Monday, September 1, 2014

9th Hour

The Ninth Hour
We arrived at the hospital later than we had planned, closer to 9:00 than to 8:30. We’d missed the Callowhill Exit off I-95 North and ended up all the way on Lehigh, working our way through Kensington and finally to Broad Street.

“We’ll make it on time,” my daughter assured me as I sneaked a peek at my watch.

“More time to pray,” I said. But, truthfully, I was concerned. I wanted to see my husband before they took him for the abalation, wanted to hold his hand and kiss him one more time. Ron’s condition had deteriorated since Thursday, when his blood-pressure bottomed out during his scheduled ketamine treatment. Since then, his heart had been in AFib, and the blood thinners were not working. I wanted to be optimistic—I made a career of it—but I couldn’t help but wonder if this was finally the end of the story.

Friends had assured me for the last two days that I had done all I could for my husband, being a model wife and care-giver to my ill spouse. “You have nothing to feel guilty about,” they all said. I needed to hear it. I’d only lately come to the realization myself. Negative influences had, for years, blamed me for Ron’s various maladies and even though I knew the accusations were not true, some of the barbs stuck. In the last few months, though, I had finally crawled out from under the burden of guilt that I had carried for 14 years.

“Ron has been ill for a long time,” friends told me. “It’s been hard.  It might be time to let go.”

“Might” and “will be” are two different statements. As much as I’d longed over the years to come to a  page marked, “The End”, I had always seen it as an end to Ron’s illness, not his life.

“Dad’ll be okay,” my daughter said as she maneuvered us towards Hahnemann Hospital. They were the same words she had said the night of her father’s accident. “He won’t leave us without a fight.” I nodded my head in agreement, remembering how Ron, ill and in pain, had nonetheless danced with his daughter on her wedding day in June. It had been hard, I knew. Perhaps, I forced myself to admit, he was tired of fighting.

We got to the hospital shortly before 9AM and found a space in the Feinstein lot, a blessing to two gals who hated city parking. It was a short walk to the hospital entrance, each of us carrying a tote bag of yarn projects. We’d logged enough hours in waiting rooms to know the drill of unexpected complications.

“Everyone we know is praying,” Bonnie reminded me as we ascended to the 20th floor. We counted off four churches and one synagogue where people were gathered this morning, more than 200 persons. Bonnie and I had made phone calls to prayer chains at 8PM last night, when information from Hahnemann informed us of Ron’s deteriorating condition and the need for the heart procedure.

I’d been to 2056 before, but hospitals are a rabbit warren of mazes; it took us a few minutes to find Ron’s room. He was sleeping when we entered, hooked to various wires and monitors. It was an all-too familiar sight.

“He looks better,” I said as I touched his cheek. “His color has improved.” Bonnie took her father’s hand. Ron’s eyes opened.

“Hi, “  I said. “We made it. Even though Bonnie got us lost.”

“Not lost,” said my daughter. “Delayed. But I made up for it by speeding.”

Just then, two white-coated figures entered the room. “Ah, you made it on time,” said Dr. Fletcher, a man I had met on Friday. “We’re getting him ready for the procedure now.” He bent over the telemetry machine to read the tape. “Hmmm” he said. He looked up and smiled.

“What?” I asked.

“Well,” said Dr. Fletcher,” it appears that Mr. Cobourn’s heart has converted to normal rhythm. The blood thinners must have worked.”

Bonnie and I grinned at each other. “We had everyone we know praying,” we said. “His heart had a lot of help.”

Dr. Fletcher smiled. “Perhaps the blood thinners AND prayer did the trick. Well, I’ll go call the OR and cancel.”  He and his white-coated companion left.

“I feel better,” said Ron.

“A lot of prayer,” I said. The three of us chatted for a few minutes. Ron was anxious for some breakfast now that there would be no surgery.

Dr. Fletcher poked his head back into the room. “I checked the tape again,” he said. “When did you ladies say all the prayer happened?”

“Around 8 last evening,” we said.

Dr. Fletcher grinned. “His heart rhythm began to convert around 9PM.”

The power of prayer is never to be underestimated. “God still has a plan for you,” I told my husband. Bonnie began to send out happy texts to our prayer warriors.

“Well, my plan,” he said, “is to eat.”

We still have issues to solve. The blood thinner lowers Ron’s blood pressure, but his heart might need the help. And while the ketamine treatments seem to help the pain issues, they affect his blood pressure, too.
But these are issues for another day.

Because, thanks to God, there will be another day.

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