My feet paced up and down the hall. My mind a whirlwind.
It’s been 2 hours already. Is Ba ok?
~ ~ ~
July 30, 2005
“Hurry, let’s go,” the surgical team rushed, preparing the patient to return to the catheterization lab (cath lab)
A woman hovered against the isolation glass, looking on through her dried tears. She watched in anxiety as the patient was about to be rolled away. Would she see him again, alive? No one knew. Her face crumbled, her chest heaved, and hot streams flowed down. She sobbed fear into her hands.
The heart surgeon led the way. Her lips sealed tight together; she didn’t say a word.
But I could read it on her face… He might not make it.
“I’ll show you the waiting room,” a nurse directed the family.
They nodded and followed the patient’s bed as the surgical team wheeled him into the unknown.
~ ~ ~
The cardiologist emerged from the cath lab into the waiting room.
“Everything went fine…”
We exhaled a sigh of relief.
A few hours after the procedure, Ba lay in bed quietly. We had just turned the lights off to attempt to sleep after a long day, when Ba whispered into the darkness. “It’s hot.”
Mak (Mom) placed her hand on Ba’s forehead. She blurted, “Ba’s sweating like crazy!”
BEEEEEEEEPPPPPP! The heart monitor sounded.
I leaped off the couch, my eyes darting towards the EKG monitor. Its neon light glared at me. Short, intermittent, vertical lines along the EKG indicated that Ba’s new pacemaker, still fresh from surgery, had begun to kick in. It beat for him because his heart rate had become too slow.
Sweat drenched the sheets. The color in Ba’s face was pale, his skin cold and clammy.
Hearing the alarms, the nurse burst into the room. He checked a blood pressure.
75/50. (An average blood pressure is 120/80.)
~ ~ ~
The next night, I walked towards the corner of the unit, by the rooms of the sickest patients. These were the patients with mechanical heart pumps, waiting for heart transplants….or waiting to die.
The patient from yesterday was back in the ICU. His wife, faithfully at his side.
Her knees to the earth, one hand upon her sick husband, the other hand raised high into the air, she cried out, “Dios, escucha me (God, listen to me)…”
She continued to pray the most sincere, fervent prayer in Spanish. I had never seen someone in so much grief, in so much desperation, crying out to God like that. Pleading, hoping, trusting Him to answer her prayer.
Do I have faith like hers?
When was the last time I was on my knees?
When was the last time I gave my everything to God? When was the last time I cried to Him for His mercy? Why does she kneel there, praying for her husband’s life? And the last
prayer I prayed was to go home and sleep, and survive nursing school?
~ ~ ~
Earlier that morning…
Ba rested on the stretcher, with our family and friends sitting around the room. We chatted and shared stories like it were any normal day. There were 3 other patients ahead of him on the schedule.
“My older brother, I don’t know what happened. As kids, we would go play and catch the ducks in the Mekong. But back in the day, in Cambodia, people get sick but no one understands why, because there is no medicine or technology. We just knew he was ill and had a fever. Then I came home after school one day, and he was gone. Nobody explained anything to me.”
As Ba spoke, I fidgeted with my phone and attempted to record his voice.
Just in case.
~ ~ ~
We stayed in the hospital an extra day. They had discovered some bleeding in front of Ba’s heart. Maybe that’s why his blood pressure and pulse kept dropping.
Thankfully, it wasn’t too dangerous, and he soon recovered. Ba was discharged and returned home.
Why was I so captivated by doubt and fear?
Must learn…and relearn…
to trust in God.
~ ~ ~
She finished her prayer and stood up. I turned away so she wouldn’t see me.
“Todo esta bien, mi amor.. todo esta bien.”
(Everything is ok, my love, everything is ok.)
Currently listening: Knees to the Earth – Watermark