My mother is one tough nugget.
After 65 years of sucking tar, she quit smoking. Completely. She smoked her last cigarette about a month ago. i am in awe of this – having assumed it wasn’t possible to ditch a 3-pack a day habit that fast. But she did it. She took Chantix, prescribed by her surgeon, but stayed at the low dose – probably not enough to have made much difference.
This was sheer willpower.
Where did it come from? Yesterday she told us that a light bulb went off when Robo-Doc said – “You’re here to talk about bypass surgery. I assume that means you want to live. You need to quit smoking – for at least 2 weeks prior to surgery”. She realized she really does want to live…
So here i sit in the cardiac intensive care unit – having been at the hospital since 5:00 am. She had double bypass surgery this morning, and things went as planned, with no major blips or surprises – always a good thing when dealing with bypass surgery. She needed to be at the hospital early for a 7:00 am procedure – and we saw her in recovery around noon.
The extended family – specifically my niece, DQ – was on top of all of the pre-surgical preparations. She took Mom to all of the pre-operative testing/visits, handled pre-surgical preparations yesterday, and spent the night with Mom to make sure she was up at 3:30 am. To give her due credit, DQ is a diligent and attentive care-giver, and it was a great relief to me that she was on the job. This is what i suck at, and she is very good at…
DQ and her husband BJ brought Mom to the hospital, saving me an extra hour of transit time this morning. i met them as they arrived. Mom was in good spirits, but clearly nervous. After she was plugged with IVs and prepped for surgery, DQ, BJ, my sister S, and her husband J came back to the room to pass the time. Generally, light hearted conversation, good natured joking and reassurances that all would be fine…
Until it was time for Mom to leave for surgery. Quick hugs from me and DQ. S went to take her hand, and then completely broke down – as is her habit* – crying and sniveling and saying “I wasn’t going to do this… waaaaah!” DQ and BJ started to lose it, and i whispered “save it for later…” but they’d already gotten it together.
During the long surgical wait, we all dozed, read and stayed busy – J with his iPod, BJ by snoozing on a bench, DQ and S with idle chatter. Rather than listen to things that might annoy** i stayed busy with work assignments that required low-level attention.
Three hours after we left Mom in the hands of the medical staff, we had the post-surgery consult with Robo-Doc – everything went well, no unusual concerns. i took the opportunity to tweak him. He asked if we had any more questions, and i asked “what’s up with the damn hospital wireless?” and much to my amazement, he started to diagnose the problem before i waved him off***.
After we arrived at the cardiac intensive care unit, the gang decided to go for food – as is the habit. Naturally, i was called back to see Mom just after they’d wandered off in search of goodies. It was difficult to see Mom on a ventilator, but the staff had prepared us for this. She was not recovered from the anasthesia, but i was able to go over basics with Mom’s nurse about what to expect for the next few hours/days. About the time i was booted out, the troops returned from the cafeteria, plates and bags of food in hand.
A friend of Mom’s arrived to just sit with us a bit. She is an administrator for a local hospice organization, and was knowledgeable about the procedure and general medical issues. When S once again launched off on her “Dad died because of a routine procedure” discourse, i decided it was time once again to correct her faulty information. Recounting that Dad died from multiple organ failure due to a 3 year battle with late-stage colon cancer, and not as a result of the palliative “routine” procedure as S remembered, i was met with icy stares, indignation and finally the statement “well, that’s how i see it, and anytime anyone says ‘routine procedure’ to me, it’s going to scare me to death”.
Mom’s friend – a trained expert in dealing with death and dying – stepped in to try to explain to S that the procedure was in fact not responsible for Dad’s death. This was met with stony silence. Shortly thereafter, the entire pack headed out for much needed rest, leaving me mercifully alone in the waiting room. S did not say another word to me…. i guess that’s my punishment for throwing all those nasty facts out there to get in the way of her personal theatrical event.
This was sheer stupidity.
Glad that Mom was the one demonstrating the willpower and S was playing the stupid card for this round. The prognosis is guarded, but good. We’ll know more tomorrow.
* Well, she’s fucking consistent, i’ll say that for her… consistently useless in these situations.
** Nervous chatter. Some of it ‘trailer park-esque’, but i don’t wan’t to throw unnecessary rocks. It was a bit tense…nervous chatter is as good a way to deal with tension as any.
*** Geeks always rock…