This is the week from hell and it just needs to be over, right now.

It started last Saturday at 12:30am when I had to take Mom to the ER because her CHF (congestive heart failure) was acting up. They, of course, admitted her. They generally do, in order to make sure she get rid of the fluid that is in her lungs, etc. However, they decided that she needed a heart catheterization to figure out if her heart was working properly. And, since this is the week from hell, of course it wasn't working properly. One of the bypasses from 4 years ago had become 99% blocked in 2 places and thus Mom needed heart surgery.

We are now up to Tuesday afternoon, just about the time Mom is going into the surgery she had to be transported to Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, OH for. Sara, wonderful thing that she is, volunteered to drive me up and stay with me.

Mom gets out of surgery, but there have been complications - the collagen plug they put in the arterial puncture to stop the bleeding popped out, and Mom had to have some very painful, torture-device lookin' thing that put constant pressure on the puncture side. It was decided that Sara and I would stay in Columbus that night, in case Mom needed us, and off we went to sleep at the Radisson for the night.

Meanwhile, back in Marietta, Dan was not dealing well with my being gone. This was the first time since we'd been together that we spent a night apart, more than 20 minutes away from each other. 20 minutes, 2 hours. Big difference. Dan dealt by getting quite drunk and then babbling at me on the phone about missing the small things that show that I am there. Then, I couldn't say that I was feeling too much better, myself.

Forward to Wednesday morning, I call the Invasive Recovery Unit to find out how Mom is doing. They tell me that she is going to have stay another day, because she had some bleeding problems during the night. *sighs as a few cracks find their way into her wall - the wall that is holding her together and keeping her from breaking under the stress* Sara and I stuck around until after dinner, and then returned to Marietta. It is now 11pm, on Wednesday. Now, mind you, I have missed 2 days of classes while I was in Columbus, and 2 days of work. Just remember that those stressors are indeed still a factor in hell-week. Thursday dawns, and I find out one of the decent pieces of news for the week - the PN test I had on Monday, 1 hour after I was told Mom needed heart surgery, and for which my brain was very much elsewhere, some how managed to score an 83%. Woot.

I went to work for the first time all week, and actually found another decent bit of news - I didn't have to get complicated with the guys' dinner, which made life easier for a couple hours. After work, I knew Dan was at work, and wouldn't been home until 11pm, and so I took a drive. And somehow ended up at his grandmother's. And then his mother's. Teresa made sure I ate dinner, and relaxed for a bit before letting me go home. This was the eye of the storm, this few hours at Teresa's.

I got home, and not 5 minutes later, my aunt Sheila called while I was on the phone with Kayte. She needed to tell me that my uncle John was in the ICU, very sick, and they did not know what was wrong, and could I please call my mother to let her know. *watches more cracks spread in the wall, as she breaks for a few minutes* I clicked back over to Kayte, to find that Sara was on the phone. This meant that Sara got to hear me break down. About 10 minutes later, she showed up at my house. *smiles* I somehow managed to find sleep that night, which was good, considering that I had a new clinical rotation to start at 7:45am on Friday.

I made the determination that I really don't care for Selby General Hospital, as I was running around during clinical. Any hospital where you have to wait for the single washer and dryer to finish the laundry so you can have clean linens for the hospital beds is just wrong... Add to this, my aunt Sheila, cousins Tabitha and Deborah, and other assorted family members being just within sight to me all day, but my being forbidden by my nursing instructor to go down to ICU while I was on the floor. My aunt Sherry (uncle's wife) came out to talk to me for a minute, and collapsed on my shoulder, scared and crying and trying so hard to be strong and brave for her very ill husband. Thank gods for "nursing mode" or I would have collapsed then, too. But no, I'm learning to be detached, yet caring. Able to help someone else through a situation, without being drawn down into it, myself. This only works when there is someone to help present. As soon as I retreated to the nurse's lounge, I broke. Just as my instructor came in. Mrs. Long was treated to a crying, hiccoughing student when she entered the lounge. Thankfully, she just told me to take a few minutes to pull myself together, and to not worry about picking up lunch trays - that the other students would get them.

Then we heard "Code Red, Medical Records" over the intercom. Code Red is fire, by the way. Myself, the other students, and the nurses were running all over the place, shutting patient doors, moving carts, wheelchairs, etc. to one side of the hall, shutting fire doors, and so on. Blessedly, the fire was quickly contained, and as far as the patients knew, it was a fire drill.

I held it together through the end of clinicals, and got myself off the floor and over to ICU. This is when I got the details about my uncle - that his kidneys had completely shut down, his liver was trying to shut down, he has peritonitis (an infection in the abdominal, or peritoneal cavity), and massive toxins in his blood due to all of the above. *frantically tries to patch the cracks that are appearing* I went home, changed clothes, got some food, and then went back to the hospital. The decision was made to send uncle John to Columbus for dialysis, since Selby General did not have dialysis equipment. Unfortunately, Life Flight was grounded somewhere, so he would have to travel by ground in the Mobile ICU Unit. This was about the time The Family started arriving. Uncle Bill (sick with leukemia, himself) and his wife Joyce drove in from Virginia. Sonny, Bill's daughter, drove in from Michigan, all John's kids were here, John's other half-sisters were here, his cousin drove in from North Carolina, etc. This is generally what happens when our family goes onto a kind of "death watch."

Yeah, this has been the week from hell, and I will be heartily glad when it is over, or I am going to go quite noisily crazy.

Update: My mother is home from the hospital now, sporting a black-purple bruise from 3 inches above her left knee up to the lower abdomen. Uncle John is no better, no worse, though they have found out that all of it is caused by a reaction to a medication he was known to be allergic to.