A Look Back on 2021 – She Made It

I honestly can say that I do not even remember what I did January, February or March. I looked back in my day planner and the things listed in those months were birthdays and days off of school – no rushing to here to there back to here only to go there again. A nod to 2020 and the slowing of pace for everyone. I looked back through my posts and quite unfortunately, I slowed that pace down too.

April ~ My mom had a knee replacement. Two weeks to the day, she called me at work saying that she had fallen and busted her new knee with zero recollection of how she had fallen. I raced to her calling GW and my brother to let them know I was taking her back to Cabell. Quite frankly, hindsight is more like Chuck Yeager vision that 20/20. Being the one that really can’t handle seeing anything medical, I knew very little about blood pressures and heart rates until now. There’s a story here – hang with me. My mom’s BP was low when I got her back to the ER and by low it was in the 90’s upper 80’s. They didn’t seem concerned so I wasn’t. It took quite a while to get her back to be seen. Fortunately, the orthopedic surgeon that did her knee replacement was there that day and took very good care of the knee by taking her back into the OR where the environment was sterile to clean up, replace a plastic piece and restitch. I waited alone which seemed like an eternity for cleaning up of a knee. I was almost the last there that day. A doctor I had never seen came out and said that she was out of surgery and going to ICU. ICU?! For a busted knee? He said that she had had a cardiac event while on the table and they were taking her to ICU and I couldn’t see her. All of that is a blur to this day. I still don’t know what the cardiac event was I was so shocked. Fast forward to where they did a cardio inversion. Fixed. Stayed a few days. Home. Mom missed Miss M’s junior prom but thankfully for FaceTime – she was able to see her which is not the same but nonetheless something.

May 17th ~ Miss M texted me at the end of her school day saying she was going to go to Mawmaw’s and visit for a bit and would then be home. I can still remember standing at the end of the island as I was fixing dinner thinking – it’s 5:30 p.m. – I bet she’s going to spend the night with Mom. A little bit later M texted and said – I know it’s late but do you care if I spend the night with Mawmaw? I said – of course I don’t care! Will you be coming home for clothes or will you be coming home before school in the morning? M – I am going to run home and get my things and go back. Me – perfect! I will send dinner home for the two of you. She did and I did. GW and I ran over to our friend’s place where they had started building their new home. I talked to Mom and M on the way and said to GW – Mom is back! She sounds so good! We gave praise and enjoyed the rest of our evening.

May 18th ~ I went to work. On my way, I saw a cardinal in the road that had been hit. I never see that and it bothered me. When I went into my building, I walked down the hall like I do every workday morning and passed my office to turn on the rest of the hall lights. As I did, the defibrillator hanging on the wall across from my office that I walk past every single day – multiple times a day – caught my eye. It bothered me. I thought – if I need that today – do I remember what to do? I know it talks you through the steps but in an emergency would I really know what to do?

I went to my desk to get everything up and running before my Dean and students enter for the day. Miss M and I talked before she went into school. She said that mom had gotten up with her and made her pancakes for breakfast before school. I asked how Mawmaw was doing and she said – good, her knee is hurting her of course. I said – I am sure that it is after all she’s had done in a month to it. Around 7:30 a.m., Mom called my cell phone. I have very little cell service in my building but my phone worked perfectly that morning. Mom – Sis. I don’t feel good. Me -thinking it’s her knee – what’s going? Mom – my chest hurts. STANDING STRAIGHT UP FROM MY CHAIR – Mom, hang up and call 911. Mom – ok. I stood there in shock. I called my brother on one phone and GW from the work phone. My Dean walked in and I said – I have to go. And, I left. Defibrillator and cardinal coming to mind. My friend is also our resource officer and I passed him as he sat monitoring students pulling into school. He asked if everything was ok and I said no and told him about mom’s phone call. I asked if he knew if the squad was there yet and he said hang on and I heard him radio and ask. I heard – they are on scene. Praise Jesus that was fast. He said they were on scene and had been for a few minutes and to be careful and to let him know if we needed anything.

As I drove towards her house and praying the entire time, GW called or maybe it was my brother – I can’t remember. Meet us at the hospital. I pulled in and ran inside where GW and my brother were in the waiting room. A friend of my brother’s was working the ER and he came out and said – she’s having a heart attack. Immediately I said – I want her out of here. He said – we don’t have time. They are taking her to the Cath lab. Follow me.

