We were sitting in the ER waiting to see a doctor after John was given an IV. The nurses station had a huge large screen TV hanging from the ceiling and about the time I was thinking how nice it would be to have a TV in the same room I work in (realizing that it was probably to keep track of patients in some way), a group of about 8 people in white coats came to the nurses station. This was a teaching hospital, so I figured most of them were residents. Then at least 5 more nurses came to the station and looked at the TV with intent and awe it seemed. I’m watching this, couldn’t see the TV, was slightly interested, but exhausted and worried about John, who seemed to be resting a little better in the bed beside me.
If you would like to read the whole story you can start at Part 1
The Hope of New Life… The reality of Death…
Suddenly I remembered I needed to do a group text and let everyone know what was going on. John had 4 sisters and our 4 children. So I tried to think of a less emotional way of telling them we were in the ER, which under normal circumstances wouldn’t be hard to do. My brain didn’t seem to function the way it used to as I tried to let my Motherly instincts kick in.
I was slightly annoyed by the distraction of everyone at the nurses station in front of me, so I considered closing the curtain. Then the group seemed to all be looking my way, which I thought was rude because I know I probably looked a little psycho at this point. As they walked toward me, my stomach clenched, my heart started beating a little faster, and things seemed like they got a little cloudy for a few seconds.
They gathered around our little curtained off room with somewhat forced concerning smiles on their faces, and the doctor introduced himself. He was a vascular surgeon and said he needed to talk to us about something they found on the scan they did earlier. It was an aortic aneurysm, sometimes called a triple A. The aneurysm was 8mm in size and the doctor said that they usually operate on them when the are at 5mm. He said it had showed up on a previous scan but was smaller and was showing to be growing faster than normal. “We need to do surgery as soon as possible, and we are going to admit you and get your fluids back to normal and go from there,” he said. It would be major surgery and because of how John’s anatomy was around the area of an aneurysm it would be open surgery.He explained how they would probably have to cut from above his navel and down about 12 inches. My survival instincts kicked in, and I found myself asking a ton of questions. “What about how run down he is right now? Can he survive major surgery while he is doing chemo? Why can’t it wait? How are they going to suction the mucous in his throat with an air tube down his throat?
The surgeon explained that his aneurysm was large enough that it could burst at any time and then we would have 15 -30 minutes to get him to a hospital before he would bleed out, at the most.
What!….Did I hear that right? “Well, I guess one more thing to deal with in my head won’t be a choice., I will have to figure it out and hope for the best,” I told myself. The surgeon recommended we wait 2 weeks after John’s final radiation and then he would check him to make sure he was okay for the surgery. He didn’t want to wait for surgery any longer than he needed to, because it could break at any time!
As the group walked away I wanted to put my head in my hands but some of the nurses were still looking our way and I wanted to look strong, I was strong I told myself. But as soon as they busied themselves I did exactly that, put my head down and rubbed my temples, and propped my forehead on my hand with my elbow on my knee. Now how was I going to tell the family about this? Thank god for email and group texting because I could explain everything without a million questions interrupting me and adding more stress to the situation. My daughter was on her way to sit with me but at this point she was assuming that her Dad was dealing with a bout of dehydration and weakness from not being able to eat.
Eventually, John was given a room and would stay the night. The next day we were asked if we received the bags of liquid food that were being sent to us. We told them we had and they asked if we were using them? I don’t remember exactly my answer, but they realized that no one told us to start using them, or ordered a pump to be used with it, or told us how to use it. I couldn’t believe I didn’t think of it myself. The whole reason John had the stomach tube was because there would come a time that he couldn’t eat or drink because it would be too painful. How did I miss that? How many days did he not eat anything or drink much? I was so caught up in the events of life, work, and keeping track of medicine. I tried not to be too hard on myself when I realized a day or two is all it takes to get dehydrated to the point he was. I never did this before. I figured someone would be starting him on the bags at the right time, or at least tell me too. Ugh…what a mess. I knew the next couple weeks would be worrisome with the surgeons words repeating in my head, “his aneurysm could burst at any time”!
This was a situation I had to wait for weeks to see if John was going to pull through. Have you ever had a time when you had to wait what seemed like forever, for your answer to a staggering question? Please share that with me and my readers, if you can.