A few very interesting things have happened recently. Here’s the rundown.
My Flickr photo count has gone up exponentially. If not truly exponentially, we can at least pretend. I’ve been posting a lot of old pictures, plus a few new ones.
This morning I woke up with a completely absent voice. I mean, gone. I think I pushed myself too hard last night, and here’s the fun part, here’s the part of the rundown that is all about last night, and the day preceding it, and the day preceding that. Hold onto your seats, children, this one’s a doozy.
Friday morning my father had a heart attack. Yes, another heart attack. Not a pansy heart attack like the last one, either. An honest-to-goodness, clock ticking, get out of bed now or you’re toast heart attack. I think the doctors called it ‘severe’. Someone used the word ‘massive’. I guess I’m not much for medical terminology, but you get the idea.
I was out of the house at the time, and it took my mother a phonecall and a half to get a hold of me. When she finally succeeded, she got as far as, “Your Dad had another heart attack. We’re in the emergency room…” And the phone disconnected. That’s right – we lost the signal. I shouted my best expletive in mixed company and scrambled to call her back. Long story short, I met them at St. Elizabeth’s in Youngstown and Dad was already taken care of, in the middle of a heart catheterization that was holding up at least one other really nice family, waiting along with us with all the heart-related folks.
We waited for four or five hours. My uncle joined us; I attempted to catch up my email via cell phone, but the cell wasn’t being particularly cooperative, so I gave up that attempt. At this point my brain was too fried with allergies and emotional upset to get anything accomplished.
Historical context, for those of you who are unfamiliar with my father’s medical history: Several years ago, Dad had a mild heart attack at our home in Salem. The local firemen mobilized with the ambulance and got him off to the hospital, where we found that the mild attack was a precursor to something much, much worse. Long story short, he had his quintuple bypass and recovered slowly but well. Party!
Since then he’s had all kinds of other medical fun, like deep brain surgery for the essential tremor in his hands, and he has recovered well every time. He eats well (there was no cholesterol build-up when they checked) and takes his medicine when he’s supposed to (as far as I can ascertain!). He doesn’t take aspirin, though, and the reason he doesn’t take aspirin is that it’s hard on his kidneys, so the kidney folks told him not to take it. He also has a history of stomach ulcers, and that’s just one more thing aspirin could aggravate… so no aspirin, despite its helpful heart attributes.
From what the doctor said after all the waiting, aspirin could have prevented the heart attack. The vein from my father’s leg that had been moved to his heart during his open-heart surgery had been 100% plugged because of a blood clot. They don’t use leg veins anymore, the doctor said, they use chest veins. The leg veins are two narrow.
One by one the doctor listed options that were too risky to take advantage of. Another bypass would be too risky. Another catheterization might be too risky. Even the idea of putting in a stint made the doctor frown. He said that they would keep him on blood thinners in intensive care and in the morning we would see if a stint would even be possible.
When we saw Dad in the ICU he looked awful. He was very groggy. His mouth was really dry, because the nurse wasn’t sure if he could have anything to drink yet. “Would you like some nice ice chips?” (That’s another funny story, remind me to tell you that one.) His speech was slurred drastically, and we had a lot of trouble understanding him… even when he was speaking in coherent sentences… which came few and far between. Of course, he was drugged up to the ears, so this wasn’t all that surprising. But it was alarming. I didn’t like it. It wasn’t a fun game.
We stayed awhile while Mom filled out papers. Eventually we left Dad to sleep and went home. I don’t remember much about going home. I had hysteria beating on the inside of my face. Hysteria makes me feel sort of useless, though I have it on good authority that I am not quite hysterical enough to be completely useless. Later Friday I felt a lot better because when we visited Dad in the evening he had been fed, he was lucid, and he was talking, joking and complaining as per usual. Much better. Of course, the situation hadn’t changed much – they were keeping him on blood thinners and Special Kidney Protecting Medicine™, and keeping him in the ICU, to see if his kidneys would be okay. If they were still okay after a few days, we’d be happy.
My sister flew in from New York; her flight was due early in the evening, but she got delayed again and again and again. Finally the flight was on its way, and she would definitely be in… at 12:30 am. So I drove to Akron. I kept myself awake by singing loudly and obnoxiously. (The more I think about it, the more I think this and the stress were the only reasons I lost my voice.) On the way home there was lots to talk about because I don’t get to spend very much one-on-one time with my sister, so we chatted and listened to music from her laptop. About halfway home I knew my voice was going… but I didn’t know by the next day it would be missing in action entirely!
Saturday morning my sister and mother went to visit Dad. I wasn’t in much shape to join them, so I stayed here and waited. Later on I got a message from Em that Dad’s kidneys had actually improved slightly overnight, so if the vein cleared up enough they might be able to put in a stint. This is good news! They didn’t sound really optimistic about it, but it was still good news. Woo! I can use good news. The rest of the day I went through photos, trying to stem the flow of freaking out. Mom and Em drove all around and then came home. Then around six Em and I left to get sandwiches and visit Dad. Family was there already; they stayed for about an hour longer than they were supposed to, but the nurse was nice about it. I’m sure she wouldn’t have been so nice about it if Dad weren’t doing well enough… so that’s a plus, too. Eventually they left and Em and I sat and talked with Dad for a little while, speculating on whether or not we were allowed to bring him sushi.
We stopped at Giant Eagle on the way home and I tried the California rolls Em bought. You know, California rolls are fine… but they are cheating. However… they don’t taste bad at all! I plan to introduce Em to real sushi sometime this weekend, and hopefully we can bring Dad some too (sans soy sauce, since he’s on a low sodium diet for the moment). I wonder if we’ll have to bribe the nurses?
So there’s all the news I have. Dad may be moved to a regular hospital room today, which will make him happy, since he’ll be allowed to have his cell phone! Then, at least, we’ll be allowed to visit when we like… instead of a half hour in the morning and a half hour in the evening. Emily is going back to NY on Monday, and apparently her boss is being very, very nice about all of this. (Signs of a good boss, certainly.) In the meantime… we’re just waiting.
Waiting makes me tired.
What does not make me tired… what heals the tired almost completely… is the steady flow of wonderful voicemail and email I’ve been receiving since this all began. I made a frazzled, crazy connection with my circle of friends to let them know why I’d disappeared, and almost immediately I was getting all kinds of rockin’ emotional support. You folks really are beautiful, do you know that?
Besides that, I have also been corresponding with Dad’s friends to let them know what’s going on. His bible study friends were frantic, along with a lot of very fretful folks from his mailing lists. My mother had called Cheryl to let her know why Dad would not be at bible study later that morning, and Cheryl had passed the information along to Dad’s mailing lists. Soon enough I was sending Cheryl emails whenever possible to keep her updated, so no one would worry needlessly. I have to tell you folks, getting mail asking if your father made it through the night will break your heart. But I did my best and I am very glad I was able to help keep everyone in the know. (I know how I feel when I’m not in the know… brr!)
Not only did I keep Cheryl and all of Dad’s friends updated… but Cheryl forwarded me mail from everyone with well wishes for Dad’s swift recovery. They’re all over the world, and they’re sending such fabulously nice messages for me to print out to give to him. He has a huge sheaf of printouts with him in the ICU now. And, er, my printer paper is almost gone. But I can get new printer paper. He sure loves those people! He is very lucky to have them, in exactly the fashion that I am lucky to have so many sweet people who are being kind and supportive and tolerant of my hysteria. ;} I guess we both managed to find a treasure trove of the best people in the world… because we spend so much time online!
Neat, isn’t it?
I’ll update again as soon as I can.