The day began in Mom’s room with a 10:00 am conference at Upper Valley Medical Center, west of Columbus, Ohio. In attendance were my ninety-three-year-old mother Joanne (now in her third week of hospitalization), her palliative-care nurse Richard, her Episcopal priest Mother Nancy and myself.
This month, at medical schools across the country, first-year students will officially don the physician’s traditional white coat for the first time.
Lying in a hospital bed while awaiting heart surgery, I looked at my teen daughter and my parents, then smugly pointed out the irregular slashes on the cardiac monitor.
“See these?” I said. “They’re called PVCs. My doctor is going to fix them. Make them all go away.”
The asymmetrical rhythm, a frequent and annoying pattern of multiple skipped heartbeats, had plagued me for the
“Deeper compressions! Deeper! Make sure you get that recoil!”
I push harder and lift off higher. I’m starting to sweat. My stethoscope is banging around my neck. I should have taken it off, I think. My hair is flying around my face. I should have tied it up. I’m on tiptoe; my legs are cramping. I should have stood on a step stool.