The Bulldozer

Last night, just after midnight, I sunk into the vinyl recliner that sat by the large window in Sam's 4th floor hospital room.  Sam had finally closed his eyes.  I put my head back and thought about maybe falling asleep but then a wave of anxiety hit and there was no way I was going to find my way behind the fallen lids of my eyes.

So...I slipped on my sandals and headed to the stairs.  I ran all the way down the stairs, to the lowest parking level at the hospital and then I turned around and ran all the way up to the highest level of the hospital.  I did that twice...just running as fast as I could, away from all the emotions that threatened to overtake me.

When I got back to Sam's room, I stood by the window that overlooked the valley and watched the airplanes lined up to land at the airport.  They hung in the sky like paper lanterns that had forgotten where they were going.  I thought that it was a perfect analogy for how I was feeling last night.

The natural thing to feel for any normal family is..."Whew, well, that's behind us." And that would be followed by a sigh of relief and something normal would ensue.  I almost dared to think that but just like those airplanes, I can see the next big thing lined up behind us, dangling at the end of my long shadow.  There is no sigh of relief, no moving on to normal, no break, no chance to regroup.  It feels so exhausting and overwhelming.  There is no time for me to sit and just be.  Like a bulldozer that slams into concrete pylons like a hot knife in butter, I keep plowing on; on to the next thing needing to be attended to.

It hit me again, when pharmacy came in to explain meds and then 10 minutes later when the tech from Boston Scientific came in to 'Interrogate' his device.  With Sam laying on his back, they turned his heart rate clear over 100 bpm and then back down to 50 and dialed it back to 60.  Sam felt his heart racing, being remotely controlled by a man sitting beside his bed at a computer and then it seemed so surreal.  This surely can't be real...and then a woman came to run through the list of all the things Sam can and can't do for the next week, the next 4 weeks, the next rest of his life.  In between all the people coming and going with more instructions, more appointments, more requirements for our new life with a pacemaker, we both fell asleep and it felt like I had slept a month's worth in just 10 minutes.

Sam was discharged early afternoon but we are staying at a hotel so he can get on top of the pain for one more day before we travel home.  We had to make a stop for some things we needed and the guys at the register saw that Sam's left arm is tied to his body.
They said, "Dude!  Did you break your wrist or something?"
"Ahh, no. I...ahh...well...I just had surgery and can't move my arm."
"No way! Surgery on your wrist?"
"Ahh, no.  I had a pacemaker implanted in my heart."

Both young men stood still with a slacken jaw.  "What? Dude! No way! *cuss word* Man!  How old are you?"   At this point, somewhere between the 'Dude' and the cuss word, I wanted to scream and cry.
Sam replied, "19.  I'm 19"
"Oh shoot man.  So sorry.  That sucks but I guess you get to live.  That's something."

This is why I hate leaving my house.  I never realize, from day to day how rough things are until we become this staggering story of unbelief.  It's really hard to find my way back to denial after days like today.  These are the things that stop my bulldozing methods in their tracks.

Anyways, it was just a hard day.  They were already talking about the next surgery when his battery needs to be replaced.  We have to come back next week for a device check, get the stitches out and wound care.   Sam has been having some bad issues with controlling his body temperature.  He spent all of the night, last night, in a major sweat.  The nurse was doing everything she could to cool him down.  We had the air conditioning in his room cranked, ice packs, cool facecloths and he was so uncomfortable.  Today, it's been extreme hot then really cold.  I'm wondering if his autonomic nervous system is a little shocked at the new, increased heart rate?  The doctor wasn't exactly sure what to think, it's not a typical side effect.

Sam has also been having a hard time getting deep breaths and is having heart palpitations.  I'm trying to take this in stride.  I'm trying to be patient and let him get a couple more days of recovery behind him before I get too anxious.  Tomorrow, we will get the receiver set up at home and then they will be monitoring his heart 24/7 for forever!  That's a long time. We've been told that his heart is going to be going through lots of changes and scarring the wires into the tissue of his heart so I'm sure strange things are to be expected.

He's been a little depressed and I hate to say it but...cranky today.  He has been snapping at me and really short on patience.  I know he has been through so much.  When we were eating dinner, I said, "Sam, you can't just not talk.  I want to know how you are feeling about things.  You need to process this."
"I have processed this." He said
"I don't believe you." I told him
"I just can't.  I don't want to do this."
"I know but this is not going away.  It's not like your heart is going to mend and they will take it out in 6 weeks and you'll be good as new.  Your heart is being kept alive by a computer, for the rest of your life...and before the end of the year is up or early next year, you will be receiving someone else's donated plasma to keep your immune system going too.  We have to talk about this."
"I know but I can't.  Not yet." He said

We have some rough days ahead.  He can't even shower for one more week.  He can't bend his legs, lift any weight or exert himself in any way for another week.  After that, he can shower but no swimming, soaking etc.  He can't use his left arm for 4 weeks.  At night, he has to have his arm tied to the side of his body or the side of the bed.



  1. Oh my. He will get there. It's hard not to feel all the feels when everything is huge. I wonder if his body heat is just because of the fact that his blood is moving so much faster. I seriously doubt they have had to increase anyone's BPM by 33, so that's why its not so typical of a response. He'll catch up. <3


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