Kim, the chaplain, and I

Tuesday April 17, 2018. Kim and Dad were in the ICU with mom. I’d gone to work. I got a text at 10am and I’m not sure how I made it to the hospital through the panic pooling in my eyes. Mom started with what looked like a seizure, and the nurse who now never left her room had run over and dropped his fist on her chest. Half the medical staff on the floor converged on Mom within seconds, and Kim and Dad huddled in the corner having been shoved out of the way. Someone yelled, “Clear!” and they got a regular beat back. She’d v-fibbed, which is a fancy way to say the heart electricity and rhythm were messed up. They unhooked dozens of machines and wheeled her out. We didn’t know anything else. Kim and Dad were ushered to the waiting room and a chaplain sat with them. That’s how I found them. Freaking the fuck out. Hours later they brought Mom back, sedated and with a bigger, whirlier heart pump. She’d coded on their way to the cath lab, and a lady did CPR for forty-five minutes before she came back. We couldn’t excite her because she needed to heal, so we had to be quiet and soothing. They discussed an artificial heart, since a transplant with her rare blood type could take years. She couldn’t answer for herself now. I stupidly still thought she’d make it.

Wednesday April 18, 2018. I gave up on work. At 6:30am I sat reading to Mom. Dad was napping in his car. The swarm of doctors stood yapping at the foot of her bed. They left us alone, me and the now two full-time nurses assigned to Mom. And thank the fuck they were there, because Mom v-fibbed. I completely froze. People emerged out of the cracks in the floor to help, jostling me. Someone yelled, “Clear,” and that’s when I noticed I couldn’t see through my tears. Probably for the best. Someone grabbed my shoulders and took me across the hall, where I could still see her room, and where another chaplain awaited. I ignored him and dialed Kim, who’d been at Mom’s bedside all night and was trying to sleep. I sobbed into the phone and eventually we just sat in silence—Kim, the chaplain, and I—while I stared at her room until they took her away. This time when they brought her back, she was in a medically-induced coma.

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