My Mother, My Best Friend
On November 1, 2009 I lost the best friend I had ever known, my mother. She was 67 years old and her death came so unexpectedly. My mother had always had respiratory problems and that was the usual reason for her trips to the doctor, ER, or admission to the hospital.
On October 31, which was a Saturday, my mother came over to my house around 4 pm and was complaining of having trouble breathing since the night before. She told me she had taken 6 breathing treatments and was going to go home to take another and see if she could get some relief. I waited a few minutes and then called to check on her. I could tell just by her voice over the phone that she wasn't getting any better, so I went to her house and talked her into going to the ER. My mom was always so stubborn and hated going to the doctor for anything.
When we got to the ER my mom told the doctor the problems she had been experiencing. I figured we would go through the same tests and procedures as always, breathing treatments, IV steroids, chest xray, and such as that. It just so happened that the doctor ordered cardiac labs and an EKG. I thought it was odd at the time cause my mom had never had any heart problems, but I just figured the doctor was trying to be thorough with his treatment.
The nurse came in and did the EKG and the lab tech drew her blood. In just a few minutes the nurse came back in and said that they needed to move my mother to another room so she could be monitored more closely. She informed me that my mom’s lab work showed her troponin level as being 25. Since I was in my last semester of nursing school, I knew right away that this meant there had been damage to my mothers heart. The nurse went ahead and told my mom that she had had a heart attack and that it probably occurred the night before.
My mom was astonished. She couldn’t believe what she had been told, and kept denying that was the problem. She stated “ there’s no way I’ve had a heart attack, I feel fine, I just can’t breath.” To be honest, I felt the same way my mother did. I just couldn’t believe it, but I kept in mind that she was going to be alright, cause she was still talking and moving around and doing just fine. As always I went ahead and called all my family to inform them that mom was in the ER and that she would soon be transported to another hospital in Nashville which had cardiologists to help her.
My mom was not thrilled at all about having to be flown somewhere, because she had never ridden in a plane before. She even joked and was laughing about it. She asked if I could ride with her and it killed me to tell her that I couldn’t. No one was allowed to ride. I can still remember the look in her tear-filled eyes. I had never seen that look on my moms face before. It was a look of fear, and mom was never scared of anything that I can recall. She was the strongest and most headstrong woman I had ever met.
Some people later told me that they didn’t think it was a fear of her dying but a fear that she knew she was and that me and my son would be all alone without her. I agree with this completely. I had been in school for seven and a half years and was finally in my last semester of nursing school. It had taken me so long to get there, and she was always so worried about me doing good. Even as she was getting ready to be flown out, she told my brother to make sure I was back to school by Monday because I had finals coming up and I couldn’t miss them.
I assured her that was the least of my worries. I honestly thought at the time that she would be flown to St. Thomas Hospital and maybe have to stay for a few weeks and probably have to have surgery to repair her heart. I NEVER for one second thought that I would be losing my mom later that night.
When we arrived at St. Thomas, they already had mama in the cath lab performing the cardiac cath and putting in stents. When the doctor came out, he told us that she would be going to ICU and that she was going to be on a ventilator, but to not be shocked because this was just to help so that my mother wouldn’t have to work so hard to breath. He said that my mother was a very sick woman and that she had quit breathing on the helicopter ride down but was resuscitated and was talking before being taken into the cath lab.
When we arrived up in the ICU, the nurse told us it would be just a while longer before we could see mother, that they were having to work with her some. We all went and waited in the family waiting area. I don’t think I have ever felt so sick and worried as bad as I was that night. The nurse kept coming and telling us my mothers status and kept saying it would be a while longer. Then the nurse came and said they were having to do resuscitation, and that’s right when I knew she wasn’t going to make it.
I jumped up and yelled that she wouldn’t make it and I ran out of the ICU. The chaplain of the hospital came out and talked with me a few minutes and calmed me down and I went back in to the waiting area. Once again, the nurse came back and said she had been stabilized, but then she had coded again. I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It was all like a dream, a horrible dream.
The last time the nurse came out, she brought the doctor with her. Being in the medical field, I knew this was the worst sign. He stated that my mother was not doing well and after being resuscitated each time she codes again only after about 15 minutes, and he believed that we all needed to go in and say our goodbyes, because they couldn’t keep doing this to her.
As I walked back to her room, I just couldn’t believe this was happening. When I entered the room, the woman laying in that bed did not look like my mother. She had tubes and wires coming out everywhere. She had been sedated, wasn’t talking, and had her eyes closed. I immediately looked at her monitor. Her heart rate was 46. We all gathered around her and I grabbed her hand and let her know that me and my son loved her very much. I had always been told that the last sense to go is hearing so I know she heard me, and it meant a lot to me that I got to tell her that. It was just a few minutes later and she was gone.
I am just now to the point that all this seems real to me. For a while I just couldn’t and wouldn’t believe it was real. The death certificate finally came last week and it said that my mother passed away from cardiogenic shock related to myocardial infarction. It finally had a label to her death. I have looked up and researched cardiogenic shock and heart attacks so many times that I probably could be an expert on the topics. I guess I figured it would give me some relief but it hasn’t.
I don’t feel like I will ever have any relief. This past weekend I texted one of my friends and asked if she was mad with me, because I hadn’t heard from her in a while and her response was that I hadn’t been there for her the past few weeks and that I needed to realize that I'm not the only one with problems. I do understand that and I know there are many more people out there worse off than me, but at the same time, I am having so much trouble getting through this.
I feel all alone and don’t know what to do with myself. I don’t want to turn to medication because I do feel like I'm stronger than that and I can make it, but I don’t know how much longer I can go on like this. I feel so lost without my mother. She was the one person that no matter what, was always there for me. She helped me in every way possible. There were not many days that went by that I didn’t talk to or see my mama. I depended on her for everything and now to not have her here is hard.
I am happy to say that I did graduate from RN school with a degree in applied science. I feel like my mom was right there by my side the whole time helping me, or I wouldn’t have made it. It was so sad that she wasn’t there to see me graduate, but I think she was with me in spirit. Every day seems like it gets harder and harder. All I want to do is lay in the bed and sleep. I don’t care about going out or even talking to friends anymore. I don’t want to work or even go out to the grocery store. I hope that in time all this will change and things will get better. I am looking forward to that day.