He had complained the night before of heaviness in his arms and, as he had just been to the gym, I (the worst wife in the world, not feeling well myself post-surgery and with my wound infected) gave him two aspirin and encouraged him to think of it as muscle strain. I didn’t want to go to the hospital and sit around for hours, although I did say that I would drive him if he did want to go. But he said no and he also said that the pain disappeared after the aspirin. So, muscular, obviously.
But at 4 am it returned and this time he said he did want to go. I suppose I should have called an ambulance but I checked him over myself – no sweating, no pallor, no elevated pulse, no tingling, no pain down one side – nothing except this heaviness in both arms, entirely consistent with a gym workout. A mimimum $1600 ambulance fee is not something I can accept when there are no obvious signs of needing it.
So I drove him to the hospital, where they wired him up to all sorts of machines and did all sorts of blood tests and said they thought that it was musco-skeletal, like I had thought. The EEG said that it wasn’t a heart attack. The x-ray ruled it out. The bolod tests ruled it out. There was just one final test that they needed the results of before the doctor would let him go home with the all clear. Feeling tired and sick myself,and having to work, I left him to it so I could go home and try and sleep a little before I had to start my day.
We texted back and forth. He slept. had breakfast. I did neither. Then the home phone rang while I was outside and then my mobile rang with him calling.
Except it wasn’t him.
It was a doctor from the hospital, on his phone, and I needed to get down to the major trauma hospital where they were transferring him urgently. He had just had a major heart attack and they were rushing him to a facility that had a better level of care.
I calmly hung up the phone, called up work and made alternate arrangements, noitfied my family, packed drinks and snacks, locked up the house and drove the forty minutes to the hospital, trying very hard to obey the traffic rules along the way.
The whole way I was convinced that he would be dead when I got there and there was a little refrain of disbelief running through my brain: “This can’t be happening to me twice!”
Of course, he lived. But I’ve been reflecting a lot.
If we had gone to the hospital the night before with his initial symptoms instead of when we did, they would have disharged us and he would have had his heart attack at home and maybe died. Doesn’t stop me feeling awful for dismissing it, though. And I don’t come out sounding very good when people ask the story, either.
There is guilt there. A lot.
He had a stent put in and is on umpteen drugs he will have to take for the rest of his life. But he is alive and there was a time Saturday morning when that wasn’t a given. I pretty much spent every moment I could camped at his bedside in the cardiology unit and he was hooked up to lots of machines. They did a lot of tests and have determined that there is not too much permanent heart damage.
As far as lifestyle changes go, well, we were pretty much doing what you should already. I had convinced him to give up smoking a year ago, he had joined a gym and used it , I weaned him off his sugar habit, he is an extremely light drinker and we eat very healthily anyway so it was ironic that the heart attack came now.
(This is not just hubris, by the way – lots of doctors have run their eyes over various levels and lifestyle admissions to find areas for heart healthy change and they can only point at ‘lose a bit of weight’. That one we are onto.)
He is not allowed to go back to work for at least two weeks and maybe not even then as they want him on light duties and it is hard to find them in a steel factory. So we don’t know where we are going to be placed our future but right now I am just looking day by day and then week by week.
I am so very happy that he is alive (he is my beloved husband and we hadn;t even been married quite two months) but I do feel traumatised by it all. It has taken me back to that awful year of Ron dying with his heart problems; a sort of PTSD if you will. I feel very anxious, weepy and shaky.
Hopefully, this will pass soon.