My thoughts went to the morning my Dad had a heart attack and they had given him a clot buster shot and got him to St. Mary’s. I thought that would be our route this time with Mom.

We followed him up to the waiting area. It was just my brother, GW and myself. No one else in the waiting area. My brother forgot mom’s medicines down in the ER and he went after them. I called mom’s best friend/sister. I dropped my mask and threw it away. I sat down a chair away from GW. Mind you only the two of us were in there. Bub – on a medicine retrieval from the ER. This woman asked who we were with and I told her. She said only one family member. I ignored her. Wasn’t in the mood for stupid protocols. She came over and said – you have to have a mask. I said I dropped it and not putting it on my face. She said only one family member and you need a mask. I said – A – My mom is having a massive heart attack and the moment. B – I don’t care about masks and C – get the hell away from me. Not my finest moment but I didn’t care and she walked away. My brother comes up and she gets real friendly saying she thinks she lives near him. Whatever lady move on. Mom’s best friend arrives. One of the people that was in the Cath lab with mom came out and said they had called for life flight and were sending her to Riverside. Life flight? Riverside? What had happened? When they did the catheterization placing three stints she had an aorta dissection in the process. Medical terms mean very little to me but I know enough that anything with the words aorta and dissection isn’t good. My brother turned to me and said – you know how serious this is don’t you? I said – yes. The next hour or so is a blur. They let us go back to see her. By this time my brother’s wife had arrived. When they let the five of us go back to be with her before life flight arrived – especially with the repeated performance from the woman earlier of only one family member in the building at a time – I didn’t take that time lightly. When we walked in she was laying there ever so little. Her skin along her hairline was the color of grey clay. I knew that wasn’t good. The people in the Cath lab were eerily quiet. I stood back taking it all in. Her best friend/sister in her face telling her she loved her and that she was going to be ok. One of the techs coming to me with a styrofoam cup with a straw and water and said – here, you be the hero. I handed it to Linda and she gave her a drink. When I heard Mikayla on FaceTime crying telling mom to be strong and to fight about broke me. This isn’t happening – what will I tell McKenzie? How can I tell her? She’s at school. It was her lunchtime. I messaged her to ask if she could call me. She did. I told her. She was in shock. She had just left her. THANK GOD ALMIGHTY He spoke to M and she listened about staying with her Mawmaw. Hadn’t she, mom would have passed in her sleep – she never gets up that early. Retired life.

Flight nurses arrive. Security arrives. We follow mom all wrapped up like a newborn down the corridor. I hang onto my brother’s belt loop as we go down the hall. I don’t feel like my feet can keep up. This isn’t happening. We get to the elevator. The flight team and one security guard and mom get on. I looked at the other security guard and said which way are you going? He said – I’m going this way. I said – then that is the way that I am going. We went down I don’t even remember how many flights of stairs and when we went out the door, mom was coming off the elevator. We went to the helicopter pad with them. My thoughts turned to how many times I have said a prayer when life flight has went over mom and dad’s house. That’s how close we live to the hospital and I had hoped that someone that day would say a prayer for the unknown flying over them that day. We told her we loved her as they loaded her in the helicopter. The female flight nurse looked at us and said with the utmost confidence – we will take good care of her. We all stepped back and watch them take flight praying the entire time. I then turned and hurried to the car with Linda and she took me to my car. I rushed to Mom’s to gather things she would need while in Columbus. Still – is this even happening? I then went to my house and gathered things in a hurry that would be good for several days. My brother dropped in behind me in Rio Grande and we started on our two hour trip to Columbus. I had never been to Riverside. No idea how to get there. Thankful for Maps. Riverside registration called me. Thankfully I had enough sense about me to have mom’s insurance cards and SS card at the ready. I asked if the lady could tell me how she was doing and she kindly said – let me find someone. A doctor got on the phone with me and she too was so very nice. She let me talk to mom for a minute. I told her we were on our way. She made it. We get there. Get parked. Checked in. And to her. She made it.

As I logged in to try to finish this – trying to read this to correct any errors – trying to let the words flow – a voice from within me said – stop. Stop living in the past. Stop putting it down on “paper”. You know all too well what went on and will never forget it. What I’ve written is just to the first day. Not the night. The day. She was in and out of hospitals more times I can count through November and as I made it to the She made it in the paragraph above – that in itself is all that matters. She made it! It wasn’t easy but She made it. Praise be to Jesus! I love you Momma 🖤

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