In the complete silence on the other end of the phone my heart was breaking. Now our family was going to experience the same helpless feeling of being states apart and the heavy burden of blame and guilt over came me at that moment and all the regret that I had been pushing under the surface for these two years was rearing its ugly head. And with those pent up emotions it was becoming very difficult for me to keep it together but I just had to.. I had to give direction to everyone and I had to still send my daughter on her way..without being a sloppy blubbering puddle on the floor.
I instructed my son to contact his brother and sister and to please drive over to Grama’s and tell her in person. Luckily they all still live close to each other in our home town with the exception of our oldest daughter who is away at college about an hour away. She now says she felt in her gut immediately when her phone rang that something was wrong. Their generation doesn’t make phone calls.. so when her brother was calling.. she KNEW it was important. She eventually told us her story of the desperation and helplessness she felt knowing she had to drive all the way home only to jump in another car and drive all the way to Tennessee…not knowing what would be waiting there for them. They say the drive felt like 20 hours and not 10.
Our daughter was in the middle of her junior year and her college softball season. In fact, she and our oldest son told us later that on that trip to Florida to see the team play they thought Hubby just wasn’t “right”…that he seemed tired and not himself.
Hubby has a long history with baseball and softball. He was a very successful youth and travel ball coach for 20 years and to this day still has a close relationship with most he has coached. He truly has a, deep in his soul, love for coaching and it showed in his successes and the love his players had and still have for him. It was also a strong bond he had with our children. Especially our oldest daughter…. he coached her the longest. She happens to be a clean up/home run hitter and Dad proudly displays his home run ball collection of all her over the fence excitement.
As our daughter rushed to get to her Dad she didn’t care that she was going to miss games or classes, it didn’t even cross her mind. But, as she made her way to the hospital she remembered she had another home run ball she left behind that she was saving for him to write on and add to his collection. Her boyfriend offered to bring it when he made the long trip the next day. (I will get to the rest of this part a little later)
Now that I’ve broken the news to the family and they have taken Hubby off to Nashville I needed to say goodbye to our daughter and make the drive to the hospital. I thanked my neighbor probably 10 times and got very needed hugs from my daughter and their daughter. They actually walked me to my car which was probably a good idea because I was on the brink of breaking down and in my eyes it still wasn’t time.
Now being that we haven’t lived here long I was driving to an unfamiliar place under some pretty stressful circumstances. Hubby’s boss so kindly offered to come there and drive me to Nashville but I decided I needed to go alone… It was TIME.
I got in my car and watched them drive away and felt so relieved that she was going home and was going to do normal things that would keep her mind off this whole horrible mess.
As I searched for my GPS among the usual mess in my vehicle I look over and I see “the bucket”. As much as I WANTED to break down at THAT moment I wanted to put that darned address in that stupid GPS first. Me and GPS’s don’t get along very well.. in fact I think they are evil.. so I had to keep it together long enough to deal with that or I may have never made it there!
With the address in the evil machine and some really good directional tips from the sweet and kind nurse I started my car, made sure my phone was visible (I was terrified of THAT phone call while I was driving) and I started my way out of the parking lot. Surprisingly, I somehow stayed calm for probably another 5 minutes.
During that 5 minutes I was STILL in General mode. I think somewhere in my subconscious I was waiting for God to tell me when to let go. I immediately thought of a sweet Mom of one of my daughters teammates who lives close to us and is very involved in her church. That still small voice is workin on me again.. “Note to self.. text her and have her start a prayer chain..she will know what to do.” Those Tennesseans pray and they pray loud!! I will do that when I get there… “Don’t forget General Char!”
