Unbreak my heart

Funny. I was playing that Toni Braxton song on a recent road trip (over and over, as I tend to do – I go through phases where I play “Don’t Fear the Reaper” by Dire Straits, The “Wrong Side of Reno” by Rocky Votolato, “You Can Make Them Like You”, by Jesse Malin, or the best of the Eagles, or “Seven Bridges Road”, by Tracy Nelson repeatedly. Seriously, repeatedly. Till even I get sick of them).

So 2 weeks ago, Mr. GG wakes me up and tells me he needs some help because he is having REALLY BAD chest pain. I leap out of bed and dial 911, starting a chain of events that just sort of rolls over me like a juggernaut. I answer questions from the emergency dispatcher, watch my husband who is lying on the bed looking very strained and unhappy, and try to think what to do next. The dispatcher tells me: Unlock the front door, turn on the porch light and clear any obstacles out of the way to Mr. GG. Okaaaaaaaaay. To that list I add get dressed, because it was a really hot night and I am not wearing much in the way of clothing. I try to get some info from Mr. GG who tells me he was up at 4:30 a.m. with pain, but it went away. He got up again and it hurt, and he decides it is serious and wakes me up. What he didn’t tell me till the next day was that he got up, went out on the patio and drank coffee and smoked a cigar, figuring this would let him know if it was just angina or a REAL HEART ATTACK!!!

After the cigar, he takes a shower and then wakes me up, because gee, guess what? Looks like it is a heart attack. I hold it together, pull on jeans and a sweater and listen for sirens. Eventually (actually it was probably in under 5 minutes) 3 emergency vehicles show up in front of the house and a troop of guys barrel from the front door into the bedroom. I am hanging back, so they can cluster around him, but Mr. GG is alert and answering questions. I don’t remember much from this part of it, because ….. uh, I don’t know. I was holding it together? I was in denial? The medic gives Mr. GG some aspirin to chew, and then they bring in some kind of collapsible chair to carry him out of the house to the gurney and the ambulance. They ask me if I want to ride in the ambulance or drive, and I decide to drive, and they tell me to bring some clothes for him. Okay. I do all that, find the emergency room, and as they are taking me into the back, wowee, here comes Mr. GG with a lot of tubes in him, and people all around, pushing his gurney in a hurry. This tall, classic blonde doctor grabs me, says her name, and that Mr. GG is having a heart attack, but she is going to fix him up. We get on an elevator, go somewhere, and Mr. GG and the gurney go one way and the surgeon leads me off to a waiting room, and disappears back into the surgical area.

This is the part where I enter the twilight zone. I am in a big hallway. There is a sitting area full of elderly people waiting to get called to their cardiology appointments. It is busy, I have no idea what floor I am on, and it looks nothing like the waiting rooms on TV, where people drink coffee and wait to see if their loved ones are gonna make it. I have grabbed Mr. GG’s work phone because he asked me to tell his boss where he was. I figure out how to access his contact list and leave a message for his boss. Then what do I do? What am I supposed to do? Everything seems kind of distant. Nobody around me looks upset. I think I am upset. But I seem calm. Is my husband going to die? Nope, don’t think that. Should I call anybody? Nope, not till I know what is happening. Should I go ask the receptionist how long whatever procedure he is undergoing takes? Oh god, what do I tell the Baby? Wait, wait, don’t panic, even though Mr. GG’s father died from heart problems, his mother has 2 stents, and his baby sister had a stent put in about 6 months ago.

I wish someone was here to hold my hand, but I don’t want to talk to anybody. I finally call my best friend in another state, and ask her to get in touch with Mr. GG’s boss. Then I go back into this kind of refrigerated, zombie state where I wait. And wait some more.

Within an hour and a half, the GORGEOUS, BEAUTIFUL, tall blonde doctor comes back and tells me everything is great, they put a stent in Mr. GG’s left descending artery (the one they call “The Widowmaker”), which was 99% blocked with a blood clot. It seems he talked all the way through the procedure. That reassures me like nothing else.

I go wait in a room till he gets wheeled in. He looks fine, except for all those IV’s and oxygen tubes. He has a lot to tell me. I am more reassured. I got through the next 2 days and they let him come home on the second day after the heart attack.

So here we are 2 weeks later. He is doing fine. He will make a full recovery. I am a lucky, lucky woman. But we are now in the process of making “lifestyle changes”, which currently seem like deprivation (Goodbye, salt, butter and cream. Goodbye bacon and eggs. Goodbye Cheetos). However, I can ease these things back in, I just have to figure out the terms “judicious” and “moderation”.

Once I had this great volunteer who had lots of heart problems. He was always cheerful. One of his favorite sayings was, “any day above ground is a good day”. So, Ed, wherever you are, I want you to know, I get it.

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