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Routine procedure

December 10, 2009

Last Friday my mom had heart surgery. To be specific it was a minimally invasive aortic valve replacement procedure.
After years of living with a heart murmur, results from an annual check-up showed that it was time to replace the faulty valve.
My mom was relieved to learn that the cause of her fatigue and low motivation may be due to lack of blood flow from a heart not working to its full potential. We, her family, understood her anxiety and nervousness about surrendering her body to a surgeon who would have to cut her open and stop her heart.
When I mentioned that my mom would be having this done, a few people commented that “now a days, that procedure is so routine” and “that surgery is done every day all over the world”. I appreciate the words of support from folks who have offered them as a way to ease our fears. I understand the well-meaning behind them.

But… there was no way to prepare for the feelings that overtook me when I saw my mom in recovery. We were told that it might be difficult to see her right after surgery. Who believes that? When a loved one is available again after being wheeled away to tempt fate isn’t that all you want? To see that person again? The idea that seeing her connected to blinking monitors and noisy machines would overshadow the relief of seeing her again was trivial. Really?
Yes. Really.
When I saw her it took about two minutes for the shock to kick in. As my family and I stood bedside and listened to her nurse explain what he would be doing for her, my mind tried to process the surreal vision before me. To see her unconscious and looking so small was more than I could deal with. I left the room in tears and realized how some people had been correct in their description of what to expect yet, what was so routine about placing my mom’s life in a fragile situation?

It was on a drive with Solanna that I realized how distracted and consumed I was by the stress and worry of this “routine procedure”. She asked how the blinking light on the dashboard of our vehicle knew how to get there? With a few guesses on my part and a little coaxing to explain her question better I discovered that she thought the turn signal was telling me which way was home. I explained how it works and why we use the turn signal and made sure she understood the concept of driver controls. Then, I thought about how these questions of hers are happening less and less. She’s growing out of the phase where she questions me about everything. In the last week while I have been distracted with thoughts of worry, how many opportunities did I miss?

Today, my mom is recovering at home. After five days she was sent home to heal. I’m not sure if this a blessing, proof of our faulting health care system, or the wonder of technology. After being with her at home yesterday and hearing her laugh I choose the blessing. Isn’t it amazing how quickly a week can go by?
I hope that you as my reader, friend, or family are aware of the blessings in your life despite any other challenges.

Until next time,

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 11, 2009 6:25 am

    I too have had to stand beside a mother in an intensive care unit and feel that shock. My Mom had a brain hemorrhage; the news came as a shock, the hospital stuff was frightening and recovery was wearing. But yeah, it’s all part of life’s lessons isn’t it? Value each second and never part on a bad word.

    • Victoria permalink*
      December 11, 2009 8:18 pm

      Yes, Debbie you are so right. Sorry to hear about your mom. Hope all is well now.

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