She had told me earlier in the week, about having heartburn a few times and had blamed it on all the "extra" treats we all tend to eat over the Holidays. I had told her to be careful, as it did concern me she was having it for more than normal...especially since Christmas has been over already for a while. On Friday morning, she went to her weekly hair appointment bright at early a 9 am, and Nicole her stylist had noted that seemed very quiet....she had asked Nicole and the staff there what they took or heartburn..and that somewhat bothered Nicole enough to tell her that she thought it would be best to call her doctor, once she got back home. If you know my Mom, you'd know she's amazingly strong woman, who other than a batter with breast cancer in 2007, has otherwise always been very healthy Her only other hospital visits to were deliver her children and have laproscopic Gallbladder surgery...that's. She is a Irish, old school sweetie, but one who doesn't love doctors, but yet does have typical routine care. Her PCP called her right back and then then finally acknowledge to him that she has also been having some tingling numbness in her arms...something she NEVER told us...Grrrr! Plus, she is very well read, had had lots of friends, including Don (her significant other) who have been through cardiac events and such, so she knows those symptoms and it makes me crazy that she let that go for Over 24 hours. I should also note that I lost my Dad bck in 1988, to Coronary Arrest, when he was only 58. Ironically, that was also his third heart attack and he has always been being treated for coronary artery disease, but back then, they was not nearly as many treatment options are there are now.
Incidentally I also was having my hair styled on Friday morning and go to the same Salon. Knowing my Mom had been in earlier, and I had not yet talked to her that morning, I asked Nicole, what she was up to, knowing I'd her from her later. My Mom lives right down the street and she is one who LOVES that phone and calls often .....even sometimes a bit too often...God Love her. She wants and has the feel and need to know everything in our lives....also something that I admit and have told her, can be a bit TOO much at times. She doesn't have a hobby and gets bored easily and then comes the phone...! UGH!!
.....Anyway, I went right back home and we now more concerned, so I immediately called...when I came but they were not there? I kind of assumed they may be out doing errands or hopefully that maybe she did go the doctor and Don was at the Gym. It's never unusual for them to be out and about -- they are always busy and on the go. Even so, I left a message telling her I had hoped she had called the doc and had hoped she was there, about this "heartburn" which was now bothering me, especially since she was not getting any relief from Tums etc. But this time, it was about noon and the next thing I know my phone was ringing back and I noted right away that it was her cell phone, but it was not her on the phone, it was Don and he was calling to tell me they were in the ER of our local hospital, where her doc told her to go immediately, once she told him ALL the symptoms. They had been there are this point for about 2 hours, she has had an EKG, Chest X-ray and lab work done. The results showed that here Cardiac Enzymes were elevated, which typically indicates that there is heart damage, most likely that day, ever something that has happened recently. Meaning, that she had already suffered a mild heart attack. I was shocked and then pretty much called my Hubby, told him what was going on and headed to the hospital. Don is wonderful, but he has already been through some of his one health issues, is how 81 and is NOT good in listening the the doctors or asking questions, making it even more vital for me to be there. Don't get me wrong, they are a wonderful couple, who have a great life, neither looks their age and Don is even more active, then my Mom. He plays golf daily in the Summer and goes to the Gum daily in the winter. My Mom, unfortunately is overweight and has been pretty much all her life. She loves to cook and bake and of course eats what she makes. She's and old fashioned Mom and still cooks dinner nights, does ALL the housework, laundry, cleaning etc., and basically spoils Don. He doesn't even know how to use the washer or dishwasher....something that makes me crazy.
Moving on, I left my house almost immediately and headed there. Luckily I arrived a the time the local Cardiologist (excellent doctor) had come in to consult. He explained that they were concerned that she had already suffered some cardiac event and that they wanted to sent to her to one of the larger hospital so have a Cardiac Catherization done, a test which looks for blockages. At first, there was one possible option of admitting her there, and taking her (by Ambulance) on Monday to Leahy Clinic or one of the Boston Hospitals for the procedure. The second option was the chance to going to North Shore Medical Center, which could do it today. Both her and I, wanted to get this done ASAP, as I know she is not a good patient, when to comes to waiting and she also doesn't like the "unknown" -- much like me. We went with that option and begin the wait of having all her records faxed down, waiting for them to set up her time, fit her into the schedule, assign her a Cardiac MD there and arrange the ambulance. The goal is that they will not take you until the unit is all set to perform the procedure, so that when you do arrive, you go directly to the Cath Lab and they start the procedure as soon as they prep you. At this point, we knew we had a good hour or so wait and I took a little walk outside to get some air and to contact some of her dearest friends and both of my boys, of course. I also called Hubby with an update, and reminded him that I had left the house very quickly and had not even remembered what I had turned off or possibly left on? Not to mention, that I had left Scout (my little Dachshund) and knew he must be wondering where I was and why no one was home with. He's my baby now and I think of him as loving and needing my attention and companionship! Something I so enjoy from him too!
