Matters of the heart


Mommy and Me!

[Text Alert] “In doctor’s office. May have to get some medical attention. Dr. A is on vacation. But one of his counterparts is being conferred with now. My heart rate is up to 158 right now.”
“Hello, yes, I was making the kid’s annual appointments that’s why I couldn’t answer.” As the conversation unfolded, it was evident that her A-fib was still out of control. Status Post 20 months Cardiac Ablation, she still has a fast rate and she is still out of rhythm. So now what?
“They want to cardiovert me tomorrow and if I don’t convert then they’ll have to evaluate me to see if they need to redo the ablation.”
I know, I know, all these words and terms…really can someone just answer my first question? “So now, what?” I wasn’t asking for the next step in management. I wasn’t asking for the flow chart answer. I’m asking for the difficult answer that everybody who has had the cold hands of death to knock on your door, screams in their hearts. I was asking, Is this it?
I was asking if this would be one of those memories etched in time. You know, the one that marks the last conversation, the trip you just happened to take or the kind deed that you were sure glad you did. I wonder if asking that question is now a programed response I go to after having lost three significant family members within a five year period of time. Is this now my safe place where I brace to wait for the “free fall”? Wow, that’s a thought.
I quickly recount when she had complications from her ablation in 2013, and started telling me how she wanted “things taken care of”. Why hadn’t I written it down (you know you and your ADD mind need a backup)? Was it the blue dress with the black blazer or the black dress with the royal blue blazer? Who is supposed to do what and where on the program? Wait a minute….Wait, just a minute!!!! What am I doing? Am I really having this conversation with myself? Why yes, yes I am. Oh, and who is her life insurance carrier again? Wait, again, I’m asking are you really having this conversation. Yes, yes, you are and you need to because when and if this is it, you want to meet her on the Sea of Glass and say, “We took care of you just the way you asked.”
I know someone is reading this and saying why are you being so morbid? Why are you speeding up the process? I would beg some points here. It is my opinion that we don’t talk about death enough. We don’t talk about what are our last wishes long before we are faced with an emotional decision. We don’t talk about the If’s and who gets. We don’t talk about the free fall you are put into when death knocks and takes that loved one. And I hear a voice, a voice saying oh yes we do talk! I would agree we talk alright but sometimes not to the right people. We talk to our friends, and to our “Facebook family” and not to our family members who will go through this journey with us. Or we will raise our hands and ask for prayer or go over to our girlfriend’s house and eat some comfort food and drink a little wine and not talk to a therapist who can give us the necessary tools needed to adjust to our new normal. Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe your community plays a strong role and has its place.
Let me see if I can give you a glimpse from my vantage point. Unfortunately I have had to deal with death intimately touching our tight knit family’s circle within a five year span of time. On April 2, 2009 we lost my father to complications of a stroke. Then 10 months later on February 24, 2010 we lost my grandmother to complications of Congestive Heart Failure. Then August 24, 2013 our grandfather closed his eyes as he decided, “Alzheimer’s you win”. So now do you understand because I have stood at the precipice of the valley of death I visit it often in my mind’s eye and look at it though different lenses? I look at its deep crevasses that seem to have no bottom and its high rugged peaks that seem too hard to climb and I know that I’ve been there. I know it hurts (which is an understatement), I know I’ll ask questions. I know that me and my God will have some long conversations in which I will question Him, but I have a weird peace because I have come to find that in that place He has sent godly people in the form of therapists or counselors who are trained to help me find my footing in this valley. And when I do the hard work of emotional healing in that safe environment I’m able to see the genuine place my church family and my community at large is coming from.
Now, about those conversations with the family. The conversation that ran through my head that my mom had with me about her last wishes at first I thought she was CRAZY! I couldn’t believe we were really having this conversation. But now, I see how much wisdom she possessed in that moment. We need, NO we MUST talk about our last wishes to our family. It’s therapeutic and it lets the survivors “off the hook” when that moment comes. There is little to no second guessing. And let me take a moment to clarify. I’m not just talking about final arrangements. Let’s talk about… do you want CPR, ventilator support, and the list goes on. Put the various elements of these conversations in writing and have a will! If there are siblings make sure everyone is aware of parent’s last wishes so there is very little if any confusion when tough decisions have to be made. Fathers and Mothers, have that straight talk conversation about who will take care of your baby(s) if anything happens to you all. *sigh*
There is so much more we can talk about but I’m a little spent right now. I just couldn’t let this moment pass without sharing some thoughts, hoping that I could give some encouragement, and help someone start connecting their own life dots.

Hmmm, you thought this was a post about the pathophysiology of heart disease, huh? 🙂