My 90 year old mother had a heart attack last Sunday. From what she remembers, she woke up and got dressed for church, but didn't feel well. I remember it being a cool, but glorious day, sunny and trees starting to turn orange and red. I did silent yard work and my husband and I filled the bird feeder together. He napped most of the day. My mother thought she should press her LifeAlert some time in the late afternoon, but instead moved her car from one place in the driveway to another, in case the ambulance needed room (they never come up the driveway), then she wheeled her garbage can to the curb.
I was taking photographs of the sunset, bats, birds, and light falling on my kitchen table through old glass and lace curtains. She thought she called and left messages on both our home phone and my cell phone (but in reality, didn't), which I didn't know until our eldest son called to tell me my mother had dialed 911, not able to reach me. I said he should come home so my husband wouldn't get disoriented and I'd drive over. Instead, he wisely drove there and was greeted by my mother, two confused EMTs and two local cops. My son then called me since they were asking him what they should do with my mother. I got on the phone, basically assessed the situation, then told the cop to take her by ambulance to the hospital. Slept poorly, after trying to reach siblings.
On Monday, I got husband off to Day Center, then headed up to hospital. My Mom was still in the ER, but at least she was no longer in a hallway, had various tests done and was hooked up to numerous machines and IVs, right next to the nurses' station. She was bruised, crazy-haired and delighted to see me. They had just brought her breakfast and she wouldn't stop talking enough to eat, so I stepped outside the curtain.
Outside the curtain, was a perky little social worker who asked me a million questions and listened to my life and my mother's usual life. Somewhere in that time, a tech went in and started to do a heart ultrasound. It was overcrowded and machines were beeping and whirring; the overhead lights were too bright; phones were ringing; doctors were discussing this and that; patients were moaning or cursing; it took a lot of effort for me to focus. Mom, mild heart attack, angioplasty, possible stents. Oddly, my non-smartphone could send texts amongst the chaos. I had called her church and the priest came, but by then she was hyper and uninhibited due to prednisone. It was pretty comical. My sister from Virginia was already on her way. Social worker gone, ultrasound over, I sat with my Mom and vowed she would not die here alone, as my father had.
After my sister arrived, I left, just in time to pick up my husband, who was worried about my mother. I tried to calm him down but it hasn't worked too well. The situation is still unfolding. From whatever I said to the social worker, she put in a recommendation for an evaluation for physical therapy at a sub-acute facility and the cardiologist signed off on it.
I asked three women at the Adult Day Center if they could recommend a place, and while technically they aren't supposed to, they all said the same place that the social worker technically couldn't recommend. So, after three nights and four days at the hospital, my Mom is now at a Rehabilitation and Health Care Center temporarily, right across the street from where my eldest son went to university.
What a crazy experience, amidst Alzheimer's days and nights, a dental appointment for myself, other sister arriving, fighting with homeowners' regarding completion of SuperStorm Sandy repairs, getting house somewhat in order for home visit for Alzheimer's grant, and trying to keep up with my new exercise regime at the Y, while some more plumbing in this old house has decided to challenge my creativity. More details about that, as well as how fucking weird Pine Acres is and how feisty my mother can be, even at ninety. Such a tough act to follow.