I’m alway leery when things are too quiet. Monday was the beginning of the long storm..
Monday started like any other morning. I woke up, I brushed my teeth and I started hammering out emails and getting started on my weekly to-do list. It’s about 12pm when both my parents awake, mom’s complaining of some acid reflux, shortness of breath & fatigue for the past week since she was planning on flying out to meet my brother in Vietnam this past Saturday so we figured we should get her checked out before she flew out. We stopped and had pho down the street, while we ate our lunch I texted a few of my friends who worked in hospitals or were nurses with a run down of her symptoms all who told me that I should just got to urgent care. As we drove off from lunch something steered me towards the ER–next thing I know mom was hooked up to the EKG machine and suddenly I was speaking to a cardiologist who insisted she do an angiogram that very minute. No one told me what was happening, but everyone around me began working in a whirlwind to get her ready for the procedure and I knew something was wrong as the nurse handed me her consent paperwork and her hands were shaking. They told me that they would get her checked out and asked that I wait for the procedure which would take about 2 hours. Feeling nervous I dialed my sister, she was working from home so I decided to pick her up.
By the time I returned, I was informed that she had been placed in the ICU, frantically me and my sister ran through the hospital to find her laying still in the hospital bed. We had learned that my mother had checked in with a heart attack, the angiogram showed multiple blockages in her vessels and a stent was placed in the vessel that was the root of her heart attack. My heart was in my chest and I crossed my arms to stop my hands from shaking. This was the most vulnerable I have ever seen my mother. Throughout my entire life she was the epitome of strength, ferocity and confidence. To see her in the bed so small, so scared, with tears in her eyes had me shaking–in the 27 years that I’ve been alive I’ve never seen her shed one tear and she had always taught me to always save my tears. So that’s what I’m doing or at least trying to do in her presence or the presence of others.
My mother was released on Thursday and I’ve been caring for her here at home. Since then, we’ve learned that there are 3 other blockages still to be addressed. Open heart bypass surgery seemed to be the unanimous recommendation by all 3 doctors. It makes the best sense as her only other option would be to do multiple stents in the vessels which sounded like temporary fixes. Once the cardiac nurses sat down with us to explain what to expect during and after the surgery that when things got real with me. The images of my mother’s chest cracked open, her being incubated, and her literal heart being out on the table had my head spinning. I stared calmly at the nurse while I suppressed the urge to walk out of the room and fall to the ground in fetal position in a panic attack.
Honestly, I am more than willing to be my mother’s care taker and I’m so grateful to have a job where I work from home and a boss who completely understands that family will always come first. I’ve been constantly going through motions of handling doctor appointments, insurance calls, pharmacy runs, grocery runs, cooking and cleaning and balancing my workflow. If I haven’t been adulting enough–here’s my true test. The week wore heavy on me, by Friday I found myself falling asleep in the late afternoon and I awoke to my “aunt” Vanessa knocking on the door with bags of groceries. I have never in my life been so grateful to hear a kitchen full of Vietnamese women chatting and cooking up a storm. I couldn’t thank God and the universe enough to have her over to lift my mom’s spirits and to help around the house even if it was just for a brief few days. Her love was felt & it uplifted this entire household.
I’ve been steady, I’ve been strong, and I’ve been organized & efficient because I have to be. But there are moments where the bitterness builds and the tension is heavy.
Pretending to be calm & collected is tiresome. My world has been flipped upside down before but this time it’s cutting me a lot deeper. I cry during my drives alone, I call my best friend– the only person that knows how badly I suppress emotions– and I rant–and by the time I get home I find myself wiping everything away the moment I open the door. I have to beat the bitter edges down in my ribs, the ugly side of me who has never felt so completely & utterly alone, the side of me who just wants to be fucking held, the side of me who resents my sister for being able to leave and go home to her normal life with a supportive husband, the side of me that gets angry at my father for constantly going back to work or leaving the house for hours without a word, the side of me who hates my brother who remains in Vietnam offering no notion of coming home or even a text to check in with how I’m doing because in the end I know I’m a bigger person and I know I can get through it–that I don’t have a choice but to get through it.
Our lives here will never be the same again and all I ask is for strength, patience and guidance to help me through this for my family.