KFC & the E.R.

DAILY  POST:  Take Me to the Moon – How far would you go for someone you love? How far would you want someone else to go for you? 

When I was thirty-three years old, my husband was admitted to hospital  only an hour or so after leaving the house for work. Before he left for work, he asked me to walk on his back, he was in excruciating pain, he hoped that my footsteps might click something back into place. It did not work and he left for work still in pain.


©Google Images

Gerrit and I owned our own plastic paints company. He was the chemist and I managed the office – a/p, a/r, inventory, orders, payroll, quotes, etc… I would normally arrive at work later than my husband as I made breakfast and lunches for the boys and waited for them board the school bus. That particular morning was no different other than just as I was turning off lights and getting ready to leave for work, the phone rang, it was Winston, “Susan, don’t come in to the office. Gerrit is in an ambulance on his way to the hospital, go directly to the emergency room.”

It was hours after arriving at the hospital before I was able to see my husband. It was also 1987, no cell phones to call our office for a better explanation of what had happened. I used a pay phone to call the office and ask Winston to fill in the missing parts of the story.

“Gerrit,” explained Winston, “was complaining about pain in his back and then suddenly, he exhaled a deep, painful groan and fell to the ground. He was paralyzed! He could not move his legs nor feel anything below his waist…”


©Google Images

I sat in the waiting room for hours and hours, until it was approaching the time when school would be letting out and the boys would be coming home. I did not want them coming home to an empty house, but I didn’t want to leave the E.R. until I knew something about Gerrit’s condition. Just then, in the midst of my worries, a nurse called my name and told me I could see my husband.

She led me through the corridor to an operating room where my husband lay still upon the table, “He’s just had a spinal tap and must remain still.” As she left the room, I rushed to Gerrit’s side and kissed him. He then told the same story as Winston had told me, with the exception that Gerrit’s story included the procedures he had been subjected to after hospital admission – two spinal taps.

Gerrit groaned, “I’m starving, I haven’t eaten anything all day, you’ve got to bring me some food!”

“What do you mean? Like something from a vending machine?”

“No,” he instructed, “you have to go home and get the boys settled, on your way back to the hospital, stop by KFC and bring me some chicken and biscuits.”

“But you’re supposed to lay still, how are you going to eat laying on your back?”

“Don’t worry, just please do this for me.”

I kissed him good-bye and left for home where I would explain to the boys about their dad being in the hospital and to behave while I was gone, they were old enough to be safely left at home alone.



I picked up the KFC food and headed back to the hospital, wondering how on earth I was going to smuggle the food in to Gerrit. The mouth-watering aroma of KFC filled my vehicle, I wondered how no one would notice the scent while I walked through the E.R.? My next concern was, where would I hide the small bucket? My only option was to stuff it under my heavy winter coat and be as inconspicuous as possible, maybe I would look very pregnant.

Somehow, my mission was successful. I simply walked down the corridor, looking like a woman about to give birth, smelling like KFC and entered the room where I had left Gerrit an hour or so earlier. He still lay there and was so glad to see me and smell the food. We ate together, and despite his unknown medical condition, we were able to laugh at our KFC adventure in the E.R.

How far would I go for someone I love? As far as I have to go to ensure their comfort and well-being, even if it involves smuggling KFC into a hospital E.R.



11 responses to “KFC & the E.R.

  1. Very thoughtful and heartwarming 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • They did not know what was wrong with him and their first thought was guillain-barré syndrome, so they put him in isolation for some time until tests proved negative for that. It wasn’t until then that the boys and I were able to visit him, of which I was leery for them to see him with tubes everywhere, but, at Gerrit’s request, I did bring the boys in for a visit.

      Shortly after that, they transferred him to London U. hospital (London, Ontario) where they had an MRI machine. Nothing showed up and they remained puzzled as to why he was paralyzed from mid chest downward.

      He was then transferred to a hospital in Toronto where for more tests, many specialists were involved.

      One morning, he woke up and while the nurse was tending to her regular duties, he grabbed for her, he was suffocating. He died.

      After the autopsy, it was discovered that the first paralysis was caused by deep vein blood clots in his legs breaking loose and lodging in his spine. What killed him were more deep vein blood clots breaking loose and blocking his lungs – pulmonary embolism.

