Monday, May 1, 2017

Hits and Misses (April 24-30)

This week was completely colored by a single "miss" that I was dealing with, so for one week only (hopefully!), this post needs to take on a different format.  I think you'll see what I mean right away.  Without further ado, here's a look back at the week that was....


This week, I watched from afar as Mom dealt with a health crisis that was very frightening. As you read last week, Mom was rushed to the ER on Sunday afternoon with heart complications and was admitted to the hospital. EKGs, chest x-rays, and heart monitors revealed no complications with her heart; an x-ray of her kidneys, however, did reveal a problem. Due to a new diuretic medication, Mom had reached a critical level of dehydration. This explained the heart palpitations, dizziness, and headaches. After receiving some fluids and modifications to her medications, Mom was released and sent home on Monday afternoon.

On Wednesday, Mom returned to the hospital for a previously scheduled heart cath. The procedure went flawlessly and we were provided some answers....or so we thought. The heart cath revealed that there were no blockages and that the heart muscles themselves were in very good condition. The procedure was originally ordered when a echocardiogram indicated high pressure existed on the right side of her heart; while pressure was still slightly elevated, the cardiologist declared it was not at a level to cause concern. Mom remained in the hospital for a few hours to make sure there were no complications with the incision while the anesthesia wore off. (Here's an interesting side note for the medical types that read my posts -- I know you're out there! -- the heart cath was unable to access the left side of the heart due to a birth defect that we were already aware of. One of the valves into Mom's heart is actually on the wrong side of the heart, just slightly past center. This issue was not discovered until Mom was in her 70s, at which time the doctor determined that the trauma of correcting the placement would outweigh the benefits to her already strong heart.)

On Thursday afternoon, I received a text from my brother just after I exited stage for a student performance that informed me that Mom was on her way back to the ER with more complications. This time, the paramedics witnessed the fluctuations in Mom's heart rhythm and were able to report it to the doctors on call. Mom was treated for AFIB and placed on a medication to regulate her heartbeat and sent home.

Friday saw a return to the cardiologist for a follow-up. Dr. Kraus' intentions were to empower Mom with information and hopefully keep her from making an unnecessary trip to the ER if she could medicate and control the situation on her own. In essence, the cardiologist told Mom that she now knows what these heart palpitations feel like and how to confront them from home. He went on, however, to say that if she felt a "different" sensation in her chest, she should return to the ER for help. While that type of instruction would overwhelm me, it seems to have put Mom's mind at ease.

The entire week has been demanding on Mom's body, so she is incredibly weak and has required a lot of rest. I have spoken with her daily and have been encouraged to hear her improving and sounding more like herself with each passing day. What's ahead? Mom will be wearing a heart monitor for a month to see if we can determine just how often the irregularity occurs and if there are things that seem to cause the problem. I will finish my responsibilities for the year in west Texas next Monday and will hit the road to return home for the summer in order to put my own mind at ease and see for myself what's going on.
  • In spite of what has been going on at home, there have been some wonderful high points in the week as well. On Monday evening, the piano students presented a Chopin festival complete with great music, laughter, and pizza. This semester, Richard and I assigned most of our students a piece by Chopin to study. It's been a neat process as we have focused on a single composer's output as a studio, allowing students to learn more about his works while listening to the repertoire that their colleagues are playing. Personally, I got to revisit one of my favorite pieces from my undergraduate career -- Chopin's Polonaise in C Minor. It was great fun to dive into that boom bass melody and share the music with the WBU students. When I have a chance to return to the solo repertoire, I remember just how much I miss it sometimes. We are already getting ready for the Fall semester which will feature works by Haydn!
  • The final student performance of the semester for me was on Thursday afternoon. Caleb Barnett's lecture recital on Finzi's Let Us Garlands Bring was well done and a lot of fun to perform. While sitting on stage, I thought how differently my interpretation could have been if the situation with Mom had gone a different route; by letting myself think about this, I was able to visit some tough emotions that I think contributed to a emotionally driven performance. Immediately after finishing the performance, I heard that Mom's troubles were not yet over.....and I had to deal with those raw emotions. The performance had hit me a little harder than I thought.  Let's just say that Thursday night was interesting for a while.....
  • The end of the semester's classes could not have come at a better time for me. There are still tests to be given, but the daily routine is much less demanding for me at the moment.
  • While dealing with stress from home, I have been reminded just how blessed I am to be surrounded by my Wayland family. The care that I have received during a stressful week by colleagues, students, church members, and friends has been extremely comforting. Their gentle words and prayers have gone a long way to remind me that I am not alone while dealing with this family crisis. I am truly blessed.

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