Thursday, August 20, 2009

Unexpected Road Trip

It was Monday, the first day of vacation for Bob and me after 7 weeks of Muni Band and a weekend of work for us both. We were going to take the week easy before heading up to Crestline for 6 days of quiet solitude and recuperation from the grueling summer's work. We were going to sleep in, then spend a lazy day being lazy.

The phone rang at 6:40am.

It was Bob's brother-in-law Jim. Bob's mom had had a heart attack the night before in Oklahoma City and was at that moment undergoing heart catheterization. Bob's sister Merilyn, Nellie's caregiver in times of need, was unreachable on a fishing trip to Alaska, the first she had been away in quite some time.

I hopped online to check the airline schedules. It's not easy to get to Oklahoma City from L.A., and it was already pretty late in the day (7am!) to grab a flight. When we determined that it would cost almost $2000 to get us both there, I changed tactics and went to Costco Travel.

In no time I had arranged for a car rental and a hotel in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We threw things into suitcases, jumped in the car, and hit the road.

We kept checking on Nellie's status as we drove. By that afternoon it became clear that she needed a pacemaker installed. Her pulse often dropped to 20 and she was not doing well the way she was.

Although Nellie wanted to wait for us to arrive, she finally agreed to have the surgery at 8am Tuesday morning, about the time we were waking up in Albuquerque after our 2am arrival. By the time we hit the road, Nellie was out of surgery and doing well.

As we drove through the Texas panhandle we were able to talk to her and receive the encouraging news that her pulse rate was steady at about 60 and her blood pressure was regulated as well.

We finally arrived at St. Anthony Hospital in Oklahoma City a little before 9:30pm to see a glowing Nellie sporting wonderful vital signs. What a relief! We were told that she would come home the following morning. We went back to her place, scrounged up bedding, and plunged into sleep.

Yesterday morning, however, brought some sobering news. Fluid had built up in Nellie's right lung that would have to be removed before she could be discharged. We high tailed it over to the hospital and sat with her while she waited for her turn in the cath lab. We were told it would be a few more hours and were just ordering her lunch when the tech came to take her down to face the needle that would do the job at hand. Bob accompanied her while I remained in the room fielding phone calls and admiring the efficient staff as they performed their duties with smiles on their faces.

After 90 minutes or so Nellie and Bob returned, glad that the procedure was successfully completed and hoping it would never, ever happen again! The waiting commenced. Any adverse symptoms wouldn't manifest until 2 hours later. We were assigned the task of watching her blood oxygen level. If she could keep it well over 90 she could go home.

It wasn't looking hopeful at first, but Nellie got right down to the task of breathing more deeply. The numbers slowly improved to the point where she was free to go home at about 6pm. HAPPY DAY!!!

After we got her settled in at home, Bob went out to fill the armload of prescriptions she was handed on her exit from the hospital. After a call to her doctor to clarify dosage, she swallowed her meds and we got her safely to bed where she enjoyed a restful night.

She is doing very well today, ensconced in her recliner with Bob by her side on the matching chair. I'm enjoying the opportunity to dive into the pile of books I had checked out in anticipation of a vacation quite a bit different than the one we are experiencing.

It is peaceful and quiet here. Bob's mom is a model patient - strong in her faith and determination to look at the bright side. Her left arm will be pretty useless for the next 6 weeks so it won't do to leave her on her own. Bob's sister will return Sunday afternoon. Until then Bob and I will stay here enjoying Nellie's company and marveling at how our plans were suddenly and smoothly transformed to God's plans.

They are the best plans every time...

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