Then… like a tidal wave.. there it went. How I made it to that hospital with no wrong turns or in one piece is only by the Grace of God and literally “Jesus taking the wheel”. It felt like hours even though it was only 35 min. First, I felt this fear like I’ve never known down in the pit of my stomach, then I felt horrible sadness, then regret, then I thought of the kids, then I felt memories of our life together just fly thru me and I cried harder and even HARDER, then I thought of the last thing we talked about, then I saw a vision of my life alone with him gone, then I cried so hard it was hard to breathe, then I felt helpless.. “What am I going to do???!!! I’m too young! WE are too young!! Our kids are too young! This isn’t fair!!!!!” Then I got ANGRY. And like a crazy person I yelled louder than I have ever yelled.. and that’s pretty loud.. “NO! NO! NO! This can’t happen! OMG! Why did we move?! Why did we leave our kids! Why are you doing this to us! Are we being punished?! We have never even been on a vacation without our kids! We LIVED for our kids! We haven’t had our time yet! Hubby why didn’t you take care of yourself! Why were you so stubborn! Why didn’t you go to the doctor?!! NO! Why!” As I look back I see that even at this point I had not fully reached out to God and let him in. And now my anger has kicked in and was pushing me further away. As I now write this I am crying because I now see the emotions are still raw and I am still dealing with a lot of unresolved feelings.
I finally pull into the hospital parking lot and its late and pretty quiet. With the risk of total embarrassment before me I stop yelling and try to compose myself. I look down at my phone and I see I received a call from the hospital and I choose to ignore it. If I have to face anything I want to do it in that building and not out here. With it being after hours most of the doors are locked so I had to walk ALL the way around to the ER to get in.
I walk in and I am sure the nurse could tell I was in pretty bad shape. I am quite positive I forgot to look in the mirror before I got out of my car.. it had to be a scary sight. After I attempted to explain what I was there for she directed me to where I needed to go. Remember, I had NO idea what I was walking into and I was so petrified as I made that walk down that long hallway. I felt alone and scared and exhaustion had started to kick in but I am sure I can find some coffee to cure that..as for the rest..only God can help me but I wasn’t seeing that yet. My biggest weakness as a Christian is being a control freak. I think I can do it all and handle it all. Well, guess what? I will soon learn, as usual, the hard way that we are NOT in control.
I find his room and I am floored when I see him. You talk about reality hittin you right across the head.. it smacked me hard! He was hooked up to everything and still out of it so he didn’t know anything yet and the sedation had not worn off. He was in the cardiac ICU and in his own room..thank goodness. His nurse started to explain things to me. She was this petite woman probably in her 50’s and very eccentric, I thought, for an ICU nurse. She had bright blonde hair, BIG dangly earrings, long acrylic nails, and heavy makeup. But I loved it. It was a needed distraction for me. She seemed as if she had been at this for many years and was as calm as a cucumber. She was one of the nurses who worried about me as much as she did Hubby. As alone as I felt she was like an angel sent from above. I will never forget her kindness and patience.
When you spend a lot of days in a hospital room you tend to lose track of time. I remember the TV helped me figure out what day we were in. At this point we are still in Day 1. It’s very late and I am on my umpteenth cup of coffee (thanks to the blonde angel nurse) and sitting at Hubby’s bedside holding his hand and still hovering in that surreal state of this can’t be happening.
I can’t sleep. I am afraid I may miss something. The kids will call or a doctor will come in. The kids. My mind wanders for a moment and I picture the 3 of them, my mother-in-law, and my grandson all stuffed in that car driving for all those hours and an image pops in my head of how they would typically pass the time.. someone, probably my youngest son, has passed gas numerous times I’m sure, making them all miserable. My Mother-in-law who loves to talk on the phone is probably making her 10th phone call and making the kids crazy with the conversations. My grandson is probably hungry and needs to make another potty stop… and most assuredly is asking, “Are we there yet?” Then they start talking about Dad…funny stories.. LOL stories..cuz this family has plenty of those… and I giggle a little under my breath just picturing their eventful long ride here.
Just then a new doctor comes in. He is one of the cardiologists on staff. I cannot explain how hard it is to absorb what they say in that situation, the state you are in. But, from what I can remember he explained to me how very critical Hubby was and what to expect and how this was a day by day situation. In other words your husband is a very sick man and is lucky to still be here.
