My wait continued now as in-patient with friends and loved ones visiting and messaging support. I accepted I was better positioned to get the care I sought and I was willing to endure time in the hospital as I’d come to see I waiting at home was not acceptable. Eventually 72 hours after admission, a night nurse entered my still-darkened room and admonished not to drink or eat for I was scheduled for the heart catheter lab as the first procedure that day.
Still too early to text my husband of the news, I instead messaged my daughter and sister in another part of the country. I felt relief and reluctance and also an apprehension that I believed to be entirely normal for someone in my position. Most importantly, I felt myself surrender to whatever awaited me, be it good news or other. With three hours between now and the scheduled procedure, i slipped in ear-buds and meditated.
I saw my loves, my life and my heart spill out before me. Follies, weaknesses, passions, amores, mis-steps and tedious journeys. Days of light and nights of fear. No judgement, no right or wrongs, just as they were.
Around me, ward nurses woke the other patients, dispensing pills, taking vital signs and readying the patients to sit up and wait. My wait finally came to an end when my nurse and the transfer porter arrived, unhooking me from cardiac monitors I.V. supplements. I was shuttled down to the cardiac catheter lab in my own bed and cued alongside other patients. A nurse made her introductions and provided an overview of the procedure before taking my medical history. Calm, and resolved to any outcome, I patiently listened to the physician provide the same explanation of the procedure with risks and complications. Of course, serious injury or death is always a risk, however remote. Before long, the same nurse trundled me onto a hard stretcher, asserting how lucky I was to be the first patient of the day. I was rolled into the procedure room and trundled onto an even harder and narrower procedure table. One by one, members of the team approached and made their introductions; I.V. technician, more nurses, five in all with the physician.
The procedure commenced, a nurse inquired if I wanted the physician to explain each step of the procedure, “Sure why not?” I cooly responded. I could watch the procedure on the screen above my chest, the same visual display the physician was viewing. The physician calmly described how he was opening my right radial artery, inserting a thin wire and advancing it up my artery and over to the right side of my heart. I began to feel woozy, the nurse encouraged me to take slow deep breaths. I was going to feel “a warm sensation flood through me” warned the physician as a medication to better visualize my coronary arteries was introduced. Yes, I felt warm, as well as light-headed, and a band of pressure tightening across my chest causing pain. Off to my left, the I.V. technician asked, “Are you having pain Lisa?”. “Yes, yes I am” I responded, more tightening and shortness of breath. And then nothing.
I am confused, where am I? Is it the medication, is that what’s causing this disconnection from my body? I’m looking at white, at the wall; blankness. I sense activity behind me, I turn around and see people…medical people circled around something and working hurriedly, speaking to each other quickly. I sense the heightened anxiety emanating from them. I can see the backs and sides of their head and shoulders. I catch a glimpse of myself supine, arms extended at angles from my sides. I am not responding, like I’m not there. I realize, it’s because I’m NOT there, I’m here…outside. “Hey, I’m over here”. Suddenly I get very frightened and anxious, I don’t understand what’s going on. I just want to leave, quickly. Get out, get away from them, from this place. Something is terribly wrong and I need to leave, hurry.
I leave very quickly. I feel myself rising up; up as though I am flying up against that white wall. Up towards the ceiling and towards open space. As I rise above the room, a room with no ceiling, I come to the edge. Behind and beneath me is anxiety, fear, and me. There is nothing above me, no lights or ceiling, no sky or clouds. No landmarks. Before me is the edge of the wall and I see my children, my beautiful son and daughter before me. They are suspended motionless and don’t seem to recognize me. They are looking through me, staring into the void that is me. The emptiness of their mother. They don’t recognize me because, I’m not really there. I feel myself hurtling towards them, I want to embrace them; feel their bodies reassure myself with human contact. When I reach them, I feel myself moving through them. Momentum carries me through. I am inside every living cell of their bodies. I am pulsing, pushing, and coursing through them to the other side. It is dark and millions of brilliant coloured lights spark around me as I pass through them. I come out behind them and realize, I am not body I am energy. I catch one last glimpse of them before I am push-pulled forward again and hurtling through the black void.