Friday, January 01, 2010

Yes, Virginia, it really was a heart attack...

Well, actually, it was 2 heart attacks. Let me start at the beginning.....

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (Dec 28-30) was the Epiphany Tournament in Normal, IL, for Josh's basketball team. Monday night's game was a win, Tuesday's was a loss, which meant Wednesday's game was a competition for third place. Josh headed over early with the team on the bus, and Jake and I followed a little while later. Honestly, I was in a bit of a lethargic, grumpy mood that morning, and wished I could have stayed home. But, there was no good reason for me to miss Josh's game, so, like a good mom, I herded Jake into the car and headed to Normal. Not knowing the team's after-game plans, I had promised Josh I would take him to Avanti's after the games.

Jake and I arrived, and the game started out well. I was glad to see some of the boys on the court who hadn't got much playing time. In the third quarter, one of the boys was on a fast break, but the ball was batted away by the opponent, bouncing in front of him. He jumped and came down on ball, and the "snap" silenced the gym. The poor kiddo just laid there, unmoving. Seconds later, everyone realized the gravity of the situation, and stopped the game, called 911, and asked if there was a doctor in the building. I couldn't fight my mom instinct any longer, and headed over to the bench, since all of the coaches were on the floor with the injured boy. As I scanned the bench for Josh's face, I caught him looking at me, with a face as pale as his white home jersey. I mouthed the words "are you ok?" and he shook his head. I sent him into the locker room to splash water on his face and collect himself. I told a teammate to go with him, in case he happened to need assistance, all the while smiling inwardly...thinking that Josh does take after me in some ways, how he was hurting for his teammate.

Time seemed to drag on as we all waited for the ambulance. The PA announcer asked that the owner of the tan Toyota Camry please move their car, as it may be in the way of the ambulance's exit. Dang it! My car! I ran, probably faster than I have in a long time, to the parking lot and moved the car. As I was heading into the gym, the ambulance arrived, and the young man was whisked off to the hospital, accompanied by the 8th grade coach's wife.

I settled in to watch the rest of the game, smiling at Jake while he played with another younger brother from the team. The thought that kept popping in my head was, "I feel so bad for him, but I am so glad that it was not my son who was hurt. Does that make me a terrible person for thanking God for my son being whole?" The Tigers finished out the final quarter, winning the game, shouting their injured teammate's name in their celebratory chants.

During the game, a plan had come together to take to boys to a local pizza place to celebrate after the 8th grade game. My heart was hurting for the young man in the hospital, and in an attempt to find a way I could help, I decided to head over to the hospital to see what I could do. I mentioned it to Shelley, another mom. She volunteered to ride along, arranging with her husband for Jake to stay with him through the game, agreeing to meet up when the game was finished. Shelley and I headed to the hospital, not far from the school.

As we pulled into the hospital parking lot, I started to notice a pain in my chest, along the left side of my sternum. I knew my blood pressure had to be high--adrenaline was pounding through my veins. I figured I was just having a bit of a panic attack, wishing I had something with me to take to calm myself down. Forging ahead, we located the emergency department and found the young man's room.

The coach's wife was alone in the room, as he had been taken to xray. I plopped in the chair, feeling nauseous and sweaty. I pulled off my sweatshirt, not caring that I was left sitting in a camisole in front of people I barely knew. I pulled the garbage can closer, sure I was about to lose my cookies...again, not caring who was watching. Coach's wife began to fan me, then Shelley put a cold towel on the back of my neck. I asked a tech standing outside the room to take my blood pressure. It was 157/103. Yikes! Soon, as I was trying to laugh off my symptoms, the young man's mother called, and Shelley went out to meet them. A few minutes later, Shelley called my cell phone and asked me to head out where we had come in to look for his mother. I wandered out to the waiting area. I sat down, a bit disoriented. I pulled out my phone to call my doctor, then realized that was silly. I was in a hospital! So, instead, I called Ken, told him what was going on, and that I was going to have the ER doctors look me over. I stumbled into the triage office, and explained what was going on. They signed me in and placed me in a room 2 doors down from our player's room.

