Friday, September 3, 2010

A heart that's larger than life

Or maybe I should have titled this post, if it's not one thing, it's another.

Five years ago, as Mr. Larger Than Life lay panting in an ICU bed down at the Detroit Medical Center, the RN caring for him pulled his chest xray up on the monitor. What I saw was the largest cardiac silhouette I think I've ever seen. It looked 3 times bigger than the normal fist sized heart. Now when you think about the Grinch, whose heart grew three sizes to envelope a love of Christmas and spirit, you'd think MLTL's heart would make him all warm and fuzzy.

Not so, my friends, not so.

The size of his heart seems to enable him to hold that much more hatred that he stores up and then dumps on the people who take care of him...his family.

The size of his heart is directly related to an infection, viral myocarditis, that he encountered 23 years ago. A heart this size doesn't beat correctly. It doesn't perfuse correctly, and it's getting tired of doing its share of the work. Late last week, MLTL wore a 24 hour heart monitor. The doctor's office called today, telling him he needed to see the doctor this morning, and to bring a family member with him. He told the doctor he has no family. When asked if he is sure, he said, "no, I am alone." Now the doctor knows this isn't true as both my husband and son have gone with him on these appointments.

Instead of one of us, he took a friend this morning and afterward, all we heard is that he needs a pacemaker on Tuesday and he doesn't know why. In other words, MLTL's sky is falling.

I called the doctor myself and spoke with his nurse practitioner. MLTL has underlying atrial fibrillation (live long enough and we will all likely have this), but way too much ventricular ectopy and frequent 3 second pauses. Because he is deaf, demented and scared, he misunderstood what's going to happen Tuesday, immediately called his daughter and made her cry and has everyone convinced this is the end of his world. Tuesday's appointment is actually with the cardiologist again, not the surgeon, and he was told to bring family with him. Family he denies having.

When I conveyed my conversation with the doctor's office, my sister in law was shocked he'd have told the doctor he has no family. The friend that he took is someone who has stayed close to him to help alleviate the weight of what he carries in his pocket. I just don't get it, but at this point, I've stopped trying to interpret the motivations behind the things he says and does.

While I may have had a sleep-in planned for next Tuesday, I am now supposed to be accompanying this mean old man to see the doctor. As he hates waiting, it's his idea to book the first available appointment at 8 AM. If you're 83 years old, you have time to wait. I hope he doesn't have a heart attack when he learns we're changing the appointment to a more respectable hour.

In the meantime, MLTL believes the doctor is trying to bilk him out of money--as though the Medicare belongs solely to him--and there is no reason for a pacemaker. In his narcissistic mind, it simply isn't possible that anything untoward could have occurred between one doctor visit to the next. What he's failing to forget in his simplistic equation is that it's this cardiologist that he owes his last quarter century to in the first place. Without him, he'd have likely died from the severity of the infection he had. Perhaps he should show more faith in the man.

Lord, this is going to be a difficult weekend.


sapphireblue said...

You're being awfully nice about finding out what was going on despite him not claiming his family, and even nicer about going with him to the appointment. The saint medal goes to you.

Rose said...

Ditto on sapphireblue's comment. What a trial; you are earning crowns in heaven or something for sure.

Miss 376 said...

I'll be thinking of you this weekend and next week. I don't know how you've managed to keep doing what you do

jeannette said...

Some people's behavior get worse instead of more mature as they grow older. Sorry you have to deal with this, Rudee. After the weekend is over, treat yourself to something nice!

Quiltluver said...

I agree with the others--the saint medal goes to you.

I wouldn't take the "no family" comment too personally. I find that as my parents go through issues like this, they don't always want us kids to know their medical problems (don't TELL ANYONE). I think it's fear of losing their independence if the Dr. tells them they shouldn't do certain tasks (like not drive a car). If the family doesn't know, they can't try to stop them from the harmful behavior.

I don't know how you do it. It must be the caring nurse part of you. Hope your weekend goes well. Treat yourself to the Arts Beats and Eats festival.

Gail said...

I am sending you some extra strength and are gonna need it.

You are the one with the big heart!

Anonymous said...

I don't think you should go since your heart is not in it.

daylily (Queenmothermamaw) said...

Well Rudee there is one thing that is sure. If it ain't one thing to aggravate the hell out of you, it is something else. That's the way I see it. LOL

Silliyak said...

Still think you should introduce him to your neighbor. (word verification is zingirr)

ari_1965 said...

Best wishes, Rudee. To you.

SkippyMom said...

Words fail me
[& like, when does THAT ever happen?]
[Oh be quiet. I know.]

I can only say my prayers are with you Rudee. Take care sweetheart.

And? Please try not to back over him with your car.

I mean intentionally, of course.

Devon said...

Please don't let this mentally ill old man ruin your weekend. You are very generous to help him when he trys so hard to alienate family.

Good luck!

Finding Pam said...

I think I missed something in this post. Who is MLTL? Who ever he is he needs to behave and listen to the docs.

You are too kind to take him to the doctor. Saint indeed...

NCmountainwoman said...

For some people, the faults they had when they were younger simply magnify when they get older. My M-I-L was the same. Nothing you could do was ever enough. We learned to do what is reasonable and comfortable for us and draw the line there. You are to be commended for helping this old goat.