On Wednesday, January 19th my mom suffered a massive heart attack. Thankfully, she had already been admitted to the hospital on the previous day for another condition and there happened to be a cardiologist by her bedside when it happened.
Arriving to the hospital I quickly learned that for those few minutes [during the heart attack]….her heart and breath stopped.
S T O P P E D.
The magnitude of that moment is unnervingly humbling.
Immediately our family rallied to her bedside wanting, needing, to do something to make it all better. Holding her hand as she dreamt the dreams only medications and painkillers can induce and felt the pain that continued in her legs (a previous condition) while she slept, we doted over her every concern. The nurses in both the ICU and on the floor were wonderful, compassionate and caring, telling her what was happening whether she was alert or not. We joked with her about the dialysis being ‘spa treatments for her blood’ and gave her foot massages to ease the discomfort in her legs.
Amidst all of this there were those moments of quiet when mom and I would talk about what was happening, where she was, and how she got there. At one point she asked that we keep a daily journal for her so that later on she could read about the events and the days to follow – she doesn’t remember making that request at this point but am so glad that she did. We have kept it and I hope that it will help her to better comprehend all that has happened and just how blessed she truly is. [If ever you are faced with a similar situation I strongly recommend this – for the patient and for yourself as well, it is so easy to forget when/what procedures were done and Doctors comments/instructions amidst the surreal nature of the situation.]
During crisis such as these I go into my own ‘crisis mode’ and work to stay focused on the positive, giving encouragement and being there for her. [Basically doing what I can to not think about what might be or could have been – otherwise knows as denial or avoidance!] And then, once the storm has calmed a bit, reality sinks in. This time the reality was HUGE. The ‘what if’, ‘could have’ and ‘what now?’ thoughts begin to filter into my world and I/we cannot even comprehend the answers. Writing this today I still have difficulty comprehending it all.
About four days after the heart attack I was chatting with mom and she began talking about how much we take for granted in this life. Simple things, really. Like standing, sitting, walking…. and on a larger scale – LIVING. The miracle of medical science and how they can take a small instrument, as thin as a fishing line and feed it through an artery in the hip to reach the damaged heart muscle and repair it. The miracle of dialysis – how they can remove blood from a person, filter it through a machine (kind of like a wash cycle for the blood), and return it to the body.
Though mom doesn’t remember much of our being by her side in those first few days, every one of those moments is a gift.
Life is a gift. Living is a gift.
Each of us is a gift, a miracle – whether we feel like we are a miracle or not at any given moment or day. We are. YOU are.
Honor the miracle of your life and the life of those around you.
Take care of your health and give your body the respect it deserves.
Each and every day.
Note: Mom is making good progress now. There is much physical and occupational therapy to be done and the routine of dialysis to adjust to. We are thankful for transitional care that is close to home and for each and every family member that has done their part throughout this crisis. We are confident that she will be back on her computer in no time!