7: Mom Knows Best

7: Mom Knows Best

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Messages from Heaven

Mom Knows Best

Faith is not without worry or care, but faith is fear that has said a prayer.

~Author Unknown

I lowered myself to the bathroom floor. The linoleum stuck to my knees while I steadied myself against the wall. I found the pills under the sink and forced handfuls of antacids into my mouth. The pain became more violent.

It was 1 a.m. and too late to call Dr. Hughes again. When I talked to him earlier, he thought it was gas pains.

“It’s not uncommon after abdominal surgery. It can be pretty uncomfortable,” Dr. Hughes had said.

“Ten days later?”

“Yes. Call me back if it gets worse. Come see me tomorrow.”

I went downstairs and waited for the agony to subside. My husband, John, had to go to work in a few hours. Why disturb him now?

When I reached the living room, I collapsed into the recliner. Some invisible force held me to the chair — I couldn’t move. I tried to call out, but no sound came. Then a flood of warmth and love spread through me and I no longer felt fear — I knew it was my mom. She had died eight years ago, but I often felt her presence — tonight, stronger than ever. Mom communicated but not in words. It was as if her thoughts transferred to mine.

“Tell Dr. Hughes you’ve got blood clots.”

 

•••

John found me resting in the recliner in the morning. “You’re white as a ghost,” he said.

“I need the doctor, but I can’t get to the phone.”

He brought me the cordless. “Let’s call an ambulance.”

“No, I have to see Dr. Hughes,” I insisted, and waited for the doctor’s office to answer. “Great, their message says they don’t open till nine. Help me get dressed. I want to be ready when I reach them.”

Nine o’clock brought more bad news.

“Dr. Hughes is in surgery until 1 p.m.,” his nurse said.

“I talked with him last night. He said to come in today.” I tried to keep my voice calm.

“Come in at noon.

We’ll work you in.” And she disconnected. “We can go right away?” John asked, grabbing his coat.

“No. Not until noon. They’ll work me in.”

“You’d better believe they’ll work you in. Shouldn’t we just head to the hospital?”

“I have to see Dr. Hughes. Besides, I’m feeling a little better.”

“What do you think is wrong?”

“I’m afraid to tell you. . . ”

He wouldn’t let me finish. “You know you can tell me anything.” John sat on the arm of my chair.

“You’ll think I’ve lost my mind. I’m not so sure I haven’t.”

“I’ll decide for myself.” He stroked my hair and looked straight into my eyes.

“I have blood clots. At least that’s what Mom told me last night.”

“I believe you. And your mom. Now I know we need to get to the hospital right away.”

“No. Mom said I need to tell Dr. Hughes.”

 

•••

An extremely shaken nurse helped me to an examining room.

“Why didn’t you tell me on the phone how serious this was?”

I knew I was in trouble when I couldn’t lie back on the table. A bed of nails would’ve felt better.

Dr. Hughes finished early in surgery and rushed in to see me.

“I thought I told you not to go home and go to bed after surgery,” he scolded me while he listened to my chest. “You’ve got yourself an old-fashioned case of pneumonia from inactivity after surgery.”

“But I haven’t been in bed. We’ve got a two-story house and my office is in the basement,” I protested. “I’ve been working part-time since my first day home.”

“That may be true, but you still have pneumonia. I’ll order an X-ray to be sure, but we’ll send you home with antibiotics. You’ll be good as new in a few days.”

 

•••

“Yep, pneumonia,” Dr. Hughes said as he attached the film to the illuminated light box.

“I don’t have pneumonia,” I insisted. “I have blood clots.”

“Are you a doctor?”

“No. My mom told me to tell you I have blood clots.”

“Is she a doctor?” He asked with a wry smile. “No. She’s been dead for eight years.”

He just stared at me with his hand on his chin. Then he made a phone call.

“I’ve got someone I need you to see. Her X-ray shows pneumonia. She’s ten days post-op from abdominal surgery. But she’s sure it’s blood clots. I think we need to consider it.”

Within minutes, I was in the Nuclear Medicine Department with radioactive dye forced through a vein in my arm.

“We’ll know in about an hour or so,” the tech said.

John pushed me in a wheelchair to the waiting area. After what seemed like an eternity, a dark-haired doctor in thick black glasses knelt down beside me. He reached over and gently clasped his hand on mine.

“Mrs. Hall, I’m Dr. Goheen. Dr. Hughes called and asked me to take a look at your test results. You have three blood clots in your lungs. I think there may be a nest of them ready to move at any time.”

My body went numb. John stepped closer and put his hand on my shoulder. I took a deep breath.

“What do we do?” I asked.

“I’m sending you to the ER first,” the doctor said. “You’ll be staying with us for a week or so in intensive care. We’ll evaluate from there.”

A nurse took control of the wheelchair and John followed. An eager team greeted us. I traded my chair for a green-draped gurney and they set to work. An array of machines attached to my chest and arms kept rhythm with beeps and blips. The smell of alcohol swabs preceded countless blood draws. The technician labeled them STAT and disappeared through the curtains. Things moved so quickly my emotions didn’t have time to process the severity of the situation.

“You’re very lucky,” said the nurse. “Your blood gasses are normal, your heart rate is fine, you’re not short of breath, and your chest X-ray could be mistaken for pneumonia.” He read the latest printout from my heart monitor. “You’ve got silent blood clots with no symptoms. They’re easily overlooked and fatal. You’ve got a sharp doctor to catch these. He saved your life,” the nurse said and called for transport upstairs.

“Strict bed rest,” the intensive care nurse instructed, and started IV blood thinner through the automated pump attached to my left hand. “Pretend you’re glued to those sheets. The doctor doesn’t want those blood clots moving around. They’ve done enough damage,” she said and adjusted the oxygen tubes in my nose. “I’ve got something here to help you sleep.”

“Just be still and pray for morning,” a voice intoned in my head.

 

•••

The clatter of breakfast trays awakened me. I’d survived the night. Later, Dr. Hughes stopped by. “Just passing through but I wanted to know if your mom had anything else she thought I should know about?”

~Carolyn Hall

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