So as you all know I have been gone for a while due to my dads open heart surgery.
My dad had not been feeling well for a while. He was having chest pains on and off and just felt terrible. I decided to check his blood pressure on the day he was feeling the worst. It ended up reading 180/101. I was instantly panicking so we called an ambulance. We waited until they arrived and they asked questions and acted hesitant to take my father to the hospital. They were explaining to him how it was probably just heart burn or muscular. They decided to do an EKG here at home on one of their monitors. The EMT looked at it and said that things look alright. They then left after convincing my dad he was alright. I was sitting in the living room when I noticed they left their EKG print out. I looked at it obviously not able to interpret what the lines meant but at the top it said that it could not rule out infarction (heart attack) on the left side. I was instantly worried and informed my dad. He told me that if they said the read out was fine then we should try not to worry since he planned to go to the doctor in the next couple of days.
My dad decided to go and take a nap to see if he felt any better when he started having difficulty breathing. We decided to call and ambulance again for the second time. My boyfriend was using the only vehicle we had to take him in or else we would have already done so. They arrived again when we informed him that he was definitely going this time so they helped him out to the ambulance and hooked him up to the IV, etc. I was so worried but decided to stay home because I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle riding in the ambulance going there alone. The whole time I was thinking “Is my dad okay?” “What if he doesn’t make it?”
I called the hospital and still hours later they had no information to give me. Finally I got through to someone and was informed that my dad did not have a heart attack and that they were doing further tests to see what could be done although he did need a cath for a blockage he had. The next day came and I was inform that my dad did in fact have a heart attack and that they would be doing open heart surgery. I knew nothing about open heart surgery so of course I started searching google for the procedure he was having done. I kept reading that if the patient has had strokes or is in risk of having one that it could potentially cause concern during the surgery. Obviously I was still in panic mode and hadn’t slept or ate. It was a very scary experience especially when a loved one is at risk for not making it. I’m the worlds worst at dealing with things emotionally so I had quite the time myself. I don’t do well in hospitals and panic just entering them regardless if it’s for me or not. It was very hard to go and visit my dad and be there for him during this time. I would sit in the car and anticipate whether to go in or not. The panic would be welling up inside me and I was only making it worse for myself. My boyfriend would keep telling me that we could just go in for a quick visit but the thought of trailing a lot through the huge parking lot, entering the doors feeling panic strike and making it all the way to his room didn’t sit well with me.
It was the night of his surgery. He had been in the hospital a few days prior because instead of the more invasive options they tried for another heart cath. He had already had some from previous heart attacks.
He eventually had the surgery and did great. I finally worked myself up to seeing him in the recovery room after it was done. It was 8:00 PM and my mother called me from inside the hospital and said that the doctor would like for us to come back and see him. I was panicking. I did not want to go in there. I didn’t want to look like a fool for not visiting my dad after a major surgery but I also wanted to go see him in fear that if something happened I would never get to see him. I finally proceeded toward the door when the panic sat in. “What would I do?” “How am I going to make it to the recovery room?”
I was sweaty, breathing fast, my pulse was pounding and I felt horrible. My aunt grabbed me by the arm and we started walking. She kept talking to me telling me that my dad would be hooked up to several machines including a ventilator, pace maker and a few others. I knew what all of these machines were and that scared me even more. I didn’t know that the recovery room would have more patients in it as well. As I waited for them to open the door I felt in a daze. The room was spinning, I felt nauseous. I needed to sit down but there was no where to sit. My aunt did not know about my anxiety. I have been struggling with panic attacks and agoraphobia since January 2012 and it’s been a tough time.
Finally the nurse opened the door and I saw so many people hooked up to so many machines. I approached my dads bedside where he looked completely helpless. Monitors were beeping and every time one did so the panic would hit even harder. I thought “They’re going to be rushing me out of here because I’m not going to make it.” I couldn’t see, breathe or think clearly. I decided to step out of the room to sit down in a family waiting area that was private. I sat there with my boyfriend and told him I didn’t know what to do. I thought I was truly going to die. My aunt and mom came to the room I was in to check on me. My aunt told me that she had to head home so she could get some sleep for work tomorrow. I felt relieved to go in there with only my boyfriend and mom as the pressure of hiding my anxiety was too great.
Finally my aunt decided to leave but visiting hours were over at 9:00 pm. I looked at the clock and it was 9:08. I had missed the opportunity to see my dad and actually try to communicate with him (although he wasn’t awake). All I could do was cry. I was selfish and let my anxiety control my actions. My mom talked to his nurse who sat at his bedside continuously checking his vitals the whole time he would be in recovery. She understood my situation and told me she would give me an extra 15 minutes. They only allow the family to visit for 15 minutes and since I had to go out of the room when I first got there she agreed I could have time with my dad and told me that if I felt nervous that I could have her chair.
I sat by my dads bedside talking to him, holding his hand. He kept trying to tug on the hoses and the nurse had to keep telling him that she knew he felt like he couldn’t breathe but he could and that he needed to put his arms down. My dad would put his arms down but he wasn’t able to communicate with us other than a nod. I started talking to him telling him that I loved him and at that moment my dad squeezed my hand and nodded. All of my panic began to fade away and I was shocked at home much a nod would mean to me. I felt a sense of comfort knowing that my dad could hear me. He would be so proud to know that I was there in the recovery room with him. I asked the nurse if he could hear me and she said that he could but she didn’t think that he would remember any of it but she would be sure to tell him that I came.
The next day we headed back to the hospital and I had my boyfriend wheel me up to his room as I was not doing well with my anxiety. This time it was in the day time hours and there were more people around. I made it to his room to find him sitting up in a chair. This was to prevent blood clots and to help him feel better. He was in a lot of pain and didn’t feel like visiting so the nurses brought him some meds and he started to feel better. He was so surprised that I made it up to see him as he thought I wouldn’t be able to. I felt silly lugging around a wheel chair to see him but it helped to know that I could sit down if needed.
The next several days I came to see him and it was somehow just as hard. Anticipating going in, dropping my mother off first and then journeying to the doors. I still don’t know how I made it but I just wanted to tell anyone with anxiety, panic attacks, etc that in a situation of pure anxiety and fear you will make it. It will seem like your world is about to end and that you will be scooped away in a body bag any minute but I promise you that you just have to ride out the feelings.
I may post more about my anxiety experience in the future in hopes that someone else with have encouragement. I hope that you enjoyed reading this post as this is usually something that I rarely share with others.