Monthly Archives: February 2011

“In everything give thanks”

I arrive at Mom’s apartment Saturday, and again pray that if something’s going to happen, it will happen while I’m there.

About 1:00 Sunday morning, I hear Mom’s beautiful tortoiseshell cat meowing. Turtle is highly opinionated during the day, but she’s normally quiet at night. Then I hear Mom call for help.

I rush in to find her again writhing in pain and gasping for breath. I push the call button on her wrist, and Home Care asks if she needs help. They call the ambulance even before they get upstairs to her room.

There’s something different this time. These two paramedics treat Mom as if she were their mother.

By the time we get to the hospital she’s almost incoherent, and they’re worried. Really worried. I point out that it’s the middle of the night and she’s just had a heart attack, but that’s not enough for them.

They keep trying to get her to respond, and report to the nurses that she’s not responding well. Back and forth they go, one to Mom, the other to the nursing desk, then the other one to Mom, while I stay by her side.

Finally there’s a doctor available, and Mom is whisked away.

The paramedics were right. Mom has a life-threatening infection that sent her blood pressure plummeting and her heart racing. Antibiotics as well as heart medication stabilize her.

The two paramedics come back to see Mom, something I haven’t witnessed with EMS before. They express their concern and wish us luck.

Mom is admitted to Intensive Care and, although troubled by angina, makes good progress. I go back home (some 300 miles) Wednesday.

My cell phone rings at 11:30 Wednesday night. “It must be a wrong number,” I think. Nobody I know would call me at 11:30.

But I listen to the message. It’s my sister-in-law. Mom has congestive heart failure and Donna is heading to the hospital.

Richard and I are on the road by midnight. Our son, Rick, is coming too, as well as Maria, Tina, Lisa and Tommy.

We gather at Lisa’s, and I pray with Tommy and Tina that Great-grandma will live until we get there.

We arrive at the hospital at 8:00 a.m. Mom beams when she sees us. Carefully, Tommy and Tina get up on her bed. The nurse is nervous, but she doesn’t stop them. Boisterous Boy Tommy sits uncharacteristically still.

“It’s all so wonderful!” Mom exclaims at seeing her family. I offer to write in her journal, and she pours out words of gratitude for her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Tommy and Tina don’t stay long on the bed, of course. Soon Mom’s nurse notices a whirling pair of purple tights beneath the curtain, and enlists their owner’s help.

“Missy,” she says, “I have a job for you. Go and feel your grandma’s foot and see if it’s warm.”

Tina reports that Great-grandma’s toes are warm. The nurse confirms Tina’s assessment and high fives her. I marvel at the nurses. They’re some sort of Florence Nightingale/instrumentation mechanic combos, dispensing compassion and caring while operating mysterious machines.

The doctors want to do an angiogram and probably an angioplasty. They think it may improve Mom’s quality of life.

And then they make an offer that surprises both Donna and the nurses on the unit. “Would one of you like to watch?” they ask.

The honor goes to Maria, as she’s in nursing school. What an opportunity! “You put the kids through the Christian school when they were little,” I tell Mom. “And now, at 90, you’re helping Maria in nursing school!”

Tommy and Tina and I run after the guerney and say good-bye to Mom as she passes the waiting room.

The operation is not only “really interesting” to Maria, it’s a success. A 90% blockage has been reduced to 50%. Mom is soon off the ICU, off oxygen and recovering well.

What will our Father do next?

“In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
I Thessalonians 5:18