I am posting today while I have a chance, and I will not be posting this Friday 16th.
Terry is alive today, after surviving a major heart attack on Saturday.
He is alive because Terry "listened to his heart talk," as one cardiologist expressed it.
He played pickleball for two hours straight late Saturday morning.
He came home feeling tired.
He quickly realized that he was feeling not-the-usual-pickeball-tired.
Terry lay down on the couch, and I brought the pillows he wanted.
He put his head back, and it didn't feel good or right.
I rapidly went through all the heart/stroke symptoms I could think of,
even though Terry is fit and healthy.
The only thing he was experiencing was a different tired,
a very subtle pressure in the center of his chest.
We decided to go to urgent care right away.
He stopped in the bathroom while I grabbed a few necessary things.
As we went through the laundry room next to the bathroom he said,
"This is not right. Something is wrong."
"Screw urgent care, we're going to the emergency room," we both said.
We jumped into the car, and I floored it for the hospital five miles away.
As we were going down the last, biggest hill on Inspiration,
I was aware Terry was getting worse.
I told him to look at the beautiful snow on the mountains.
Then I said, "Talk to me."
He said, "Do you know where the hospital is, because I don't know how to get there."
"I'm 95% sure."
I focused on making the 90º left curve at the bottom of the steep hill,
and clung to a song pounding in my head.
I made the turn onto Pine Drive, stopped at the flashing stop sign,
and turned right onto East Pine Lane.
"I'm 100 % sure, Babe," I said. "We turn at the next light."
Curve at Bottom of Inspiration Drive
It's actually much steeper than it appears in this Google street view.
Fortunately every light was green,
and all the other drivers were going about eight miles above the speed limit.
We raced up to the emergency entrance at the hospital,
even flying through a stop sign because no car was driving near us.
So not me!
"Go! Go!" Terry had urged me. "Don't stop at the stop sign."
We hurried into emergency.
We didn't even have masks, so I pulled my sweater across my face.
Someone whisked Terry away, while a security officer checked me for Covid,
ran me through a metal detector, and get this,
checked my purse to see if I was carrying a gun!
He took me to Terry's room.
The emergency staff was already hooking Terry up to all kinds of things,
and a medic with purple black hair and tattoos was running an EKG.
She said. "This EKG is concerning."
She paused and said, "I'm calling it."
Someone said, "Get a chest X-Ray."
A Chinese tech and assistants quickly moved in with an X-Ray machine,
and I dashed off to re-park my car and then raced for Terry.
When I got to his room, the X-Ray machine was on the move out and so was Terry's bed.
"Follow us," someone said.
Zoom ~ We were up an elevator and through curvy halls.
They stopped at the cardio angiogram/cath lab and placed Terry on a table.
I managed to wave at him before a nurse sent me to a waiting room.
Next came a very long hour of mostly pacing.
I kind of knew what was going on because our mothers had gone through the same thing.
I sat there wobbly for a bit, a song pounding through my head.
Then I realized I should start texting family members.
I couldn't remember how to text more than one person at a time,
so I texted my sister Donnie, the first name I saw.
Then Terry's sister Noreen, and mid-way through my next text
to my sister Bertie, I remembered how to text a group. Duh!
Brain on fire and in survival mode.
An hour in, I decided to go to the bathroom,
and of course that was when the nurse came.
If you want someone to show up, go to the bathroom!
We met in the hall, and she told me Terry's heart had stopped,
but he had been revived with paddles and had a stent put in.
She said they would be working on him for a while longer.
She wagged her finger at me and said,
"Next time, call 911!"
Back to the waiting room and updates to the family.
Terry's sister was on her way with about an hour to drive.
Thirty more minutes crawled by, and a nurse came and got me.
They were already moving Terry out of the cath lab and to ICU.
Terry was awake, alert, and his face was flushed with a healthy pink.
I hadn't realized how gray he was on the way to Parker Adventist.
The cardiologist spoke to us briefly at the cath lab doorway.
He said we were very, very lucky. We were fast and early.
If Terry's heart had stopped out in the field he would have died.
He meant anywhere outside of the hospital.
Parker Adventist Hospital
Good thing we didn't know that when we were flooring it for the hospital.
I hadn't had time to be scared.
Really, until I sensed Terry was getting worse, I thought we were just being prudent.
Later after Terry was settled and Noreen was visiting him,
I had something to eat at the cafe and chatted briefly with the chaplain.
She had previously spoken with Noreen and me in the main waiting room,
as we were swapping out seeing Terry in his ICU room.
