I woke up back in the Cardiac Care Unit. The only familiar faces are mom and Dr. Mary Sidawy. Mom, in black since my dad had passed away, eyes swollen and red. Dr. Sidawy showing her usual caring, sweet smile this time coupled with a look of concern. Mom by now knows of Sarciodosis. She’s asking Dr. Sidawy questions she cannot find answers for. What is this disease? Why did I keep it from her and others? What next?
I told mom I was fine. That seemed to make her cry harder. I asked her to stop, I couldn’t see her cry. Dr. Sidawy took her out and sent the others in. Nawara, and Dr. Salem came in. She seemed visibly upset, he kept his composure and humored us with stories from his residency in the ER.
Throughout the evening, other friends and family members came to visit. Nawara says there is a mob in the Hospital Lobby, but the Cardiac Care Unit only allowed visitors in pairs.
It may sound strange, but I really can’t figure out why everyone’s so upset. I feel fine. I now have a battery that should keep my heart ticking, even longer than it might have before. Beyond that, I felt safe, so why is everyone looking at me with pity and concern?
Later in the evening, Dr. Esposito, a Kaiser cardiologist stopped by. Flipping through my chart, he declared that when I had the cardiology studies in April, I had first degree heart block. He was not surprised that I now have 2nd degree heart block!
I was under close observation for what seemed like eternity; in reality, it was fading in and out of consciousness and the doctors had to make quick decision. I could hear half sentences from nurses and doctors around me.
I open my eyes and saw the ceiling lights move past. “Stay with us” was the only phrase I remember hearing from one of the medical staff around. I was being moved to the operating room. I remember telling the doctor I am dreaming of playing football in the World Cup. The room was cold. A stinging liquid poured through my vein. And I was out.
I woke up to learn that Dr. Schenck, one of Dr. Del Negro’s Arrhythmia Associates implanted a cardiac CPI pacemaker. I had never heard of such a thing. I remembered a 70’s show “The Bionic Woman” that I watched religiously. I am officially a bionic woman!
I went to Alia’s house to get help with the kids. Seems the family was busy.. so I took the kids and went to a friend’s house. I felt bad about keeping both kids with her, so Tala stayed and I took Aboudi and headed back home. All this movement is trying.. I can barely make it to the car. I’m moving at Sloth speed, and yet still, panting.
Back at home, I spent a couple of hours trying to reach a doctor at Kaiser. When I finally got through to the nurse advice line, I left messages for Dr. Sing, Dr. Klayton and their nurses. Finally, I got an appointment that afternoon.
Having left Tala one friend’s house, I dropped Aboudi off at a neighbor’s and drove to Kaiser Falls Church. Dr. Sing performed an EKG, informed me that I had 3rd degree heart block and need to be admitted to Fairfax hospital. He asked me to call a family member to come along.
I was so relieved that someone was going to fix what’s wrong, I didn’t really hear or care to get clarification on the diagnosis. I called my husband who was in a meeting at the time, he suggested I call mom to pick me up.
Within a few minutes, my mother picked me up and drove to Fairfax hospital. She seemed distressed and asked why the doctor is sending me there. At this point, I was feeling lightheaded, and didn’t have the energy to respond.
At the front desk, a nurse waited for me with a wheelchair. I was admitted to the cardiac step down unit. Shortly thereafter, my left arm started going numb. Minutes later, my heart raced for a couple of minutes and I couldn’t breath. With an oxygen mask, I was quickly transferred to the Cardiac Care Unit.
At a picnic with family and friends. I am physically exhausted! Watching others play ball, I feel shortness of breath, as if I were doing all the running. I struggle to walk to the rest room some 50 feet away from where I sat.
In the evening, I had to take a Tessalon pill (cough suppressant) to get over my cough and my heart felt very slow. As I lay in my bed, I wonder why it is so difficult to inhale and exhale. Have I always felt this lethargic?
Walking up the stairs feels exhausting. Any movement, be it carrying the children, standing in the kitchen too long or any degree of exercise feels strenuous.
The physical stress is coupled with a bleak outlook. Although I’ve always been optimistic, I cannot see the beauty in my life, continuously rushing everything, moving on from one event to the other without enjoying the days as they go by.
I seem to be doing too much in a short time span. I am still having difficulty dealing with my father’s passing. It has been a year and a half.. yet it still feels like yesterday. As if that wasn’t enough, I am struggling to cope with my in-laws. I keep to myself as to not burden others. Not sure who to turn to.. so I continue to busy myself with everything and anything.