We’ve experienced a health crisis while sheltering in place. Bruce had chest pains on Thursday night and asked me to take him to the ER.
I dropped him off at the door and drove away…then I cried
He forgot to take his phone so I went home, sat in front of our building, texted Charlique to bring it down, and go with me to take it to him (21st century solutions). I nagged him when I realized he’d forgotten it. He hesitated while driving us to the hospital and I immediately told him to keep going. No way was I going to hold up a heart attack for a phone. But I also knew that I would hear nothing from anyone if he didn’t eventually have it.
In hindsight we should have called an ambulance
I understood about the phone because our daughter called us Wednesday night saying that an ambulance had just come for her husband. He was sent home from work on Monday with Covid symptoms and told to quarantine for 14 days. He kept to their guest room M/T then shortly after dinner W he experienced dramaticlly increased symptoms. Paramedics kept her in the apartment while they evaluated him then they took him away.
No kiss goodby or “I love you”…
Late that night they diagnosed him with gallstones but until then Covid images haunted our minds. She navigated the next day calmly, with spotty and inconsistent info. It was frustrating. She was entirely dependent on her husband’s cooperation in the communication process.
I don’t know about all of you, but in my marriage, Bruce is sort of independent. Sometimes I have to remind him we’re married when it comes to communicating. He leans toward the idea that,
What’s good for me is good for everyone
At one point Thursday night he thought they were sending him home (we let out our held breaths) 3 hours later he was staying. He defers to the doctors, if they tell him something it’s pretty much gospel. He’s not ignorant, but the details that I would ask are simply not important to him. What meds are being given? He doesn’t care as long as they make him well. The name of a test or procedure? As long as it tells his doctor what he needs to know he cooperates. For example, on Friday morning he called and told me,
“They’re going to do the dye thing”
At this point, no one had used the words Heart Attack…so I asked,
“You mean an angiogram?”
“No…I don’t know…I think maybe???”
We hung up because they were coming with needles. A few minutes later he called back to tell me it was a contrast dye stress test. 15 minutes later he called to say they were headed straight to an angiogram. (thank you Jesus we took his phone to him)
Now we’re getting somewhere, his cardiac event warranted the cath lab. Everyone and their hair stylist knows what a cardiac cath lab is. I think even dogs have stents these days. I didn’t expect to hear from him for several hours. Within an hour he called me-groggy-and said they’d found 3 significant blockages. I didn’t press him, he was pretty loopy. He said he’d be home that night…!
I wasn’t too keen on him returning home with 3 blockages that caused him enough pain to request an ER in the first place.
In the meantime, my nurse daughter was calling/texting for updates. My other daughter was on hold with her own husband and the myriad of friends and relatives we’d alerted were calling, texting and emailing for info. And everyone had questions…
Did they give him morphine?
Did they do an EKG?
Was he going to need surgery?
Was it a heart attack?
How can they send him home?
I was patient, I told everyone that I suppose they did such and such, and I said “I don’t know” a thousand times. I heard stories of everyone’s friend, neighbor, dad, brother, sister aunt and cousin who’d had some kind of cardiac event. Any nurse who happened to be consulted offered their insight and added to the list of questions that came my way.
By Saturday morning we knew Bruce suffered a mild (as if) heart attack and had minor, minor, heart damage. His blockages were strategically un-stent-able so he was facing open heart surgery. The question of when the surgery would take place, and if he’d go home prior to it, were still open. And by that time I also learned that I had absolutely NO-NONE, control over any of this.
Even the ability to ask and have my own questions answered
Control is our coping mechanism for the times in life that scare us, leading to crippling anxiety. Reaching for control is how we manage our pain, fear and worry. It’s normal, natural and understood by all. The “Control Freak” label is common. We wear it like an old sweater.
So what happens when you have NONE?
I get busy. We’d started painting our apartment so I kept going. It gave me something physical to do. I reached out to a friend who is making masks in KY and asked her to buy fabric from the quilt shop she visited on the sly and send it to me. We both had fun late into the night doing a personal tutorial on her methodology. I told her she was going to come stay with me, and sew for KWA should I need her. And I read a book. I stopped to answer texts, emails and calls, but I kept going.
It was soothing, I slept all night long
Early Saturday morning I had a call from my sister who is the queen of control freaks. Her questions ran in circles and I kept saying “I don’t know” at elevated sound levels. With every ‘I don’t know’ she sighed. Finally she asked me if I told Bruce to include me in his consults with the words she used…I laughed and said I’d get right on that! Did she want me to let him know that “Hannah said…”? It finally penetrated and we laughed, no harm done. But it illuminated a comforting reality.
People are scared and worried for Bruce
If they didn’t love and care about him they wouldn’t ask questions. As I write this the tears are falling. I’m overwhelmed with the realization that my husband is loved and cherished by many.
Thank you, all of you, who took the time to ask questions, plying me for updates and information. The plague that keeps me from being by his side will go down in history as one of the biggest teachers of how little control we have over our lives. Placing my trust in the Almighty is my (and your) only hope.
Totally letting go
Peace that passes all understanding
Bruce is convinced that God has more in store for him and this is preparation for that life. He’s convinced that this surgery will heal him and restore his health so he can fulfill the call God has placed on him. He’s not afraid or worried. If anything he’s restless and lonely, wishes he could have visitors and me at his side. He resorted to FaceTime today (sometimes he forgets it’s the 20’s). He says he’ll include me in his surgical consult, but I know he has the best health advocate anyone can have.
In the meantime, I patiently wait for the call to pick him up curbside with instructions…