The monitor alarmed.
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.
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.