Yesterday became chaotic suddenly.
Off the scale really...
I took a phone call from my daughter. She was collapsing on the side of the road with chest pains but she wasn't sure of the street name. She couldn't even stand up to put the bike away safely. And friendly city that Antwerp is ... no one would help her. Not even with the name of the street.
I went back there today, to pick up the bike the ambulance people had locked for her, and it's a busy street. This European city breaks my friendly little New Zealand heart sometimes. What made those people so cold and uncaring?
Yesterday I called Gert, not knowing what else to do, and he called her. He managed to recognise her location and called an ambulance. All of this, bouncing between people and phones, with the added stress of knowing Miss 8's after-school centre was closing and I had to find a way across and through the city's rush-hour gridlock.
As the ambulance people were covering her with equipment to monitor her heart, I was making an emergency call to a really kind Belgian I know. Sarah saved the day, as did her mum who was able to jump in the car and pick up Miss 8 just as her teacher was calling me, wondering where on earth we all were.
Quite shaken, I set off on a tram to begin putting my family back together. Jess was in a city hospital, precise location unknown but able to reply to sms's, Miss 8 was safe with good people. I picked Miss 8 up immediately because it was something I could do.
Later that evening and Gert finished his meeting. He arrived at the hospital, after calling the emergency phone number again to find out exactly where she had been taken, just as the hospital were releasing her.
It wasn't her heart, it was a stomach blockage, she was told. I went searching. They're incredibly painful, a collapse on the street is quite understandable as it can feel like your heart. Today I was able to be amused, as I read that coca cola is the 'drug' of choice ... achieving a 91.3 success rate in terms of a cure.
And so today has been an all over the city day. School drop-offs and pick-ups, and a return midday for a school play. The bike rescue, the long icy bike ride home.
I'm sitting here, wrapped in a beautiful Nepalese shawl Miss 8 convinced me I needed - after 4 days of putting it back. And I have a glass of red wine, and some good music playing. I'm exhausted.
Actually, further to the story of the people on that Antwerp street ... someone did come and help Jess eventually. A lovely Morrocan guy. And when I think about who I see giving up their seats on the trams or helping young mums lift pushchairs on and off trams, I'm not surprised.
To the others who passed by that young woman on the footpath in a state of collapse. She only needed a street name, not your blood nor your time. Just a name ...