In part one of this post, I wrote about reading at poetry open mic for the first time. Here is a (somewhat condensed) continuation of the story.
While stopped at a traffic light on the way home, I turned the ringer of my phone back on and was surprised to see that there was a missed call from my husband B, who had stayed at home because he wasn’t feeling well. He knew where I was and that I wouldn’t have the phone on during the reading, so I immediately became apprehensive and rushed home to find that my mom (Nana) had called for advice as to whether she should have my dad (Paco) take her to the walk-in or the emergency room when she had suddenly exhibited symptoms of a gastrointestinal bleed.
B advised the emergency room.
B had called my cell phone, hoping that I would put my ringer back on before leaving the bookstore so that I could get to the hospital more quickly, but, as it turned out, it was good that I had gone home first. They phoned again during the few minutes I was home to say that Nana was being put into a room in the ER. I grabbed a few magazines that I could leave with my mother for entertainment during the inevitable waiting times and headed out to the hospital.
The ER waiting room was filled to overflowing and there were so many patients back in the unit itself that some were in the hallway. My mom was in a room, though, because they needed to keep her hitched up to cardiac monitors, given that some of her symptoms could have been a second heart attack. Her heart was okay, but she needed to stay in the hospital to figure out where the bleeding was occurring. There were no rooms available in the hospital proper, so, about 2 AM, she was moved to another section of the ER that had beds rather than gurneys.
The next day, the gastroenterologist who was on weekend call, Dr. B., came in and we decided that it was best to do a colonoscopy on Sunday morning and Nana was admitted to the GI unit when space became available. The colonoscopy revealed that Nana had developed arteriovenous malformations (AVM) and was bleeding from several different sites, which Dr. B. cauterized. Dr. B. explained it to us as being similar to varicose veins that break through to the surface and bleed. Unfortunately, the meds that Nana needs to take due to her cardiac stents don’t help matters, as they act to prevent blood from clotting easily.
Although Nana had lost quite a bit of blood, the doctors decided not to transfuse but to let her try to build back her blood count on her own. This didn’t turn out so well, as Nana had to spend several days in the hospital about a month later when her low iron levels started to affect her blood pressure. They finally gave her a couple of units of blood and, while her iron level isn’t quite up to what is considered normal, she is slowly gaining strength and getting back to some parts of her old routine – with, we hope, more progress to come as spring continues to unfold and we celebrate Mother’s Day and her birthday.
There is no way to tell when the AVMs may recur, so, for now, there are weekly blood tests so that, if she becomes more anemic, the gastroenterologist can intervene before she loses too much blood.
Vigilance is our friend, as is following through on recommended treatment, medication, and lifestyle choices. It’s what has kept Nana and Paco as active as they are as they age.
But fingers crossed that we don’t have any more medical adventures in the coming months.
We all need a rest.