Heart Strung

”Did you put in to take off Monday?”

“Yeah, of course! Why?”

When I got home from work on Wednesday evening, I wasn't sure why my dad was asking me a question for which he already knew the answer. I told him I was taking off. I knew his heart surgery was all scheduled, and that he needed to be at the hospital at 6 AM. I was mentally and emotionally prepared for a long day, and I was trying not to think about the worst. At times he had told me I didn't need to take off, that if he was going to “kick the bucket” I wouldn't be able to do anything to change that, but I really don't know if I could have focused on my work, and I certainly wasn't going to leave my mom alone in a waiting room for three or four hours.

As it turns out, the reason he was asking was because his surgery was postponed. I couldn't believe my ears. After telling a man he had five months to live if they didn't act, after the surgeon was ready to do the operation two weeks ago when an angioplasty failed, now they were going to wait until April 13th. At least that's not a Friday. I couldn't understand. Wasn't this an urgent matter? Apparently, the doctors thought otherwise. Apparently, for insurance reasons, he needs to make an office visit to the surgeon who would be working on his carotid artery. He was all set with the heart surgeon, but then they determined that he needed this other procedure done at the same time as his bypass and heart valve operation, and after getting a scan on Tuesday that confirmed for sure that the carotid artery was 70% blocked, he found out he needed to make an appointment with this other surgeon first.

I'm very confused and bewildered, as I'm sure the old man is. When I reminded him about the five month thing, he told me that he now had 30 days--! After speaking with my mom, she cleared that part up. He's had all these presurgical x-rays and scans done, and he has 30 days for doctors to act on those test results. After 30 days, he would be required to go through all those tests again before the surgeons could act. So now he's going to meet the carotid guy next Tuesday, and then in a few weeks when the heart surgeon gets back from his vacation they're going to fix my father. We hope. April 13th will actually be past those 30 days, so they're trying to get in there sooner. So we don't actually know when it's happening, just not next Monday.

It's a little annoying and frustrating. I can't say that I'll ever be prepared to lose one of my parents, but I was prepared for the possibility. I didn't tell my boss, but in the back of my mind I wondered if I would be back at work on Tuesday, or if I was going to lose my dad on Monday. If I was thinking that, I'm sure my mom was thinking that. I know my dad was thinking it. Now he's having second thoughts, wondering if it's worth all this trouble to get a few more years instead of a few more months. These doctors are stringing us all along on a tumultuous emotional roller coaster, while we do our best to live our daily lives and routines as though everything around us wasn't being shaken up.

My dad canceled a gig he could have done next weekend because he thought he'd still be in the hospital. I took a vacation day on a day when I had three meetings, which I was sticking with one of my friends. Now I don't know whether to go in anyway, or use the day to do some much needed repairs on my car, which will never pass inspection while that “check engine” light is still on. I probably should go in to work. I don't know yet. I've been writing some posts in advance, anticipating late nights in the hospital. I've been staying late at work and trying to get all of next week's workload finished this week. My mom still hasn't gotten our tax papers together for our accountant, not that I'm ever in a hurry to find out how much I owe. We've all made adjustments to our plans, because this seemed like an important matter that couldn't wait, and suddenly it gets pushed off. Is it not as urgent as we were told? Should my dad even bother to go through with it now? He had talked himself into it, and now may talk himself out of it. And I honestly don't know what is the right play.

I guess in a way this is a reprieve, but in another way it's like pulling a Band-Aid off a hairy arm very, very slowly. It's like getting on a plane that's flying in a holding pattern rather than landing on schedule. I'm too tired to think of any more metaphors right now.

What next?


Blogger Lorna said...

I can understand your frustration. Hang in there.

3/19/2010 11:10 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home