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Used to work for AVIVA offshoring IT to India.  Now retired through ill health, writing my life story as a series of blogs chronologically from birth to current time.  At www.jw-alifeofsurprises.blogspot.com

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

My Mum and her Myocardial Infarction!

Further to http://jw-alifeofsurprises.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/journey-into-darkness.html,

I composed myself and had another discussion with Doctor Braniff about mum’s condition and what the next few weeks and months may hold.  I explained that mum was here on holiday, had been here only a week and was due to fly home early August.  That was no longer the plan as he explained that she would be in hospital for at least a week, would not be able to travel back to the Bay Area for at least another 3 weeks, and only after a series of tests at the Cardiologists offices.  As all Health Care in the USA is private and insurance cover is vital, I knew I had to get hold of the CO-OP back in the UK and start the ball rolling on her insurance.  First and foremost I had to call my family back home.

It was 06:00 in Santa Barbara, the sun was up.  In the UK it was 13:00 and the only number I had in my head was my sister Helen’s.  I called her number and David her husband answered the phone.  This was good, as I did not want to speak directly to Helen as Dave could take care of her, and once sorted, she could contact Mark, Richard and Julian.  All went well with David and I left him to deal with Helen and the boys.  It transpired that my oldest brother Mark had been in Boston Massachusetts only recently, with business.
Dr Braniff explained that mums heart had stopped quite a few times and that her heart was being damaged little by little as she ignored the pains and shortness of breath.  The right hand side of her heart, the Right Ventricle has artery’s supplying blood to it.  A number of these had become blocked, interrupting blood flow and resulting in that area of the heart muscle dying, thus causing a Myocardial Infarction (Heart Attack).  He would be carrying out tests and scans over the coming days, and where possible addressing particular problems by means of angiograms.  Phew!

As mum was asleep and resting he advised us to do the same, so we jumped into the Shelby and drove with Tammy’s mum Sandra, to their Hotel.  The staff and management at the Hotel greeted us at reception and advised that we could stay free of charge for two days until we had sorted out accommodation elsewhere, or could then pay for our rooms.  They were worried for mum and were very kind, and I will always be grateful to them, http://www.fessparkersantabarbarahotel.com/

Sandra went off to her room and we checked into two rooms, a single for Mark and a double for Tammy and me.  We slept and met for a light lunch by the pool as we planned the next steps.
Sandra came to join us, as did her sisters who were staying with Mum and Sandra.  It then transpired that on the night of mums attack, the sisters had been arguing in mum’s room, she was sharing with Sandra, and on the balcony.  By all accounts these women had been screaming at one another and mum had got upset and stressed as apparently the sisters were really going at it.  She had gone back into the room and laid on her bed, Sandra then went into the room a few minutes afterwards and found mum spark out on the bed.  She had called reception, who called the paramedics.

The hotel manager got to mum first and carried out CPR, followed by the paramedics who were there very quickly, revived mum again and then put her in the ambulance, where she was shocked with a defibrillator again and again.  I was angry with the sisters but held back as it was not going to help mum, they had their own problems and guilt to deal with I supposed.  We went to visit mum and sat by her bed for some while until she awoke.  Her first words as always were “What are you doing here?” followed closely by, “I must look terrible!” and “does my hair look ok?”  All that was missing was “does my bum look big in this?”

I had collected a few of her toiletries from the hotel and brushed her hair and washed her face and hands.  She told me her version of events as best she could remember and recalled the shocks from the defibrillator and the arguments between the women.  She told me that when she was in the ambulance and the ER, that she was aware of what was happening and saw he “legs fly up off the bed with each jolt”.  Obviously, that does not happen in reality, but it reflects her own view that she knew she was being shocked back to life and how it felt.

Later I called her insurers and reported the facts, they set up a claim and I then spoke to my brother Mark, who had decided that he would come out to see mum and be with me.  The Cavalry was on its way!!
Helen also wanted to come but given the time constraints and family matters along with accessing a visa from the Embassy, decided against it, but was very disappointed.  I suspect all of my brothers and Helen wanted to be there.  The next few days was all about seeing mum and finding a new hotel, as the Red Lion was beyond the insurer’s budget.  We decided on the Holiday Inn and moved there.  We then moved to the Days Inn (or what is now the Day Inn and Suites), on State Street.  My friend Mark and Tammy had to get back to work and get Bobs Dodge Shelby back to him as well.  Mum had a balloon angioplasty procedure and we were told that a large part of her heart muscle was dead and would not recover, but the rest of her heart was fine and doing well.

My brother Mark arrived on Friday 1st July and stayed for a week.  He had flown American Airlines via Houston Texas and San Francisco and we met him at Santa Barbara airport.  I was really pleased to see him as the week had been stressful and his support and help was great to have.  Mum was progressing well and Mark wanted to see her.  First of all though, having travelled for about 18 hours in total, he needed a wash, shower, shave and a sleep.  Mum would not be impressed if he turned up looking like a shower of shit.

