Friday, September 15, 2017


I remember when my children were little, and they were sick, my world got very small. Everything but their misery ceased to matter. I realize now what a luxury that was, that I could be relatively assured whatever ailed my babies, they would in all probability get well again, and the rest of the world would be allowed to reassert itself.

My world is small again, this time because the man I love has gone through a tremendous health ordeal, and his body is actively healing. My sister in law, a cardiologist, reminded me yesterday that recovery from open heart surgery is a squiggly line, not straight up. It helps to think of it that way, so I'm not too undone by the nurse practitioner telling us to come to hospital right away so she can do an EKG to check that my man's speeding heart is not in A-fib, which thankfully it was not, and so she sent us home again, with instructions to stop the medicine to raise his blood pressure and instead fill a prescription for a new medicine to lower his heart rate.

Today, it's about the number on the scale, which is somewhat higher than at the start of the week. It would be just a pesky detail for most of us, but for a cardiac patient it means a water pill gets added to the mix for five days and then we check in with the nurse practitioner again. She's feisty older Irish woman, and she scolded my man roundly for not taking his pain meds.

"We're not just giving out candy here," she said, exasperated. "We don't want you to be in pain because it stresses your body while you heal. That's why your heart is beating so dang fast. Trust me, you don't get any ribbons for having a hundred pain pills left at the end. Sheesh, you remind me of my father."

"I'll take that as a compliment," my husband said in his raspy whisper, his eyes dancing as they do.

NP O'Malley cocked an eyebrow at him, unable to hold in her smile.

"Well, yeah," she said grudgingly, "but it's a very thick compliment."

Those were some of the squiggles this week. On the up side, the physical therapist just left and while she was here she showed my husband how to propel himself up from the chair with less pain and greater efficiency, and how to get in and out of bed without putting undue stress on his sore heart and still knitting breast bone. "A Eureka moment," he said, beaming. It's so simple when you know the tricks.

So yes, my world has contracted, this time without the rock solid assurances I recall feeling in the past. In their place are prayers and purpose and hope and belief in the will of this man and the intelligence of his body as it heals and heals and heals.

Our daughter wrote corny jokes on her dad's heart pillow, the one they gave him in the hospital to hold against his chest to cushion his incision when he coughs. One of the jokes in particular had our girl giggling all day. What does a nosy pepper do? Get jalapeño business. Man, that tickled her funny bone. "A whole internet of jokes and that's the one that grabbed you?" her boyfriend inquired, more amused by her than the joke. "But it's funny!" she insisted, and was off giggling again. From his hospital bed, sick as he still was that day, her dad smiled at his delightfully silly girl.


  1. Thinking of you there enduring and endearing. Love

  2. Are you taking care of yourself, Angella? We don't want you getting sick either. Be good to yourself as well. xo

  3. He is in good hands. Yours and so many others. I love his NP just on your report. And dammit- I tell people that too about the pain meds! Pain makes healing slower!
    Stubborn husbands!
    Loving you and loving you and loving you. Kisses to you both.


  4. You are doing so much, understanding, learning, watching. I am thinking of you. Take good care.

  5. Hope all turns out great in the end, greetings and best wishes.

  6. Our surgeon phrased it as "the arc of recovery is curvilinear." Boy howdy that is the truth.

  7. I'm so glad that he surrounded by love. I hope his recovery is a quick squiggly line up! My thought are with you and your family.

  8. The unknowns of this healing process has to be the most difficult. I'm glad you have some terrific nurses and physical therapists to help demystify and guide the healing process. Sounds like they have now proven themselves invaluable and your husband is listening to their good advise. Good progress and healing is in the wings. Humor is key and your daughter is great medicine! She made me laugh too. Susan

  9. That joke made me giggle, too, and even harder imagining your daughter loving it. I am so relieved that things are progressing and just feel certain that with all the love you have going on there, any squiggle downs will be temporary. I remember reading when President Clinton had surgery that men often get depressed when they come out of heart surgery -- I'm going to try to find that article. Here's to hoping that silly jokes and time and patience keep everyone going --

  10. The heart pillow! I remember it well from my Mom's heart surgery. I'm happy to know he's doing well. Ups, downs all arounds. The road to wellness is slippery. Hang in there Sweet girl! XXOO

  11. The details of recovery are truly minute by minute. We hardly ever think of our hearts, and yet this... each beat a consideration of the efforts of life and love. We have been thinking of you and your husband. I know he knows of all the love coming his way.

  12. Sounds like things are moving along and your husband is surrounded by you all helping.

  13. One day at a time -- easier to say than to really grasp, but well worth grasping. It sounds like your husband has some very good medical people helping him.

    I am impressed with the physio people (both yours and the ones I've dealt with in my and my dad's lives) - they really know how the body works and seem to have basically optimistic and cheery natures - it's all about getting better, with them; no matter how hard the current situation is, they are about making the most of things.

    Anyway, keep on keeping on, one day at a time ...

  14. Love the creativity that produced the heart pillow as a tool and a comfort. Love the way your daughter added her giggles to the mix healing energy. So many hearts involved in this healing process. Love the way you write so clearly from your heart.