A heart rate of 40 beats per minute is generally considered a bit low to sustain life. Even trained endurance athletes don’t quite go that low. That’s why a heart rate of 40 beats per minute in the body of an 81 year old woman should be pretty alarming.
Nope. Not to my mother. Returning from a fun, but chaotic, family reunion last weekend, she was getting settled in at home Sunday night. Her normal evening routine involves checking her blood pressure and pulse rate – and she noticed that the heart rate was down. Rather than let someone know? She sucked it up and decided to tough it out.
She didn’t want to bother anyone. Knew that folks were tired from the weekend. She didn’t sleep much, but kept track of her heart rate. Even in the morning, she still felt like crap, but waited til noon to call my niece, DQ. The cardiologist had mentioned that low heart rate is pretty damn serious, so DQ called for an ambulance, and got Mom in for cardiac assessment Monday afternoon. About fifteen hours after she first noted the low heart rate.
She was immediately taken to the intensive care unit, the docs said she’d need a pacemaker installed. Procedure was scheduled for noon on Tuesday. i cleared my morning calendar to join my sister, S, and niece at the hospital. Routine stuff, and likely to immediately make Mom feel better.
She was really lucky – and i mean really fucking lucky– that her cardio-circuits didn’t fry while we spent the weekend in a remote ‘holler’ down in Kentucky. We were 30 minutes from the main road, and probably at least an hour from skilled medical care…
i had coordinated logistics for Tuesday with S and DQ. The Park is about an hour from my office, and i had a meeting at 3:30pm – an interview panel, which had already been rescheduled 3 times. i headed down first thing in the morning. So long as i left the hospital by 2:00 pm, it was possible to meet my work obligation. Given that things were reasonably under control, Mom was in no imminent danger, and S wasn’t shitting herself in a panic like she did last time, i figured it would be ok to plan to head to work after the procedure.
Mom was prepped for the procedure, and they allowed us to come back and join her. Some inconsiderate motherfucker having a heart attack had the balls to take the cardiologist away, so Mom’s procedure was delayed til around 1:30pm. We explained this to Mom. My sister told her “daisyfae has to go back to work at 2:00pm”…. followed immediately by “But I’m not going to leave you! You’re the only reason I ever take off work. It’s more important for me to be here with you than to go to work…”
On the bright side? At least this time she didn’t break down in tears, or start with the “I’m not ready for you to die” routine…
The good news? Mom’s doing great – she was pretty pasty-white when they took her back to install Ticker Helper. She returned a healthy shade of pink. Downside? They’re keeping her for at least another night – pulmonary hypertension. Will know more tomorrow… and still need to get back to writing up all the happenings – new and past history – covered over the weekend…