When your sixteen year old daughter gets her driver’s license, a few jitters and nerves are somewhat expected.  After all, we are giving the green light to our beloved little girl operating a vehicle on the road WITHOUT US there to help her watch out for the complete lunatics who drive as if they own the road and make up their own rules doing so…and they don’t care a jot about the precious one that we’ve nurtured and protected for the past sixteen years.   So after she passed the driving test with flying colors, it was my duty to bring her down to earth.

“We’re taking this slow,” I told her using my firm mommy voice, “You’re limited to school and back this next week and then we’ll start slowly stretching out.”

She was disappointed that I wouldn’t let her drive herself and her two friends to the football game less than a mile from home but my mind spun when I considered how rowdy football game fans can be both before and especially after a game.  I wasn’t ready for her to solo at night with friends in that kind of crazy teenage traffic. 

Her friends were staying over after the game so after a pit stop at the grocery store for some all-night goodies, we headed home and I realized I was incredibly tired.  Odd for me because it wasn’t even ten and I’m a night owl.  I got ready for bed, too tired to even shower, and kissed them all goodnight because each of them are my special girls. 

Morgen, my 5 month old kitty, and I have a special game we play every night at bedtime and though he got into position to pounce on my hand as I moved it under the comforter, I was just too tired to play for long.  I settled in and almost felt asleep but suddenly felt something very wrong.  It was as if I were fading and the not the good kind where you fade into sleep but the kind that made me wonder if I were dying.  I felt my pulse and instead of a steady beat I felt a beat, a long pause, a couple of beats, a long pause, a beat, a very long pause, three fast beats, a long pause, and then a steady drumming followed by beats with long pauses.  Knowing that wasn’t right, I located my wonderful little Omron BP machine that measures BP and pulse, and alerts to irregular heartbeats.  I forced myself to sit still for a full five minutes before taking the first reading and it showed 158/87 for BP, 47 for pulse and the little heart thing was vibrating like mad to tell me I had an irregular heartbeat. 

Hmmm. 

Not wanting to panic, I made myself wait and took it again.  On the third reading with the little heart symbol wigging out the entire time I called for Hannah and told her to get me a couple of aspirin (I have no idea why), and I took them.  Several more readings and the stupid little heart thing was almost bouncing off the machine so I called for Hannah and told her I was calling 911. 

When you call the fire department/paramedics, you just never know what you’re going to get.  One of the three who came into the house asked what was wrong and after I calmly told them he said, “So you called us to make sure your machine was calibrated?”

Hmmm.  That wasn’t nice. 

“Run a 12 channel strip,” I said.  Amazingly, and maybe because the tone of my voice indicated I’m used to calling for those types of orders and having them followed, he did.

By the time the first part of the EKG strip was printing out he was backtracking and telling me I was definitely  having irregular heartbeats and needed to go to the hospital immediately.  And by that time I would have had to be unconscious to go with his crew in a bus to the hospital.  I looked at Hannah and asked if she could drive me.  She nodded confidently and said she could.

We dismissed the nice firemen and headed to the hospital with Hannah’s special girlfriends along for moral support.   

During the next twenty hours my heart continued its dance, hop, skip and jump on the wild side.  A Fib, PACs, PVCs, V-tach, V-tach with bigeminy, and repeat, again, and again, and again.  The alarms sounded steadily until they moved me to a room without the monitor but with a portable unit that sent signals to some private area where “someone” was always monitoring.  But I felt it anyway.  I didn’t need a monitor sounding its alarm to tell me my rhythm was seriously off.   And I knew enough about that to know it meant my heart’s electrical pathway, or wiring, was weird.

Sometime around 1:30 or 2:30  in the morning Hannah’s friend who had an event at 7 a.m. the next day needed to go home.  Hannah asked if she could drive her and I was in no condition to protest so off they went, three girls, and two returned.  Sometime around 4 or 5:30 in the morning Hannah took her other friend and they went home to let our dog out and then on to her friend’s house to sleep.  Sometime around 8 in the morning Hannah came back to our house to let the dog out again, feed the kitties, and sleep some more.  And on it went.  Hannah driving back and forth from home to the hospital, stopping at Circle K for a soda, going through McDonald’s for something to eat, stopping at Safeway to get me some gummy bears.  On Saturday she took care of the cats and dog and then came back to the hospital to spend the night with me.  On Sunday morning she drove home to get dressed, went to church to teach Sunday school, then came to the hospital to get me to go home, then back to church and later back home to sleep. 

Around 5:30 I realized I had to get the prescription filled to take the heart medication they had prescribed and because I was feeling as if I were moving through mud I asked Hannah to drive us.  As I watched her confidence in backing out of the driveway and then turning from our street left into traffic, I asked her how she felt about driving.

“It’s really weird, mom.  It’s like I got on a plane to go to Hawaii because that’s something you really look forward to doing someday like getting your license, and halfway over the ocean they opened the doors and said ‘okay, now jump!'”  

“My poor girl, we were going to take it slow, weren’t we?”

She grinned, “So much for that.”

“So, how do you feel about driving?” I persisted.

“I’m comfortable driving.  I’m cautious and I watch everything.  I’ve had a lot of responsibility these last few days, but I think I’ve done well.” 

And she had.  She had jumped suddenly from being excited about being allowed to drive to school and back to being the one who had to drive for reasons beyond her control or mine.  There was no time for second thoughts or hesitation – it had to be done and she did it. 

As we started errands tonight I asked her if she wanted to drive. 

“No, I’ve been driving so much I’m kind of over it.  You can drive, mom.”

How proud I am of her.  How thankful I am for her.  How I’ve prayed for her safety.  And God has answered those prayers with every text message.

“Leaving, love you.”

“Home, love you.”

One more milestone of growing up and she didn’t just pass, she jumped.  And God provided the parachute just in time for her safe landing.    

PDPHD…this one is for you.  You continue to be more than I ever imagined.

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