I want to be sensitive to any reader who has had a loved one with a serious medical condition and/or has spent time in the hospital with a family member. I mention the details of a cardiac medical emergency in this post and want to be up front if those things are hard for you to relive.
Usually, I am not calm in emergencies. I tend to get very anxious. I don’t know what came over me when we got the phone call to go back to the hospital that night. I was extremely worried about my grandmother, but I was calm. My dad was trying to find his shoes and mom was hysterical and understandably so. I put my baby in her car seat as mom was heading out the door crying and I told my dad to “come on.” “I’m trying but I can’t find my shoes!” he said. I went to my car and told mom to get inside. Dad came out shortly after and I drove us to the hospital.
The ride to the hospital was nerve-racking. It’s about a 25 minute drive and it seemed we were hitting every red light. My mom was still very upset and I remember her saying out loud, “Oh God, I’m not ready to lose my mother!” What my dad replied with is something I won’t quickly forget. He said, “We are never ready, never. No matter how old we get. We’re never ready to lose our parents.” Those words have played over and over again in my head in the last few weeks.
Once we arrived at the hospital, we met my other family members and quickly made our way to the CCU. It seemed like no one from the hospital was telling us anything when we arrived. We looked for doctors and nurses and nothing….
Finally, the doors opened to the CCU and we made our way back. I saw her hospital room. The bed wasn’t there. The room looked like a warzone. I wish I was exaggerating. Medical equipment, blood, her personal belongings. Based on the way the room looked, I just knew they were going to have bad news for us. The nurses escorted us back to the lobby and told us the doctor would be with us shortly.
There is a feeling of absolute dread that a person gets when something bad is looming. Maybe you know that feeling. It’s a sick feeling. As a human, I was totally out of any kind of control of the situation. I had that feeling because I was dreading the news we were going to receive from the doctor.
Matthew had a football game that night but at the time of the emergency, it had ended. He was headed straight for the hospital. Shortly after he arrived, the doctor came to talk to us. “She’s still alive, but it’s very serious. I’m not going to lie to you….she is a sick woman and I can make no guarantees. She’s on her way now for emergency open heart surgery.”
We were escorted downstairs to the Cardiovascular ICU waiting room. They were doing emergency open heart surgery on my grandmother immediately. Hours passed. No word on her condition. I kept praying. “God, please. Please just let her make it through this surgery and live.” I would like to tell you that I believed my prayers. I was trying my best to have faith. I knew God COULD do it. I had no doubt of his ability. But, the human side of me knew how bleak the situation was. I spent those hours torn between faith, doubt and tried to pray through it all.
The doctor came in at about 3 a.m. Saturday morning. “She made it through the surgery. She’s having the machine breathe for her right now, but she is alive. We’ll monitor her progress the next few hours. It’s still very critical.”
Exhausted, worn, and emotionally spent, my family and I left the hospital early Saturday morning to return to my parent’s home and rest. We went back to the hospital late Saturday morning where we learned more details of the night before.
My nanny had coded twice. Essentially, she died. The surgeon had to open her chest and massage her heart on the way to the operating room just to perform the surgery. Because they had to perform CPR so many times (and oxygen not being able to travel to the brain), the doctors were concerned about her cognitive function. If she didn’t improve, what would happen? Tough, tough questions.
Looking at someone who is usually so full of life when they are in such a helpless state is heartbreaking. She had come through a very serious procedure, but would her body be strong enough to make it through recovery?
The next couple of days were touch and go. Anytime the phone would ring I would jump because when you are living in such uncertainty, the smallest thing can make you nervous.
Sunday afternoon rolled around and visiting hours were once again open to families. Taking turns in pairs of two as was required by the hospital, mom and I went back together to see her. Still on the ventilator and still looking very lifeless, nanny began to motion to us like she wanted to write. We tracked down some paper, a pen, and a clip board and she writes clear as day, “where is she?”
“Where is she? Nanny, who are you talking about?” I asked. She pointed to me the best she could with the pen. “The baby?” I asked. She nodded her head. She was referring to Lydia Grace.
Tears. Nothing but tears of thanks, awe, and pure joy rolled down my face. “Thank you, God. Thank you,” I whispered. My uncles, my dad, and Matthew were in the waiting room. When we told them the great news, everyone was overjoyed. I specifically remember my dad’s reaction. He started to cry and was thanking God.
The recovery process had only just begun. But, at least we had some hope.