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Like a Caricature
When I saw him that night his face looked like a caricature of Stephen Hawking.
His face was swollen to twice its size, his lips were huge, and his face had turned an ugly purple color.
“Dad!” I cried, running forward, both appalled and afraid. “What happened?!”
He looked like he was struggling to breathe, as he said something like, “Mmm mphasm mfnun mmm.”, while stumbling around the kitchen.
I only had a driver’s permit, but technically I still had an adult in the passenger’s seat. Thinking quickly, I shoved him rather gruffly in the car and turned the key to the ignition. Fear and adrenaline filled me, causing my fingers to slip with sweat. What had happened to my dad? Was he poisoned? Would he die? Was his brain altered?
He still wore his soccer cleats and socks from his Thursday night scrimmage, and I was alarmed to see that his throat was visibly swollen. I sped down the street, narrowly missing the neighbors crossing the street, and went through a red light. I hadn’t been to the emergency room since I was ten years old, when I had broken my finger, but I was pretty sure I knew the way.
Squeeling into the parking lot my dad and I parked and went to the front door, where a police man was standing.
“Sorry, we can’t let him in here.” The police man said, staring down at my too-short fifteen-year-old figure. “We don’t accept drunks.”
Anger flared up inside me. My dad had never touched an alchoholic drink his life.
“He’s not drunk! Can’t you see that his throat has swollen up?” I shouted.
“Yah, and that’s the way drunks look.” He replied boredly, looking at his nails.
In the midst of our heated argument my dad and his Stephan Hawking face collapsed on the asphalt parking lot.
“Dad!” I yelled.
At that moment the doctor came outside to see what the heated argument was. When he saw my dad his eyes widened visibly.
“Get him inside.” He ordered the assistants. I watched as my dad was dragged through the doors and past the rest of the people waiting in line at 8pm. Then he was taken into a small curtained room where doctors frantically began working on him.
“Is he going to be okay?” I asked nobody in particular.
“Of course, dear.” Replied the lady at the desk, smiling in a matronely manner.
I sat in the waiting room, my stomach tightening and clenching with fear. Was I going to lose my dad forever? What could possibly be wrong with him?
I remembered when my dad had told me as a little girl to always call 9/11 in case of an emergency. I wondered if it had been a mistake to take him to the emergency room- maybe I should have called the ambulance instead.
Various scenerios went through my head of what his plight could be, but none of them were realistic. My dad always knew what to do- he was strong and invincible. Being this messed up frightened me.
The doctor appeared half an hour later with my dad at his side.
My dad’s face had gone back to its normal, un-swollen appearance, and he looked like his regular self.
“Your dad just had a brief run-in with exercise-induced asthma.” The doctor said kindly. “His whole throat closed off, resulting in his inability to breathe properly.”
I ran forward and gave my dad a big hug.
“Next time don’t drive through a red light.” He said gruffly.
“Oh.” I said. For some reason the whole drive I hadn’t really thought of him as being mentally present.I smiled, slightly tearfully, and let my dad drive home while he explained what happened.
“I drove myself to the emergency room when my face started feeling funny, but the policeman wouldn’t let me in- thought I was drunk!” My dad explained indignantly. “I had no choice but to drive back home to get help.”
I grimaced, and nodded, suddenly feeling a wave of tiredness wash over me. To this day, that evening incident remains one of the most frightening experiences of my life. I’d almost lost my dad, and had been unable to do anything when a policeman called him drunk. I hope I never have to see his face look like a contorted caricature again.
Park City, Utah
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