How to land on your feet when the world is upside down
My father recently went through a serious health scare. It was a really challenging time for my family. I am sharing the details in a series of blog posts hoping that it might help others.
Over the last two weeks, I described the problems that Opa faced while staying in Reston hospital. He was there for a week.
It was a harrowing experience for him and our family.
Navigating in an upside down world is not easy.
Finding the light in an upside down world is even more challenging.
In this post, I will tell the rest of the story about what happened while he was in the hospital. Opa is in a rehabilitation center so you already know that the story ends well, although he is still there now.
You have to be able to handle uncertainty
I went with Opa to the cardiology ward. The doctors who performed the pacemaker procedure spoke briefly with me. They quickly explained the procedure, repeated the potential risks, and asked if I had any questions.
I could not think of any.
After they briefed me I signed a pile of paperwork and waited.
I have to confess that I did not fully understand how the procedure would go.
It usually bothers me when I don’t understand something.
In this case, I chose to embrace the uncertainty. Whether I completely understood what was happening did not matter.
The only thing that mattered was whether or not Opa would make it through the procedure and be better afterward.
There was nothing more I could do at that point.
Let the professionals handle it
I am not a doctor, nor a nurse, and have no relevant medical knowledge.
I did not really know much about pacemakers until this incident.
It is frustrating, but in some situations, you may not have anything to offer.
My advice is to do what you can to help, but get out of the way and let the professionals handle things. It is not the time to act like you know more than you actually do.
Who cares if you have seen every episode of House. For the record — Oma and Opa have. I have not.
Don’t ask stupid questions because you are nervous. Be quiet and wait.
Modern medical devices are pretty amazing
While I waited a medical technician explained to me how the pacemaker works. It basically helps your heart beat regularly when your own heart cannot handle it.
They do not actually perform surgery to put the pacemaker in place.
Instead, they install the pacemaker under the skin near the heart. They guide wires down your veins and “screw” them into the heart. I am still not exactly sure how all that happens.
None the less — modern medical devices are pretty amazing. Much better than what was available when I was your age. I am thankful for this technology.
It is what is keeping Opa alive these days.
Modern technology enables you to stay connected
Perry and I were able to connect throughout the entire process.
When I was your age we did not have the technology available to keep everyone informed. Instead, we would wonder what was going on and only occasionally get updates.
I am glad that I could provide both of you timely updates as things progressed. I know that you were concerned for Opa.
I would text and call Perry from the hospital every step of the way. He was able to visit the hospital multiple times but had a lot of other things going on that week. He was quite the trooper during the week.
The ability to connect with your uncle was really helpful
Perry made sure other family members were informed as much as possible throughout the ordeal. I cannot thank him enough for doing his part.
I don’t think I could have done it without him.
I hope that the two of you can rely on each other today and later on in life.
When emergencies like this one arise — you will need each other. Trust me. I know Perry and I did.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. Proverbs 17:17
Hope is all you need to get through the night
Everything went fine during Opa’s procedure.
He looked much better afterward. More importantly, his heart was pumping at over 70 beats per minute.
He was still knocked out when we returned to his room.
The doctors said it would take a long time for Opa to wake up.
I spoke with the nurse to see what she thought.
Would Opa be back to normal after the operation?
She did not know. Neither did the doctor. But, all of them were hopeful.
The hope of a better day was good enough. I doubted that things would get worse. So I left for the night.
You never know what tomorrow will bring
The next day when I arrived in the ICU I could tell that things were different.
The nurse informed me that Opa slept through the night and seemed better.
I was hopeful that he was better but prepared for the worse…just in case.
When I walked into Opa’s room he said hello and asked me how I was doing.
The combination of the pacemaker and a good night’s sleep made Opa a completely new man. He was back to normal. I was so happy.
I immediately called Perry to let him know the good news. Opa did not remember much of anything from the last few days which is probably for the best. I am glad that he was unable to recall the dark days beforehand.
He was back to normal, or as normal as Opa gets
Your Uncle brought Oma over for a visit.
This visit went much better than the last one since Opa was back to normal.
It is probably worth mentioning that Opa is not really normal.
He is far from normal. A better way to say it is that Opa was himself again.
The same goofy old man that all of us know. I was concerned that he would be different after the operation. Turns out he was fine. In fact, he was better now that he had a new pacemaker to fix his failing heart.
He not only managed to navigate and find the light in an upside down world.
Opa is a stud. He landed on his feet and was well on the road to recovery.
In fact, Opa was out of the hospital and on his way to the rehab center the very next day. Quite a turn in just a few days.
Opa would not have survived without a lot of help
The list is long of people who helped keep Opa alive and get him through this ordeal. The paramedics, doctors, nurses, medical technicians, and hospital workers all played a part.
We did our best to thank all of them before leaving the hospital.
It was especially touching when the ICU nurse, Eve, came to the hospital room to check on Opa before we left. She did not have to do that. It is nurses like her that give the profession a good name.
I am thankful for the special care she provided Opa, especially when his world turned upside down. It was scary, but it was over.
I write a blog for my sons called Doug Keating Letter to Sons. I am sharing content from my blog here. I hope you enjoyed it. All feedback is welcome. Thanks for reading it.
Originally published at www.lettertosons.com on March 26, 2018.