After a few hours (seems like several), we were told the Ambulance was on it's way and we'd be leaving soon. In the interim, we had sent Don back to their Condo to get his insulin, her phone charger and also to bring her pocketbook and some belongings back home. They called while he was home, so we called and told him to meet us at the hospital. He grew up in that area (Salem), so knew exactly where to go, plus he has had two Cath's done and even had a stent put in. I was allowed to go with her, although I had to set up with the drive, as the second Paramedic kept her monitored. It was the fastest ride I've ever made to Salem, which from my house can take about 40 minutes, but it seemed like 15 minutes, when everyone has to pull over. We arrived and were taken directly to the Cath Lab, where we met Don -- perfect timing. They took her right away and we went to the family waiting area. After about 90 minutes, they came and took us out to her, and told us the doctor would be there to talk with us all. I knew by the look on her face, that something was not right and she first started by telling us she has to stay overnight (not happy), as they found a blockage that could not be stented...my heart sank, just hearing that. Then the doctor came and proceeded too tell us that 3 of her main coronary arteries were blocked -- One at 100%, one at 70% and one at 80% -- Oh my God!! I could see my Mom starting to get a little teary and I had had to fight to stay strong and not cry too....if one cries we ALL do, but if we can try to remain strong...we do better.
None of use could hardly believe what we were hearing...it was so surreal...and then to know that she need open heart bypass surgery, all hit. It's hard now to think of how scared and kind of sick I felt, but I just did my best to try to get HER to stay calm. We all then were taken to the Cardiac unit, where she is now. On the way over her new doctor (the cardiac surgeon) met us and we all went directly to her new room together. He then introduced himself, asked her many health question, did another exam and then began the process of telling us all, what they now knew and what the best treatment option would be. A triple bypass, which he believed they would be able the schedule for Wednesday, as they were totally booked though Tuesday, at that time. It's still Friday and my Mom is NOT happy to think she has to wait a good five days, if all goes well with the schedule -- she's not good with waiting, gives her too much time to worry and think. I am the same way and prefer for things to move much more quickly, so I can put the worst behind me and move forward. She wanted to go home and come back...but that was NOT an option, which I admit, I am thankful for, as I would be scared to death of her being out of the hospital and not being fully monitored. Her doctor is excellent and has been doing Coronary Surgery for many years, he was one of the cardiac surgeons who helped bring a cardiac surgery unit to this hospital, back in 2003, a graduate of John Hopkins and a surgeon who has is well known and respected throughout this area, one of the best, or so we keep hearing. I have, of course, now checked him out, looked him up online and also talked to people I know in the medical field and I'm very confident he is excellent and that she'll be well taken care of. He took a lot of time and explained everything in great detail and allowed us all to ask any questions. Of course, we had to hear all the risks, which are always there, but her success rate and prognosis is excellent with a 99% chance of a very successful surgery. After he completed his exam and such, she had a change in nursing for the night and we went home. It was a long exhausting and upsetting day.
Yesterday, I was up early, didn't sleep great, and had a list of things my Mom wanted me to bring her from home. Her own bathrobe, some make-up, lipstick, hair brush and all her comfort things. Things I know I would also want, so I totally understood. The funny thing is I couldn't understand WHY she wanted me to go and pack all this? Turns out, she didn't really trust Don to get all this, so that was my chore, even though he was there, while it packed it up and I had to ask him to find it all? Go figure!! I also had to teach him how to turn on their Dishwasher and we still need to figure out their Washer (all electronic), so not one even I knew how to use....! I have an very old-fashioned Mom, who basically drives me crazy, as she cooks almost every dinner, makes him lunch, does all the housework, laundry, cleaning and grocering etc. Even things I can no longer due, because of Fibro, yet at 78 she does it all. She even makes his lunch and hand delivers it to him in his recliner....Geesh!! Talk about a spoiled man...it makes me nuts some times, as my hubby and sons are FAR more independent and would NEVER expect me to do that. Good thing, because as we all know, I had to deal with my own life changes and although they are not as serious as my Mom's, it's a permanent change and I'm lucky that my family adjusted so quickly. My Guys are awesome and I'm so fortunate and grateful for all they do for me every day!! Time for Don to learn for sure now too and it makes me nuts that she is worrying about what he will eat, while she is NOT there. Time for him to learn to help out a WHOLE lot more!
I did my chores, packed up and made a stop at the florist to make sure my Mom had some pretty flowers, while she can. I know once she moves over to the Surgical Unit, they will need to come home, but I know how much she loves pretty flowers and that did make her very happy when she saw me coming in. I had a basket done, with African violets (one of her favorites) and some ivy and green). All in nice white wicket basket with a pretty matching ribbons...lots of blues and purples...much like something I do, would LOVE!!
