Last Friday was a wonderful work day because the entire time I was looking forward to my weekend. Kyle and I had fun plans that involved good food, family time, and lots of relaxing.
But things took a turn in the afternoon. Because I was at work, I didn’t get the voice message or email until my lunch break: G-ma’s at the hospital.
For those who don’t know, my Grandma is not your average Grandma.
She works. She (attempts to) beat me in cards and darts. And, as much as we all hate to admit it, she pretty much rules the roost.
Finding out that she was in the hospital was scary, and I called her right away to see what was wrong. Without going into too much detail, my G-ma occasionally has episodes of A fib (an irregular heart rhythm) and although sometimes she’s completely asymptomatic, other times she feels really weak and dizzy.
Apparently the day before she went to the ED because she wasn’t feeling so hot, but she finally convinced her cardiologist not to admit her (that fact alone should give you any insight into her
pushy get-it-done personality). So she was discharged home…agreeing to return the next day for an EKG. The next day she was still in A fib, but she felt ok so they started her on a new med (a blood thinner to prevent clots) and (again) sent her home.
I figured this was good news. She felt ok, she was being medically managed, and all was good. However, when I called her on my way home from work to check in, I got a different vibe.
One minute we were chatting away, and the next minute she was throwing up. I can’t even tell you how helpless I felt. My phone battery was red and beeping at me, and my G-ma had just set the phone down so she could run to the bathroom. I was in agony. Do I continue to listen to her retching and hope it ends soon so I can talk to her and find out what’s going on, or do I hang up on her and call 911 myself? I’m not used to mobile nursing…I was screaming through the phone…picturing the worst…it was horrible. The seconds felt like hours, but she came back on the phone and I immediately told her to call 911 and I would be on my way.
At that point I called my cousin (who was already on her way to my G-ma’s) to give her the scoop before my phone died.
[At this point, I’d like to apologize to the people driving behind me. Because I was unable to pull over – but am petrified of multi-tasking on the phone while driving – I just stopped while I scrolled my phone book finding my cousin’s number. I’m amazed I didn’t get arrested for blatantly ignoring the driving/cell phone laws of the road]
Once I got off the phone with my cousin, I called my mom, my aunt, and then my G-ma again. Then my phone died.
I got home from work around 8 pm and hardly remember anything about the next hour. Whirlwind! I showered, grabbed a Larabar, threw random clothes in a bag and was off to Newport Beach. It’s a good thing Kyle dropped his plans to drive me (God bless my husband) because I was a mess. The hour long commute to the hospital was the world’s slowest trip. By the time we arrived in the ED, I think I was in A fib.
Shout out to nurse/reader “Mighty” who took care of my G-ma (she will be talking about you for the rest of time – seriously).
Our party of four kept growing and growing as my aunt and uncle arrived.
Good thing her hearing aids were out because we were definitely a rowdy bunch.
Despite my G-ma’s protesting, they eventually did admit her. We stayed until she was settled in her room (2 am), and finally went back to her place for a family sleep over. It occurred to me on the way back home from the hospital that I had been awake for 22 hours straight. So it makes sense that I fell asleep before my head hit the pillow.
You’d think I would have slept like a baby, but I woke up long before my alarm went off.
After some groggy conversations with my G-ma, my cousin and I formulated our game plan. She showered and I went to Vons for the essentials: Starbucks and almond milk.
I had no appetite and the caffeine was certainly not necessary (my heart rate was already sky high), but there’s something about routine that helps soothe me in times of stress.
After “breakfast” we all went back to the hospital to figure out the next steps…
No offense to the hospital staff, but their indecision was ridiculously frustrating. Especially for me. Being a cardiac nurse, it was hard to not express my opinions, but I also know how pushy medical people can be super annoying (and result in adverse care for patients).
And so it continued…to cardiovert or not to cardiovert, that is the question.
At least my G-ma had an iPhone full of Finn photos to keep her preoccupied.
Given the glacial speeds of the hospital up to this point, I figured there was no way they would discharge her that night. So at my G-ma’s insistence, Kyle and I left in the afternoon to swing by San Clemente. Our weekend visit to Kyle’s parents’ house was already off course, but we figured we could still salvage it with a nice family dinner.
I almost fell asleep on the car ride there, but shortly after we arrived I went on a run through the neighborhood, which left me feeling reinvigorated.
A glass of white wine was the next step in stress management. Followed by kitchen time with the “soul sistas.”
It was so great to meet Carol and Cristi in person. The joy of cooking with others is wonderfully therapeutic (as well as fun).
Here’s a preview of what we made.
More on that later though…
Before dinner, my cousin texted me letting me know they were in fact discharging my G-ma that night.
I immediately stopped drinking (good think I was only a few sips deep), and told them I would come back to Newport after eating to spend the night with her. Don’t think I’m trying to sound like a martyr here. Given my knowledge of cardiac arrhythmias and patient care as it relates to funky heart rhythms, I trusted myself and myself alone to be there with her.
With all the new meds she was on, I took vitals and checked on her throughout the night (hence the above PM caffeine loading).
The next day she woke up weak and sans appetite. She eats like a bird anyway, but this was different. She wasn’t hungry and said all the food tasted like sawdust.
She had one bite of the bar, two bites of oatmeal, and a few sips of OJ. In other words, 6 calories. Teasing aside, this is really atypical. And it didn’t help that she had reflux after skipping her antacid pills for the past few days.
As you can see, she has an air tight system in her medication regimen.
I promise, I’m not a horrible granddaughter. I’m allowed to make fun of her for this because I do it to her face too. 🙂
She napped the day away, while I continued taking her vitals and feeding her nibbles whenever she would accept them.
I enjoyed a Trader Joe’s wheat free berry muffin that Kyle’s parents sent back with me the night before. They spoil me so much.
These muffins are excellent by the way.
Aside from my G-ma’s health relapse, I also had my own issues.
Over the weekend, I used up the last of my NuNaturals stevia packets, and somehow the hideous blue and pink packets made their way into my coffee. I felt the effects immediately, and kicked myself for relapsing. Not only are the fake sweeteners completely unhealthy, but they aren’t FODMAPS friendly either. My GI system needs stevia and my taste buds need NuNaturals. And now I need rest.