Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Troubling News About My Mom

Originally sent 10/17/2005:


I don't know if anyone has told you yet, but my Mom had a heart attack from blockage in a heart artery at 1:00 am this morning. They inserted a stent and she's currently recovering in ICU. Luckily she was already in the hospital when it occurred or who knows what would've happened.

Early Saturday morning she woke up with a tightness is her chest and the feeling that she couldn't breath even though she was breathing fine. She thought it was a symptom of her cancer and she didn't want to wake my Father. Around 4:00 am she still couldn't sleep and now her left arm was numb and her left hand was tingling. This time she woke him up saying she had to go to the hospital.

My Father, being doctor/hospital phobic, told her to lay down and he would rub her back telling her that she'd be fine. This didn't work and then she suddenly had a bout of diarrhea. In the bathroom she collapsed and couldn't get up. This time my Dad dialed 9-1-1.

No sooner had he hung up the phone when the door bell ran and deciding that at this point clothes didn't matter he answered the door without first getting dressed. (I don't know what he was wearing at the time, if anything, nor did I ask.) It was the first of three policemen to arrive (he must have been driving near their house when the dispatch went out) and together they got Mom out of the bathroom and onto the bed. The whole time she's telling the policemen her symptoms and they kept telling her that she should wait and tell the EMT people when they arrived, but apparently this information didn't seem to sink in. The EMT crew eventually arrived and they got her into the ambulance. As soon as they got the IV into her arm she started to feel better and the diagnosis after that was severe dehydration.

I talked to her on the phone Saturday and we all thought she'd be home by Sunday morning, but one of her doctors wasn't signing off on the release forms. This was getting Mom riled up because after all she was just dehydrated and she hated being at this particular hospital. Turns out this doctor was a cardiac specialist and he was a little suspicious of her symptoms and gave her an EKG. Turns out a tight chest and numb arm are not symptoms of severe dehydration or ovarian cancer. They're symptoms of a heart attack.

Sunday afternoon I get a call from my Dad giving me this latest news and telling me that Mom was pretty depressed. He said that she told him she was thinking of not having treatment for her heart because she'd rather die of a heart attack then linger in hospice with cancer. So BANG on go the clothes, brush the teeth, and Donna and I went to the hospital to help lift her spirits.

When we got there she wasn't depressed at all. She was walking around animated and happy and talking up a storm. Seems Dad once again talked her out of giving up and letting medical science have another go at curing her before she starts climbing into the grave. I can't tell you how relieved I was to see her that way.

They said they were going to transfer her to the other hospital, probably Monday for a dye test and eventual insertion of a stent. (The reason for the transfer is that they do both while this one only does the dye test.) So, once again we expected her to leave the hospital, but it was not to be.

This morning I'm on my way to work when my cell phone rings and it was my Dad. This isn't all that unusual. He's called me in the car before with innocuous news, so I wasn't worried. "Where are you?" he asked and I told him. He said, "can you talk while driving?" and I affirmed that I could. (I assumed he was asking if I was using a hands-free device with my cell phone, which I was.) He then told me the same thing I told you in the first sentence of this email. At that early morning hour there was no time to wait and her cardiac doctor put together a team of people who could do stent insertion. (At that point I realized my Dad was really asking me if I could handle troubling news while driving.) True to my Dad's character he got off the phone a few seconds later and I then had to concentrate on not veering off the road while my brain tried to process this news. I should have pulled over at that point, but I wasn't thinking too clearly.

In any case that's all I know so far. I'll keep you posted as events unfold.

Love, Joe

No comments: