There is a memory that sneaks up on me at unexpected times, usually in the quiet moments, while waiting alone for an elevator or on my walk in to work in the mornings. Or, just before I fall asleep at night, the memory jerking me to full awareness and heart-piercing pain. It shoves its way into my mind, and I’m helpless to stop it.
* * *
I am back in the hospital’s emergency room, standing at the foot of my father’s bed as the ER physician tells me he may need to shock my father’s heart to bring it out of the rapid and unstable rhythm it has adopted. The heart monitor alarms over my father’s head. The heart rhythm itself might not be worrisome, but his blood pressure is dropping as the heart races, and this has everyone nervous and hovering nearby. The nurses have wheeled the crash cart to just outside my father’s room. I notice it – a hulking, red box on wheels, filled with everything needed to revive and resuscitate a crashing patient – and I feel nauseous.
First, though, the doctor will try adenosine to break the rhythm. “His heart may stop temporarily,” he tells me. “There could be a period of asystole, and he could have chest pain.”
I know this, as I have used this medication before, when I was an internal medicine resident treating a patient with supraventricular tachycardia (called SVT for ease). The hope is that the adenosine will break the rapid heart rhythm, setting it back into its normal beat. But the ER doctor isn’t sure if Dad’s heart rate is due to SVT or to atrial fibrillation. He thinks this will help him figure it out.
I had the cake layers in the oven by 9 o’clock Saturday morning. The batter was easy to prepare, almost too easy. The part I hate about baking is waiting for the butter to come to room temperature, but this recipe only uses vegetable oil as the fat, so there was no waiting. I love butter, but I very much liked the not waiting. I also liked that I had all of the ingredients on hand already.
Saturday was Valentine’s Day, which really didn’t matter to me except that it gave me an excuse to bake for my true loves. Not that I need an excuse. But for this more-special-Saturday-than-most, I baked a chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting. The idea was for the cake to be like red velvet cake, but not. I wanted it to have all of the taste, but without the artificial red food coloring.
“It’s like an Oreo cake,” Oliver suggested. He made a good point, which is typical of my always-sensible son.
The house smells faintly of slow-cooked pork and wood smoke. The aromas strengthen each time someone opens the patio door. I can see the Big Green Egg from my vantage point on the sofa, soft wisps of white smoke puffing from the vent in the top. My husband has been manning the grill since 7:30 this morning, and when the meat comes off in just a short while, the pork will fall from the bone with the gentlest nudge.
I’m not a professional football fan, but I’m thankful tonight is Super Bowl Sunday, if only for the fact that Sam has volunteered to make pulled pork for a friend of his – and thus, for us.
My knitting needles are beside me on the sofa, 58 stitches of a lovely blue yarn line the cable. I’m still working on my Color Tipped Scarf, but I wanted something fresh that I could travel with later in the week. I’m headed to San Diego for a meeting on Thursday, and I’m anticipating hours of plane-ride knitting.