Six Days, 2 Cardiac Caths and a Ruptured Bladder

Image of Blocked Artery

Image of Blocked Artery

OK the last item is not exactly true–but close.

My mother-in-law loves to travel to “remote” and “rustic” places. Translation: God-forsaken destinations without a Four Seasons Hotel for hundreds of miles.

This week she had a trip planned to some national parks out west. My father-in-law was going along willingly–but not by much. After the 4 flights and 27 hours to get to their destination, they were to spend one week hiking and loving nature at 8000 feet. Translation: sweating their tails off for no good reason–we have trees here (not to mention a lovely Four Seasons.)

Aside: I really should not be the doctor of record for my family because I suck at remaining objective.

Just before they were to leave, I got a stress test report on Jim. Chris’ family has a horrific family history of heart disease so he has been under careful watch for years.

Despite the “low likelihood of ischemia” impression, something about this stress test did not sit well with me. A few sleepless nights and phone calls to cardiologist buddies later and Jim was all set up for a PVC aka: Pre Vacation Cath…”just to be safe.” I am not sure the patient was so keen on my jovial explanation.

Sandy and I sat together and chatted nervously. I had coffee from the Flavia machine after standing there for ten minutes trying to figure out how it worked. Finally, I was rescued by a lovely hospital employee. Sam not only made my cup, but she was also happy to point out that she reads my blog. After failing to shrink into the wall, I returned to my seat and the slide show of some lady’s grand children. As I smiled and nodded, I felt the entire staff of the cardiac center staring at me. Why, why did I have to write about my husband’s “junk?”

The predicted 45 minutes turned into an hour and 45 minutes. We heard aides telling other patients that the “first case ran long.”

Three blockages, one balloon, and one stent later and it was obvious that Jim would NOT be traveling to Montana. I believe only the 12 gauge catheter in his femoral artery kept him from jumping up and down.

It was agreed he would come stay at our house so that Sandy would not miss the opportunity of a lifetime to travel to Cow’s Bell, Montana (OK it is probably not called that but it’s pretty close.)

On his first full day with us, my phone was in overdrive.

The fifth call in one hour was from my father. He wanted me to phone in an anti-depressant. He had been feeling tired, unmotivated, and blue. He had not left the house in ten days.

A few carefully worded questions turned up that he had also had chest pain and had not been able to complete the 20 foot walk to his mailbox without stopping.

You. Must. Go. To. The. ER. I stammered.

I think I only really got worried when he said softly: “OK.”

What? He is not arguing?

Twenty-four hours later, I am on the road to New Jersey. The kids are in the back we are jamming out to Taylor Swift. Giddo is ok. He, too, had multiple blockages, balloons and stents but thankfully just in time. Another day and he could have had a fatal heart attack.

Our celebratory mood carries us nearly the entire one and a half hour ride. Meanwhile, the two coffees, three waters, and one frappe had made their way to my toddler-sized bladder.

I can’t really tell how close we are to the hospital by my stupid GPS. All I know is that I am about to tear my seat belt off and scream when I spot a Wawa.

Aside: Why does everything in NJ have to be ass-backwards? Where we come from, Wawas have lovely, large, and clean bathrooms.

I drag the kids in with me. I am not singing now, I am yelling. No! Mommy cannot wait until we get to the hospital. Mommy has to go RIGHT NOW!

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

A stealthy panoramic scan of the place and my heart sinks. There is no public restroom. But, I am desperate. I reach blindly for my smallest child and drag her to the store manager. Sheepishly I say “Sir, do you have a little-girl’s room?” He glances at the adorable “little girl” at my side. I wish she would hop around a little for effect but she doesn’t understand that she is a decoy.

We are led through the swinging door to the back. We pass a small desk littered with empty coffee cups, a half eaten egg sandwich, and time sheets. The computer is circa 1984. My heart is pounding at what lies behind the employee bathroom door. But I am desperate. Finally, the door shuts behind us. I already have my belt undone when I see Haddie happily skipping over to the toilet and plopping down on it.

No…honey it’s ok. You go ahead. Mommy is ok. No. I am not really crying.
Just hurry up now.

Aside: If you wait too long, it becomes necessary to sit, stand, wiggle, and squirm to ultimately release your full-to-near-rupture bladder. Trust me. Don’t let it go that far.

25 minutes later, I am reminding myself to be more sensitive to men with enlarged prostates when I see Maisy glaring at me from the behind a bag of Funyons. “Mom!” She whispers. “Look around!” Everyone in here is in scrubs! The hospital is right there….”

Sure enough directly across the street was our final destination. No doubt that hospital, where my father lay patiently awaiting his grandchildren, had plenty of lovely, large, and clean “big-girl rooms”–no decoy required.


  1. Anne Kutzr says:

    Sorry to hear of all the health problems. I still end up laughing no matter what you are talking about Hope both are doing well.

  2. I hope both fathers are ok. Boy what a week! Hope you found some rest in there too!

  3. jen finley says:

    I too have a “toddler size bladder” so I feel your pain :-)

  4. Now that they are back on the grid (have cell coverage), it sounds like they are having a good trip and celebrated my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary yesterday. Knowing Jim, he probably planned the whole ‘heart thing’ ages ago! :). Glad to hear your dad is ok.

  5. Wow – sounds like you had your hands full – glad to hear that both Dad’s are fine. Unfortunately – I know what you are talking about and feel blessed that Bob also made it to the hospital in time. I am happy to report that we walked over five miles today (three months after surgery) and no exhaustion or shortness of breath.

    • Thank Goodness for that Rose!! It’s all about timing isn’t it. Funny…my dad really thought his “other” symptoms were due to something he ate…horrible heart burn. Lessons to learn for all huh?

  6. Marilyn Clarke says:

    I will keep both your father and father-in-law in my thoughts and prayers! I absolutely laugh out loud as I read your blog! You always put such a great spin on everything! I definitely love what you have to say!!!!

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