So ultimately, it has been a scary and kind of surreal week. My mom had somewhat of a large heart attack on Wednesday out of nowhere, and while she underwent surgery and is on the mend and soon to be home from the hospital, the scared, anxious part of me is thinking underneath it all that this is only the beginning--the sort of health decline all elderly parents fall into (she is nearing on 70 and my dad is 76 this year.) The period of time that all people my age fear, if they are lucky enough to not have lost their parents even earlier in life. The inevitability of them not always being there.
We've always been a reasonable fortunate family with our health issues, though there have been some, pretty minor on the scale of tragedy --my dad and sister have intermittent seizures but are not quite epileptic. My brother in law actually is epileptic and has lived with it his whole life. I am probably the most fortunate, a lot of bumps and bruises and a broken finger when I was a child --other clumsiness casualities like last winter's bus ride tumble hurt wrist. My sciatic issue a couple years back, my endless bout with mono 10 years ago. A couple of unfortunate food poisoning incidents. My mom has survived colon cancer when she was forty, gall bladder issues in her 50's (also something my sister endured.), as well as a scary bout with a twisted herniated colon that nearly killed her about 15 years ago. She has also been diabetic since I was a child , but has been reasonable good at monitoring her sugar for over 30 years and is in pretty good shape with it. But still, she apparently had some artery blockage that caused a very asympotomatic attack (no pain at all, but some breathlessness and some sweating while in the grocery store that eventually led to my dad forcing her to go to the emergency room.) That scary bus ride to Rockford is not one I wish to repeat, but it seems highly likely I will find myself on it again, and it won't always be as fortuitous a recovery. This makes me panicky, and anxious. They won't live forever and I know this, but I've been pretty good at living in denial.
Thursday morning, as I made sure the cats were fed, wrote out my rent check, went to the bank to get cash, and even packed up some dgp orders in the studio because I was early for the bus, I was operating on autopilot, almost as if I were watching normal Kristy doing all the normal sort of things while seriously panicking inside. By the time I got to Rockford, she was already in surgery for angioplasty and on her way to recovering, but those few hours on uncertainty that began Wednesday night when my sister texted me about shortness of breath and the emergency room (which had happned a couple months back, but not so severe and coinciding with a bad bout bout of bronchitis she was recovering from) and then my mother's call at 2am confirming that it was not leftover bronchitis and was, in fact, a heart attack, up until I actually got to the hospital, were the worst 12 or so hours in my memory. What was the total damage? Would it happen again? Would she have to have full-on open heart surgery (which my aunt, while it it was a preventative surgery, is still slowly recovering from the one she had last fall with quite a few complications that make it hard for her to get around. .)
While her kidneys took a hit, they are expected to be on the upswing, and the surgeries, two arteries fixed and another in a month or so, should prevent future attacks, she still seems infinitely more fragile and ailing than she was before. I mean, maybe the fact that she suffered a pretty big attack with nary an eyelash bat, proves how hardcore she is. She tends to be rather no-nonsense about health things, and while she has had various aches and pains and weird afflictions (inexplicable hives, leg cramps in bed, shingles last spring, a pulled tendon in her arm in January), she's pretty adamant about going about her usual business. She seems vulnerable now when she was always invulnerable. and I'm not sure I'm ready for that, with her or my dad.
I spent some time with my mom in her hospital room the past four days (a hospital room she is very eager to leave as soon as they give the ok.) But each time I left the room, or went home to sleep, I was haunted by the fact that n 1984, my maternal grandmother took a nasty fall and broke her hip, While she was recovering just fine, and only in her mid-50's, she suffered a sudden blood clot because of the hip and died in the hospital one summer morning. My mother had gone to visit her about 20 minutes before visiting hours ended the night before she died, but was rushed out, only to find out the next morning she was gone. It was a weird freak situation that was forged and made especially tragic, by a number of random factors--that last rushed visit, her reasonably good health up til then, the blood clot, the nurse who left her unsupervised in the bathroom and didn't check on her til it was too late. It haunted me every time I turned to go in that hospital and now everytime in the future from here on in. Is this the last time I see her (or my father) alive? Of course, any of us could get hit by a bus tomorrow, and any day could be our last. But I'm not sure I'm ready for the increasing likelyhood of that sort of finality. Not just yet.