She spotted me in the cafe and was double-checking to be sure that I was okay
and that I had the support I needed from family and friends.
She was so kind and compassionate.
Hot food tasted so good,
I had only had coffee and a biscotti in the morning.
Noreen left and I watched Terry chow down a big supper ~
Always a good sign from the MacBeath family perspective.
We had the first of many consultations, and I left wiped out.
Back up the three big hills on Inspiration to the rotary,
my eyes darting side to side as I scanned for the damn deer
who love to jump on the road, especially at dusk.
Home ~ Whew!
A jigger of rum chata on ice, long phone calls,
and shorter texts to my group of eight.
"Do you know what LAD means?" Terry had asked me
as we puzzled over notes on the white marker board in his ICU room.
I decided shortly after midnight to see if I could find out.
My brother Roy texted me later,
"Sometimes a lack of knowledge is bliss - don't research too much."
He was so right, but it was already too late.
I had googled "LAD medical" and read Widowmaker.
I didn't sleep much Saturday night.
An LAD heart attack, a widowmaker, is the most serious kind,
and if one occurs outside a hospital, the survival rate is low.
It is "caused by a 100 percent blockage of the left anterior descending (LAD) artery. It's also sometimes referred to as a chronic total obstruction (CTO). The LAD artery carries fresh blood into the heart so that the heart gets the oxygen it needs to pump properly." Google Search
Wordpress ~ Original Source Unknown
I was suddenly thinking of the people I knew
who had heart attacks and were dead before they hit the floor
or died in a location where medical help didn't arrive fast enough.
Not everyone is as lucky as Terry with an LAD heart attack.
So many people had told me, "Next time, call 911!"
At the hospital. On the phone. In texts.
It hadn't occurred to us, because we didn't know how bad things were.
"Don't hesitate," said a close friend on the phone,
a retired firefighter who had planned and run
the medical response and triage team for the pope's visit years ago.
"Paramedics can call ahead, and the hospital will be ready.
They can send an EKG and restart a heart.
So what if it turns out to be nothing. Better that than dead."
"Call!" said his wife, a sister-friend to me.
"If you're wrong, it's not like you have to spend
every Thanksgiving and Christmas with them for years."
"Well, I know a certain firefighter and his wife
who we've spent many Thanksgivings and Christmases with..."
"Louise, call 911," laughed my dearest friend.
It's my intention that there won't be a second time.
"I've got this," I've told family and friends.
"We will do whatever needs to be done
to make sure Terry makes an excellent recovery."
I told Terry, "I'm your rock, your boulder of gneiss, g-n-e-i-s-s.
Don't mistake it for nice, n-i-c-e."
Terry is doing very, very well,
and we are immersed in all the things one has to do after a major medical event.
A nice gneiss boulder from a beach near Cromarty, Scotland.
I'm writing this post for two reasons.
First, listen to your heart talk. It may be speaking very softly.
The cardiologists told us that Terry would have been experiencing
serious symptoms quickly and by then it would have been too late.
Second, do not wait. If somethings seems off, not right, call 911.
Remember, it's okay if it's nothing.
After all, you won't be spending Thanksgivings and Christmases with them.
You'll likely never see them again.
And that song that kept pounding in my head, that helped me focus on the road?
Carrie Underwood's Jesus Take the Wheel.
I had thought about it for the first time in forever
when Terry was driving on slick snow and ice recently.
Then it blasted into my brain as I raced toward the hospital,
and it has stuck in my head since, unexpectedly comforting.
People have been telling me that it wasn't Terry's time to go,
that the Big Guy Upstairs was looking after him.
I have some issues with that,
starting with why should Terry survive over so many equally-deserving others?
But I'll take it, that Amazing Grace, with profound gratitude.
Terry and I are deeply grateful, relieved, and hopeful.
We received wonderful care and support from the people at Parker Adventist Hospital,
people who are a blur of kind, helpful, and informative faces scrambled in my mind.
As for Terry, one of his most urgent questions is,
"When can I play pickleball again?"
Someone Wants to Play!
Diamond Head Pickleball Court
March 2, 2016
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved
See you on Friday the 23rd.
That Song Pounding in my head:
"Jesus, take the wheel
Take it from my hands
'Cause I can't do this on my own
I'm letting go
So give me one more chance
And save me from this road I'm on"
by Brett James, Hillary Lindsey and Gordie Sampson
One of Carrie Underwood's Recordings of
Jesus Take the Wheel