Hindy finds herself with another bottle of Tylenol with codeine, and takes several over the course of the day. Then, in the middle of meeting with another client, she passes out.
* * *
Hindy lay crumpled up on the floor like a tossed wrapper. Suri whipped out her cellphone and dialed Hatzolah.
Blessedly few moments later, the first responders were banging on the door. Suri hurried over to let them in, and led them into the kitchen.
“What happened?” asked the older of the two, whose kind eyes belied his ‘all business’ expression, as he rushed toward Hindy.
“I… don’t know.” Suri stammered. “We were talking, and then she just keeled over.”
They immediately got to work, setting up an IV, placing an oxygen mask over her mouth, and checking her pulse and her breathing. Suri hovered over their ministrations, prompting one of the men to signal to his partner, who guided the distraught woman off to the side of the room.
“Is there anything you could tell us about her behavior just before she collapsed?” he asked her, “Did you notice anything unusual?”
“Well,” said Suri. “I mean, I saw that she was unsteady on her feet, slurring her words…”
“Has she ever done that before, as far as you know?”
“No! Hindy Fishman is one of the steadiest people I know. Something was definitely wrong.”
The EMT nodded his head in thanks and turned back to Hindy. “Let’s get her on the stretcher, Moishe.” He turned again to Suri. “Do you know who her husband is? Can you tell me how to reach him?”
“No, not really,” said Suri, wringing her hands.
“Fishman right?” the other EMT spoke up. “I think I know the son. I’ll give him a call, see if he can track down his father.”
“Okay, let’s go. Thanks very much. Can you lock up behind us?”
Suri had no idea where Hindy kept the key, but of course could not leave the house unlocked. She’d have to either look for Hindy’s purse or stay in the house until someone came home. Then, on a hunch, she stepped out the back door and searched for a likely hiding place. She ran her hand along the eave over the porch and sure enough, there was the key.
As she watched them load the stretcher into the bus, she had a sudden thought that perhaps she should go along. What if Hindy woke up and didn’t know where she was, or what was happening? Surely she’d want to see a familiar face.
She locked the door quickly, slipped the key into her purse, and walked purposefully toward the ambulance. She climbed in without asking and sat on the bench next to Hindy. No one questioned her and she was relieved.
Hindy lay still as a stone, her face chalk-white, the oxygen mask obscuring her features. Hindy’s sheitel had slipped a little and Suri gently moved it into place.
The ambulance took off at top speed, siren blaring. Suri, who usually drove 10 miles below any given speed limit, braced herself. “Do you think she’ll be okay?” she asked.
“Hard to know. Her vital signs are very weak. It doesn’t seem like she’s had a stroke or a heart attack.”
“Chas v’shalom.” Suri whispered and silently recited a perek of Tehillim.
She was jolted from her prayers at the sound of the ambulance door being pulled open. They had arrived at the entrance to the hospital emergency room. Hindy was gone before she could process what was happening, and Suri realized she’d done all she could for now. It was time to go. She flagged down a taxi, and in a moment she was gone.
After Hindy was taken in for treatment, the Hatzolah team came out and readied to leave. One of them, Moshe Feigenbaum, remembered that he had to call Aharon Fishman. He scrolled down the phone list but the number wasn’t there. He quickly called his wife and asked her to look up Aharon Fishman on Poplar Terrace.
“Aharon? Moshe Feigenbaum. Listen, sorry to say, we just brought your mother into Memorial. Yes, Memorial Hospital. She seems to have collapsed. I think you should get over here right away. I’d rather not give you details over the phone. I’ll wait for you here.”
“We’re leaving, Moishe. Are you coming?”
“I’m going to wait for the son to get here. I’m fine. I’ll catch a ride later.”
Feigenbaum removed the pocket Gemara he kept on him just for moments like these. He looked around the ER waiting room and shook his head. He’d been a first responder for more than 10 years, and he was still not used to the suffering the job entailed, but deep down he knew that he was built for it, and that’s why he continued. Not everyone could handle the stress.
Aharon showed up nearly an hour later. Perhaps, Feigenbaum thought, surprised, he hadn’t properly presented the urgency of the situation.
“Feigenbaum, how are you?” Aharon stuck out his hand in greeting, but Feigenbaum stared at him.
“Fishman, your mother is extremely ill,” he said. Aharon didn’t seem to understand the seriousness — or maybe didn’t want to understand it. “I think you should go inside and see what’s happening.”
“Ah, lately she always gets these kinds of things. I’m sure she’s fine.”
Feigenbaum took his arm. “Maybe you should call your father?” he asked tentatively.
“Yeah, I’ll do that… soon. Uh, so which way do I go?”
Feigenbaum walked with him into the ER and approached the reception. “Fishman?” he asked.
“Fishman, Fishman,” the nurse looked down at the files splayed out on her desk. “Here, oh, they rushed her right up to the ICU. She was very lucky to get here the minute she did.”
To be continued . . .