Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Mom's misbehaving heart

My mom's been in the hospital the past three days because of her atrial fibrillation. She had a cardioversion done before we went to Holden Village, but her heart went back into irregular rhythm while we were up there. This week the cardiologist has her on a new drug, which increases the chance of the cardioversion's success. (She had the cardioversion this morning, and she gets to home today. They are still working on getting her heart rate where they want it--right now it is too low. This atrial fibrillation thing is a mysterious science.)

Mom worked at St. Vincent Hospital (in the psych ward) for many years before she retired in 1998...but many things have changed since then. The best change is the patient food! She was provided with a full menu from which she could choose her food items (all heart healthy), and they actually tasted good! On her first day they wouldn't allow her to have any caffeine, but her doctor got that changed.

It must have been strange to stay in the hospital when she wasn't really sick. The first day (before her heart monitor leads were set up), medical staff walked into her room and wondered where the patient was, because she spent most of her day in the chair reading.

The kids have been a bit worried about her--I can tell--and we are all anxious for her heart to be set right again. Atrial fibrillation isn't as dangerous as other heart conditions, but she's always been extremely active, and she wants to be able to get back to that energetic lifestyle.

I was--yet again--struck by the power of smell to resurrect memory. As soon as I washed my hands in her bathroom, my mind was immediately flooded with the memories of the NICU. We spent countless hand-washing minutes at the sink outside of the NICU, scrubbing with that same medicinal soap. Hospitals always give me a bit of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Nick in bed with Grandma (one of the nurses wanted her to wear a patient gown,
but she wanted to wear her street clothes--I commented that some nurses are very stuck on rule following!)

Her heart monitor, which was difficult not to focus on--her heart rate was going up and down like a roller coaster--
it too reminded me of the NICU and being glued to Chris' monitor at all times

Dad with Nick

Talking to my sister on the phone

Chris introducing Kieran to one of his favorite musical groups, Matt and Kim
We're all hoping that this cardioversion does the trick and her heart starts behaving again!

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