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Standing on the bare floor making lemonade

When life tosses a lemon, I’m usually adept at making lemonade. But even a practiced lemonade-maker can have the rug pulled out from under her.

On Tuesday, Dec. 10, the phone rang as my husband and I were finishing dinner. My granddaughter reported my daughter, Jamie, 38, had fainted and was hospitalized.

As I absorbed this news, my son-in-law provided more details.



While checking out of a motel on a business trip in Oklahoma, Jamie suffered cardiac arrest. The motel staff gave CPR until the 911 paramedics arrived and restarted her heart. She was taken by ambulance to a local hospital, stabilized, and then moved a level-one trauma center in Tulsa.

From their home in Columbia, Mo., her family (a husband and three daughters, ages 11, 13 and 18) drove six long hours to reach the hospital.




I decided to fly to Oklahoma immediately, uncertain what I could contribute but certain I needed to be there.

After a sleepless night, I left Sacramento in the pre-dawn hours. A window between storms made it possible to get through Denver and on to Tulsa by early evening. I went immediately to the hotel next to the medical center, dropped off my bags and went searching for Jamie.

Driving from Arkansas, my brother met me at the hospital. During my first visit, I was grateful for his presence. Jamie, in a deep coma, was given little chance for survival.

Every two hours, we were allowed 30 minutes with her. We saw steady progress as we kept vigil. She communicated first with her eyes, then she whispered. As consciousness increased, she became agitated and had to be restrained.

Watching her arms and legs flail and her head roll from side-to-side was painfully distressing. After fearing she would die, I now feared she’d live but mentally be gone.

During our short breaks, I took the girls Christmas shopping and we had our nails manicured. Sometimes we played cribbage – anything to distract us from the hospital scene!

By Saturday, in response to prayers on her behalf, Jamie made dramatic progress and was moved to another floor.

Helpless as a newborn kitten, she couldn’t be left alone. Her husband and I spelled each other, feeding and caring for her basic needs.

I also tried to take care of myself. Although I slept only a couple of hours a night, I ate carefully, though irregularly, and walked in the hospital corridors for exercise.

Eight days after the incident, Jamie was moved to a rehabilitation hospital near her home in Columbia.

I was strong for eight days, but I came home in bad shape. A sinus infection had returned and a hip hurt badly.

Emotionally, I was a basket case. One moment, I was thrilled Jamie survived, and in another, I’d weep. I felt disoriented and disconnected.

Extra rest and exercise (especially stretching), regular eating, prayers of family and friends, visits to the chiropractor and TLC from a supportive husband restored me.

I’m now headed back to Missouri to help Jamie make a transition home. She can feed and clothe herself, walk with assistance and communicate. Neurological processes, especially short-term memory, must be retrained. We’re hopeful she’ll recover.

Without being in shape, I would not have survived the trauma, nor would I have the resiliency to go back.

Until now, I shallowly thought I had gotten fit to avoid medical problems, play tennis and enjoy abundant energy.

Silly me! I was preparing for a much larger task. If I’m going to have to keep making lemonade, I must be strong, healthy and balanced.

Facing uncertainties, both global and personal, we never know who will need us, do we?

Carole Carson is a fitness and nutrition advocate from Nevada City. E-mail her at


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