It’s almost normal…

22 Jan

Saturday, December 21, 2013

I left Napa early that morning and went straight to the emergency room. In a matter of minutes, I was in my mother’s room holding her. She was surprised, but not scared. Yet. The doctor came in shortly after I arrived and explained what Congestive Heart Failure was and how we would treat it. I quickly dialed my sister Sandy so she could be virtually at this conversation (and help me remember what was said!)

My brain absorbed the facts but my mind wandered to realities. I would move in with her and take care of her, helping her plan meals and prepare them. Make sure she was safe and out of the woods.

Her spirits, as always, were high. We did a lot of laughing. And speculating on the various ailments of others in adjoining rooms. She had a crush on her doctor. He was charming and because he knew already that she loved to travel, he brought her his own copy of National Geographic.

The doctor explained the complications of her conditions. Her longtime high blood pressure had put a huge burden on her heart because it was working hard to pump her blood. Like any other muscle, the harder something works, the thicker it becomes. For a heart, this isn’t good news, but it is a condition that many have and live years and years with. To ensure the blood keeps moving correctly, the patient is put on blood thinners. With her one-week-old diagnosis of atrial fibrillation, they put her on Coumadin; however, it’s the age old “too little, too late” in this case. The Coumadin wasn’t yet therapeutic, hence the heart failure. So in the ER, they gave her an IV drip of Heparin. This is an industrial strength blood thinner. It would alleviate risks of stroke (it keeps the blood flowing), but the complication they told us, was the fact her heart was in failure from congestion, requiring a diuretic to sort of flush out the excess fluids.

Sounded simple enough to me. Eliminate the fluid retention and keep the blood flowing. A couple days of this therapy and viola, Mom is all healed! I started making mental grocery lists of lean meats and leafy vegetables. I mentally went through her cabinets looking for salty snacks and her George Foreman grill…

Mom seemed to understand a lot more about what was going on than I did. Her concern over having a stroke was huge. She asked the doctor to check her carotid just to be sure… “My ex-husband died from a blocked carotid – I don’t want to die from a stroke…”

The doctor checked her artery just to be sure, but she was fine in that regard. Shortly thereafter, the nurse asked if she would like lunch. She joked “yes, I’d like a grilled cheese sandwich with a cup of tomato soup!” The nurse laughed and brought her something else. Something appropriate from the 1200-calorie per day meal plan she was now restricted to.

Mom’s best friend Inga was there that afternoon and the three of us giggled about a variety of topics, including Inga’s new 80+ year old boyfriend and their sex life (I fear the visuals I got will never leave me…) As Mom lounged across the bed, it felt almost like a normal afternoon hanging out.

Around 6:30pm that night, Mom was finally admitted to the hospital. I went with her and got her all settled in and we ordered some dinner. She again asked for a grilled cheese sandwich and a cup of tomato soup. This nurse wasn’t as humorous as the ER nurse, but Mom and I both chuckled anyway. I’m sure the nurse thought we were annoying.

While Mom dined a la hospital bed, she couldn’t help but peek into the bed next to hers. The curtains were not closed. Mom rolled her eyes as if saying “really? I’m trying to eat here!” Apparently the roommate was not wearing panties and was ass up in the air. Understood given the fact that, well, you’re in the hospital, but unappealing during meal time nonetheless.

Shortly after dinner, Mom told me to go home – home, being her place, where I’d earlier sent Rock to take care of her dogs, and where we’d be staying until we knew more. Mom smiled and said she had her iPad and Kindle – was going to read before getting some sleep.

As I left around 8:30pm that night, I hugged and kissed her, told her I loved her very much. I paused at the edge of her curtain and smiled, not knowing this was the last time I would see her normal again.

She would develop a clot overnight and be rushed to surgery for an emergency embolectomy. She’d never be the same. Ever.

Mom class reunion 2009

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3 Responses to “It’s almost normal…”

  1. Kindred_Hearts January 22, 2014 at 8:32 am #

    My heart goes out to you. Tears in my eyes, knowing how this feels. Wishing I could give you a hug.

    • Lisa January 22, 2014 at 8:34 am #

      Thanks honey, I appreciate the kindness and support.

      This is an 8-part story – I hope you have a box of tissue handy…

      • Kindred_Hearts January 23, 2014 at 6:01 pm #

        I do. (Hugs)

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