Catalyst for Change Part 2


On to part 2 of Catalyst for Change…

Well, after the chest pain I felt when Mike, Gavin and I were walking the dogs at the park, somewhere in my consciousness there was concern. I wasn’t thinking about it actively but it must have been there because otherwise why would I do what I did next.

We went for the walk in the morning. All day I was feeling discomfort and breathlessness. Not overly so. Not where I would grab my chest. But yes, I felt something.

Finally, that evening when everyone was there: Mike, Gavin, Joe, his wife Min and of course the dogs, I went up to the room we were staying in to lie down. Joe was doing his homework, he went back to school to get an engineering degree and was always swamped in school work. Gavin was playing games on the computer. Mike was reading. Min was chillaxin after working all day. I laid on the bed thinking, was something wrong, should I do something, what was there to do. Finally, I called Mike and Joe into the room. I told them about how I was feeling.

“Maybe we should cut the trip early and head back home,” Mike said.

“Whoa, that means you think this is something. If this is something should I be driving 1,000 miles.”

“No, Mom, you shouldn’t. You should go to the emergency room.”

“I don’t know.” I looked over at Mike. He looked overwhelmed.

“Mom, if it is something then you don’t want to be in the middle of nowhere and have to find a hospital.”

“That’s true,” Mike said.

“Listen why don’t I take you to the hospital now. Get it checked out. If its nothing then you will have peace of mind.”

“Yeah, okay.” I looked at Mike again. He was nodding.

“Where would you like to go. There is a hospital up the street. It will take us about 10 minutes. Or there is a heart hospital about a half hour away.”

I thought a minute. “Let’s go to the one close by. I’m sure it is nothing and then we don’t have to be driving so far.”

“I’ll go tell Min.”

Joe turned and hurried out of the room. I wanted to reach out and grab him back. Tell him maybe it was all a mistake. Maybe I shouldn’t go.

I turned my attention back to Mike. He was looking at the floor, his mouth tightened to a thin line.

“Maybe you should stay here with Gavin. He’s going to need you.”

He nodded.

Next thing I knew there was a flurry of activity. Min was gathering up stuff for the what was anticipated as a long wait in a waiting room. Joe was grabbing his phone, keys, wallet and whatever else is on his five list. Has five things he needs to leave the house. If you only counts four he missed something and has to figure out what it is.

I came down stairs to talk to Gavin.

“Hey, Gavin,”

He pulled his eyes away from the screen.

“Listen, Uncle Joe and Aunt Min are going to take me to the hospital to have that pain in my chest looked at. Grampy’s going to stay here with you. We shouldn’t be gone to long.” Gavin was with me when I had the chest pains so he knew there was something.

Gavin swiveled in his chair to face me. “Are you going to be okay, Grammy. Are you going to die?”

“No, no, honey. I’m not going to die. Come here.” I walked towards him and he stood up from the chair. I gathered him in an embrace. “I’m going to be okay. We just want to get it checked out. I love you. Grampy’s going to take good care of you.” I kissed the top of his head.

“I love you too, Grammy.” I kissed his check and he sat back down to play his game. His latest was Captain Underpants.

Before I knew it Joe, Min and I were in his car headed for Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Allen.

It was a small hospital, easy to get around. We found the emergency room in no time and all three of us walked up to the desk. A woman at the desk looked up. Joe and Min stood to the side clearly not about to let me have them take over. Tentatively, I stepped closer to the desk

“Can I help you,” the woman asked.

“Well, ah, yes, um, I have been having this sort of chest pain for the last couple of days.”

The woman pushed back from her chair and called into the back room. “Chest pain.”

I felt stunned by her words, taken aback.

Someone immediately came out and took me to the rooms in a wheel chair.

I was ushered into a room and instantly people were around me hooked me up to EKG leads, starting an iv, wrapping a blood pressure cuff around my arm, placing my finger in the O2 lead. Blood was withdrawn from my IV to do a blood test.

Once my vitals were up on the monitor it became clear that something was up. My blood pressure was 201/102. or roughly thereabouts. My heart rate was slow, about 66.

“Mom, you need to relax.” Joe said.

“I don’t feel nervous.”

Min pulled out a small fleece blanked, the kind that you make by tying a bunch of ends. She covered me up. “Thank you Min.” I smiled at her.

“Mum, this keep you warm. This for you.” She patted the blanket. I didn’t know at the time but this was a gift that she was giving me to take home. “This is nice.” She busied her self straightening it out making sure I was good and covered.

Min is from China and speaks pretty good English for the most part. Joe and Min have been married almost three years now. She is a blessing to our family and I am delighted that Joe finally found a woman who is as giving to him as he is to her. She is loving, generous, warm and giving to all. It’s just her nature. She even made a big hit with Gavin by getting him Skylander sheets.

Before long a doctor came in and asked me to tell him what happened. I went through the spiel of the last couple of days. I told him my history of a CABG. I told him about the stress test a year and a half ago, that I had a murmur which was the result of an aortic valve stenosis. The doctor listened and nodded along.

“Well, your cardiac enzymes are elevated. That is indicating that there was some heart muscle damage.”

He went on to tell me that I would be admitted, that I would have to stay till Monday when a cardiologist would do a catheterization. I asked him why I couldn’t go home and come back on Monday.  He said it was because I had unstable angina.  Meaning with unstable angina you never know what will happen.

“Yes, Mom, this is where you need to be,”  Joe chimed in.In the mean time

In the mean time the doctor ordered a nitroglycerin patch. He explained it would deliver a continuous amount of low dose nitroglycerin and needed to be kept on. He ordered some sort of blood thinning shot that had to be delivered in my stomach. “Because of your traveling,” he said. “Just to make sure no clots develop.” In addition, he ordered a baby aspirin and a statin.

All of this was indicated that there was some serious trouble. Truthfully, none of this was sinking in. I wasn’t getting it. None of this was wasted on Joe, however.

‘Aren’t you glad we came, Mom. You didn’t even want to come. “ Concern showed on his face. Joe’s face is very expressive. All of what he is feeling is there on display. He looked up at my blood pressure reading. It was still up there. “Mom try and relax.”

“I am. I don’t understand it.”

Finally, because I was going to be admitted I convinced Joe and Min to go home. I would be fine. “Go tell Mike what is happening.” We weren’t getting cell coverage in the room.

Before I could go up to my room a nurse had to deliver an intravenous push of some blood pressure medication. I say push because she had to insert a syringe into my iv and slowly push in the medicine over a five-minute period.

While waiting for my room I think the whole hospital came in to ask me what brought me in. I had to repeat myself a bazillion time.

My blood pressure was a nice respectable 120/80 so I was taken up to my room.

For the weekend I mostly just laid in bed playing the Wizard of OZ Magic Match game on my phone, getting my stomach shots and nitro patches, having my blood drawn. I had an echocardiogram and x-ray. I didn’t really watch TV. I had a book but didn’t really read. I just laid there calmly playing my games. Mike came for a few brief visits. He brought Gavin a couple of times. Joe and Min came. They brought flowers, chocolate, fruit. I tell you, those two! Anyway, for the most part it was just me and my phone.

So yes, my thought is that there was some part of me, some aware tuned in part that allowed this whole thing to be set in motion. Retrospectively, I would say this part was orchestrating to save my life.

I can see this is going to be a multi part story. I’ll stop here. What happened on Monday was a trip in itself.

Collecting experiences on the trail in Menomonee Park

The long journey to change.

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One response to “Catalyst for Change Part 2

  1. Thank you for continuing to share your journey – love the picture. I felt as if I was there in the room with you. What I was aware of in reading your entry is how much you are loved by your family.

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