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What Is It About the 23rd?
Today is the 23rd of May, and I called my son and said, “Charge up the camera batteries; I bet your twins are being born today.” Sounds kind of weird doesn’t it? But it seems like all the best and worst events of my life have occurred on the 23rd. I have come to almost freak out around that date. My father died on the 23rd, but on the plus side my husband and I were married on the 23rd. And there were many other positive and negative events.
Maybe it’s the writer in me always looking for symbolism in things, but this whole week of May has me totally spooked too. As I spent three days in the hospital this past weekend with my husband who had a heart attack, I remembered that it was the same week I was diagnosed with breast cancer ten years ago today, May 23, 1996.
Emotionally the last few days have been really tough. Not only did my husband almost die, but I knew the twins could come and I would miss everything. It has been a very stressful time and still is. And if those twins come today, the crying will continue. These are my first grandchildren and my husband’s 9th and 10th.
However, at the beginning and end of each day, I pull myself together and count my blessings. I’m still alive after ten years thanks to Dr. D’Adamo. A lot has occurred in my life the last ten years. And I relished all of it. Both my children graduated from college. Both were married. And my husband and I have gone on a lot of wonderful trips together. And I have made many wonderful friends in the cancer survivor community.
These last three days have seen a lot of blessings. My husband, Stacy, a retired OB physician, showing his age (80) and having a lot of medical problems, recognized he was having a heart attack. And his symptoms were not severe. All he had was a little burning in his chest and a little pressure. No severe pain or pain radiating down the arm or breaking out in a sweat or nausea and vomiting. The critical key to his own diagnosis was that he had never had this feeling before. My husband is not an alarmist. When he finally told me he was having this chest discomfort, I asked how long? He said, “About and hour.” I had given him some stomach enzymes for indigestion and he said, “They didn’t work.” I asked him if he thought he should go to the hospital and he said “Yes.” Then I panicked. First I said that I would drive him, but then my rational thought kicked in and I asked, “Should I call the rescue squad.” He said “Perhaps I should dial 911.” Then I panicked double. I had enough sense to make the call, give him an aspirin, and then call the neighbor to direct the ambulance up the hill. It was 9PM Friday night. I also might add we never take aspirin and had none in the house. Just two weeks ago I thought what if someone has a heart attack? I should have this on hand.
When the rescue squad came, they couldn’t tell anything except his blood pressure was up, when his normal pressure is 100/70. They said they would take him to the hospital and I should follow. Here is another blessing. I almost got into an accident driving there. I didn’t yield and had to slam on my brakes. I have a great car that can stop on a dime.
When he got to the hospital, the doctor was excellent. He did all the right things. He was started on the anti clotting medication, and his heart enzymes were taken along with an EKG. There was only a slight thing wrong, and the heart enzymes were barely abnormal, but the doctor said in his experience, he thought it was a heart attack. Sure enough the second set of enzymes showed indeed it was.
We were in the emergency room from 9PM until 3AM, and when he was sent to a room, I went home quickly to leave out the dog and then return to the hospital to spend the night. The next day was so stressful. I had to make major medical decisions. The cardiologist who I trusted implicitly was a former colleague of my husband. He thought that whatever the result of the echo cardiogram, Stacy was NOT a candidate for a bypass. He also said an angioplasty with possible stent was risky for someone with Stacy’s age and medical problems. And it was even more risky on a Saturday when the hospital was not as well staffed. But he thought he should have it immediately. After I signed the paper, the staff was mobilized and they were wheeling him to the cardiac catherization lab 30 minutes later.
I was sitting there shaking, because I knew his children hadn’t gotten to the hospital yet. One was coming from North Carolina. Two from Richmond 50 miles away, and one about 30 miles away. Two of his sons made it on time as they were wheeling my husband down the hall, and low and behold my daughter- in-law ready to burst with the twins came waddling in too. My other daughter in law was there. It was such a relief to see them. My husband also got to talk to his two daughters on the phone before being wheeled in to the cardiac catherization lab.
Then we waited. Later we were told that Stacy had a 30% chance of not making it during that procedure Saturday. He did well and was transferred to the cardiac wing where the nurses gave him excellent care. One nurse especially who attended to him several days was the best nurse I’ve ever seen in my life. Lynda Lee took care of my husband with such empathy and efficiency. We have a close family friend that spent the other two nights in the hospital, since I was so exhausted. All of his children got there to visit with him that Saturday and Sunday, and even 4 grandchildren. He was discharged yesterday. He was doing fine until he almost choked to death on a peppermint candy. He came into the kitchen not being able to talk and pointed to his throat. I have done the Heimlich maneuver before, but was afraid to do it with his stent etc. Luckily he was able to suck in a little air and spit and drool until the crisis had past.
So back to the beginning, here we sit on the 23rd of May. It is possible that one of the worst events of my life ten years ago could be balanced by one of the most magnificent events of my life, becoming a grandmother. (My daughter in law is 2cm’s dilated and 75% effaced as of yesterday.) I’ll keep you posted. However, I would add that 10 years ago, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer I wrote an essay in the paper describing being diagnosed with cancer and asking for prayers at the end. So I’ll just ask again. We could use some prayers around here. That my husband continues his recovery, and that the twins are born without complications and are healthy. And that I can work it out to be there and witness the blessed event. Thanking you in advance.
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