(aka: How our family skipped Christmas this year)
I had not been in a Christmas mood at all this year. Neither had my mom, who had been feeling crummy in the days before Christmas. She had been suffering from a bad cold and from all the various health issues that came with her known heart condition. I had joked that maybe we just should skip Christmas this year and maybe with joke I jinxed our Christmas? Before I recount the events of the last two days I should state, that my mom is doing fine (now), so all is well. Sort of. But let’s start from the beginning…
After family dinner on Christmas Eve my mom started to feel worse, she couldn’t really say what exactly troubled her so much. She was feeling sick and her blood pressure went up as well as her heart rate, so we decided to drive to the ER to have it all checked out. When you’ve been through all the cardiac crap she and we with her have been through you rather want to be safe than sorry. We went to the ER of the hospital where she had been treated frequently for all the various cardiac issues over the last decade, because we knew they had all the relevant information on file.
The very nice ER doc even remembered her and knew what to look out for. The exam results didn’t gave cause for immediate concern, even though the EKG wasn’t good, but that was to be expected in her case. The doc advised her to get admitted and to have it all checked out thoroughly on the next day. It already was around 22:00 on Christmas Eve so my Mom agreed to stay, even though she felt really really bad for having ruined our Christmas. We had a hard time convincing her that we only cared about her well being and not about Christmas and that she should not worry. But I guess that’s easier said than done for a mother :-).
Just a few minutes after we had gotten her to her room and had started to settle her in, she noticed that all of a sudden her leg had went numb, which was kind of scary to her and of course to us as well. We asked the nurse and the resident in charge to check it out and they immediately suspected a clot in her leg, in her artery to be more exact.
They seemed concerned and started to give her heparin right away and had another doc from the ICU come up to check it out and he agreed with their assessment, which started to have me worried as well. Especially after I used my phone to google what they had been talking about: an arterial embolism in her leg. If that sounds scary to you, trust me, it scared me as well, because I had read that quick treatment is necessary if you want to restore the blood flow to the body part as quick as possible to avoid permanent damage.
This hospital doesn’t have a vascular surgery department and around midnight my mom was transferred to another hospital in town. Bro2 and I spent another hour in the waiting area of that emergency room, witnessing the on-call vascular surgeon (being called in from home) head in for a quick consult and head out again, before we were allowed in to see our mom. The vascular surgeon had already scheduled a CT angiography for the next morning and surgery after that. So it had been serious indeed. Around 1:30 on Christmas Night my mom was settled into her new hospital room, hooked up on heparin IV and her leg tightly bandaged and we said goodbye and hoped for the best.
I called the hospital around 11:00 the next morning, but then she was on her way to the CTA and I was asked to call back two hours later. When I did call I heard that my mom was already on the way to surgery, which according to the nurse should last for 1-2 hours. When I called again after two hours my mom already was back to her room, awake and doing ok, so we headed back in to see her. She was still suffering from the angioplasty, of course, but she was in rather good spirit, which was a relief.
She was doing even better today and was already starting to see the upside in all of that, which I had tried to make her see even the day before. Yes, it sucked to be in the hospital at Christmas and yes it sucked to suddenly suffer from something so serious. But, it was very good thing we already had been at the hospital when the symptoms started. It didn’t matter that she originally went to the ER because of other cardiac problems. She was lucky that when the leg went numb, someone with medical expertise immediately examined her and knew what was going on and how to treat it or where to get her the right treatment.
Because had she been at home when her leg went numb, I doubt that she would have called a doctor or asked one of us to take her to the ER right away. It happened around 23:00 on Christmas Eve after all. She probably would have already been in bed or in the process of getting ready for bed and she most probably would have waited till the next morning to see if the numbness would disappear on it’s own. And waiting might have been crucial in this case. But as things turned out she got treated within minutes and operated within 12 hours, which is exactly the course of action that is advised for arterial embolisms. So all was well after all, even though it didn’t really feel like it on Christmas Eve.
The surgical drain will be removed tomorrow and then she is allowed to get up again, but I’m not sure when she will be released from the hospital. I doubt that she will get home this year due to the weekend and holidays and such. But that doesn’t matter all that much either. She was successfully treated in time and she hopefully will make a complete recovery and that’s all that matters. And yes, it looks like we did skip Christmas this year after all.