Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Full Circle

One week ago, at this exact time, I was watching my mother in the hospital having a heart attack and being wheeled away to surgery. I remember stroking her forehead and holding her hand as they pulled her through the surgery doors. I didn't say anything to her. I just smiled at her and she just looked at me and nodded her head.

That morning is still a blur. I remember thinking I should go to the gym and get in a workout, I had nothing else going on. I remember going upstairs to change my clothes to go. And then when I looked at my bed, I decided to snuggle in and do my bible study instead. The phone rang a few times and I checked the caller ID and ignored all the calls. The fourth time the phone rang I was getting annoyed because it was getting hard to stay focused. I saw it was my mom, hesitated, put the phone down, and then picked it back up and answered...the only call I took that morning.

Hearing her whimper on the other end as she explained she didn't feel well and needed help got me out of bed faster than anything in recent history. I was out the door before we even hung up. When I got to her house she was waiting for me in the chair closest to the door. I remember looking at her face and being struck by the color. It looked grey. And now when I think back, maybe it was more blue...or a combination of both? She immediately started panicking and crying and said the Dr.'s office told her to go right to the hospital. So we did. It never even crossed my mind that maybe I should call an ambulance instead...not until I was half way there. I had no idea what was happening...maybe a heart attack...maybe not. I tried to keep her calm and just listened to her talk and absorbed every piece of information she gave me so I knew what to tell them in case she passed out or something.

Seven minutes later I told her to stay put as I ran into the emergency room and made someone come out and get her with a wheel chair. The last thing I wanted was for her to walk into the ER herself and be sent through triage instead of getting immediate attention. Turns out that was a good thing. They immediately took her back, hooked her up to the monitors, and it was chaos from there. I was watching their eyes and how they all looked at each other silently. I knew that wasn't good. And I watched them scurry all around her, it seemed like everyone working in the ER that day immediately became involved. Nurses were crashing into each other, Dr's were asking her all the same questions over and over, until finally, one of them said "It's not good news...you are having a little bit of a heart attack..." Turns out, it wasn't that little. Her coronary artery was 100% blocked. They almost had to shock her heart during surgery and she almost died. She's incredibly lucky to be alive...they stopped it in it's tracks.

Only 2 hours after my mother called me, she was out of surgery. She was awake and saying she felt great. Her face was flushed and pink...the best it has looked in years. It was like nothing ever happened. My dad was cracking jokes with the nurses as I was just trying to absorb what had just happened. It was all very surreal.

It never even dawned on me that I would have so much responsibility plopped in my lap that morning. My entire life came to a screeching halt. It wasn't an option to leave her alone, even for a second. I didn't even want to go to the bathroom. I told my husband that I was staying with her...someone needs to be there. And that was that, he was on his own. I knew he could handle it though, he's amazing. I knew my dad would get too antsy and have a hard time. It would be better for him to be able to come and go as he needed. So I stayed with her and took care of her.

It didn't really hit me how weird it was until I started feeding her bites of jello later that evening. She couldn't bend her arms because of the IV's. And I thought to myself...it all comes full circle...life. And then there were simple things like helping her go the bathroom, helping her sit up, bathing her and washing her hair so she would look good for her visitors! I never thought about what that would be like. She tested my patience...but I never lost it, thankfully. It's a hard line to walk on. She's my mother. And despite any falling outs or arguments we have had, I still needed to respect her. But at the same time, I was responsible for her and her care, like she was a child. It was hard to process.

Only 52 hours after she arrived, we were able to go home. I loaded her up into my dad's car and walked away shaking my head, still trying to get a grasp of what happened. Everything happened SO fast. The heart attack, the surgery, and the recovery. It was hard to let go of the "control" and turn her over to my dad. But I knew they needed to figure it all out together and I had my own family I needed to get back home to.

My mom is doing great. She's been home for 5 days. She has driven herself to the bank already and to the doctor's office for follow up appointments. It's strange to think of how close she was to death only one week ago. My hope for her is that she realizes the magnitude of what happened. When she was in the hospital, all she was focused on was getting out, not getting better. Now I want her to get better. Not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. Her recovery has been "easy" so far. I want her to slow down and take life in...because she almost missed it.

If you ask her, I'm not sure she would think of these recent events as a blessing...maybe she would...I don't know. But I do. For years I have been struggling to connect with her. Those 52 hours in the hospital allowed me to do that. She had no choice but to listen to me and allow me to be involved in her life. And whether she likes it or not, I am going to stay involved. I am going to ask questions and show care and concern. I know that will be hard for her, because she likes to be private and independent. But God opened this door for me and I am walking in and taking full advantage of the opportunity. I am thankful that she is still here and to have a second chance to be more involved...and I will pray that she is too, and that she will recognize that God had his hand in all of this and will continue to in the future. It's weird how God works sometimes. But it is amazing when He does, and I actually recognize it.


Kristina P. said...

Oh, Luanne, how scary!!

Anonymous said...

Oh, wow. What an ordeal. If she's anything like me, it will take a little time for the gravity of the situation to sink in. Keep an eye on her and ask her about it often. My own heart attack (at age 30) was fresh for me for quite a long time. Now, 7 years later, it's finally something from my "past."

julie said...

Wow, that is an incredible story. I am so happy your mom is OK. My mom is 89 and has leukemia so I know what you mean about going full circle. It can be daunting at times.


anymommy said...

Unbelievable. I'm so glad to be able to read the happy outcome to this horribly frightening story. That is truly amazing.

I know caring for someone like this is hard. A big hug for you. Try to cut out all the other stuff and focus on keeping her and you healthy.

TAMI said...

Life - put in perspective. That IS a blessing!! Healing on many different levels - as you've mentioned - is an opportunity worth walking boldly into. No one is pretending it'll be easy, but what it WILL be is beautiful!! Strength and joy as you go.

Hip Mom's Guide said...

Wow, Luanne, what a great post. And how amazing is it that you see God's hand in this? So glad she's okay & so glad you got to connect, even for 52 hours.

heather said...

Wow, Luanne - I'm sure you're still trying to process all this. I teared up as I read about it - esp. the part about life coming full circle - I get this now...

sending you lots of love!