Painful Chests


Painful Chests

Yesterday afternoon, I focused on trying to fix my camera on my new iPhone so I could snap a shot of my folks for our First Photo Project.

My parents had gone out for lunch and grocery shopping and both were resting (well, napping, in the case of my mom). I had plans to meet a friend for dinner--a welcome break from work and worry.

Until a tap on my door.

"Your dad says he's having chest pains," my mom said.

Before calling 911, I always check with my dad. "Do you want me to call 911 or do you want me to drive us?" My dad wanted the paramedics to come so they could check him out at the house. I called and followed directions, giving my dad four baby aspirins to swallow before the ambulance arrived. The paramedics did a quick check and then loaded my dad on the gurney and off to the hospital.

He's still there although tests yesterday indicated he was not having a heart attack. The doctor's initial diagnosis is inflammation around the heart. He will be home this afternoon.

The true emergency is my dad's overall declining health. As we sat in the ER for hours, I thought again that we need to put a plan in place to avoid these hospitalizations.

This morning, I had an honest conversation with my mom. I suggested we look at palliative care so that we can avoid going to the hospital. "It was clear that Dad wasn't an emergency," I explained to my mom. "Sitting for that long in the ER doesn't help Dad." And, by the time we left the hospital at 9 p.m. last night, my mom was exhausted beyond fatigue.

I shared a concern that perhaps we are now at my dad's end of life. "If we are," I said, "we need to look at how we can make it comfortable for Dad."

"I guess it's good to be realistic," my mom said.

"We help Dad the most when we are realistic," I said. "I know we can provide the care that Dad needs at home."

My mom decided she would like to call my dad's doctor to discuss options other trips to the ER and hospital. I agreed that the phone call is a great idea and said I would like to be a part of that phone call.

I never got my iPhone camera to work but I did take a photo with my iPad of my mom and my sister with my dad last night.



Like this article? Share on social


Sign in to comment


What a good conversation about such a difficult subject. I Hope you are able to avoid ER visits. They are so draining on the elderly loved ones.


<a href='' rel=\"nofollow\">@denise</a> I'm so sorry you've reached this new crossroads but in awe of how well you are handling it. Hope your dad is home as planned and resting comfortably. You probably posted an update about it, which I'll stumble across eventually. I'm playing catch-up as I haven't been on the site for several days. \r\n\r\nI totally hear you on making plans to try to get off the ER merry-go-round. I am trying to do this with my husband, who once again was hospitalized last week after yet another in what has been an endless series of visits to the ER. Alas, he's being less than cooperative in this respect. :(


Thinking of you and your family today. I am amazed that your mom and sister are smiling and peaceful in your picture. You're doing an awesome job with all of it.


I know all to well about trips to the ER and would like to minimize them as much as possible but with me dealing with a rehab center right now that is sometimes the only way. I hope all goes well for you and that you can get a plan in place to minimize your trips to the ER.


Such a difficult time Denise, I remember all too clearly. Such a good conversation to have with your Mom. I was so glad I was able to work with our doctor to transition to keeping mom at home, instead of running to the ER whenever there was a crisis. When you have that plan in place, it avoids the added stress on everyone that only concludes the same way: back at home. I was so lucky to be able to talk it out with mom and she was on board with avoiding the ER. May you and your family have the peace that comes with planning and preparing for the coming eventualities. Prayers for you, Mom &amp; Dad and your siblings.

See more comments