The last day of 2009 was supposed to be a great one. Instead it went horribly wrong.
To ring in the New Year, my wife, Kay, and I arranged to see Spoon in concert at Milwaukee's Riverside Theater. The night started out great. We had a few drinks in Wauwatosa before taking the bus downtown. We planned ahead -- there would be no driving; however much we chose to celebrate, we would be taking a taxi home.
Not too long after our arrival at the theater, Kay's asthma flared up. Now I've known Kay a long time, 25 years approximately, and I've seen her exhibit the symptoms of asthma that I knew were devastating to her as a child. But for the most part, I considered her flare-ups no more of a setback than a runny nose or scratchy throat. Since I don't suffer from asthma, I'm sure I'm selling her suffering short, but Kay's episodes prior to this evening were usually pretty minimal.
We rocked through the opening set by garage rocker Jay Reatard (who would untimely perish only 14 days later) and most of Spoon's set. Late in the show, Kay's attack was severe, though, to the extent I was not fully aware. She excused herself to the restroom.
As the show rollicked along with balloon drops and toasts to the New Year, I began to get frantic. Where was Kay? Why hasn't she returned? Why won't she answer her phone? Why can't I get a mobile call through? (Turns out, everybody calls everybody at midnight as the year turns and mobile networks crumble under the weight.)
I left my seat to find her, but unfortunately, the show ends and the masses head for the exits. I finally spy Kay, she's semi-slumped over in corner in the lobby. She's not well and struggling for every breath. I run outside to look for a cab, but there's not a cab to be had. The few that Milwaukee has are being filled with New Year's Eve revelers. I am left with no choice but to call an ambulance.
Within minutes we're in an ambulance in front of the theater. Kay gets hooked up to oxygen while paramedics check her vitals. Seconds later we're whisked off to Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa.
Talk about an expensive ride back home. I left the hospital in the bitter cold and walk to tosa's village where I left my car. I return home for an hour to get some stuff, but return to the hospital to bring Kay home at about 5 a.m.
What a way to welcome 2010.
But of all that bad, there was some good.
As I posted an update or two about the trauma my little family was experiencing, it was caught by our friend, Sara Santiago. Sara knows a lot about asthma and has suffered from it for decades too. She called and volunteered assistance: medication, a nebulizer, friendship, whatever. She wanted to help. I told her that we could certainly use the nebulizer, and that Kay was familiar with the device from when she was a child, but didn't own one as an adult. I said I'd be on my way to pick up the device shortly.
Sara flatly refused. "I'm on my way, Mike. Don't you dare leave Kay's side."
So on a bitterly cold January 1, 2010, when families are together and enjoying each other's warm company, Sara journeyed out alone from her Bay View home to bring us this most helpful and potentially life-saving device. I won't ever forget that. I'm sure Kay won't either.
Now that's friendship.
Thank you, Sara, for all that you are. I was happy to read the OnMilwaukee spotlight article this morning and see a fitting tribute to your everlasting awesomeness. We are happy to call you friend, and if you ever need ANYTHING that we can help you with, please don't hesitate to ask.
So you see, Sara Santiago is definitely not a dick, but her husband, Augie, on the other hand ... ;)