Tuesday, October 03, 2006

a Re-Birthday is Celebrated

"Um, hi honey"

"Hi Mom - where are you?"

"I'm still at the hospital. The doctors wanted me to stay in for a bit longer...

The rest of this conversation is kinda blurry. The only other thing I remember this sinking feeling in my stomach that any child would experience upon knowing that their parent might have something seriously wrong with them.

Turns out she did have something wrong - something major.

For years my mother thought she had some form of asthma or respiratory problem because she would get out of breath and dizzy whenever she climbed stairs or a certain hill near our camp. Being the child of extremely healthy-eating / living parents, my mother would be the last person you would think of as out of shape. Deciding she'd had enough of this breathlessness / dizziness, she signed up to get a stress test at the hospital in Sudbury.

Thank God she did. It turned out to be the best decision of her life.

After what was supposed to be a regular test (and chest xray) on a regular Friday afternoon, the nurse refused to let my mother drive home or even leave the hospital. She said to please wait until the doctor could come in and speak to her. This was a bit of a problem because the doctor was Muslim and worshipping at mosque that day. Thinking that the nurse was being a bit power-mad, my mother tried to talk her way out of it, saying she would just talk to him later over the phone. The nurse held her own and refused to let her leave.

My mother didn't get home that night.

But we were okay with that because the xray found something that literally saved her life...

Shocked, I remember hearing that my mother had a tumour the size of a golf ball inside the left ventricle of her heart. The fact that it was non-cancerous was good news, but hold your hand in a fist and imagine a golf ball sized object inside that space - it was terrifying anyway.

The reason she'd been getting out of breath and dizzy had nothing to do with her lungs after all, as it turned out. Instead, the tumour had blocked most of the blood flow through her heart, leaving only a couple of millimeters of space. I refuse to think about what would have happened if that xray hadn't been done that day...

She went in for the stress test on Friday afternoon and had open heart surgery Saturday morning.

My father, brother and I were suddenly faced with the possiblity of losing one of the people we loved most in the world. We were terrified and in complete shock. My poor brother just didn't know how to cope with it and spent a lot of the next 24 hours by himself trying to absorb things, while my father and I cried together that night - and even more the next day when Dr. Mathur (bless him) called us immediately after her surgery to tell us personally that she'd come through surgery with flying colours - it took less time than they expected too.

The doctors were amazing. Dr. Mathur took the time to explain exactly what was going to be happening and patiently answered all of my brother's questions. He must have spent an hour just talking to my brother, clearly trying his best to make him understand. He was the best part about the experience - I'll always be grateful for his kindness and the time he spent with our family.

She was home within a week, sporting a new scar but in great spirits and praising God for saving her life (truly it was a miracle if you think about it).

She even got to direct me on how to cook my first turkey dinner, since her surgery was 1 week before Thanksgiving. They say laughter is the best medicine and she certainly got a lot of that watching me stick my hand up a turkey butt for the first time...

The recovery took a long time. She was out of her beloved classroom for several months and probably missed her busy life, but I don't remember her ever complaining. She calls today her "re-birthday" because God gave her life for the second time on this day.

That summer my mother climbed the hill near our camp proudly and without losing her breath. The look of triumph on her face is one that I'll never forget - or stop being thankful for.

So today, I wish my mother a Happy Re-Birthday and thank God for letting me have such a wonderful mother...

I will take care of you
the very best that I can
with all of the love here in my heart
and all of the strength in my hand
your every dream i'll share
for every tear i'll be there
my whole life through
i will take care of you

- a song by Amy Sky

If you can, please consider donating some of your time and money to the people responsible for saving so many people's lives (like my mom's).


  • At 4:56 PM, Blogger Suldog said…

    Very good story with a most excellent outcome!

    My Dad had open heart surgery, as did my aunt (his sister) so I know how harrowing an experience it can be for those awaiting the outcome.

  • At 7:53 PM, Blogger Laura Coubrough said…

    I felt the same way when my dad had his tumors removed. The doctors in Sudbury would even touch him because they were too far gone so he had to find another surgen in Toronto.
    The thought of losing my dad was the most awful thing I'd ever faced personally. For whatever reason when you hear someone say cancer or tumor you hear death when you should hear "strength, hope, survivor.. and sometimes a little luck"
    I'm not sure if I'm clearly writing what I'm trying to say but hopefully you know what I mean..
    Happy Re-birthday Mrs. Peterson!
    I didn't even realize that this had happened. I'm so happy that you've pulled through so well!

  • At 8:30 PM, Blogger Beechball * said…

    Although I don't know you or your mom at all, I could make myself cry just at the thought of losing anyone in my family and can only imagine how scary this must have been for you and your family. I am glad she is well and I hope she has a great happy re-birthday! :)

  • At 11:38 PM, Anonymous Mom said…

    With blury eyes I write this. As a new 8 year old and with the wisdom of a 56 year old I know what a gift this life is. The most magical part is watching you and your brother become such a amazing adults, experiencing life with such commitment and promise. There have been times in the last 8 years when I felt life was pretty tough. Usually when one or both of you were struggling. But I promise now to thank God each day for blessing me with this family and pray we will always see our need for each other. Thank you so much for your tribute and thanks also for mentioning the Heart and Stroke society. Without reasearch I would not be here. For anyone reading this each year I help our local school run the Jump Rope for Heart event. A small school of 100 students has raised over $30,000.00 in the last 10 years. I challenge any other school to do the same. The Heart and Stroke Society has an amazing school program.
    Love always and God bless. Mom

  • At 5:33 PM, Blogger Stu said…

    Awesome! An astonishing tale, a victory to be celebrated.

    Congratulations to your mom, bravo!


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