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Airlift for the non-English Speaker

Lummi Island, United States


Reverse culture shock bites.
The entire time you were away you imagined your native country as being the perfect place to be when any problems arose. "Oh, if I was in America this would be handled like this.." or "I never have this problem in America"
So you move back and you have the ugly truth that problems in America are not as easily dealt with as you thought.
For example, Little Guy, he is still deaf in America. That was no shocker for me, but I got to pay $230 to confirm that for all the concerned professionals so that he could get services. Amazing the results in America were the same as China, he really can't hear. On a sidenote I'd always heard that when a blind person who has never seen gets their vision restored, they go crazy, it's just so overwhelming. I'd say maybe the same thing goes for deaf folks. I took Little Guy in for the test and he sat there with the headphones. I could see him and the computer screen, 3 times on one ear he gave the thumbs up sign that corresponded to the computer screen and then he signed waiting, waiting and they switched to the other ear and nothing but he still was signing waiting and his little face was all screwed up and confused. He came out of the sound booth and was crazy. Like really clinically crazy. The rest of the day, headbanging, slamming himself into the pavement, violent, uncontrolably nuts. He threw legos at the doctor. It was horrible. The sound booth lady reported to me that he registered no brain waves and didn't hear a thing. Ok, he went into the booth sane and deaf, he came out crazy. I'm thinking that his brain waves certainly freaked in there.
Anyway, I'll spare the story of the fight with the school system and the 35 school days wait to get him on the short bus to the special needs preschool. He needs to be in a deaf program, but they stuck him with a class of special needs folks. Nothing against his classmates, I used to work in special ed.
I say that phrase alot here, "I used to work..." Thats because I'm still unemployed. A zillion resumes and I have only had 2 interviews at Ross and McDonads. Both of them went the same way, "So your last retail/fast food experience was in the '80's..." And so I swallow my old age humble pie and perk up about how much fun it used to be to work at Dairy Queen/Thom McAn, meanwhile thinking OMG I can't believe I'm begging to work at McDonalds. So now I find myself saying if I was in China I could get a job so quick...
Anyway, life is quick. And I am a good cook, despite my failure at gaining employment at McD's. To my honor, I have won 3rd place at the Lummi Island Chili Cookoff in 2006, a blue ribbon for beer biscuits I made in 6th grade at the Harper County Fair in Harper, Kansas (I lived in the Bible Belt and my mom was a reformed hippie and used to send me out to collect recycling cans and one day I found a full can of beer, to torture me and poke fun at the fair and the snooty little FHA chics my mom convinced me to make beer biscuits and enter them in the fair. It was a real serious thing, the judges interviewed you about your recipe and I had to tell them where I got the beer, but I won the coveted
blue ribbon anyway). And I can boil a mean pot of frozen dumplings (or pot stickers as they are called on the bag). My dumplings are soooooo good that Little Guy (in his own world of culture shock) saw them on the table and took a step off into thin air from the 2cd highest step of our spriral staircase. Since he wasn't wearing his super hero cape he landed with a thunk of the likes I've never heard. Chris's back was turned for the split second it happened. Little Guy lay on the floor and wanted up. We tried to get him to stay down, but he wanted to be held and the lighting is dim over there. So Chris held him in his lap and his eyes rolled back into his head when he checked them.
So I called 911, I explained the fall and said I wanted the paramedics to meet us at the ferry. The operator said, "Ma'am, do not leave the residence." Like it was a scene of the crime or something. So we waited. Actually, it was like 12 minutes. I'm like, are they coming? Dang, I could have made the ferry. Little Guy wanted to go to sleep but we kept him up. We put on his coat and shoes for the journey. My neighbor (the one gave us the ride from the airport) is driving the ambulance when it pulls up. I open the door and the first words I hear (maybe some other stuff was said) were, "Airlift is on its way."
