Monday, October 11, 2010

One year ago today...

we took our dog Sarge to Doggy Camp...and then drove for 2 hours because of the awful construction(it should have been 1) to a hotel near the Hospital. My dear Handsome was going to undergo an ablation at the crack of dawn. An ablation is a process that burns paths on the surface of the heart to try and reroute the electrical impulses that are causing the heat to beat irratically and rapidly. And yes, the patient is awake.

Somehow we managed to sleep. We arrived at the hospital and got the #1 parking spot. We waited and waited for admitting to arrive. Finally we were admitted and after a bit of a wait we were escorted to the heart wing. Handsome was then prepped for a first procedure to see if he had any blockages or clots etc. He had to swallow a camera, he who has a very sensitive gag reflex. A doctor and a nurse were in attendance.

I went out to the waiting room. I was called back in after a while. Then the real waiting began. He was to have had this ablation by 9am. However there was an emergency, so he was on his back from 7 til 11 o'clock.  Handsome has a bad back so this was very hard on him. He was hooked up to iv's etc. Finally we asked if he could get up...of course when we did that, his Dr. was ready to go. In my head I figured on 4 hours for the actual ablation. We had already been at the hospital for 6.

I sat for a while. I had 2 cell phones with me. After about an hour I went to the cafeteria. Believe me it was no Central DuPage. The place was a beehive and I noticed people leaving with empty trays. Apparently they keep the trays at their desks cause there was a great shortage of them. Anyway, the pickings were slim, I was exhausted and there were no trays. I did find a place to sit. Feeling very lonely, I watched the buzz of the hospital and wished the day was done.

Back to the waiting room. People came, people went...someone was dying...I could tell the way the family was talking. Why was no one crying...I think I'd be crying...but maybe the person had been ill for a long time.The hours ticked by slowly, I tried to watch tv... but I didn't care about Oprah, or Maury or any soap opera. There was no concentration left in my brain.

I texted and called the girls and family.

It is past the four hour mark...I am getting worried now. What in the world? Maybe they couldn't get his heart to fibulate...then what...

In the middle of one of my cell phone calls, the phone died and my cell wasn't getting reception. It was close to dinner time. The waiting room was thinning out. I couldn't face the cafeteria again. I started to cry...the tears running down my cheeks. I needed a human...Lord...someone with skin on.

A young lady sat down next to me...She was about our girls age. She talked to me about her mom who was in the heart ward. She needed a new heart. She offered me her phone. I was grateful for her. About a half hour later she was called for her Mom.

I decided to ask the lady at the desk if she could find out anything...she called surgery for me and said Handsome was still being worked on.

It is now 6 hours...I sat back down and tried not to cry.  I thought of things we hadn't done and places we hadn't gone. But that didn't matter, I just wanted to look into his chocolate brown eyes and hear him tell me he loved me.

I heard my name, the lady at the desk said the nurse wanted to talk to me, my heart did a dive...
"We are still working on him...don't know how much longer." I must have looked quite despondent. The kind lady behind the desk suggested I go to the chapel. She told me it was easy to find and very pretty. Normally I don't respond to these kind of suggestions...

I took the elevator to the basement of the hospital. I found the chapel...I opened the door. It was cool and quiet. Someone was working on decorating the altar for Autumn. I stood a moment in the cool, peaceful silence...There at the right side of the pews was a small grouping of chairs and a statue of Jesus sitting with a few children. One of the children reminded me of how I imagine our Faith. She had curly hair and a dress on.

I sat down and said, "I know you don't have to be in church to pray, or for you to hear me, but please be with my Handsome." A peace came over me and calmed my heart and soul and HE met me there in this chapel, in the quiet and the peacefulness of this room that has felt so many tears. I felt HIS comfort and love. It was as tangible to me as the young lady in the waiting room.

I heard a crying sound. To the left was a family, I could hear the words MOMMA coming from them. I prayed for the Momma who was in distress in this hospital. I cried for them too.

