Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Heart Attack: A Very Bad Day
Sorry. No school today. It's been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. First off, Dee had a heart attack. Yes. A real, bad heart attack.
I was up moaning around with my toothache last night, and Dee was moaning around with "a bubble." He was sure he had a bad case of heart-burn, and we kept passing each other in the hall with our cold packs and hot packs, and bottles of water. At about 3:am I have to admit I felt picked on that he didn't seem to care much about my aching tooth, and was concentrating more on his bubble. Please. A bubble?
At 7:am I was waiting by the phone for the dentist's office to open and Dee said he really felt awful. He was light-headed and the pain hadn't subsided. I asked half-heartedly if he wanted to call the doctor and he said he thought we ought to go to the hospital. That got my attention.
I drove him up to the emergency room and when he said he had chest pains they rushed him in. Within seconds they had him hooked up to a blood pressure cuff and said he was having a heart attack right then! A new medical center at the other end of the valley is supposed to have the best heart-care in the country, and the emergency room team had them on the phone and Dee in an ambulance ten minutes after we got there. I drove myself in a panicky state, and got there after they had taken Dee into the cath-lab. It was 8:00 am.
There was no word for a few hours. Two of my daughters arrived to give support, and we just waited. Finally, the doctor came out and said two of Dee's main arteries were 99% blocked and one was 80% blocked. They'd put in 3 stents. I got a crash course in heart treatments: a hole was cut in his groin, and a tiny tube with a camera and a balloon was threaded up through his artery to his heart. The balloon was inflated so it could compress the plaque in the artery and push it to the sides. Then, when the offending blockage was shoved out of the way, little coil stents were inserted to hold the arteries open. Dee was awake, but groggy, for this whole event. Blood could now carry needed oxygen through his heart and the heart attack stopped.
Tests will tell us tomorrow how much his heart was damaged and if anything else needs to be done. The care at this new hospital was phenomenal. He was taken to ICU and when I saw him he had a zillion colored wires coming from IV tubes, hooked to monitors, etc., but he looked pretty good, and was able to tell us about the ambulance ride. (He loved it. 100 miles an hour on the freeway, with police escorts and radio communication with the hospital to prep him for his procedure. He said he wished he could have climbed up into the driver's seat.)
Over the next few hours he seemed almost back to normal, and he got up and walked a little, sat up and ate dinner, and talked to all the kids on the phone. His opening line each time was, "The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated." He had several little one-liners that he seemed to have saved for this very occasion—all the additional oxygen had gone to his head.
Dee and the nurse encouraged me to go home. He was past the crisis, and was in good hands, there was no place for me to lay down, and he was anxious to sleep off his horrible day.
So I left. I drove with a prayer of thanksgiving in my softened heart. Unfortunately, my heart hardened four blocks from home. I was sitting in the left turn lane of a busy downtown street (between Library Square and the City and County Bldg for those of you who know SLC) and the car died. Died. I guess death was after someone today and settled for the car. It just conked out. It's Dee's car and it took me a few seconds to find the blinker lights, as people roared up behind me, honked like crazy, and yelled at me. Two guys flipped me off!
I sat there, close to tears, wondering what to do. I couldn't call Dee for advice—he deserved that much of a break. My sons had definitely done their duty, tending kids, worrying all day, and visiting the hospital. But I ended up calling my son. It was getting darker, and there were a number of strange types around. There I was, blocking traffic, and suddenly two guys knocked on my window. I assumed I was being car-jacked (it didn't occur to me that people don't car jack cars that don't work.) They motioned that they'd push me out of the intersection. A couple of minutes later another scary looking but nice man pushed me into a vacant parking spot. (Don't judge guys by their tattooed necks and pierced eyebrows.)
Pete arrived, and worked under the hood with jumper cables for a while, then crawled under his truck and my car, hooked us together, and towed me the four blocks to a car repair place. We left it there for them to discover in the morning. Then Pete took me home. He congratulated me on making it through a horrible, very bad day, and asked if I'd be all right. I said yes, as long as I could get in to my house. And then, I realized I didn't have my key!
So it all worked out. I'm home, Dee's alive, I'm getting a root canal tomorrow. What could be better? And I've used my blog as it's supposed to be used—to vent!!!
I'm declaring a fall break. I'll be back with School Days on Monday. (And thanks for listening.)