Quadruple bypass; a surprise lesson in family history

Wednesday, mum went into cardiac arrest at home (the family ranch is 1 hour from nearest hospital). Very luckily, my father found her, dialled 911 & commenced chest compressions, as he was told. Twenty minutes later, EMS arrived and commenced working on her.

We’ve been told by multiple RNs and doctors that when they hear somebody say, “I gave them CPR,” they don’t believe it. Aparently, most laymen–non-medical professionals–can’t/ don’t do it right. My mother is 4’10” and weighs 80lb. My father is 6’2″ and about 180. My theory is he had the strength and leverage to do it right. For two days following, he kept asking if he had broken her ribs. Well, he hadn’t…

The cardiology surgeon did when they sawed through her sternum and broke the ribs (“cracking the chest”) to perform quadruple bypass surgery. They told us it would take 5 hours. It took 3.5. While shorter sounds better, that scared us:

•couldn’t they “fix” her?

•where’s the doctor?

Surgeons “always” come out to speak with family following surgery. He did not. My brother is less than satisfied.

It meant we worried and worried and worried all day.

a) nobody is allowed in day of surgery

b) at 2 hours post-op, they try to get her off life support — they want this done by hour 4

c) she was on life support from 6:30AM til 6:30PM…she has an advanced directive (“don’t keep me on life support”), so this was getting scary

She’s tired. Mentally, she lost 4 days. She can’t feed herself, so I’ve been feeding her while in hospital but they say by Friday or next Monday she should be able to feed herself, use toilet and shower. Sounds great!

In “news” but about me:

First let’s cover the happy stuff:

Brother decided since having only catnaps since Wednesday-last, he and I would break out of the hospital on Sunday (planned since last spring, to attend the St. Louis Rock and Roll Marathon as my “birthday party”). We got there at 10AM. The race was going strong. So.Much.Fun! When I say “fun,” I mean live music, happy faces, runners and that bottle of bubbly I downed along with a few shots of whiskey.

I didn’t see Angela and Rob 😦

a) I was too drunk to make sense to anybody

b) We stayed as long as we could because Brother had to pick up his kids! Also, he had to drop me at hospital before picking up his kids — these are all in different counties, let alone cities

What sweeter image than a drunken, adult woman taking a nap in the ICU next to her broken mother, eh? Oh, staff must think lovely things about me…

Now the Serious:

Heart disease was a family secret. I didn’t know. Dad didn’t know about her family having this and they’ve been married 48 years.

Mum did. The jig is up: she obviously has it, her sister has it, their mother had it and her mother had it. My father’s mother died of cardiac arrest in her 50s.

The cardiology nurse gave me all kinds of gyp about not having my own cardiologist (I’m 41 Thursday). I DIDN’T KNOW WE HAD HEART DISEASE. When people died, they said it was other causes.

As soon as possible, I need to get my own cardiologist and have a stress test for starters (luckily, I have been getting yearly physicals so it’s not that I’ve ignored my health, it’s that I had ZERO clue that my heart should’ve been given extra tests/ care.



4 thoughts on “Quadruple bypass; a surprise lesson in family history

  1. Wow. Crazy time you’ve been having!
    Glad you can still crack a joke. And down a bottle. Both very important!
    I’m glad you take your health seriously. Now that this secret has some to light, to know even more about yourself and what you could be susceptible. Count it as a strength.
    And keeping going strong, and let those spirits soar! 🙂


    • Lily says:

      Thanks, sweetie! Honestly, if I could SLEEP (on-going woe that gets worse with stress), I’d be golden.

      As the doctors say: what’s to lose? She was dead last Wednesday. Now she’s back? That’s LUCKY!


  2. Sorry we missed you on Sunday! Did you see my finish time? Insane. I was hurting by mile 19! But I am glad you got out and had a good time for a little while!

    I hope you mom is doing better. At least now you know the family secret and can watch out for it yourself. Stay strong girlie!


    • Lily says:

      I read your blog posts — I’m so sorry you were hurting (I commented over there, too…). We may have missed interweb paths as well! I’m pretty flustered with all of this. I’m PROUD of you being Marathon Girl! (oh, and Rob the HeMan, too!)


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