Yes, I know this is off-topic and I don’t do that very often but I feel the need to tell our story. If you know anyone over 50, you should read this.
On Sunday John and I took his dad out to buy a new chair for his desk. The one he’s been using was his old desk chair from his old house and it didn’t have arms. When you’re 94 you need arms to get out of any chair.
Rob sat in a lot of chairs and found one he liked. We bought the chair, did some food shopping and then went back to the nursing home and John put Rob’s chair together. He was really pleased and he looks quite official writing his emails in French to his physicist pal in Lausanne (the French speaking part of Switzerland). 94 does not mean you have to be a drooler.
We arrived home about 4 and John went up to do some work. At 4:30 he came down and said his chest hurt. I said we should head to the hospital and he said, “No, I need a shower first.” (as you do)
When he came back down he didn’t look good at all so I called an ambulance. It arrived in about 10 minutes and the first thing they did was give him an aspirin to thin his blood and pain killers. Then they hooked him up to the ECG machine and called for the cardiac specialist ambulance person.
I was quietly confident that he was all right so I didn’t get overly worried. The experts were there and someone more senior was on his way who could give the higher level medications.
They gave John more pain killers and got him into the ambulance just as the cardiac guy arrived. He hopped in the back of the ambulance and I expected that it would take off. It didn’t move.
I started the car to cool it down and went inside and left a Facebook message so our families would know and went back out to see why they were still in the driveway.
“We’re giving him more medication and then we’ll move,” the ambo said.
I still felt pretty confident and slowly the ambulance started to move. The cardiac specialist drove the ambulance and the other ambo drove the car and I followed. They went the speed limit so I thought maybe it was indigestion but I was really glad he was in the ambulance.
The hospital is about 20 minutes from our house and about halfway the ambulance pulled over to the side of the road and the specialist got out, RAN to the car and said something, ambo got out, locked the car and RAN to the driver’s seat. Doors closed, lights on, sirens blasting and instantly they were going 125km an hour in a 70km an hour zone and I was right behind them.
I began to worry. A lot. I realized that he might not be okay and what would I do without him? We’ve been together 24/7 for twenty years. We’ve always worked side by side. We finish each other’s sentences. We hug every day. We laugh every day. It was the longest and fastest drive I’ve ever done.
The ambulance got ahead of me because I wasn’t brave enough to go through red lights. I couldn’t see the flashing lights any more but I knew I wasn’t far behind. I found a parking spot and went into emergency and I was really surprised that they had a woman take me back to the emergency cubicle.
I found John, a Canadian doctor, 2 nurses, 3 ambulance people and one other person who looked like his job was doing the heavy onlooking. One nurse cut off his shorts and underpants, another one was shaved his chest and boy bits and I looked at the doctor with that, “What the hell is going on??” look.
He said the cardiologist and his team had been called and John was going upstairs for an angioplasty and a stent. It had only been an hour since he had his first chest pain AND this was just after 5pm on a Sunday.
About three minutes later, in walks this tall, gorgeous, 30ish man who introduced himself as the cardiologist. He looked at John’s chart and said that everything had been done according to the rules and he would take John up right then and put a stent in and he’d be fine. He promised.
I gave John a cuddle and they started wheeling him away and the cardiologist walked back and said, “Come with us, you don’t want to be down here alone.” So I went and parked myself outside the operating room door and waited.
45 minutes is a long time when you’re watching the second hand go around the clock on the wall. I can tell you that the surgical department on a Sunday night is quiet and cavernous and nearly dark except for a light here and there. Then this man who is handsome enough to be a TV doctor came out with a big smile and said that John was very lucky. His left coronary artery had been 100% blocked but everything else was clear. THEN he told me that John had had a massive heart attack in the ambulance and had he not been there, he would have died at home. That was one of those weak in the knees moments for me.
He told me that John’s care had been textbook and he was very lucky.
By 8pm, less than 4 hours from first pain, he was hooked up with wires and drips and happy to see me. He was eager to tell me all about the blockage as he’d watched it “on the big TV”.
Because of the nearly instant treatment, he has very little damage to his heart from the heart attack. How lucky is that. Fingers crossed that he’ll be home tomorrow because he’s, “bored as batshit, Maureen.”
So what’s the secret to surviving a heart attack? Don’t wait to see if you’ll feel better. Call the ambulance then take an aspirin. I should have called while he was in the shower but I listened to him. I wouldn’t again, I’d call. I’d rather have him roll his eyes at me than delay. The ambulance would have been there when he got out of the shower if I had. Getting early treatment means you’ll be nearly good as new.
There’ll be even more of these in our diet.