Updated: Jun 3
Please join me as I begin to relive the nightmare of being in the hospital at the time my mother crashed and was a code blue due to suffering flash pulmonary edema, and that was just the beginning of what would be a devastating turn of events...
September 5, 2019
I don't remember much about the night other than I cried as hard as I have ever cried in my 49 years. Essentially, I broke down in front of my one and only person in life that would comprehend the need for me to get these tears out because tomorrow was going to be a hard day and I had to keep it together for everyone. So I did, walking around my home in a full bawl for several hours and it was out of my hands. I could not control the emotions that swelled within me and the overall pain of knowing what my mother was going through in the ICU connected to everything known to mankind, not knowing what was next for her or us. We were supposed to be home nurturing a shoulder surgery while caring for my father who lives in heart failure. This was a game-changer and I knew it.
I was reassured she was in good hands and also with the knowledge that I am not in control of this situation, I let go. I cried myself to sleep and my partner in life let me, holding on to me until I passed out exhausted. I felt responsible for encouraging her to get the surgery and trying to absorb what was going on around me at the same time was overwhelming. I was not sure she would survive the night. I won't lie, there was chaos in my mind so writing it down became the next big step, I had to document some of this I have already experienced before more was thrown at me and my memory fades. I had watched my mom crash in front of me. I was in shock.
We all arrived in the morning at the hospital, meeting in the ICU waiting area. They let us in early so we could be with mom before her cardiac catheterization. It was set for 9 am and the staff let us go back to see her 3 at a time before visiting hours began, to wish her well and kiss her forehead. You could cut the tension with a knife. This was our mother and no one could wrap their heads around the severity of her situation or my theory as to what happened based on my experience thus far. I remained calm and quiet ready to soak in the day.
When I went in to see her I approached the side of her bed and she was awake but highly medicated and kept telling me in a baby voice "It's all okay now" and "I have a little broken heart". I did not know what that meant and started asking my family that was already in there and had seen the staff, what she was talking about. I walked around the side of her bed and snapped the picture of her monitor mainly because I can
They told me throughout the night she had continued arrhythmias, tachycardia, and had suffered #takotsubo which is where the broken heart statement from my mom came from. Which pissed me off they would tell her she had a little broken heart last night but she was on morphine and felt nothing, basically. The cardiologist and the ICU team had spent several hours trying to keep her stable. She was so out of it she admits but stated the staff seemed pretty concerned and alerted to her heart. Mom also said they were all over her through the night rushing in and out and kept telling her they were in control but she also told me they drained about a gallon of fluid from her catheter. We, the family, were never notified of any problems through the night.
While we were waiting for the procedure, the head of the ICU strolled in to say good morning and just wanted to chill with the family and small talk with us...and the reason I take pause with this is that I have been in and out of the hospital with my parents now for many years and one thing I know is that heads of nothing talk to you. Heads of zero departments spend time in your room with their white coats talking to you about your hometown and other nonsensical crap. They just don't do it and I felt pretty cynical about it at this moment.
Dr. Lichin told her at some point during the night, that she had suffered massive heart muscle damage and then later came back saying maybe it wasn’t as bad as it first looked. Backtracking. All the hospital could talk about was a possible pre-existing heart condition, talking about the blockages she had to have. We were about to find out. They took her back for the procedure a little after 9 am.
I and my sisters Stacie and Kim, my nieces Amanda and Jordan, and my father went to the cafeteria to grab a bite to eat while we waited for my mom. This place was so stretched out getting from one side to the next on the main floor down the long empty halls, it was a five-minute walk. We had my 82-year-old father with us and he had just been hospitalized with his heart, had another stint placed, and was now on O2 suffering heart failure. I was also worried about him very much and wanted to wheel him in a wheelchair but he refused and wanted to walk it. So we did.
While I was sitting with my family in the cafeteria another staff member in a white coat approached our table and asked me how my mom was. A strange staff member that I do not know in any way was able to recognize me and ask how my mom was doing. I told her she was in a #cardiaccatheterization procedure and had suffered massive heart damage but we would know more later. She seemed concerned, stated she was sorry, and disappeared.
We waited in the front lobby where they told us to and when the cardiologist came to talk to us, I recorded his words because we are all traumatized and I knew we would not be able to absorb all of what was going to be told to us that we would need to remember to remind my father who has dementia, not to mention being able to relay this to my mother. So I pulled out my phone set it on my armrest and let it record.
He confirmed that she suffered the results of a massive heart attack with a 35% ejection fraction rate which is not good, but there were no blockages that required stinting or even a need for a cardiologist prior to this day. The heart attack had affected the front lower portion of her heart and the damage is severe. It was a heart attack that was caused by a sudden rush of adrenaline that hit her heart like a bat to the thigh, stunning it. His words. He went on to say that he could not pinpoint the issue and went on until I gussied up the nerve to interrupt him and ask specifically about the Narcan and whether or not that would have caused this Cardiomyopathy he was explaining to us. He said at that time, yes #Narcan could cause this. He spoke with us for about 10 minutes regarding her plan of care with her new medicines that she would now need to have and possible recovery. Saying before he left that she might be able to leave for home in 24 hours. I guess I don't understand medicine well enough but she seemed in no way, shape, or form, ready to go home. I am her nurse at home and I don't think I can do what it will take to keep her head above water.
Mama had to lie flat on her back for a few hours due to the cath site and it needing to coagulate. Se we all said our goodbyes to mama for the rest of the day and left her alone in the ICU knowing she needed to rest and we wanted her to remain as relaxed and calm as possible under such new conditions.
Audio of Cardiologist directly after seeing inside my mother's heart through the cardio-catheterization procedure. Diagnosis.
I go home. Tired and exhausted taking advantage of the time I have here because I know very soon I will be at my childhood home with my mom and dad getting through all of this mess we are somehow in. No sooner do I begin to clear out my bags to repack for tomorrow, I get a phone call from my niece saying the ICU had called and told her that my mother was sitting up, eating crackers, and drinking water, so they were moving her out of #ICU and placing her in their PACU Progressive Care Unit. I asked if the family could be at the bedside and we were told that yes we could be in the progressive care unit. I told them I would head back that way. It was about 5 pm and I said I would get there about 9 pm just to give me a minute to clean up myself and my home.
When I get back to the hospital I go up to the PACU only to realize it is the same floor she was on before she crashed just down the hall with all of the other outpatient patients. From room 286 to Room 269. As I enter the room I see the cooler sitting at the door the one that is supposed to be attached to her arm circulating cold water for the next month as prescribed by the surgeon that just did a reverse total replacement on her. So, she is in the room not hooked up to her cooling unit they had for her shoulder surgery. I walk in and sit down, snap a picture and let the girls know I was there. My niece has already been talking to the nurse and did not like her too much. I went and got her to ask about the cooler, making her get more ice. She was so uninformed about our situation that trying to get any medical information from her was impossible. I told her to come in and get her freshened up. Here is the picture I took of my mom directly released from CHI St. Joseph's ICU into their PACU progressive care unit and at the time I took this I did not think anything about it. It was not until the next morning when staff changed when the new nurse went across the hall and grabbed things to put on the wall behind my mom and then began to hook her up to all of the functional ports on the wall for monitoring.
All night long we went without being monitored by this place. She did have O2 on and a remote heart monitor but there were no other sats coming their way for the record. I woke up mad and dismayed.
I will end here tonight with this new day beginning for my mom and the struggle has only really begun when you look at this picture. Her heart is severely damaged and mine is breaking at the reality. Sept 6 should be an interesting day. More videos to come in the next few blog posts I have coming out. #cardiomyopathy #StJosephsHealth #America