She looked much better and has her IV out and was more mobile. She had already had breakfast and the docs has been in. A bit later a PA (Physician's Assistant), from the Cardiac Surgery unit, came out with a large binder that gives us all a lot of information for bypass surgery, the follow-up and a lot of great detail on every step, and even meds and what will happen after the surgery and how the recovery will go. My Mom hearing she can't drive for 5-8 weeks, was NOT happy...but it's not like she can't go out...she simply MUST be seat-belted in a backseat and take her special "heart" pillow with her to protect her chest from any force or trauma. Yes, we will take her for her hair appointments and she can even have her now overdue Pedicure. She is one who goes goes goes and hates being in the house for a full day (totally not like me), so this will be hard, but SHE must adjust and heal. She's also super strong and can handle pain...but hates nausea. As long as she is not nauseous she'll be a trooper. As my son, Brian said--"Nana is the toughest lady I have ever met and after being through so much in her life, there is NO doubt this will be fine. Don't worry Mom---Nana will beat this." Oh how I love my boys. It is hard with Brian in California, but with email and text, easy to reach him. He also has called and talked to Nana, so that was good. My other son, Alex is up at the hospital today, as are many of her friends. I'm actually hurting quite a bit and decided to take today to stay home, rest up and get caught up a bit on my life, as this will be a crazy week.
We've also now toured the Cardiac Surgical unit and it's quite impressive. They are a total of 8 beds/patients maximum and once Mom comes out of surgery (5-6 hours) she will be monitored one on one with her own nurse for a minimum of 24 hours. She won't be alert or awake much of that day and will be hooked up to lots of monitors, devices and such. I'm sure for me, seeing her post op will be hard....I am NOT good about seeing a patient not conscious and being so heavily medicated etc. That day is not gong to be fun, so I'm praying it goes fast that the surgery goes very well and the healing can begin. In the meantime, I'm so thankful she FINALLY went to the hospital, as she could have easily died. I have lost some dear friends, my age to sudden cardiac death and now can really see how LUCKY my Mom is. When I questioned HOW in the world she could have some many major blockages and not have more symptoms, we were told, some people have now. Sadly, I know that because of these friends, Larry who died at only 44, and then Tony, and and just before Christmas, it was Paul, another wonderful childhood friend, and there were more -- far too many to be taken so young!
The update for today is that it has now changed to Quadruple bypass and they will be graphing all four of the main coronary arteries, but once that is done and once she heals and recovers. I'm going to bet she feels like a whole new person. She has been feeling very very fatigued and easily exhausted and now even tells us of some pressure she's had when she makes the bed for does any heaving chores. Now we know why. We also know that her "heart attack" likely happened before Christmas, once day while at the Mall doing some shopping. She told me that she was there and had walked from one store, to another at the opposite end...and before so fatigued she had it sit down..then she become very sweating, felt just like she was gong to pass out....and had to leave and go home. Telling the docs this, they also feel that was the event and it fits in the the typical symptoms a women has. No chest pain or shooting arm pain...it's NOT the same, yet coronary artery disease, kills Woman as much as Men. That's also WHY I am writing this to give everyone a WARNING to never let any of these symptoms go....it's far to serious. I know I could have lost my Mom and it scares the hell out of me. I am also deeply concerned about such major surgery and pray it all goes well...but it's hard to see someone who you love, have to face so much. Especially with NO previous heart issues.....life can change in a heartbeat...and its' TIME we ALL remember that. One other thing I need to be reminded of again...is the continue to tell your family and friends you LOVE them. I do this often with my friends and often end a phone call or a visit saying -- LOVE you! And I do...I love Mom, my Husband, Brian, Alex and all my dear dear friends. You all mean the world to me and I pray we are ALL her together for a long time.
I've already lost my Dad, my Brother my only infant Daughter, both Brian's Grand-Parents, both Alex's Grand-Parents and every Aunt and Uncle, except one. I've lost a young cousin to Brain Cancer and another childhood friend. I've lost several other friends to sudden death and more cancer. Life really for many is WAY to short! Please cherish every moment and enjoy it to it's fullest!
I won't have much time for creating and will miss it, but will have it to look forward too. I do hope I can still go out to visit Brian and Meghan at the end of the month and my Mom will be home by then and hopefully recovering well. I did think of delaying my trip already, but it may be a much needed vacation, plus my Mom is already adamant that I do not change it!! She knows how much I have been excited about it and so that's good too!
If you have extra prayers this week, please say some for my Mom....especially on Wednesday! I may try to stop by from time to time with little updates, as I know I have such a wonderful world of online friends, who would wonder what happened to me! I'm here...but right now my main focus on my Mom, this surgery and waiting for it to be over, and seeing her healing, sitting up and talking again!! The time is going by a lot faster than I excepted, so that's been a blessing for us all !!
My thanks to everyone who has been so kind and caring -- please know that means so much to me!! Sending a Hug and Love to ALL my wonderful friends----I'm also blessed and feel very lucky to have you all in my life! Now it's time WE all remember to be very thankful for EVERY day!! God Bless!!