Decision

Well, I had a post all ready to share and once again, life got in the way, so I decided to change topics.

Just one short year ago, my husband was hospitalized with Acute Congestive Heart Failure (CHF).   We knew something wasn’t quite right, as he was “weeping” out of the areas where he does his injections, and any place he had cuts, etc.  He was also having shortness of breath and was experiencing extreme swelling.  Needless to say, his Cardiologist was very concerned, thinking that his heart function had worsened.

So after several days of IV diuretics, he began to lose the water weight.  It had to be a delicate balance:  losing the fluids, but not too fast, which would also put a strain on his heart.

Once it seemed that he would rebound somewhat from this episode of CHF, his cardiologist began to discuss the possibility of another stent.  He felt that widening the artery in question would enable his heart to pump more efficiently, lessening the odds of another hospital stay.  Needless to say, we were very reluctant to do this:  it was a stent procedure back in 2011 that caused the clot in his heart, leading to the reduced heart function.  On a cold November Thursday the Cardiologist decided the procedure would take place the following Tuesday.

What followed was a wretched, wretched series of days.  We turned over and over the risks.  Any procedure is life threatening for my husband.  We knew that he could very well die on Tuesday.  It was a low, low feeling.

We began to have heart to heart conversations, sometimes out of the blue.  One evening we were watching tv and my husband said, “you have to get re-married”.  I say, “what in the world are you talking about?”.  “You know,” he says “after this”.  This is something I am not even prepared to talk about, but, as I found out in later months, it is something he needs to hear.  He needs to know that I’ll be okay.

My heart was heavy all weekend, thinking of the grandchildren he might not get to see, the family events missed.  It was more than I could bear that we were agreeing to something that might end his life.   My stomach was perpetually in knots:  it seemed the ticking of the clock was bringing us closer to our personal doomsday. 

The turning point was the day that we realized we could, in fact, say no to this procedure.  We didn’t have to be along for the ride when we felt sure we might crash.  Not this time.  We were both giddy with relief….not only was it empowering, it immediately brought a sense of calm.  For the first time in forever, the sun shone a little brighter, the sky was a bit bluer. Hope put a new lightness on everything.

Fast forward to the present time:  after several suggestions by a couple of his doctors, we are on a fact-finding mission to decide if a heart-lung transplant is doable in his situation.  I have no doubt that we will have a few of those feelings that we experienced last year.  After all, it is a major undertaking.  My husband is very unsure…our sons and I are leaving it entirely up to him, feeling that something of this magnitude needs to be his decision alone.  Perhaps since we will have more time to get used to the idea, things will not be as hard as they were just one short year ago.  Again, time will tell.

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