It’s hard to imagine right now that exactly two weeks ago, my Mom was fine (or at least we thought she was), and we were gearing up for a week of visiting with my eldest sister and her family. It’s funny how some of the most life changing things are those that you just completely don’t expect, aren’t they?
On Tuesday, June 29th, the kids and I stopped at my parents house and my Mom admitted that she was still having a very mild burning in her chest that she had been having for a week and a half. After much urging to call the doctor, we finally settled on me calling the doctor (when she said she wouldn’t, and I insisted). I talked to them for a while, and then she did. They suggested she go to the emergency room, so off my parents went.
In the ER, they did an EKG and a variety of blood tests. Everything came back normal (she had also had a normal stress test about six months prior), but they decided to admit her and keep her overnight until she could see a cardiologist. The cardiologist saw her late that night and asked her to have a heart catheterization the next day, just to rule out any heart problem. The doctor who did the procedure the next day said that he told his staff they would be in and out in about 30 minutes, as he didn’t expect to find anything.
The cardiologist’s nurse came to get us after Mom had been in the procedure for a while. She asked us to go to a room, even though most every other family in the room had been getting results from nurses right in the waiting room. I thought it was odd, but didn’t really worry.
After we sat down, the nurse told us that they were scheduling my Mom for open heart surgery for first thing the next morning for what would be at least a quadruple bypass. (This is the part where I admit that both my Dad and I cried.) We called family as we waited for the doctor.
Two different cardiologists came to talk to us, and were just as shocked as we were — most of her arteries were more than 90% blocked, with one major one 99% blocked. When I asked how it was that she could have been walking around like that, they said they didn’t understand it. And, even though they said that (shockingly) her actual heart muscle looked really healthy, they said that given the state of her arteries, it was very possible that she would have had a heart attack, and it could likely have been massive and life-ending. (This is now the part where I admit that I felt pretty light headed during all of this and sometimes couldn’t make sense of the words they were saying because it was just simply too much to process for this Mama’s girl.)
The surgery went well the next day, with only a few complications (including a difficult time with the breathing tube and then my Mom having to have the breathing tube stay in for over 24 hours after the surgery which was just horrible for her and us). We were all happy when the breathing tube came out! Shortly after her breathing tube came out when we were alone, my Mom held my hand and referred to my having made her call the doctor, “You saved my life. I’ll probably appreciate it more later though.”
While we knew the recovery would be horribly difficult, it has been a blessing to watch Mom as she has seemed to get so much better every day. She was in the hospital for nine day (starting from when she entered the ER). I probably have a lot I could say about her time in the hospital, but it would take forever to write about it all. As I already have said, I spent way too much time at the hospital. Except, of course, it wasn’t way too much time, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
She came home from the hospital a week after surgery, and we’ve all been so proud of how well she is doing. She is a hard worker and she’s also had a lot of support from us, as well as the prayers and thoughts of so many others.
(And this is the part where I admit that I just don’t have a good ending to this post. There is so much I left unsaid — so much more that I could share, but it just isn’t feasible in this setting. But, I will promise to update from time to time on how she is doing, and thanks so much for all the prayers that have been offered up for her.)
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