After a while, I went back to the waiting room. It was deserted. The kind lady was gone. I prepared for a long wait but almost immediately my cell phone rang. It was the Doctor. He was on his way to talk to me in the lobby. When he found me, he told me once they had the fibs started, they couldn't stop them. They had to do a lot of burning. He said it was probably about the time I was in the chapel that they finished and stopped the fibs. I cried uncontrollably, but he told me Handsome was fine. They had done what they needed to do. And in the good doctor's words they burned the sh*t out of his heart. He looked me right in the eyes and spoke in words that I could understand. He cared and took the time with his team to do the job even though it took such a long time. And he acknowledge my time in the chapel.

He took me back to recovery. After a bit and a hug from the most wonderful nurse (she was a true servant and Florence Nightingale would have given her the nursing award) and offer of a sandwich, my Handsome was wheeled in. I couldn't touch him yet, but just seeing him living and breathing was what I needed.

Now possibly the worst part was to begin...Until his blood clotted, he would have to continue to lay on his back with catheters that were in his neck and 2 in each side of his groin. No rolling, no bending, no sitting. His bed was a prison and his back was screaming.

The nurses sent me up to his private room to rest. I dropped off my stuff, laid down for about 10 minutes, but I couldn't not be with him. Back down to recovery I went like a person who is driven to go home. And home to me is where Handsome is.

Up to his private room we were finally taken. It was a large, nice quiet room. My bed was right at the window with a beautiful view which I would appreciate when it was light out.

Having not eaten for 24 hours he was starving. We were able to get him some ice. No eating until the catheters came out. The nausea hit hard...he could not sit up or imagine trying to throw up in that state. Anti-nausea drugs did the trick.

The pain in his back was horrible. They had orders for heavy duty pain medication. It would work for a short period of time. It was hard to watch...the pain in his back would not stop. He almost cried and this is one tough man!

The cath team came 2 times to check on the clotting. The team was made up of 2 men and 1 woman. They would have the job of pulling the catheters and then putting pressure on for as long as it took the bleeding to stop. Finally the third visit was the charm. At about 2:30 am in the dead of night they appeared and did their job. The catheter in the neck was the worst. I couldn't watch. He turned a terrible gray color. One of the men said the next two wouldn't be so bad. After a good 15-20 minutes of pressure, Handsome was free of his bonds but still had to lay still for an hour or so. Finally he could move a bit. He seemed a new man. He wanted food and to GO HOME!

And that is what happened. We got Sarge by 11am and were home shortly after. We were overjoyed to be home, but exhausted.

The next day he felt pretty well and wanted to go to the pharmacy to get the shots to thin his blood really fast. Bad idea, he was much weaker than he thought. We got the shots and crashed back home. I had to give him 2 shots a day for 3 days. You should have seen his bruises, between the cumadin and the shots, he was a beautiful shade of purple, yellow, black, blue and every other color of the rainbow.

Well, what was the result of the surgery? He will need another procedure...he is not ready yet, but when he is, dear Lord, help me to be better prepared for the waiting...but can you ever be?

Romans 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


  1. But maybe next time I won't have a doctor's appointment already scheduled downtown and Jaime won't have just had a baby and one of us will be able to be with you for part of the procedure. Maybe next time it will go better, too.

  2. Next time we can arrange for someone to be there with you so you don't have to go through that alone. Hopefully it won't take as long either since there can't be much left to burn!--Bill

  3. Next time....I'll (and Tim if need be) watch all the kids so that your family can be there with you. Waiting rooms are so hard....waiting is so hard.

  4. PS-I remember how much Jaime wanted to be there with you and that wonderful txt she sent when surgery was done.

  5. can someone be in the electrophysiology lab with me too? I was in there all alone with a Dr. and his cattle prod. Seriously, I am sure that when I decide to do this again that the procedure will be much shorter.

  6. Jenna can be with dad--she doesn't get queasy, and I can be with mom!