Hospitals


Monday was one of those really rough days that make you feel like your losing your mind and the world has fallen off its axis and it really drove home the changes we are all undergoing. The alternate reality feeling started with a text from my best friend. Some asshole had stolen a concrete statue from her front porch. Now, I have the exact same decoration and it isn’t light so it was an impressive steal. Apparently, the criminal types are still out and about like the winners they are. Strangely the statues aren’t expensive, just heavy, so I don’t know why someone would steal it except to be an asshole. That was followed by a call that my father had been rushed to the ER via ambulance because he was struggling to breathe.

Now, my father is elderly and has a lot of health problems. The last thing a daughter wants to hear during a respiratory pandemic is that her father can’t breathe. I couldn’t go visit and I had to just wait for information to come to me. It was an incredibly long six hours of waiting. Around 4pm, I was able to talk to his ICU nurse. He’s negative for COVID-19 (which is good), but he’s having heart problems. Most likely a blocked artery or vein. After being told what was going on, I realized my father who has had heart problems for more than 22 years was really not dealing with anything new and that is surprisingly comforting.

The hardest part is definitely not being able to visit him in the hospital and being forced to wait for information. Thank God for cardiac ICU nurses that are willing to talk to family members. It is stressful to sit at home and wait for information, especially when the problem is heart related. But it is what it is. This is unfortunately just part of our new reality at least for now.

Although, I admit the suspicion I have an ulcer has gotten stronger in the last month as first I battled stomach pains and upset with mom’s aneurysms and am doing it again with dad’s hospitalization. Oddly, high cholesterol is just a fact of life with my father’s family. I’ve had high cholesterol since I was 22 and even spent a year as a vegetarian who didn’t eat fried foods trying to bring mine down. It got higher during that time. Thanks to the polycystic ovarian syndrome (which we suspect comes from my father’s side), my body mass produces cholesterol regardless of my diet and even with cholesterol medication so does my father’s.

And there is the other weird thing about our new reality. The paramedics who responded to my dad’s 911 call were fairly sure it was COVID-19 related pneumonia and I was told pneumonia when they checked him out for the first time at the ER. The cardiac ICU nurse assured me it wasn’t pneumonia and the COVID test was negative and that was good news. With an artificial heart valve, diabetes, and a host of other problems, my father’s chances of surviving a COVID-19 infection is almost nil. However, a blocked artery or a sudden need to change his blood pressure medications those are very survivable. Hell, even the need for a pacemaker would be more survivable than COVID-19 for my father and so hearing the nurse say “It’s his heart not pneumonia or COVID” was a relief which felt wrong and weird, but there it was.

Don’t get me wrong “heart problems of an unidentified nature” which was his diagnosis at 6pm Monday night isn’t great, but it is better than the alternative right now. And that is part of our new reality as well. When you have a relative with health problems being told it’s problem X and not COVID after they are found unresponsive by paramedics is a relief.

An Update: I wrote this post while struggling with how I was feeling Monday. Monday night they took my father to the cardiac cath lab and found a valve that had a 65% blockage. They cleaned it out and opened the valve back up and by Tuesday afternoon he was already breathing better. It is not uncommon for fluid to build up on the lungs when a patient suffers heart problems. It usually clears up on its own once the problem is fixed and that’s what is happening with my father. Blockage cleared valve open now the fluid is dissipating allowing him to breathe again.

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