Thursday, April 14, 2016
I had just come in from subbing a colleague’s night class and had told her I would sub her Friday classes, too, when my normally cheerful husband met me at the door looking like a prison-camp survivor, as he moaned and clutched his chest.
“Aw, it’s probably nothing. Just a littl ol’ pulled muscle. After a couple Aleve and a little rest, I’ll be good as new.”
“Baby, you’re worrying me,” I said, watching my husband cringe and clutch his chest.
But I could tell this was serious. His face looked pinched. Shadows underscored his eyes. My lively, slightly snarky husband moaned and groaned, reminding me of the helplessness I felt when my sons were cutting their molars. Only cutting teeth is a part of growing up. Chest pains are not. I suddenly wanted to scoop my tough cowboy up in my lap and rock him like a baby.
Jeff got up from the couch where he lay to go upstairs where he lay on the bed. Finding a bottle of baby aspirin, I shook a couple out in my palm and handed them to him.
“Take these and chew them up. If this is something we need to worry about, they will help. If this is nothing, they won’t hurt.”
Looking back, now, I thank God for placing those aspirin in my hands because, indeed, his taking them did m
Two weeks later
Thursday, April 28
Originally, I had a sassier intro planned for today’s post as I’m a sassy kind of woman.I was going to continue my “You Know You’re Marr’ed When…” series and hopefully it would be one big yukfest. But when my husband and soulmate started suffering chest pains on Thursday night after I got in from teaching, I got a hands-on test of the marriage vows Jeff and I exchanged scarcely two years ago. The one that starts something like “In sickness and in health”.
For the past twenty-six months, we have lived a fairly carefree life, living for the weekends so we could knock around and take little trips during the day, and, if we were particularly flush, an end-of-semester jaunt down to Port Aransas.
When we became a one-vehicle family, again, back in October 2015, Jeff got in the habit of picking me up at work where he would carry my heavy book bag out to our car. Since I teach night classes, his driving me to school and waiting for me in the hall outside my classroom not only made me feel protected; it also made me feel like the richest woman on earth.
A week ago on Thursday night, I had just driven myself home from subbing for a colleague’s 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. classes when I found Jeff suffering from pains in his chest. Finding a bottle of baby aspirin, I popped off the cap, shook out two of them, and handed them to him.
“Here, babe. If this really is a heart attack, then these will help. If it’s not, then they can’t hurt.”
Thank God for making them available to me, that night. Those two little orange tablets might very well have saved his life.
Around midnight, Jeff finally gave in to my insistence that we go to the emergency room. When I located a hospital that not only accepted his insurance but was also only five minutes away from our house, I knew without a doubt that it had to be a God thing.
What you have to know is that my manly man has to be the world’s worst passenger. But this time, he gave me not one minute’s flack. Finding the emergency entrance under construction, Jeff told me to let him off where the police were congregating. They would certainly assist him while I found a place to park and, in a fog, managed to find the entrance on my own.
After I waited a few minutes in the waiting area, someone directed me back. Jeff had been triaged and was on his way to x-ray. Sure enough, the technician glanced at the film.
“Yep, there it is,” the x-ray tech affirmed. “In the Left ventricle.”
When Jeff seemed to know what the tech was talking about, my fears were confirmed. My husband had suffered a heart attack.
It must have been around one a.m. when we were taken to a large room with a bed. Now, at least we knew what we were dealing with.
Or did we?
The next day, Jeff was told that, while his chest pains felt like a heart attack, they were actually caused by gallstones. He was scheduled for an MRI — magnetic resonance imaging — of his gallbladder on Saturday. After the procedure, he told me that he had never had an MRI before and was having pain while having to lie so still. To our shock, when the doctor returned with the results, he told us that the inflamed gallbladder had, in fact,ushered in an honest-to-goodness heart attack.
The doctors agreed that the best course of treatment was to focus on Jeff’s heart. Nurses hung an antibiotic drip that caused my husband to feel as if, just maybe, his gallbladder problems had healed themselves. Pumped with antibiotics, he was feeling good.
In the next day or two, I was right beside my husband as he went through a sonogram, echocardiogram, and more recently, a heart catheterization. Thankfully, I had plenty of work to keep myself sane: papers to grade, a work-in-progress to continue banging out on my Mac. The time flew and before I knew it, someone called me out and told me that Jeff was headed back to his room.
With his heart issue addressed, Jeff’s gallbladder, again, took center stage. His G.I. doctor explained the strategy: to wait until the blood thinners were out of his system before “scoping” him, taking out the gallstones and, if ultimately, excising the offending gallbladder.
The endoscopy and the gallbladder surgery are set for next week. Once — no, make that twice — in one week, I will sit in the waiting room, rooting and praying for my sweet Jeff on Monday and Tuesday or Wednesday. And once again, that seemingly endless stack of essays and my novel in progress will keep me surprisingly sane as I trust the same God who brought us together, two years ago, showing us that, beyond a doubt, we were meant to be together.
Hopefully, after having been in the hospital for twenty-one days, I will finally get to take Jeff home and we can get used to our new and improved life together.