I imagined today being a day filled with relaxation, tanning, long talks, and exercise. Isn't that what we all want? A day to be in touch with ourselves and reach our goals for our psyches and our bodies. Well, when I started my day in my basement with my Last Chance Workout DVD (ready to kill the fat I didn't burn off this entire long weekend) my house phone rang.
Phone calls are scary, if you think about it. You go into the conversation thinking one thing but then you end it thinking another.
My Dad called this morning to inform me that my grandmother (the one who has been diagnosed with Diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure) fell down again last night. Had my aunt not called her this morning to remind her to take necessary precautions in the heat, today, no one would have known about her incident.
This is what happened...
My grandmother came home from a day out with family, feeling chipper as always. She put the garbage out and was ready to go relax on her couch until she walked into her house feeling a tightness in her chest. She began to feel dizzy and would have collapsed on the cold ceramic floor had her arms not wrapped around the edge of a near wall. The wall did not take all her weight, though. Her foot took quite a bit as well.
When my Dad phoned me he asked if I would go to my grandmother's to keep her company until he called again. He also told me that we would potentially be going downtown to Toronto General Hospital to Emergency where my aunt, who works at the University of Toronto, would meet us.
I've never walked so fast in my life. By car, getting to my grandmother's takes about five minutes. Walking, however, takes a good 20 to 25 minutes. I walked there in 12 minutes. Record. Freaking. Timing. When I arrived, my grandmother was resting on the couch, her foot swollen and her face tired. After giving her some water and a yogurt, my Dad phoned informing me that I would need to call a taxi and take my grandmother to the hospital to check out her heart.
Apparently, from tests last week, my grandmother also has a very small valve connecting her aorta to the left side of her heart that does not properly open due to calcium build up.
Well... after taking a very sketchy ride in a taxi with a driver who looked like he belonged in a jungle with a cassette of creepy horror movie classical music, we arrived at the hospital. After some waiting (and waiting, and waiting), my grandmother was admitted into a room in the Emergency wing. After some more waiting (and a lot more), some tests were taken and then the results were later confirmed.
Three things can happen while living with a smaller and clogged valve connecting the aorta to the heart;
1. Fainting, chest pains, passing out, and shortness of breath (So, everything my grandmother has been experiencing).
2. A back-up of fluid (blood) in the lungs, which could lead to infection and who knows what else..
3. Heart failure (if the heart works too hard to get the blood through the small valve, it will increase its size. If the heart were to continue to not perform properly, then it would s l o w l y stop beating).
It would only be a matter of time before this all began to happen. However, it was confirmed today that my grandmother will be having her valve replaced (in some way, shape, or form) by either a mechanical valve or a valve from an animal (like a pig or cow). The problems? Well, with a mechanical valve, my grandmother would have to be put on blood thinning medication that could have defects in the long run. If my grandmother were to have a pig or cow valve implanted, she could need to have this exact surgery again in 10 to 15 years, since the biological replacement valves only last that long. The benefits? Well, I don't think there are any to the mechanical device because with the blood thinning medication, my grandmother might not even live another 10 to 15 years (depending on how traumatic the effects of the blood thinning meds are). With biological replacement, though, my grandmother would pretty much be guaranteed another 10 years of life. She's 70 now. Young. Energetic. Healthy, until a few weeks ago.
The best part has yet to come...
Not only did my grandmother get admitted into hospital, not only is she currently alone (still) in her emergency room next to a crazy guy who can't remember if he did drugs today or not (I'm not even exaggerating), and not only is she going to have surgery within the next week or so, but she also BROKE HER FOOT. Her cast goes half way up her leg and it's worrying her more than her heart problem. After spending about 10 hours with her today and 9 hours with her at the hospital, I even forgot to sign her cast.
Today has taught me how valuable life is. If it isn't one thing that's going to get you, it's another. My grandmother hates being a burden and inconveniencing other people. Do you believe that she apologized to me today for making me stay in a hospital all day. Jesus, if I was at home while she had to do this all by herself, I'd feel like a fail of a grandchild. In fact, I wish I had stayed with her tonight. I hate thinking about someone I love being confined to a small room and a portable toilet.
I feel like I was meant to help out, today. A few nights ago I had a dream that I slipped and fainted in the bathroom on the first floor of my grandmother's house. This bathroom was where my grandfather would shower and get ready when he was still alive and well. In my dream, I woke up from my fall in a dizzy trance to a bright yellow and white human figure above me. Was it my grandfather trying to tell me to be prepared? I don't know. But, what I do know, is that everything happens for a reason.
Last night marked the second time in exactly two weeks and one day that my grandmother fainted/passed out/lost her balance as a result of chest pain. I believe that things happen in threes. My mom's grandmother was killed by a drunk driver in the same spot she fell in two times before the accident that took her life. If my own grandmother had fallen and fainted due to chest pain one more time, I don't think she'd be breathing at the end of it all.
Some one's watching over her. I hope that they continue to watch over her. I'd also like to believe that my grandfather is right beside her holding her hand, tonight.