This is a picture of Regina’s calendar from last year. It was one of many appointments that were scheduled but this was going to be an important appointment. Little did we know…
She was not feeling well at all – shortness of breath, very tired, barely able to move about for more than a few minutes at a time. Dr. Mousavi was concerned and wanted to go inside of her heart and have a look. This was a fairly standard procedure – Regina had had it done a number of times before. Basically, an insertion is made in the groin area and, amazingly, a small fiber optic camera device is then threaded up a vein directly into the heart. Dr. Mousavi then quite literally would have a look around.
We knew that this would probably be a two day procedure – preparation, procedure, recovery – so Regina was packed with overnight things. We went in early Thurs morning. She had with her her big, blue, cloth bag of nighty things for the stay. We needed to be at Potomac Sentara by 7:30am.
On our way up, we had stopped for an Egg McMuffin, hash browns, and some decaf coffee for breakfast. She really liked McDonald’s hash browns.
You’ve seen the photo below. It was a sparkling Spring day. We didn’t talk about much on our way up to the hospital. This was going to be an important visit – we just didn’t know how important.
Unfortunately, Regina’s balances were way out so her procedure was postponed until she could be brought back into balance. She was given large amounts of potassium and iron. We waited as the drip dripped and as she chugged down pill after pill at prescribed times for many hours. Slowly but surely her numbers came back to something normal.
It was late afternoon when she finally was able to go through her procedure. I remember waiting in the waiting room. I was the only one. It was cold. I remember thinking about how blue the room was. The chairs, carpet, walls. It was a very blue room.
The lab was now closed for the day. The lab receptionist had told me good night and had left by locking the outside door on her way out. She had left the TVs on in the waiting area but when she was gone, I went around and turned them all off. I sat in the room. Waiting. I was listening to music on my iPod and trying to read a book. But I was very distracted with thoughts.
Dr. Mousavi came out to see me. He was still in his scrubs. He said, “She is very sick. I’m sorry. We need to get her up to Washington Hospital.”
Then things began to happen very fast. She was immediately moved to a sort of cardiac ICU at Potomac Sentara to be treated and stabilized and then later, we were told, she would be moved by ambulance to WHC. As it turned out, we didn’t go until the next day. We spent the night in a room that was constantly lit and with a nurse that had been assigned to her full-time. The powerful drugs that were being administered could only be administered in a cardiac ward. The drugs actually made her feel very good – her heart pumped stronger, color came back into her face, and she started to feel much better.
We did much talking between her frequent naps during the evening and night. Next week was supposed to be Zak’s graduation from seminary. It was becoming apparent, however, that we weren’t going to be making the trip to Portland. It broke her heart and she cried about it. It was hard to tell Zak that we weren’t coming. It was very sad.
We had been told that she would be transported to WHC and that there doctors would decide what next to do for her. Dr. Mousavi assured us that the best place we could be in the DC area was up at WHC. He had already talked to the doctors and surgeons up there and they knew that Regina was coming. All they needed to do was get her a room.
Later the next day, some nice paramedics came into her room and moved her over to a transportable bed for the ambulance ride up to WHC. She was hooked up to machines and an IV drip so all of that had to be transported with her, too. She later told me that the paramedics were funny and happy people and that they had made her feel good going up in the back of the ambulance with lights flashing. When we arrived at WHC, they said good-bye and she giggled and thanked them for their encouragement and the safe ride up. They left us in her new WHC room.
Little did we know what was yet to come. Regina, over the next 45 days, was only home for two nights.
She never did unload the dryer of her final wash.