After some rest, a coffee and light meal we set off to the hospital.  I told Mark the news and brought him up to date, including the fact that Lloyds Bank had agreed to give us access to Mums credit card (nice) and that the Insurers had agreed to cover all out of pocket expenses for us (even nicer) and onward for mum and I once Mark had returned home (most nice).  Mum was still in Intensive Care when we arrived and she looked up as we went into her room and said “What are you two doing her?”  Typical and not unexpected!

Mark and Tammy headed back to the Bay Area on the Saturday, leaving Mark and I in the Holiday Inn.  Once Tammy and Mark had departed, we had to decide what we would do apart from visiting mum.  We were allowed to visit mornings before 10am and afternoons and evenings after 5pm.  So we decided, as any right minded person would, to travel around the area, taking in the sights.  I treated it more as a reconnaissance mission, as I would find places to take mum to once she was discharged.  Mark treated it as a holiday!

Each day we would turn up to mum’s bedside, give her the news etc, and then she would ask where we were going that day.  Days out included; Universal Studios LA, Rodeo Drive and Hollywood, The Beach Malibu, The Beach at UCLA Santa Barbara, and Solvang the Danish village in the wine country, as well as State Street Santa Barbara, the Pier and Boardwalk..   Each day, exhausted from our adventures, we’d report back on the day’s events, taking her treats and souvenirs Mark had purchased to take home to Monica and his kids, Michelle, Jason and Ben.

Mark and Monica taken more recently

Mark was like a man possessed.  He really entered into the California Lifestyle, as far as the eating, drinking and enjoying yourself was concerned.  Except that Mark also stayed resolutely British in his dress sense, including long socks with trainers and shorts (No!!) and tucking his t-shirt into his trousers (still does).  I attempted to walk a few steps behind on a number of occasions and on others pretended I had a simpleton brother with me.
Not Mark but a work of art
Many people took pity on him and offered to get him trainer socks, but he wouldn't budge.  Even mum turned away once when a vision in orange shorts, blue socks, white trainers and yellow t-shirt appeared at her door and she asked for the curtains to be drawn around her bed, lest others see her with him.

Mark has an intolerance to Limes, so on our first night out after Tammy and Mark Cameron had departed, we went to an amazing Mexican Restaurant on the seafront called El Torito.  http://eltorito.com/about.asp.  Mark went for the strawberry Margarita and I had the traditional Lime variety, salt rim glasses and blended, not on the rocks.  We had a tasting platter and Chimichangas all round and at some point Mark and I had Tequila shots and he had the lime slice to suck.
Next day, well all I can say is that this clip sums it up. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4la47SzTzSc

Whilst in town it was Independence Day and we wound up at the top end of State Street at what is now Carlitos Cafe and Cantina.  It had a large car park out front and a tree filled with lights, so in the evening it looked really welcoming and was full, also a good thing.  We spent some time drinking, chatting to various people and this guy tagged along as we moved from bar to bar.  As we were walking he stopped and said he wanted to go to his room to get some money. We waited in reception and he rang down and asked to speak to Mark.  He asked Mark if we wanted to go up to his room to take some coke, at which point Mark said he was a Detective from the Police in the UK and that he was under arrest!  We walked out sharpish as he hung up and did not see him again.

Mark was keen to get Ben a Baseball Catcher’s Mitt, so we found a sports outlet on State Street and he got what he wanted along with a few baseballs.  We crossed over the road and went into a small alleyway that led to some outdoor seating for a small cafe’ bar.  We sat down and ordered a couple of beers.  Next door was a Tobacco and Cigar Shop, selling anything and everything to do with tobacco.  Being a cigar smoker meant Mark was naturally inquisitive and we both went into the store for a look around.

Mark got himself some cigars and we left ad went back to our beers.  Beers downed, we picked up our gear and went back to State Street.  Only then did Mark say “where is the bag with the Mitt?”  He’d left it under the table.  We dashed back down the alleyway and with most stories like this, it was gone, in fact it was probably taken whilst we looked at cigars.  So back across the street, into the sports shop and a new Mitt and baseballs were purchased.  Mark was spitting feathers.

We had a few more days together including an unforgettable trip to Solvang, the Danish village, which I will tell about in the next blog.  Bye for now.

1 comment:

  1. Comment from your lovely sister, Helen:

    Very good Johnny, especially Mark's post-lime experience. I haven't seen that clip before so it made me laugh out loud!

    I remember David telling me about Mum and me sliding down the wall in our hallway. It was terrible, but if she was ever going to have a heart attack, she was in the best place to have one I suppose.