Just wanted to give an update on my aunt. So many people have kind enough to ask!
I visited her on — what day is it? it’s blurring together — Tues. Fortunately, I was there to hear the nurses tell her what to expect with the surgery and after it; she would be on a ventilator, have two chest drain tubes, a Swan catheter in the neck…. scary sounding things. At quarter after seven, a security guard told me I had to leave because visiting hours were over, but “they start again at 7:30”. I had to ask why I was being thrown out for 15 minutes, and found out they don’t allow visitors during a shift change. I had to open my mouth and say, “Are you afraid I’m going to steal her?” and found myself in the waiting room outside the ward.
Wait, let me back a minute. My husband was nervous about me leaving the hospital at night because it’s in a bad town. I looked online and saw they had a valet service to solve that problem, only to get there and find out the valets are only there 7am – 5pm. Whew, that’s a relief!! The valets are there during the day when I’m not worried about being mugged! YAY!
But back to me in the waiting room. I was too charged up to just wait, so I walked around. I actually stopped in the chapel; like some of chapels and churches, especially small ones, it had that wonderful serene, peaceful atmosphere and it felt good to sit there and absorb that.
I don’t believe that God takes people — one of the euphemisms for when someone dies: God took them, God needed them more, etc. I think you either believe we have free will or you don’t. You can’t say you make your decisions and then blame God when you don’t like something. So I didn’t beg God not to take my aunt, but I kept thinking, “Not her too. Please, not her too.”
Back upstairs, some nurse was talking my aunt’s ear off with how he’d change the world if he was in charge. He stopped long enough to ask if I’d be there tomorrow before the surgery. Before I could answer, my aunt jumped in that no, I had to work. She hates asking people to be there for her, because she feels she’s putting them out. I asked about my cousins, and she had told them the same thing.
It bothered me. I kept thinking if that was me waiting for open heart surgery, I’d want someone there. I hated the image of her sitting there alone, worried…. and she was worried, even though she tried to hide it.
I figured out that I could get up early — I know, me! Getting up early! — and be there before her surgery. I was so sure it was the right thing to do. Then, as the night wore on and I’m setting my clock to getting up and driving there…. I started to change my mind. I thought I was being melodramatic. To make matters worse, I actually hit traffic and then found out that the nurse who told me to use the ER entrance that early was wrong, and I had to run around the building to the front. (I am REALLY out of shape! I have got to start exercising again.) I swore I’d miss her, that by the time I got to her room, they’d have taken my aunt to surgery early.
This is going to sound…. corny or something, but one of the big reasons why I went through with it is: it’s the first time I felt my mom’s presence. The whole time, from Tuesday night when I was visiting her and came up with the idea, through the night and that early morning, I just felt her right there. It wasn’t words, but like the idea that if I had called her and suggested it, she’d tell me to please do it. She’d appreciate me being there for her sister since she couldn’t.
I ran like a madwoman through those halls until I got to the cardio center. I peeked around the open door, waiting for DeeDee to look at me like “Oh please, I told you I was fine and didn’t need anyone here.” Instead, her face lit up and she reached out her hands to me, pulling me into a fierce hug, thanking me over and over. The hospital nicely let me stay with her while they took her to the surgical floor, while she waited for the anesthelogist and talked with everyone involved, right up until she had to go in for the surgery. She never let go of my hand until she had to.
She said, “I have to tell you something. Your mother raised a good daughter.”
I still tingle inside as I think about that. It means a fortune to me.
Almost as priceless was the nurse’s face when, after hearing another nurse (who recognized me from running in the halls) ask this long list of questions, turned around and asked the same one, I asked: “Aren’t you going to ask her the other standard question?”
Nurse: Which one is that?
Me: If there’s any chance of her being pregnant.
My aunt cracked up and after pulling her eyes back in their sockets, the nurse said they’d let my 75 year old aunt slide on that question.
I told DeeDee (our family nickname for my aunt) that I’d be there when she woke up. I arranged with my boss on the phone to go in early (it was only 7:15 at that point) so I could have a longer lunch. I should have gotten there sooner (actually, I should have been there waiting the whole time since my cousins couldn’t make it; I’ll kick myself over that for a long time.), because her doctors had come out looking for a family member. But we got it settled; I met with them and that PA took me to my aunt’s room.
She opened her eyes for a moment; I held her hands and stroked her hair, repeating what the doctor and nurse said. She had come through the surgery beautifully. Don’t fight the ventilator; the worst was over and she was going to great. Her vital signs were fantastic, and her heart was going strong. She shivered from coming off the anesthesia which the nurse gave her something to help; then she drifted off to sleep.
The doctor said she won’t remember me being there, but that doesn’t matter. What mattered was: in that moment when her eyes opened for a moment, someone who loved her was there, smiling, and saying she’d be all right.
Then her nurse threw me out — nicely but firmly — so she could sleep. Like I was jumping on the bed or something.
Last night, she came off the ventilator right on schedule. Her throat was rough and she was very tired, so they wouldn’t let me talk to her. But my cousin and his family was there, and that was more important.
I called Ralph last night too and let him know what was going on. He’s going with my sister Cathi to visit DeeDee tonight.