Life in the Cardiac ICU Waiting Room

New friends have entered my life and I do not know their names. Instead, I know all about the cardiac surgeries their relatives had in the last day or two. We wait together for our turn to enter the cardiac ICU unit for brief visits to loved ones. Volunteers ply us with free coffee, juice, information, conversation and reading material. They also keep some semblance of order when upset family members lose it.

The waiting room is reasonably large, but there is also a smaller private waiting room where medical professionals deliver news that is usually bad. I had my turn in the small room yesterday when they had to explain why my Mom had to return to surgery.

After her initial surgery a blood clot developed inside her heart. Her cardiac function declined. They advised me there might be a need to add a balloon pump to help take the load off her heart. I left the small room and did what I usually do when I feel stressed. I ate. My burger might as well been wood chips. By mistake I’d bought a flavored water and it tasted like medicine.

It occurred to me this is how it must have felt for my Mom and my husband when I had to go back to surgery five times in seven days to try and save my reconstructed breasts. It must have been god awful.

When I returned to the cardiac ICU the news was better. The second surgery went well. As soon as the blood clot was removed Mom’s ticker worked like a champ and nothing else was needed. My companions for the day, a stoic older gentlemen with two beefy adult sons in tow were not as lucky. His wife had been returned to surgery for a much more complex problem and had nearly died. The older gentleman carried his wife’s purse all day. Dressed in a camo baseball cap, flannel shirt and jeans, he made jokes about his man purse, but he held that purse close and did not let it go.

Today, the news was much better for both of us. Mom was wide awake, was able to sit in a chair and eat a bit of food. She was crabby. I wanted to laugh. There is still a long way to go before Mom is out of the woods, but things are moving forward nicely. My friend’s wife had improved. He was hoping the purse that held her dentures would be allowed to stay with her.

Today I found good espresso, finally. After two days of wimpy waiting room coffee and insipid hotel coffee, there was a double shot of black goodness in my hand. Everything is going to be just fine.



5 comments on “Life in the Cardiac ICU Waiting Room

  1. decisionsformyfamily says:

    So glad to hear that your Mother is doing well! I pray that the next few days bring continued positive progress!

  2. Lee Asbell says:

    Thanks very much!

  3. Continued good thoughts for your mom’s speedy healing.

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