I have a son and a granddaughter. I also have in-laws who are in their 80s and parents in their 70s. Up until recently, I've been lucky... nothing really big or traumatic has happened with any of those people.
But today... Today, my mom called me to say that Dad was in the emergency room. He'd been feeling a bit out of breath and not well that morning, and finally decided to go to the doctor to get checked out. They put him on an EKG and took his pulse. And sent him immediately to the hospital.
They took him in right away. His pulse was 30 beats per minute and his blood pressure was rising. At one point, his pulse dropped to 23 beats per minute and he was surrounded by medical personnel amazed that he was even conscious.
The decision was made to put in a pacemaker, as the bottom half of his heart just wasn't working.
I left work and went out to collect Mom. I fed the chickens, made sure all the doors were locked. We drove to the hospital and found Dad, still waiting his turn on the table. An emergency had come up and he'd been bumped back (being relatively stable at this point).
He was scared. Really, really scared. It was, in fact, a rather dire situation. Thank goodness he went to the doctor when he did. I'm glad I got Mom there so that he could see her before he went into surgery. I think it made a huge difference.
They wheeled him out and down the hall, leaving us in a suddenly vast, empty room. Mom sat in a recliner and put her aching feet up. We watched "Cheers". Dad's friend Blan showed up and we talked for the long half-hour that was left until Dad was wheeled back to us.
He was awake and chatty. His color had pinked up considerably from the rather gray shade he'd been when he left. After a bit more poking, prodding and squeezing, the nurses brought him dinner. Two small pork chops, greens, yams and chocolate pudding for dessert. He ate it all.
Tomorrow morning, he'll have an ultrasound done on his heart and a chemical stress test. And if everything looks okay, he gets to go home. Isn't that amazing?
I knew the day would come when a parent got seriously ill. I'm good in a crisis. I can take care of everyone else and make sure stuff gets done. I don't cry or collapse. But when it's all over and I get to be alone, the tears come. They wash away the residual stress and fear.
I knew this day would come. I just didn't think it would be so soon.