The surgeon’s voice seemed a million miles away as he delivered the news that my husband would need triple bypass surgery…immediately. It was after 5:00 on a Friday afternoon, and his surgical team had just left for the weekend. They had been called back, and would take him into surgery as soon as possible. We would be allowed to spend only a few moments with him in the Intensive Care Unit. By this time my cousins and youngest son were there, and I kept watching and praying for my oldest son to walk through the door. In what would be the first of many times, I would put on my “Mom hat”, swallowing my tears and fears in an effort to be strong for my boys. Although they were nearly grown, I needed to do what I could to keep them from being scared. I had been doing it all their lives….today was no different.
By the time we reached the ICU’s main corridor, my husband was there, still very groggy from the medication he had been given for the heart cath. As we talked to him, they were pushing his bed ever so slowly toward those mysterious double doors, trying to get him into surgery quickly, yet giving us the time we needed. Finally, the person in charge began to say that it was time to go, and I begged for just another minute….I was still waiting for our other son. Seconds later I glanced up at the hallway mirror for what seemed like the hundredth time, and saw him running up the hall….just in time, he was able to spend a few moments with his dad before they took him in to surgery.
The next several hours was a dizzying combination of surgical pagers, phone calls and butterflies in my stomach. After I was issued my pager, the volunteer told me that they had a room available for me in the hospital where, for a nominal fee, I could spend the night. I only had a few minutes to decide, and ultimately chose to take the room. My pager went off 3 times…I was called when my husband was put on bypass, when he was taken off bypass, and then when the surgery was over.
Finally, the time came to meet with the surgeon. The APS had made for some tricky calculations in getting the blood thinners right for surgery, and after a brief Google consultation about the disorder itself, the surgery had been a success. As the surgeon said in the waiting room…it would be easier to mop up extra blood than to have the grafts clot. I was just so grateful that everything had gone well.
The next step was the most heart wrenching experience of all: seeing my husband, my protector….the one who had always taken care of everything….hooked up to a respirator with a tube coming out of his chest. It’s an image I don’t think I’ll ever forget.