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WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

How do you cope with knowing a beloved parent is having potentially serious medical issues?

Asked by WillWorkForChocolate (23132points) March 29th, 2012

I just got a call that my mother has been having heart trouble and has “abnormal EKG results”. A heart cath procedure is planned. I’m totally wrecked right now and can’t frikkin think straight.

They’re not doing the heart cath for a few days and I don’t know how to keep functioning properly in the meantime.

How do you “keep on keepin’ on” when you’re on pins and needles, waiting to hear what the next step is?

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26 Answers

Aethelwine's avatar

Try to stay positive as best as you can. Worrying doesn’t do any good. I’m kind of in the same situation as you, waiting to find out what is next for my mother. She just found out last week that she has a small, malignant tumor in her breast.

Hang in there!

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Oh God, I’m sorry to hear that.

I should also mention that she’s only 55, which freaks me out even more.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

It’s a balance of staying positive and being realistic. It’s an awful situation to be in, and your mom needs the strength of her loved ones to work through this. Most likely, her lifestyle will change, and this seems to be the hardest thing for older people to accept. Hang in there friend. Your mother needs your strength at this time.

john65pennington's avatar

Stay focused on your lifestyle and say a comforting prayer for your mother.

It will and does help.

muppetish's avatar

One of the hardest things is going about your normal routine, but it’s almost necessary for your sanity. Sometimes, it’s best to keep yourself distracted from any haunting questions, sentiments of guilt, or worries.

My dad was in hospital around Christmas two years ago. We almost lost him, but now everything is A-OK. His health has improved tremendously. It was a huge wake-up call for all of us. I will keep both your mothers in my thoughts, truly.

SpatzieLover's avatar

This was typical in my family for about 2 decades of my life with my mom’s parents. We were extremely close with both of them. How we got through all of the various cardiac related issues was one test at a time.

My grandma had open heart surgery in the mid- 1970’s (prior to this being a main stream procedure). We took that one day at a time, too.

Go to all of her appointments if you can. That way you won’t hear the pertinent info second hand (which tends to be wrong, as parents have a tendency to down play). Be there for her. Try to remain calm.

Do you have siblings @WillWorkForChocolate? If so, you may want to hash out a plan for helping to clean your mom’s house and make some meals so she isn’t doing too much right now.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@SpatzieLover Oh, she’s only 55, and quite capable of “doing for herself”, in fact I think it would freak her out more if I started hanging out and trying to do things for her. Even if she does need help with something, my dad’s there to give her a hand.

SpatzieLover's avatar

My grandma was about the same age when they diagnosed her heart condition. She was in her early 60’s when they finally decided open heart was the way to go with her.

My mom and her siblings had to step in (per doctors orders). My grandma wanted zero help. After the cath, you may need to, depending on the outcome.

On grandma’s side of the family, her dad and a brother died very early due to the same heart issues that went undetected (until death). Luckily now, these types of conditions are detected are resolved quickly.

Whatever is going on with your mom, I hope the solution is simple and makes her feel well fast.

In between EKGs and Caths, we’d play Gin Rummy. ;) I kid you not. We’d play the time away.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I wuvs you and am sorry you are in pain :( I passes you a chocolate and a big hug!

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Awwwwww, I wuvs you too.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Find out a little bit about her condition, either by research or talking with a medical professional, so you know what to worry about and what not to worry about. There’s no use in buying trouble. Support her and your father as much as you can and lean on your family too. My mother had open heart surgery to repair a valve. When she wasn’t doing well I went to my Aunt that was a nurse. She confirmed our thoughts and went with us the see the doctors. That helped a lot.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Thanks guys, really. Maybe tomorrow will be better, I just haven’t been able to focus on anything today. I barely paid attention to my daughter’s gymnastics class, and I decided to pick up Sonic for dinner instead of trying to cook and end up burning the place down.

