine making years . Mum especially . She always kept a tube handy . " You never know ", she said .