Friday, April 20, 2007
My mother did have her pre-surgery stress test today. After the procedure, the cardiologist came into her room and told her that there's some calcification on her aortic valve, which increases the risk of the surgery. He's going to talk to her vascular surgeon; she may need another test, which would delay the surgery, but she's scared of doing that because the aneurysm's gotten bigger even since the most recent CT.
She was crying as she told me all this. She's scared that the surgery will kill her, but she absolutely needs the surgery, because if she doesn't have it, the aneurysm will kill her. I reminded her that she's survived long odds her entire life -- beginning when she was five and her appendix ruptured -- and she agreed with me. But she's scared anyway.
I asked her again if she wants me to fly in for the surgery; she pointed out that we don't even know when it will be, and that planning for an out-of-town arrival would increase my sister's stress. "And if you were here, we'd only cry, anyway."
She had a nice visit from a doctor who's a family friend, but that was before she knew about the increased risk. She also told me that when she was in the hall waiting for the test, she saw someone who looked uncannily like my aunt, Mom's brother's wife, who died this past June. The woman saw Mom looking at her and stopped to say hello. "She was the chaplain! I told her that you were a chaplain. She was Lutheran. We had a nice chat, and she asked if she could pray with me." Mom's usually mortified by people praying for or over her, but this time, she said okay. "It was a little long, but it was nice. At the end, I almost cried, not because of what she said, but because I appreciated the thought."
I asked my mother if she remembered the chaplain's name. She didn't. After I got off the phone with her, I called the hospital switchboard to see if I could find the chaplain and ask her to go talk to Mom again. The operator told me that the hospital only has volunteer community chaplains, and paged any chaplain who was in the building, but no one answered. The chaplain who prayed with my mother must already have left.
I tried calling the hospital's volunteer office: no answer. I can't find a listing for a pastoral-care or spiritual-care office. So at this point, I'm stumped and frustrated.
My sister hasn't heard the news yet, but I'm sure she'll be going to see Mom this evening.
I'm going to go to the health club and swim. I don't know what else to do, and swimming is a prayer meditation for me, anyway.