Be still my heart

Hubby and I are at that age (61) where ailments are going to start catching up with us…even if we work out three times a week, like my Hubby does. (I plead the fifth.) 

Thursday, after his “normal” three-hour workout at the YMCA, he called to say he was going to Costco to pick up a few things. A little while later he called back. I was expecting him to tell me he’d found something cool on his trip (he loves Costco), like the latest and greatest big-screen-TV, but instead, he said, “Kay, I’m in trouble.”

Of course, as my heart dropped to my feet, my response was “What’s wrong?” Had he been hit by a car? Lost his wallet? Something worse? 

Hubby: Both of my arms hurt—bad—and my chest hurts, too.

Me: Where are you? 

Hubby: Sitting…on a bench outside Costco.

Now, it was about 95 degrees with humidity to match…this was about 4 p.m.

Me: Go inside where it is air conditioned and sit inside. Tell them you need help. Do you have water?

Hubby: I drank plenty of water while working out but don’t have any now.

Me: Tell them to give you some water. Stay on the phone with me. 

I could hear him talking to the door person at Costco. It was obvious he was showing her his card. WTF?

Costco is about 20-25 minutes from our house; our hospital of preference another 20-25 minutes farther. We decided he should call an ambulance. A friend from out of town was visiting. She and I jumped in my car and headed to Costco. Even if I could get there to take him to the hospital myself, I had no medical equipment in my car and, if I did, I wouldn’t know how to use it. Ambulance. Best call. 

As we were turning into Costco, the medic called and said they were on their way to the hospital.  

Me: Our hospital of choice?

Medic: No, Nearest hospital.  

Damn. I knew what that meant. Hubby had been overruled by the ambulance team based on EKG. Hubby’s dad had died of a heart attack at age 58. Take a deep breath, Kay. His dad smoked three packs a day and didn’t work out. Hubby had never smoked and well, I’ve already said he’s a bit of a work-out fanatic IMHO. 

Of all the times NOT to follow Hubby’s example of keeping ½ tank of gas in my car…I was sitting on empty. I filled up at Costco, and my friend and I sped the five miles or so to the closest hospital. The good news was this hospital is only about fifteen minutes from our house. 

My friend who drove in with me had someone come pick her up and they went to Costco to rescue Hubby’s car and take it home. I made a list of things I “needed” from home (computer, blanket, wool socks, change of clothes for him and me, tooth brush, phone chargers, etc.) in case he had to stay overnight.

I won’t relive the hours of tests, blood work and waiting done prior to the decision to do a heart cath. We really liked the cardiologist on call. He did the Echo cardiogram himself and when the repeat blood work worsened (okay I relived it a little), he came back in and the cath team was activated.  

Once called they had thirty minutes to get ready for the procedure, so things started hopping. People were working on both sides of him putting in IVs and such. 

I hadn’t called the kids (only youngest is local) because we didn’t know anything until then, but at this point I called him and texted his out of town brothers. He called them on his way to the hospital. He got here and was with me during the procedure, which took very little time. 

Long and short of it: it was a “very unusual finding” which is why the tests were inconclusive. He had a partial clot in the left anterior desceding coronary artery. In other words, a mild heart attack. 

They moved him to CCU. His son got to visit as did a couple of friends who dropped by. The very kind nurse found me a reclining chair. I thought I’d write all night, but I slept for about three hours. Storms rolled through, so that was interesting to watch. The next morning the doctor decided to anti-coagulate him all weekend then re-cath him on Monday to see what is causing the clot. Our hope is the clot will have dissolved over the weekend and everything else will look good. Another night in CCU. At least the severe pain was gone.

As I write this, we are waiting for them to move him to a room on the floor. Advantages: room will be bigger and have a bathroom with a shower. Disadvantages: In CCU he had 2:1 Nurse to Patient ratio—on floor it will be higher, On the floor he will be monitored with telemetry where he can move around more freely (which he sees as an advantage. I, on the other hand, would prefer he remain still until they do the 2nd cath in case there are any issues. But, my medical credentials have long been revoked, AND no one asked me!)

I spent the first night here in a very hard, kind-of reclining chair. Last night, I went home and got a great night’s sleep until he texted me this morning adding something to the list of items to bring from home. I got all of the plants and the yard watered. A kind neighbor will be doing this until we get home from the hospital. Maybe the chairs in the regular rooms will be more comfortable.

As the news has spread, we’ve been awed by the outpouring of love from family, his friends, my friends, our friends, work colleagues, neighbors… My “update list” has about 75 people on it. Wow!

He’s been bored silly so the e-mails, texts, calls and visits have helped keep his spirits up.

I have a couple of friends who have dealt with chronic health issues (either themselves or their husbands) and have been in and out of hospitals most of their adult lives. I’ve always admired their fortitude; Now, I’m really astonished. Had I been in their shoes, I’d probably be CEO of a funny farm somewhere by now. I may be a junior officer before the weekend is over.

 ~ Kay