My mom had a cardiac catheterization done today. Because her Scleroderma causes scar tissue to form in her lungs, there is the concern that it will begin to cause scar tissue in her pulmonary artery and/or cause pulmonary hypertension. Since she has been feeling so sick for the past several weeks, her doctors decided to get a closer look at what was going on inside.
I was the designated driver for this appointment because first of all, I volunteered for the job. A driver was needed because my mom would not be allowed to drive after the procedure for the remainder of the day. My dad, considered legally blind, was not an option as the driver. Pretty sure it would be frowned upon should he attempt to get behind the wheel again. I also went along because my dad would require some
babysitting entertainment company. It was going to be a long day. Once the procedure is completed, it requires the patient to lay flat on their back for several hours afterwards.
The appointment was at 6:00 am. I told my parents I would be in their driveway around 5:20 or so. I know how long it takes to get downtown, and I wanted to make sure we had plenty of time to get downtown, then to the parking ramp and then to the heart clinic without rushing. My mom is not capable of rushing. Apparently, neither is my dad.
I was in my parents’ driveway at 5:20. My mom was ready. Dad was still brushing his teeth. And gargling. And looking for his Chap Stick. And checking his blood sugar. And making sure he had his Bible to take with. And deciding (for unknown reasons) not to take the Bible with. We left the driveway at 5:35.
Thankfully, we made it to the clinic just in time and got my mom all checked in and ready to go. When it was time for the procedure, the nurse invited my dad and I to wait in the waiting room and to be sure to check in with the receptionist so that we could be informed when my mom was done. So we did just that, then made our way to the cafeteria for some coffee. (FYI – just because the hospital cafeteria says they sell Starbuck’s coffee does not mean that the coffee will taste anything like the real Starbuck’s. Mine ended up in the trash, unfinished.) The coffee run killed some time anyway and then we headed back to the waiting room where I asked my dad if he’d like to sit near the television so he could watch the morning news. He did not want to. He did not bring anything to read. It was a long wait. The people-watching was lackluster.
I proceeded to read my book on my Nook, check my work email, check to see if anything interesting was happening on FaceBook. I accepted a friend request from a friend who I am sure I was already friends with several times over. He just needs to quit changing his name.
Time passed. I’m not sure how much. It had probably been an hour or so. Eventually, the receptionist approached us and said that my mom’s procedure was finished and that the doctor would be out to talk to us shortly. She shouldn’t have been so specific as to when the doctor would arrive.
The receptionist came and apologized for the wait and said the doctor should arrive soon.
We waited some more.
My dad got up and walked over to the receptionist. My dad is not a very patient man. Never has been. To make matters worse, he had just informed me that he was becoming less patient than he normally is. I refrained from reminding him that patience has never been one of his virtues. I worried what he might be saying up there at the front desk, but the receptionist didn’t look annoyed at all, so I figured he must have behaved himself. When he returned to his seat, he told me that he said to the receptionist, “I know the doctor is very busy, but does he know how unbusy I am?”
He seemed to think that was funny, so I chuckled. The receptionist came over to us and apologized again and said she was going to go back and see if she could “light a fire under someone’s butt.” I told her I appreciated any attempt she could make at butt-lighting. She disappeared for a few minutes then came back to the waiting room and resumed her perch at the front desk.
We waited some more.
My dad’s patience, what miniscule amount he may have possessed, was dwindling.
“This is terrible,” he said dramatically.
I didn’t really think it was terrible. Slightly annoying, maybe. Terrible was a stretch.
“Dad,” I said, trying to appease him. “Whether or not the doctor comes to talk to us right now, Mom still has to lay flat for several hours before they’ll release her. We’re not going anywhere anytime soon.”
“Well,” he said in his dramatic, drawn-out fashion, “at least someone could come out here and tell us, I don’t know… that the procedure is finished.”
“They did,” I said. “The receptionist told us that.”
“Well,” he said again, leaving whatever thought might have been there unfinished.
A few minutes later the receptionist came and apologized profusely, saying the doctor had just returned her call and was on his way.
I thanked her.
As she walked away, my dad asked, “Well, where the heck is this guy coming from?”
“Wisconsin,” I said.
If my dad found any humor in that comment, he didn’t show it. But I get away with this stuff because he has my kidney. I try not to push my limits though.
Finally, the doctor arrived. He suggested we all go back to my mom’s room so that he could explain the test results to all of us. It was good news. Although the scarring in my mom’s lungs prevents them from absorbing as much oxygen as most people are able, (65% is normal, vs. about 13% for my mom) the scarring has not progressed to her pulmonary artery. In fact, the pressures in her ventricles and aortas are okay and the doctor described her arteries as “beautiful.”
At least there is not further damage. But the lack of absorption of oxygen in her lungs explains her constant fatigue. I guess it’s good to know the reason behind some of her symptoms so she can try to combat them whenever possible. (ie. stop pushing herself to do more physical activity than she feels able to manage.)
Armed with the good news, my dad’s lack of patience subsided to his normal levels of impatience. My mom was tired and wanted to try to sleep for a while, so she suggested Dad and I go find some lunch and not feel guilty about leaving her alone for a while. So we did. I must say that the cheeseburgers and onion rings served in the cafeteria were much more pleasing than the pseudo-Starbuck’s coffee we’d had earlier. We actually conversed and actually enjoyed each other’s company too!
An hour later, we returned to the room where Mom informed us it was impossible to sleep. But I know she enjoyed the break from Dad and me for a while. It would be two and a half more hours before my mom would be discharged and we could all go home.
Thankfully, my dad fell asleep.
Later on, after we had all returned home, I walked over to my parents’ house to check on my mom and she seemed to be doing well. She informed me that she wanted to buy me a hanging basket of flowers for my yard as a thank you for taking care of her and Dad today. I told her that wasn’t necessary.
She insisted that she wanted to.
I said on second thought, I would take her up on her offer. I think I earned it!