      I brought the autopsy to our family doctor to explain it to me in layman terms. He told me that if we had lived in the USA, Gerrit would have lived through this since blood thinning drugs were available there but in Canada, they were still in the “testing” phase. That part is ironic because we were both USA citizens, landed immigrants in Canada.


      • Oh no!. As I read the words, “He died,” I experienced an actual shock–shivers in my brain, clutch in my heart and tears sprang out from my eyes. I did not at all expect that and you delivered the line with the same lack of warning that you probably experienced when you heard the news. I know it is a long time after the fact, but I am so so sorry your family experienced this. Horrible, horrible. So now I am ready to hear the next chapter of the story. What in the world did you do next–in a foreign country with small children?

        No blood thinners? What year was this? Hard to imagine the changes and discoveries that have taken place in our lifetimes. http://judydykstrabrown.com/2015/09/20/generational-drift/

        Liked by 1 person

        • It was 1987, February 7 to be exact. The first thing I did, after the funeral, was promise myself that I would not interrupt the boys’ lives by uprooting. They were going through enough adjustment, they didn’t need to be yanked out of their own lives and plopped in a place they didn’t know.

          I sold the business within a year and since I couldn’t find permanent work, I worked for a temp. service – office work. When our oldest son graduated high school (4 yrs. later) I knew that we had to move back to the States, the Canadian economy was taking a big dive and we could not survive on my working at temporary wages.

          I don’t remember the 1st time I was able to cry or even “miss” my husband, I had to be everything I could be for my children.

          Now, years later, with my son, Michael, dying 3 months ago from pancreatic cancer, now that I don’t have any young children to spark that “mama bear” strength, I know the ugliest grief there is to know.

          But, I’m trying to get through it by keeping busy and our other sons are staying in touch. It’s going to be a long road, but I do get up every morning and work at projects around the house and yard.


          • My husband died of pancreatic cancer, and it took me 8 years to really get over it. (Although I did keep very busy, moving to Mexico, completing work on our house, getting involved in a number of projects with kids as well as several writing groups) I attribute a lot of my recovery to writing a book based on my journals kept in the weeks leading up to and for 8 years after his death. There was something cathartic about that process. But, my husband was 70 years old and although that did not make the grieving easy, nonetheless, I cannot imagine what it would be like to lose a relatively young son! Thanks for sharing your story. I hope my inquisitive nature did not cause you additional grief in retelling your story. I have found that the reverse was true for me, but I know people respond very differently to grief–each in their own way. Three months? That is no time at all. I hope that when you are ready, you will find a group of people who have shared your experience of losing a child to talk to. Judy

            Liked by 1 person

            • Thank you Judy. I have friends with whom I can talk, but, the topic never comes up, so I don’t push it. People are uncomfortable with death, especially since my son was only 37 and left behind a wife and a 2 yr. old and 4 yr. old.

              Writing has always been cathartic and I know that is where I will find the most effective healing. I don’t think I’ll share much here because many people believe there is a time limit for grief and I know that that is not true.

              I started a private blog where I can write. Like you, I believe my healing will come from within through writing, as well as keeping involved and busy. Thanks Judy.


              • Everything you say is most true. After 4 months, my only friend down here (I had moved to Mexico 2 months after my husband’s death) told me to “get over it!” of course 4 months is nothing! I always ask questions and encourage friends to talk because I know most people are afraid to broach the subject. But, we need to talk about these things. I’d love to send you my book as a gift if you would send me your mailing address. Alternate chapters are written by a psychologist and many have found the dual viewpoints very helpful–i.e. me talking about what I was going through at the time and then Tony, the psychologist, commenting on what I say. Yes, it is about losing a husband, not a son, but I think we all go through similar feelings and that it might be of help to you. My email address is jubob2@hotmail.com. If you are comfortable with doing so, send me your mailing address and I’ll have it sent to you. You can also read about the book under “Books for Adults” on my blog. ( I am not trying to sell you the book. I really do want to give it to you. If it is not of help to you, you can pass it on to someone you think might find it to be of help.)

                Liked by 1 person

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