I'm totally stunned. Living on the island, my biggest fear is the helicopter. It is freakin' expensive. The ferry is $10 for a car and the helicopter is like 400 times that or more. I have always said that I better be about dead before I'm out on that because if I get the bill I'll have a heartattach. And that was when I was employed. A few years ago they started offering helicopter insurance, $65 a year. I so wanted to get it, but we had planned to come back and maybe take 2 months to get a job, well we are 4 months in. That policy was not purchased. We have a job lined up in May (yeah, census), we were so close...
So before they ever look at Little Guy, they had called in the big guns. Why, was he dying?
He took a seven foot fall landing on a hardwood floor. They stretch him out on our table after they take off his coat. We retell the event over and over. Little Guy is still trying to go to sleep. So I say, why does he need to go on the helicopter. Teenager is on my side, she says, "I don't think he will do to well on the helicopter, he's scared." By now the medics are on the scene (from town), so the volunteers are chatting (like we aren't in the room) the parents are thinking he should go over ground, but the SOP is that with a "non-English speaking person" when they can't tell us if their feet are tingling, blah, blah, blah.
I'm so stunned. In China, we couldn't get an eye exam forever for him because he was deaf. They didn't want to "waste" their resources on him because he was deaf and we were foriegners. In America, here is the complete extreme situation. Because he is deaf and Chinese, he goes via the helicopter, using the most resources available.
BTY, he knows the sign for hurt, which he was indicating his head hurt, his hip hurt. We never knew to teach him "tingling".
And the medics are questioning us like why, why, why would you not want him to go the fastest way. Like we are heartless for suggesting ground tansportation. Airlift people come in.
The nurse was really cool, she took notes on tape on her pants.
The put him on the board.
He goes in the ambulance.
We go in the car. Nobody extra gets to ride in the helicopter.
The abulance stops at the bottom of the hill at the LZ (landing zone), we are waved on to go to the ferry.
We arrive at the ferry to watch the helicopter fly over the sea toward Bellingham.
We got to cut in line and that was a little special. Although I was crying and dry heaving. Chris went and told the car we cut infront of that our son was airlifted. They wished us luck.
3:15, almost 1 hour since we called 911( 3 ferry runs in an hour), we rode the ferry across and drove to the hospital. The ferry workers offered to call anyone for us. They are so nice. I couldn't think of anyone to call. I couldn't stop crying.
The nice airlift nurse calls and says they arrived and that they even got him to smile once.
We arrive at the hospital. He's getting a CT scan.
We finally sign some papers. We never gave consent for him to be treated (or flown). By the time we signed, all that was left to do was an x-ray.
It was kind of scary how when you call 911, your child is basically out of your hands.
We get to see him, finally. He had peed his pants on the copter ride. He is signing dog. Over and over, get the dog over here, dog, dog. I'm so stunned, in the twilight zone. Did the helicopter people promise him a dog, OMG, who told my kid about a dog, what on earth is going on. I sure don't have $$$$ to run to the gift shop for a stuffed dog. He is signing, Dog, dog,dog. The doctor comes in. The ASL interpreter comes in and never shows her hands and says "the parents are here I'm leaving." Dog, dog, dog. I look around the room and there are two tackle boxes of medical equipment across from the bed. The ends of the boxes look just like a our little dog kennels. Oh, I think his little brain cells are working!!!!!!
The CT scan results show stuff that we thought was mistranslated at adoption(stitches translated for shunt for a head injury before we adopted him, really misleading on the part of someone who wanted to see him adopted) was indeed a real concern. It didn't show any new trauma.
The ER nurse had adopted a son at 5 from Hong Kong so she was really nice. We talked about bonding. You could still see the hurt in her eyes, 20 years later.
I'm glad Little Guy is ok. I didn't wish I was in China with an injured child, but I'm having a real hard time adjusting to life in America.
We came home in the car, on the ferry. In the parking lot of the hospital, Little Guy signed helicopter bye, bye.


permalink written by  carseat tourist on April 10, 2010 from Lummi Island, United States
from the travel blog: Reverse culture shock
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