Well, dearies, I’m back. I’ve been on a little adventure that reminded me once more, I’m no “spring chicken.” In March, I caught a cold. At least I thought it was a cold. I coughed a lot, my chest hurt, I was out of breath, and I was exhausted. Toward the end of the third week, I realized my heart was doing this weird thing it has done before– beating out of rhythm. It has done this off and on for years, but this time it was very distracting. One afternoon, I had to “rest” from folding a load of clothes. At that point, I realized I’d better go get it checked out. I called my doctor who, sounding alarmed, said I should go straight to the emergency room.
This I did, leaving “The Littles” at home with the bigs. I had Tater drop me off so she’d have the car at home with the kids, “just in case.” This turned out to be a good decision. I learned that I had atrial fibrillation– Afib for short– and despite the fact that I had never taken it seriously, it was serious. I had two small clots in my right atrium and could have had a stroke at any point. Obviously, I am so grateful it didn’t happen. In the end, the doctors were not able to get me out of Afib and into normal (“sinus”) rhythm through any of the usual medications. I spent nine days in the hospital basically lying still in order to keep my heart rate down.
You can imagine that as a mother of five, I had a pretty hard time lying in the bed doing nothing. I did read a lot of books and do some math puzzles. I planned menus and prepared for Blitz’s fourth birthday and my 54th, both coming up in early April. Tater prepared for Easter since it became apparent I wasn’t coming home soon, and I promise, it would not have been the same without her help. Meanwhile, Dear Hubby is doing the best he can to keep things going on the home front. My friends cooked for my family, and at one point, my mother-in-law invested a day in the laundry and got it all caught up.
This was a crazy time for the Littles, especially, because they could not really trust that I would be okay. We’ve lost a couple beloved pets lately, and that just made matters worse for them. Add to that strict rules about children in ICU. At one point Tinker said to The Blitz, “I’m pretty sure Mommy is dead and at the pet store with Daisy.” It breaks my heart to think of how scared they were. It took a cocktail of three rate-controlling drugs to slow the pace enough to make it safe to release me, plus an anti-coagulant to make sure no more clots formed. On day 10 I got to go home, but it was a few days before I regained my energy and stamina. I got home on Easter Saturday, but in the end, was too weak to go to church.
A month after my hospitalization, they were able to do an outpatient procedure to shock my heart back into sinus rhythm, and I was able to reduce my total meds by one. No one thinks I will stay out of Afib forever, but my goal is to buy a few years and let the Littles grow up a bit before I have invasive surgery with higher risks. I will eventually need a procedure to reroute my heart signals. Could I have had these health problems as a younger mom? Certainly. In fact, there’s compelling evidence that I have been in and out of Afib for a decade or more. The difference for me as an older parent is that I do not bounce back as quickly as I did at 25 or 35. So it takes a bigger toll on the family. But all is well so all ends well! On to whatever life surprises us with next!