November 6, 2010

Of heart attacks and days gone wild

I missed two days on writing about thankfulness, but I'm sure you'll understand when you're done reading here today.

On Thursday I was waiting until the end of the day  to write my blog post in case something really interesting to be thankful for came my way. Well, let me just say before I begin that what I am thankful for is my family. (just in case this is not obvious by the end)

Thursday afternoon I was just thinking about what to put out for dinner. My husband and I both had large lunches and were not going to eat. And then, the phone rang.... and things got kicked into high gear and my day suddenly had a different plan and reason.

It was my sister Becky. She was frantic sounding as I listened to her voice while Charles was talking to her on his cell phone. He asked her several pointed, serious, urgent sounding questions, then hung up.

"Larry has had a heart attack at the cabin. He's going to be air lifted to Phoenix and we need to go meet him at the hospital."

This is the moment in the caricature my life was becoming that adrenaline squirts out of my head in little drops like a cartoon while I turn into a Tasmanian devil whirling around the house stuffing things I may need in my purse. Socks, travel sized lotion, make up, ipod, some meds, Mentholatum....just the necessities.  I knew I would be spending the night in the hospital with my sister so my practical head made use of the time we had until the second phone call telling us which hospital to go to.

I made calls to family and we jumped in the car. We were walking in to the ER while the helicopter was landing. And we got to see Larry a few minutes later. He was sitting up talking and explaining and answering questions. The doctor looked at the EKG and said, "Yes, you are having a heart attack, let's get you into an angiogram ASAP." Time to visit a moment, pray and they whisked him away.

My sister had to drive down from the mountains to Phoenix all by herself and it had turned dark, so we prayed for her and she arrived about an hour later. It's an hour and a half drive, so you can imagine how she was driving and she was only pulled over by the police once. But she turned into hysterics with the officer and he waved her on, no ticket.

I can't remember how long it was until the doctor came out giving us a good report. Only one blockage and it was repaired with one stint. Simple, quick and as non-invasive as can be.

What happened to Larry is really pretty common. He had been doing some hard work, cutting wood by chainsaw that afternoon, then got tired and felt like the chain saw was extra heavy. So he came in, took a shower and sat down to put socks on. The discomfort in his chest was worrying him, but he didn't think about it seriously until he sat down and began sweating profusely. His clothing was soaked and Becky told him she was calling 911. She was surprised that he didn't argue and by that, she knew it was the right decision. Twenty minutes later, back in the woods in their cabin, he was being loaded into an ambulance, being given a field EKG and was told that yes, it was a heart attack. They just drove to the main dirt road and met a helicopter, where he was quickly flown away and to the hospital.  It took 30 minutes to arrive at the hospital and he was still alert and talking, but still having the heart attack. His main artery was completely blocked and he was sitting up, talking to us.

The doctor said it would have been a much different outcome if they had hesitated on calling or if the paramedics hadn't been so on the ball as to order a helicopter or if my sister hadn't made him eat an aspirin and the paramedics hadn't given him nitroglycerin when they arrived.

It was about 12 hours later when my sister and I were sitting in his ICU room figuring out his Myers-Briggs personality temperament and reading it to him off of the internet. We were all laughing at how accurate the description was and appreciating what a great guy he is....and that he was still with us. This is how two ESFP's handle an ISTJ who is in day one of recovery from a heart attack.

Thank you to all who prayed for Larry and sent encouraging emails or messages. He's going to be just fine.

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