I figured with today’s post I would get back on track a little with being a caregiver and life after losing my mom. My mom passed on 03/17/2011 and just two days later on the 19th it was my dad’s birthday. Losing my mom was such a shock to me that I barely ate for about three days. I even went out to get my dad a birthday cake and didn’t eat any of it, which is not like me because I love cake.
Losing my mom was a hard transition for me because I didn’t get a change to say goodbye to her. At the time that I lost my mom, my dad worked overnight and even though I was in my early 20’s when I lost her, I went to the local community college and so living at home was easier, but I have never spent a night alone in my house. When my dad would leave for work I would start to hear noises and things that really made me paranoid. I was lucky that my dad worked at a hotel and so for a couple of months he let me go into work with him and use a room to sleep in. There were railroad crews that would come in and would request a room with two beds, but there would only be one person in the room, so I would sleep in the bed that hadn’t been used. Eventually I got used to being home alone overnight and it helped that I had my cat Footer at the time to help with the transition.
Later in the year my dad started experiencing some chest pain, so we took him into the emergency room. They did testing and thankfully he wasn’t having a heart attack, but was having angina. I was relieved that it wasn’t a heart attack because when I was in high school he had one and when he went to the ER for that, the next morning they did open heart surgery. What was originally supposed to be a triple bypass ended up being a quadruple bypass. So while this time around it wasn’t a heart attack, they did an echocardiogram, which is essentially an ultrasound of your heart. It allows the cardiologists to see how the heart is pumping and to see if there is a good ejection fraction (ejection fraction measures the percentage of blood leaving your heart each time it contracts). the echocardiogram also takes a look at the heart valves to make sure they are working as they should and that there is no regurgitation, or blood backing up into the heart. Once the results of dad’s echocardiogram came back it showed that his mitral heart valve was leaking pretty bad and that he would need to have open heart surgery to replace the valve.
Upon hearing this news I was such a mess. This would be the first major surgery that my dad would have without my mom being with us. And I know there are risks with any surgery, but open heart surgery is a whole other ballpark. surgery was scheduled for January of 2012. I was worried that I would lose him, but at the same time, I had confidence that he would pull through. The same surgeon that did his quadruple bypass was the one that did the mitral valve replacement. He was great at keeping me informed during the entire surgery. I owe so much to the surgeon for all he did for my dad and for allowing me to not lose both parents not even a year apart.
While I wish this was where the journey of being a caregiver ended, this was only the beginning of my almost seven year journey as his caretaker.