Wish I Didn’t Know

following Mak and Ba, along the gardens of Versailles

following Mak and Ba, along the gardens of Versailles

The monitor alarmed.

7. extra.

8 ..extra..heart..

9 …extra…heart… beats…

that shouldn’t be there.

My brain awoke from a naive slumber.  My eyes darted towards the monitor, read the rhythm, then back at him.

Ba, my dad, looked okay. He was still awake. No wincing. No shortness of breath. No difficulty speaking.

Hearing the alarm, the recovery room nurse swung the curtain aside, poking his head in. “Doing alright?”

“Yea,” Ba replied.  He didn’t know what the alarms meant, so it didn’t bother him.

But it did bother me.  Wish I didn’t know how to read ECGs.

Not long after, another nurse came in with the discharge paperwork. She briefly reviewed the instructions, telling Ba to watch out for any fever, swelling, bleeding, bruising, or signs of feeling weak or faint. “If you have any of those, call your doctor,” she advised.

He gently nodded.

She disconnected Ba’s IV and began pulling off the heart monitor leads.

I offered to help, pulling off the white electrode. “White on the right, clouds over grass, smoke over fire,” the mnemonic I learned, many years ago, echoed in my mind.  Except this was the first time I was pulling telemetry wires off a family member.

The nurse smiled, welcoming any help.

Ba explained. “My daughter is a nurse too.”

~ ~ ~

On the ride home, we asked Ba what he wanted to eat, since he had been “NPO” (nothing by mouth) before the procedure. It was already late afternoon.

“I haven’t had Burger King in awhile,” he entertained.

Seriously? Ba wants a whopper after having a cardiac procedure? Wish I hadn’t heard that.


We ate fried chicken instead.  He pulled the skin off, of course.

~ ~ ~

Ba slept peacefully on the couch.  His chest rose and fell with each breath.

I didn’t want to disturb him, but I wanted to feel his pulse (as though I needed extra assurance that he was okay).  His dorsalis pedis (top of the foot) pulse was strong, indicating he had adequate blood flow pumping from his heart, perfusing his legs.

For now.

Wish I hadn’t seen the suffering of my previous patients…

I remember, several years ago, my patient’s heart was beating so fast, I thought it would burst.

And another time, when I walked into the room, I could almost see my patient’s heart leap out of her chest.  She looked and felt sick, but shared with me how she pressed on, still praising God.

Ba exhaled loudly and I snapped back to reality.

I must learn to face the truth. Ba’s heart cannot beat forever.


there are many things I’ve known,  which scare me

there are many things I’ve heard, which worry me

there are many things I’ve seen, which haunt me…

I do not know, hear, or foresee the uncertain future.

Amidst this grey fog, I am learning to trust in my God, the light unto my path.


6 thoughts on “Wish I Didn’t Know

  1. Sophia… You remind me of what my parents said about my rock-climbing accident. And things they say all the time. Sometimes it’s hard to know what certain things mean. Sometimes it’s easier to be left in the dark… They say ignorance is bliss, but we all know the ignorance can’t last forever.

    You are a good daughter, and your comment about your father wanted Kentucky Fried Chicken after a cardiac procedure made me laugh. Sometimes, with some things, it’s too late to change… My mom’s parents were both the same way, eating all kinds of things they shouldn’t have as diabetics…

    I loved your last thought. That we can’t know many things, but that through the fog we have to learn to rely on Him. Something I’ve thought about changing on the “about” page of my own blog is that we “Shift: Because the only thing constant is change . . . and God.” I do believe we can always count on Him.

    Much love to you, sister.

  2. I’d wish the same thing if I were in your shoes because we wanna hide from the reality as much as possible, but I have to say it’s an advantage that you know. You can take precautions and you can take care of him more because knowing is way better than wishing later, “I should have known.”

    Bon courage!

  3. what procedure was this? I wish I could say i didn’t go through the same experience a few years ago with my own father. As a nurse, we know just enough to be worried. They teach us to worry about every single thing that could possibly go wrong, it’s what makes you a good nurse. But when it comes to my own family, I’m so quick to overreact and worry the family members unnecessarily. I now think it’s less stress for the parents when I just keep my mouth shut unless I see something that’s a real big red flag.

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