The medical establishment sometimes has trouble getting my mother's humor, I should point out. When she called her cardiologist this morning to describe her symptoms he told her which hospital she should go to, one that was equipped for the procedure he thought it was likely she would need. "I know that hospital," she said, "It's where my brother died." "But not from heart failure," she reassured him.
But I don't mean for this to be my mother's story, since I'm not the one to tell that and I'm likely to get the details wrong at this point. No, this is my story. And my story begins with me in a conference room in Mountain View, talking to a storage engineer about some upcoming projects and waiting for his manager to join us. My cell phone rang, and I assumed it was the manager we were waiting for since I'm using my cell phone as my work phone for this trip and in general people don't call me on my cell phone since I rarely even turn it on when I am not traveling. It was my father, who said he was calling from the hospital. The man in the room with me got to hear me say things like, "Why are you at the hospital?" "How long will she need to be there?" My father told me what had happened and assured me things were ok and gave me the phone number to reach him when my meeting was over, no emergency. I hung up and the very kind engineer grew even more kind and asked delicately whether things were ok and assured me we didn't have to continue the meeting. No, it's ok, I said, and then the manager came in and I said something about having just gotten a distracting phone call and he said, "Yeah, I know how that can be" and we had our meeting. Then it ended and I said, "I'd like to use this conference room now" and manager guy said, "Sure, we have it for another half hour" and kind engineer guy said, "I'll close the door" and I called my father back.
I'm sure I would certainly not answer a cell phone while in a conference, if I carried it around regularly, but we really thought it was related to the meeting. And then when it was my father, telling me he was calling from the hospital, well there I was mixing very personal stuff with business, which is disconcerting. Fortunately the compassion and understanding in the room right then and there was great.
When I called my father back he gave the phone to my mother, who was not happy at not being allowed to sit up but didn't sound either sick or distressed. "I'm not sick," she pointed out. My brother has had stents put in, so they know the drill. It's hard to maintain the sense of adrenalin-flushed tragic distress when you are actually talking to the person you are concerned about and that person is perfectly lucid and not willing to go along with any dramatic worry you might be feeling.
Then I went back to my borrowed office and wrote up the meeting for my boss, and then I sent a note to some friends in Minnesota about it all, but I'm still a little, well, I guess you'd say energized. It's got to be something like adrenalin, the adrenalin of worry, and it just needs time to get through your system.
With no cell phone, my father would not have been able to reach me until tomorrow morning most likely -- even with a sheet of phone numbers of where I'm staying every night while I'm traveling (which I used to send him). That we can be reached quickly may not be a good thing always, but on the whole I am quite glad for this just now.
I'm leaving work shortly for a dinner party that dr_scott is hosting for me tonight. I think sitting down with some nice food and friendly guys and maybe a glass or two of wine is the right thing, certainly better than the rush hour traffic ride back to San Francisco I would be making otherwise.