When Strength is Found in the Routine
When the word routine pops in your head, I am sure you are thinking of the definition which is a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program.
A couple of weeks ago I woke up early to take my father to the hospital for what should have been a routine procedure to improve blood flow in his lower legs. The main reason I thought this would be so routine was that he had literally had the same surgery with spectacularly positive results a couple weeks prior. This first surgery started at 8 and by 9:30 I had a call that he would be released around noon.
When we entered the hospital and began to repeat the same process we had 14 days prior, I was worried but mainly was looking forward to the process being over, and having my father healthy again.
I stayed with him until the last moment when they wheeled him away and decided that I would pick up some donuts for the nurses (it happened to be Nurses Appreciation Week) to deliver when I returned to pick him up. I drove home wondering if I was making the right decision to leave, wondering if I was really treating this as routine, and not giving it the thought and seriousness I should. Should I stay? Should I go home? I wrestled with that decision and in the end decided to head home.
I picked up the donuts and headed home to rest, and maybe even sneak in a nap, after all I had a couple hours.
As I layed on the couch, cat in lap, I got a phone call from the hospital. Since the call came in around 9:30 I just figured that my father was out of surgery, and in recovery and this was the call that would allow me to get a couple of hours more sleep, you know following the “routine”.
That is not how the call went. After the nurses verified I was Jennifer, I was told a Cardiologist needed to speak to me right away. It was at that moment I knew, things did not go as routine as they should have.
As it turned out, I had to give authorization for a Heart Catheter, my dad passed a clot while being stitched up. As they loaded him up with blood thinners, the clot hit what turned out to be a surprise discovery of 100% clogged artery. When I arrived at the hospital the doctor was still doing his testing to discover the cause, and for Jason and I all we could do was wait. To be honest, that was the hardest wait, not knowing how severe the problem was – the cardiologist had told us that he might have to be taken by ambulance to a sister hospital for an immediate bypass depending on the findings.
Turns out luck was on our side, while he has a blockage that needs to be dealt with, there is time for his body to heal from the initial surgery that started the day. He was lucky, had he not been at the hospital at the time, the cardiologist said the results would have been “very” different. As a precaution they kept him overnight and by the next morning he was back to his normal self and playing on his phone.
While the day should have been routine it was not, and I think I got complacent. I believed it when I was told that everything would be fine and he would be home in the afternoon. When I got that call, my heart dropped and I asked ” Is he alive?”, I knew if the answer was yes, I could handle anything ahead.
Honestly, being an only child, I have feared and dreaded a call like the one I got that morning. I always thought I would be emotional and unable to make any decisions. While I was emotional, after the initial shock wore off, I immediately stopped crying and made a list of what I needed to do. I cried when I saw him hooked up, but I also wanted to take care of things and make sure he knew everything was “handled”.
I also learned that routine is not as routine as it may seem at times, and there are things out of our control. When I took that first picture that morning, I just wanted a photo of me and my father and as my dad said afterwards “That could have been our last picture together”.
The biggest positive is that had this clot not been passed, he may not have known about blockage. As the Cardiologist said “You don’t find a Cardiologist, they find you”.
I am appreciative that I still have my father, and while I am terrified of the future, I know that I will be able to handle what ever comes my way, routine or not.
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