Day 2 of 17 days…
It’s now the middle of the night and I am still waiting for the family to arrive. They are close and are making good time but I don’t want to know how.. I don’t need to worry about anything else. I am more worried about how they are going to react when they see him. By now he is a little awake but does not understand what is going on. Hubby tells us now that during that whole time he remembers hearing water..swooshing echoing water. Strange.
I had started to doze off here and there. Still by Hubby’s bed. I haven’t let go of his hand. The nurses tried their hardest to work around me. One of them explained to me as I was watching them do these massages and exercises on Hubby, that they have to do this to keep his circulation going in his extremities and keep the muscle from atrophying. So with my background I asked them if I could take over that job and they felt comfortable with that. It made me feel like I was actually doing something to help him and not just sitting there. He tells me now he has no idea I was doing that. 😦 But it honestly tapped into my need to nurture and it was good for ME.
I finally get the text that the family is here and went to meet them in the ER to take them to his room. I also wanted to update them and get them prepared for what they were going to see. I didn’t know who to hug first. They were all calm and understandably tired. I felt relieved to see them but also felt sick knowing the hurt they were about to feel. I felt for my Mother-in-law knowing she was going to have to see her son this way. As a mother you just naturally feel her pain.
Visiting rules are pretty strict in the ICU. I completely understand why but it does make it hard. It is normally 2 at a time but since the nurses knew they all just got here she let them all in. I will never get that scene out of my head…seeing all of them standing around his bed. They kept it together well. They all pretty much waited until they got in the waiting room to break down. Hubby was awake enough that they didn’t want to upset him.
The prayer chain had been started. I have my misgivings about social media but this is one thing it is VERY good for. And O MY! Did the love and concern and prayers flow in like a freight train!! I will forever be amazed by it and so grateful. And I know through all the outpouring, God was still working on me. He loves me and He was being ever so patient with me. I believe He was working thru many to work on ME.
My daughter’s boyfriend arrived and was a wonderful support. He had the new home run ball in tow and gave it to my daughter and she went straight to Daddy’s room with it. “Dad.. guess what? I have my latest ball for you? When you are better you can write on it and put it with the others. I am gonna let you hold it in the meantime ok?” And did he hold that ball. He even managed to try to move and feel the threads as best he could. And that was by far the most spirited reaction we got out of him since he got there. I told you.. a love down in his soul for his kids and that sport. Not a dry eye in that moment.
Eventually, I convinced the family to go back to our house and eat and rest… check on things and our youngest. She will be thrilled to see them all. We also got word other family was driving in so I wanted them to get the house ready. I left it in total chaos. Wasn’t expecting all of this was I? Yeah..that whole ” In the blink of an eye” thing…
So, I am back to being alone by his bedside. He is starting to talk a little and I decide to take this alone time and attempt to explain to him what is going on. We always promised each other that no matter what we would be honest with each other in situations like this. Good or bad. I explained it the best way I could. I tried to be as gentle as possible. No matter how you tell him it won’t be easy. He took it well but I think it was partly because he still wasn’t totally with it. We also discussed any decisions that might need to be made and I reassured him, and was probably in turn trying to reassure myself, that it would all be ok and I had everything under control. Then he expressed concern that the kids were missing work and school and games. And I had to remind him that they loved HIM more.
Later that evening I noticed Hubby was getting antsy. He said he didn’t feel right.. like he was having heartburn. I could also see his breathing was a little weird. Before I could call for the nurse she was already coming in the door. His heart rate and BP was way off and they asked me to move so they could check him. Then I swear in 10 seconds flat everything got all crazy AGAIN. The whole Greys Anatomy thing. I was like.. WHAT IS GOING ON!!! Then they took him away and the nurse asked me to sit down….O boy.. here we go..
I asked.. “Is this bad?” She replies.. “Yes.” And then proceeds to ask me if she can call anyone or maybe can she call the Clergy… THE CLERGY???!!! “How bad is it?” ” Your husband has suffered another heart attack.”
Until next time.. be a blessing.. share a blessing.. be blessed xoxo