One year ago this coming Saturday, December 17th, many lives were touched by an event that up to that time was beyond my comprehension.
The day began as any other; get up, get ready, go to work. That day however, we planned to do our Christmas shopping so we were taking the afternoon off – it was a Friday. Heading to the mall with list in hand, the plan was to get the vast majority of our shopping accomplished, have an early dinner, then head home. Our oldest son had to work that evening but our youngest would be home. The mall, NOT my husband’s favorite place at any time of the year let alone the holiday season, was very busy and we were lucky to run into several friends. Soon though we were heading to a local steakhouse for a couple of cocktails and a steak dinner. It was a good afternoon and we accomplished much of our to do list. Dinner was excellent and we found ourselves heading home early to relax. Around 8:30 p.m. my husband stated he wasn’t feeling very good, hadn’t been for a while, but thought it was just indigestion. Soon we became concerned we might not be dealing with indigestion and we both felt perhaps a trip to the ER was warranted. Our youngest son elected to stay home as long as we called his brother home to wait with him; I made that call while on our way to ER telling him I would call as soon as I knew something.
We arrived at the ER and were immediately escorted to a room whereby they began the treatment for a heart attack victim. A heart attack victim? No no no…it was indigestion…I was sure of it. It still wasn’t real to either of us.
We both remained convinced it was simply a case of severe indigestion…until 4 a.m. when a doctor came through the door to inform us that my husband had indeed suffered a heart attack and a significant one at that.
My first thought was “Could they ever be insignificant?”
My husband was immediately taken to Cardiac Critical Care.
My head began to swim with “what now?”.
Questions of how to tell the boys, how to tell my mother-in-law, how significant is significant, what happens next, and more clouded my already muddled brain. We simply went through the motions as they settled my husband in and maintained their diligent effort to get his chest pain under control. He is a strong man with a very high pain tolerance and knowing he was scared and the pain was so severe frightened me more than I can explain. By mid-morning Saturday, December 18th, the boys were anxious to see their father, family had been notified, friends had been notified, my Ya-Ya’s were called in, and our church had been notified.
Then the roller coaster really took off.
The cardiologist came in to tell us that damage was not as severe as expected but bypass would most definitely occur and likely within a day. The heart surgeon then visited to tell us damage was so extensive my husband could not withstand surgery at that time. Hence the roller coaster analogy.
Thankfully our story has a good ending. We were blessed with receiving bypass and treatment at Barnes on February 10th (my mother-in-law’s 87th birthday) by an extremely skilled cardiac surgeon. We were blessed with friends and family to support us (thank you Ya Ya’s – for holding me up when I didn’t know I needed it). Recovery was painful but one year later, having lost 90 pounds, my husband is proud to call himself a runner and, more importantly, a survivor. He continues to be one of the strongest men I know.
We will celebrate this Saturday, December 17th, which may seem strange to some. Realize however that the celebration isn’t about the heart attack that almost took his life but rather about the heart attack that gave him his life. He is more healthy and active than he has ever been. The difference between life and death was about one inch…if the blockage had occurred one inch lower this story would have a very different ending. The difference is about having a skilled treatment team and the conviction to seek answers from others. The difference is about having the most amazing family and friends to support us on our journey.
I now read the following poem with a new understanding. Realizing the value of time is an eye-opening experience. Realizing the value of friends and family is heartwarming and overwhelming at the same time.
Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.
- To realize the value of one year:
Ask a student who has failed a final exam.
- To realize the value of one month:
Ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby.
- To realize the value of one week:
Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper.
- To realize the value of one hour:
Ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.
- To realize the value of one minute:
Ask a person who has missed the train, bus or plane.
- To realize the value of one second:
Ask a person who has survived an accident.
- To realize the value of one millisecond:
Ask the person who has won a silver medal in the Olympics.
Time waits for no one.
Treasure every moment you have.
You will treasure it even more when you can share it with someone special.
~~ Author Unknown ~~