Monday, March 10, 2008

The Saga

I'm home. The parents are settled into their routine (although Mom is home for this week). Everything is back to normal. Normal?

When talking to my friend in Minneapolis, I realized that she did not really know about my mom's past health stuff and now I wonder if I've ever written about it here. So I'll risk being redundant and recap the past a bit.

My mother has long standing heart disease. It's why I've already had a stress test at the tend age of 37. The way I remember it, I went with my mother to the doctor's office one afternoon. She'd been having diarhea for several weeks and they were concerned. I remember seeing a card on the desk in the reception area listing the symptoms of a heart attack.

That night, the family was sitting around doing our usual watching of television. Mom was knitting and began to complain of tennis elbow in her right arm. She stopped knitting and put the heating pad on it. But the pain didn't go away, it got worse throughout the evening and began to radiate across her chest and into her left arm.

They sent me to bed at my normal bed time. But I was worried and didn't go to sleep. I knew the symptoms of a heart attack and that's what I was afraid was happening. It wasn't long before I heard my father on the phone to the hospital and him telling my mother that he was taking her in.

My sister sent me back to bed when I came downstairs later. She had me take 2 aspirin to help me relax. I don't know when she fell asleep. My father woke us in the morning to tell us that she had had a heart attack. That was 26 years ago.

The primary cause of her heart attack was low potassium, but it didn't help that she was a pack a day smoker and a type A personality. She lost major blood vessels and the MI caused her left ventrical to bulge out in an aneurism. The following year she was going in for open heart surgery to remove that part of the heart wall and reinforce it all with felt (yes, felt!).

She did pretty well for about 18 or 19 years, then started having angina again. She's had 2 or 3 stints placed. The last time they tried the vessels were so occluded that the procedure triggered another small heart attack (can we categorize these like the Richter scale?). She tells me that she had another small one at some point...then there was this more moderate one. Again, it was probably triggered by low potassium after a bad bout of diarrhea and nausea. (Needless to say, I bought her some Pedialyte to keep at home for future occurances.)

She's something of a cat with 9 lives, only she's probably used up about 4 or 5 of them already.

I'd like to say that I'm taking this all in stride, but coming back home and having to face the rest of my life along with her having more heart stuff just feels overwhelming right now. I want to hide.

But I can't, and here I am back to work. Blah!


writinginAK said...

Sending lotsa love your way, and deep breathing, and hoping for a peaceful week for you. BTW, it's in the 40s in Anchorage (which is weird, for us ... hard to tell if spring is here, which it kinda feels like, or just a big teaser).

Anonymous said...

Yes I agree, breathing is good! Maybe you can take off another day or morning or afternoon for yourself and try to take care of yourself as best you can. I know it's hard to "do life" when your so worries for your mom. Sending you much love and oxox.
Hippie Chick

Hyde said...

Wow. That must have been really scary as a kid. I hope that this is the last of it for her and that you can get back to normal. (Yes, normal!)