The Big One

The annoyances started out small, and in a comedy of errors that could only happen to us, we were once again blindsided in the Summer of 2011.  To further complicate matters, our attention had been focused elsewhere when the proverbial rug was snatched out from under us.  This time it was myself who had the medical issue.

Early in the Summer of 2011, I underwent brain surgery to occlude an artery that was feeding an abnormal cluster of blood vessels close to my left ear drum.  This meant that I was hearing my heartbeat non-stop (called Pulsatile Tinnitus) for nearly two years, and I was starting to get a little loopy from the strain, in addition to the dizziness and fullness in my head.  It was also something that could have led to a brain aneurism if not corrected.  I would soon learn how important it was to have it taken care of when I did.

We also had a couple of home improvement projects going on, and helped our niece move, all within a 3 week span of time.  So when my husband began complaining of a pulled muscle across his chest, we knew it had to do with either putting up the beadboard ceiling in the den or moving household goods.  For several days, he medicated with ibuprofen.  On the morning of July 22, he woke up and got ready for work.  He was irritated that the ibuprofen was not working on his muscle strain, and did not look like he felt well at all.

As I was clearing the kitchen, I heard him in the living room and went to check on him.  He was trying to bend over the back of the couch…and then tried to lean across the seat of the couch.  I did not have a good feeling about any of this, and asked him what he needed.  When he said that he just wanted the pain to go away long enough so that he could think of what to do, I knew I had to take over.  I told him to get in the car, and for once he didn’t argue.  In a blinding rainstorm we drove to the emergency room.

I was really concerned when they took him right away, although it still took several hours to get all test results back.  Eventually, the doctor told me that his cardiac enzymes were elevated, meaning he was either having a heart attack or had recently had one.  He needed to perform a heart catheterization to find out what was going on.  This news hit me like a wall of bricks, and I remember very little of what he told me after that.

The walk from the emergency room to the 3rd floor cardiac waiting room was a blur.  I could not believe my husband was having heart issues…at the age of 47!  I ran into one of my cousins, who was visiting someone on the cardiac floor,  just outside the 3rd floor elevator.  That we happened to be in the same place at the same time was a miracle in itself.  In the short walk to the waiting room, I told her why I was there.   In the meantime, my cousin who lives close to us had picked our youngest son up at home, and was bringing him to the hospital, while I frantically tried to call our oldest son to come to the hospital.   My family, whom I have known and loved since before our lives began, rallied around me…bringing my child to me, and encircling us in a tower of support that we would desperately need, as if our lives depended on it.

This sequence of events only took a few minutes, and with the ringing of my phone everything froze:  it was my cousin’s husband, telling me that the surgeon was coming in to talk to me any moment….and telling me to sit down.


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