Wednesday, August 29, 2007
I know this blog is supposed to be about Baby Hearts Press, but everyone needs to know that BHP is a family-owned and run business. Therefore, if something is happening to a dear family member, it will affect the business. That is exactly what happened last week.
Last Wednesday, my grandmother went to the Emergency Room because she was having trouble breathing. She had already been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and was on Coumadin, so we were already concerned about her. For months she has become increasingly more out of breath, but complaints to her doctor went unheard. Finally, fearing for her life, she called my father and he quickly went to her house to hand deliver her to the ER.
Meanwhile, my husband called down to the ER to let them know Grandma was on her way. We got VERY lucky. There was hardly anyone needing to be seen when she arrived, so we went straight back. I live only a few minutes from the hospital, so I met them there.
It didn't take long for the doctor to determine that Grandma was in congestive heart failure. Because of Alex's heart defect, I knew what that meant and was able to help Grandma anticipate what was coming next. I told her that when Alex's CHF was diagnosed, the first thing they did was put him on lasix. Not surprisingly, they did the same thing to Grandma. Then Grandma, just like Alex, was admitted to the hospital. It was kind of like deja vu.
For six days we watched, worried, prayed and stayed optimistic. Once the lasix started working, Grandma's sense of humor returned. She was the ideal patient. She gave blood without complaint and let them do whatever they felt they needed to do. She was as upbeat as she could be. I was proud to be her granddaughter.
The next major concern with Grandma was damage done to her kidneys because of the agressive lasix therapy. Grandma's kidneys were already starting to have problems and she was already being seen by nephrology, but now things became more critical. There was concern that she might have to go on dialysis. It was a wait-and-see game for a while -- something we parents of children with heart defects know all too well.
Yesterday the good news finally came: Grandma was doing better and could go home! Her kidneys were starting to heal and the doctors felt she would heal better at home. She was relieved, as were Dad and I. We couldn't wait to pack her up and take her where she belonged.
The last week was another good example of how families can pull together during a crisis. Frank was so wonderful about letting me be up there as much as I could. The boys took care of the kitchen and laundry. We all went to visit her one day as a family. I'd like to think that visit really cheered her up. Dad and I tried to manage the schedule so that somebody would be with Grandma at all times except when she was supposed to be sleeping. We had a workshop we had to go to on Saturday and my sister and niece drove all the way from Houston to spend Saturday with Grandma. It really was heartwarming to see how everyone pulled together to help Grandma as much as possible.
I think that all of us were better prepared with what to do because of Alex's stays in the hospital. We know what it's like to have a loved one in the hospital. We now know what to do to be a good advocate for the patient. Dad and I started a journal with information we were being given when we started getting conflicting information from some of the different individuals she was seeing (she was at a teaching hospital -- so she had a huge team of people overseeing her care). By the time Grandma left, everyone, including my sister and niece had taken a turn writing notes in Grandma's journal. I'd like to think that the consistency which we demanded helped her to get better faster.
No one lives forever, but we knew it wasn't Grandma's time to go yet. I'm going to include a picture of her playing pool at my house with the family. Usually she runs circles around everyone. She calls bingo twice a week at two different nursing homes where she volunteers. She belongs to her church's Altar Society. She is faithful about going to church every week -- and with getting her hair done once a week! :-) But she also has something very serious coming up which she didn't want to miss: my cousin is getting married in September. She has to dance at that wedding!
Thanks to all of you who knew what was happening to Grandma and took a moment to say a prayer for her. She's doing great and I might even have a picture to post of her dancing at C.J.'s wedding in the next month.