I keep trying to call my mom, to see if she needs anything, but she’s not answering. Perhaps she’s not in the mood to talk to anyone.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate Stay as calm as you can and stay strong. Take care of your family. Modern medicine does incredible things. My grandfather had a heart attack when I was a kid. They put him in a hospital bed for a few weeks.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Oh, I’m not panicking or anything like that, I’m just in a total fog right now. I’ve been smoking for 20 years yes I know it’s awful… and I totally forgot to pick up cigarettes while I was out, does that tell you how scatterbrained I am? ;)

And yeah, I watched my dad (stepdad) go through a heart attack recently, but it’s just not supposed to happen to my mom. She always eats healthy foods, she takes vitamins and supplements, she exercises religiously….. she’s not supposed to have problems like this, you know? I know that doesn’t make logical sense, but it’s how it feels.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate You’re worrying. Try to think positive. Yeah I know easy to say. I know the feeling.

JLeslie's avatar

I agree with @Adirondackwannabe. What exactly are the doctors suspicious of, and worst case scenerio what is the treatment and prognosis. Heart matter frequently are treatable. Although, of course it is very understandably scary for you and your mom.

My dad had heart bypass at the age of 46, when they went to use his mammory artery it was two blocked and so they had to go to the leg vein to add the bypass around the heart arteries. It confirmed he was blocking up everywhere probably. The doctor told us he would likely have problems again within in 10 years because people who are this blocked in their arteries this young just gather up the stuff too readily. Anyway, after bypass he was like new. He had never suffered a heart attack, he went to the doctor because of shortness of breath symptoms, so his heart was strong. He is 68 now. He does have some slight symptoms the last few years, leg pain, and he did have to have one of the major arteries in his neck closed off because it was so blocked, but basically he is really good.

I could tell you many stories of heart problems being resolved or lived with for many years without major difficulty. Of course I don’t know your mom’s specific situation. And, also stories of suspected heart trouble winding up to be nothing major at all.

I remember one Q a woman’s mom had to go through a heart angiogram, and I gave my usual argument it was her thyroid, she was a graves disease patient, and extremely overmedicated. They thought for sure her heart angio would show something. It was completely negative, and they determined it likely was her thyroid way out of control.

Aethelwine's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate Just look at everything Dick Cheney has been through. If he can make it, your mom can. =)

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@jonsblond Hey good point. And Cheney never had a real heart. I’m sure chocolate’s mom had wonderful heart.

creative1's avatar

There is so much they can do for the heart these days if its caught early. I would try to look at things from a positive note, if it were serious they would get her right in for the procedure and by saying right in, it would be done with in minutes/hours of her ekg.

To give you some insight on the procedure, the heart cath procedure is where they put a tiny tube into her groin area and they go up to her heart to view if she has any clots or leakages and if she does have a clot it could just be a matter of putting in a stint to keep the area/s open and the blood flowing.

I am not in anyway trying to minimize the seriousness of the procedure but I am trying to put your mind at ease that this is something the cardiologists do more routinely. I would wait until you get the result from the procedure as to what she needs done.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@jonsblond and @Adirondackwannabe You guys made me laugh so hard! Thanks for that.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Laughter is good medicine. Keep your head up. :)

AshLeigh's avatar

I’m not really sure how to cope with something like that.
In December I found out that my mother has two tumors, the size of softballs, in her birthing canal. She has to get surgery, but of course what single parent can afford surgery, and taking time off work?
It’s really scary, and I’m not sure how to cope. All I can say is think happy thoughts. Like bunnies, frolicking in meadows.

windimera's avatar

Always being there for you parent is the best you can do. Try to get as much one on one talks as you can. Usually they like that kind of thing. Having a sick parent is distrubing to say the least however, keeping optimistic yet not blind is a good way to be. Search your heart and make your peace with your parent if need be. In the end…always be there for your parent and if something did happen you could tell yourself “I did the best I could” “I could not have done better” “My parent’s care was perfect” But what ever you do!!! DO NOT MAKE THEM FEEL GUILTY BY SHOWING THAT YOUR FREAKING OUT. Be calm and assure your parent just as he/she would do you. Keep moral high. Best thing.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@AshLeigh Thanks for the tip, but when I imagine bunnies frolicking in meadows, my twisted imagination takes over and those poor, adorable bunnies are stalked by zombified kittens.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I think I mentioned this everywhere else but forgot to post here- my mom came through her cardio cath with flying colors. Everything looked normal. They may run some different tests to figure out what has been causing the chest pains, if it’s not her heart.

She wants me to give everyone her thanks and massive appreciation for their prayers and kind thoughts. She said she felt lifted up and totally at peace, and really wanted to thank everyone.

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