Some might find this to be an “inappropriate” subject. However, since I know that Mom will be logging on to her computer first thing tomorrow to read my blog, and I’ve warned her, I think it is a fine topic. This morning from her hospital bed, when I mentioned that my dribbling of lukewarm coffee was caused by dental procedures, she immediately asked what I had had done at the dentist this morning. That was my clue that she had read my blog yesterday before she called 911, and wanted an update on whether or not I’d had a root canal. It was like an episode on a soap opera she was following.
Mom is now a confirmed fan of this blog, although she won’t subscribe. She is afraid of identity theft, even though I point out that the typical thief isn’t likely to choose an 89-year-old woman as an identity.
So, yesterday she had an attack of chest pressure, extreme weakness and major not-rightness, and decided to dial 911 in case she was about to pass out. Apparently many women have heart attacks where pain is not significant. The fellows showed up and delivered her to the hospital 2.5 blocks away. I got a call at 5 pm, fetched her toothbrush, slippers, and reading material, and went to the hospital. The book she was already reading, and which she still wanted me to bring, was the Household Guide to Dying, which I previously reviewed. Although I didn’t put a brown paper wrapper on it, she did try to keep the cover hidden from view during her stay in the hospital. Why? Good question.
Back at the hospital this morning, I had the pleasure of meeting her new family doctor, who recently took over the practice of her former doctor – Dr. Booboo, we called him, with all due respect. (Note rueful irony there.) The new doctor I will refer to as Dr. B2, as well, short for Dr. Blithering and I’ll leave you to guess his surname. [I sure hope he hasn’t happened upon my blog!] We had a conversation that I don’t think I can recreate with its stupidity intact. He must have been told at some point in his career that he needed to make better contact with people. So every few sentences he would awkwardly step forward, reach out and touch me on the arm. I considered swatting him, but didn’t.
Dr. B: We think your mother should stay in the hospital until her enzyme levels have come down. They are quite high.
Me: Are the high enzyme levels hazardous in themselves?
Dr. B: Oh yes! This is quite serious. She’s had a heart attack.
Me: Yes, I know she has had a heart attack. We know that because her enzyme levels are high.
Dr. B: We’d like to see them come down.
Me: Do the high levels put her at increased risk for another heart attack…
Dr. B: Oh yes.
Me: And how you would treat her in that case. I’m trying to understand the decision points and get the information we need to decide if she should stay here or go home. (Because she wanted to go home.) What would you do if she had another attack at the hospital?
Dr. B: Well, we’d give her medications.
Me: What? Blood thinners? Same as she’s taking? Increased dosages?
Dr. B: Oh yes. I have some information sheets on those medications, if you want. Of course she can go home if she wants. [Touches me on arm.]
I left the hospital and sought medical advice from my sister, the history librarian. It was much more technical than the convo with Dr B2. Later, back at the hospital, Dr. B had authorized her release, if she was “comfortable” going home. The alternative was to stay in the hospital but be demoted from an ER cubicle to a hallway, and she wouldn’t be hooked up to any monitors anyway. Mom needed no further convincing and was dressed in a flash. I suggested that we could hang around for another hour since I had already paid for the parking, but she chose to leave right away.
Back at home, Mom was in fine form, and almost ready for debate on whatever grammatical point I might choose. However, we played it cool. I told her that her other daughter (my sister) was very happy (relieved) that this had not happened when they were tormenting each other (aka visiting) a month ago. Mom laughed nervously and said she was glad, too. (I left them alone for 15 minutes to pick up Chinese food one evening, and when I got back they had already finished a flaming row and were in opposite corners of the apartment fuming, nursing blood pressures in the stratosphere.)