So, how did we end up sitting in a hospital outside Orlando for over 2 weeks? Well, after leaving Crystal River, Florida, we headed inland towards Ocoee, a suburb of Orlando, to stay in a boat house on Starke Lake for the holidays. Set up like a studio apartment, the view was stunning, right on the water. We spent Christmas watching bits of the fireworks from Walt Disney World and just relaxing. It wasn’t until we closed in on New Year that things took a turn.
The evening of the 28th, we had done some grocery shopping and had pre-made items from the local Publix. Mom suddenly became sick, but we looked up the symptoms and found food poisoning. We went with that hypothesis because by morning, Mom was feeling a bit better, but not perfect. In the middle of the night, though, things turned again. She was having trouble breathing and feeling anxious and some chest tightness. She’d fall asleep sitting up but then wake up an hour or so later unable to breathe. Finally, we called 911.
They had to off-road to get to the boat house, but they got Mom out and on to a stretcher, then loaded her into the ambulance. Then, I hopped in Red Rover to follow. There were a few moments of panic because they turned on the sirens and lights and blew through a light. Since the Kia Soul does not come with such a light and sound package, I had to wait at the light until it turned. Luckily, I was able to use the GPS to find my way.
No one seemed especially worried when I got in, but about half an hour in, a young ER doctor popped in, casually announced Mom was in the middle of a heart attack and that they were taking her up to the heart cath lab to get checked out. He made it sound almost routine. So, I was escorted up to the waiting area and told someone would be out to talk to me once they were done.
Two hours later and several paniced text between my brothers and myself, the cardiologist came out and informed me it was a significant heart attack and laid out exactly what happened. She had one artery that was completely unusable. A second was blocked at 70% and they blew the clot out. The third artery they had to put a stent in. Because of the blown out clot, they inserted a balloon pump to act as a way to keep the clot from settling somewhere else. It was a temporary measure and only in for a little over a day.
Because of the damage the heart had sustained from the attack, some of her other organs got into disarray and began acting up. Fluid started filling her lungs. Her kidneys didn’t want to do their job. Even her liver seemed to be throwing a minor temper tantrum. The heart was fixed, but then all these other issues kept popping up, making her recovery time longer.
So, at the end of the day, we’re still waiting on her release from the hospital, but she has heart failure and will have to wear an external defibrillator, of which I am familiar as I wore one after my own heart failure hospital stay. She’ll also have to have some physical therapy and our diet is going to take a big change. More ‘home cooked’ food, less pre-processed. Moderating our sugar and salt intake will also be on the agenda. We’re still hopeful that her health will improve enough to travel again. She’s a strong woman and I have full faith in her full recovery.
So, we might not be posting as often and it will likely focus on Florida for the next while, but we’re still planning on getting out and seeing things. Hey, Florida is a big state and there’s more to see in Central Florida than just Disney and Universal. So our adventures will be slightly closer to home for now.