When I got in the room, the nurse tossed me a gown and told me to change. I put on the gown and laid on the bed....alone. Soon, Shelley walked down the hall and spotted me laying there. I explained that I had decided to get looked at, and she was shocked that I had not been seen yet. She was politely assertive with the staff, requesting that I be seen by someone. They took their time before they checked my vitals, drew blood, and ordered an EKG due to the chest pain. The doctor described the results of the EKG as "O.K." without a lot of enthusiasm. I asked what comes next. He explained that unexplained chest pain would probably earn me an overnight stay. I called Ken and asked him to come over, knowing that he would have to find someone to cover him at work. Shelley, Jackie (the coach's wife) and I joked and told stories, keeping the atmosphere light, all the while trying to find out more about our player down the hall. Turns out, the poor kiddo broke his femur, and decisions were being made about where he should be transferred to and how they would move him. Jackie ran out to the pizza place where the team was to grab dinner for his family.

Once she returned, again, the three of us chatted, waiting for time to pass. Not long after, the doctor returned and said, "According to the blood tests, you are having an heart attack". I think I looked at him like he had 2 heads, because that just couldn't be. He said that they were going to put me on nitroglycerin, aspirin, and oxygen. Shelley inched closer to my bed, and grasped my hand, which was exactly what I needed at that time. Soon after, the room got more active as the nurses got things moving. By this time, the pain had somewhat subsided, but I do think I was somewhat in shock, so that may be part of why I was so calm.

I asked Shelley to call Ken, and ask how far out he was, but not to tell him anything yet. I didn't want him to get that kind of news while he was on the road. I also asked that her husband take the kids to eat with the team, then bring my kids to me at the hospital. He was under strict instructions not to tell them I was sick, so they wouldn't worry. I really wanted them to enjoy the celebration.

In the meantime, the nurse had put me on oxygen and nitro and given me an aspirin. The head of the cardiology department was called in, and he arrived quickly, in his sweats :) He and the ER doctor volleyed ideas back and forth, considering what was going on and my lack of risk factors. They decided to do a chest xray and chest CT to check for clots in the lungs. Before those were done, Ken arrived, and I broke the news to him. Shortly after, the boys arrived, surprised to see me in the bed. The ER doctor came in and talked to them, letting them know I was sick, but would be ok. After some discussion, it was decided that the boys would go home with Shelley and her family, Ken would stay with me, and we would check out the situation in the morning.

I was taken to my room, IV's started, numerous EKG's done, and settled in. I was a little on edge, and the nurse gave me some Adavan to help me "chill out". I felt that warm, relaxing feeling take over, and was able to stop the mind from racing.

(This section is mostly from Ken's report on what happened, as I don't really remember):
About 2 in the morning, I asked Ken to uncover my feet, as I was extremely hot, nauseous and agitated. He uncovered my feet then went to the hall to get the nurse. She and another nurse worked on me, called the cardiologist, who came back in, and also called in the doctor who does the heart caths. They consulted and decided I was headed to the cath lab, since the blood tests were showing that I was having another heart attack, this one much worse than the first. Ken described me looking "as he would imagine me to look if I was dead". The cath doctor went with Ken and I to the cath lab, explaining to Ken all of the risks and what could happen as I was being prepped. Then Ken was left alone in the waiting room....I can't even imagine how hard that had to be.

So, what I remember about the cath lab experience- someone saying that they were giving me some Versed (yeah!), the monitors in the room, someone shaving the area where they were going to cut, the nurse applying pressure when it was all done, and someone asking if I wanted a leg brace to remember not to move my leg.

Well, while that is not the end of the story, I shall stop here and post more later. This post is already too long, and I would be surprised if anyone gets this far.

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