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…
At first I thought you wrote, “Mom was peppered for the procedure”. I was going to say, “Goddamn, you going to some alternative Eastern medicine hospital!”
hey! we pepper all our patients in Oz. what’s wrong with that?
I can see myself doing that. “Hmm… heart rate’s a bit low. Eh, I’ll walk it off, put some ice on it. It’ll be fine.”
RF, you’re SO manly
Like mother like daughter, tough as oul boots. Make sure you have someone to lean on though hen, I don’t want you getting ill with the stress.
yeah talk to me baby – I’m always here for you
hey wait… this isn’t my blog. why am I replying to everyone’s comments?
Yeah, you confused the shit out of me. I had to make sure I was in the right place . . .
Daisy, so good to hear she’s on the mend . . .
nursemyra can do anything she wants at my place… she’s even promised to come over and cook me real food some day!
Would you ever think that such a peculiar evening hobby would pay off with such great dividends? I thought the post was going to be about her funny routines prior to watching TV but it turned into something else. Hope she, and you, are well.
uncle keith – better than being “a-salted”! [ba-dum-DUM] Thank you! Thankyouverymuch!
renalfailure – she is a tough ol’ broad, and hates hospitals (except for the food). can hear her saying “it’s just a flesh wound…”
jimmy – i’m fine. being busy and dealing with a physiological issue for a parent is a hell of a lot easier than wrasslin’ the demons i really don’t wan’t to be talking to at the moment…
nursemyra – because you know i’m busy, and are pitching in to help a friend! you can do whatever you want on my blog, baby! you’re my blogmother… blogsister? hmmm…. does that make those festive photo shoots in seville something creepy?
unbearable banishment – it’s always something, isn’t it? ride the tide, paddle through the calm, and hunker down when the seas are rough…
Well, I’m glad that things are looking better, er, less worse now.
Glad to hear your mom is doing well. Aren’t siblings wonderful? My only consolation with some of mine is knowing that I must aggravate them as much as they do me.
If S was my sister, I’d likely have taken a contract out on her long before now.
Glad to hear your mom is doing better.
For years, playing hockey helped me maintain a resting pulse rate of about 50. It’s been nearly a decade since I hung up the blades for good and my heart rate’s crept up to a little over 60 (not bad considering I don’t do much cardio stuff these days). If I had discovered I had a heart rate of 40, my reaction would have been SWEEEEEET! I wouldn’t have gone to the hospital either. But, I AM a man, though. And that makes a difference.
@nursemyra: you funny lady! Hope all is well with you. Coming up on two years, aren’t you?
So typical of that generation to not want to bother anyone with a serious health issue.
Glad things are better and that S was tolerable.
Listen doll, if it gets too much fighting the demons, let me know. I have a few tricks up my sleeve on how to get the upper hand and keep it.
Sending good thoughts your way.
Your mother, good heavens, I can’t believe a nurse would ignore a heart rate of 40. Of course, I probably would have just caught a bus to Harborview, so guess I’ve got a lot of room to talk. Good thing she’s not my mother, I might have wanted to slap some sense in her.
Hey girl, glad to hear near crisis was averted and hope all is well with you MOM. Hey girl, you need to find a few more meaningful excuses to leave work. I leave if I have to go pee!
stephanie – yes, less worse. she’s home, staying with my niece for a few days. very weak, though. she should be feeling much better, so there’s a chance she’s got more arterial blockages getting in the way…
chris – that’s an excellent point! i’m sure i annoy the piss out of my siblings… somehow there IS great comfort in that…
rob – she’s ok. part of what i realized by spending the prior weekend with my siblings is that they really are pretty broken, and perhaps the miracle is that they’re not in worse shape. Dad really did rescue my older two siblings… so i can have some patience. and maintain at least 60 miles of geographic distance for the rest of our lives…
annie – it’s a fine line between strength and stupidity. she really was trying to suck it up. i had to point out “mom, i know you don’t want to bother us, but dropping dead is going to bother us a bit more than getting your ass to the hospital for a tweak and tune is…”
jimmy – thanks, but i’m getting there. staying very busy, constantly moving is the near term answer. i’ll start poking the broom under my bed over the next few days to tease some of the little ones out…
squirrel queen – thanks! at 81 i hope i’m as feisty as she still is… that’s usually how we know she’s feeling better. she’s hungry and poking people with her cane!
silverstar – she had been feeling awful for much of the weekend reunion, but really didn’t want to ruin things for everyone else. very sweet of her… but if she’d dropped while we were off the grid? sheeee-it…. it’d been all over except for cooking the marshmallows…
Bb – so far, so good… oh, and i have NO PROBLEM taking off work… i do it all the time (an hour here and there either to go out to play, or sleep in and recover from play time)… i just don’t skip work for hospitals unless i REALLY need to be there… fuck that…
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