“Oh.. we will be fine.” Hubby says with his usual boasting confidence. But, I, the realist, and some would say the pessimist, do not share this “la-la land” opinion.
It is now July and Hubby has been back to work for some time now and we are all adjusting more and more and he is making small but great strides. One challenge with any heart condition is extreme temperatures. And when you live in sunny Tennessee the summers are brutal. The heat and humidity can choke you. Hubby has had to be very careful being exposed to this heat for many reasons. He is still on a fluid restriction so he doesn’t have much hydration to spare and the extreme heat can be very trying on a compromised heart.
So, with all this in mind we began to address our upcoming trip to Florida for our daughter’s national softball tournament. I was beginning to fret more and more about it and of course Hubby had his “head in the sand” (pun intended) and was thinking of beaches and relaxation and softball. A little itty bitty part of me was as well, but most of me WAS NOT. Here’s where MY mind was….
**To Pack: Blood pressure machine, blood sugar meter, meter supplies, needles, insulin (has to be kept refrigerated) all 14 bottles of meds, cotton, alcohol, OJ, appropriate snacks and meals for trip, medical notebook, medical paperwork and all medical phone numbers, insurance info, Ziploc bags, sharpie, organic spices, and special measuring water bottle…and Oh Lord please let that be everything! Hubby’s life depends on it. And, Oh yeah, clothes, toothbrushes and sunscreen!
Starting to see my point????
Luckily, we would be staying in a condo that has a kitchen because we will need to prepare most of our meals… so that means we will have to shop for all our special ingredients when we get there. The 2 biggest challenges I saw coming were the actual softball game schedule and of course the heat. Hubby was on such a regimented schedule that I was worried about how we would handle his blood sugar checks and meals. In addition, I was very concerned about him sitting thru these games in all that heat. Shade doesn’t make that much difference when its 100 degrees and so humid you can’t breathe.
And of course, no matter how much I voiced my concerns Hubby was still vigorously trying to convince me it would all be fine.
Now, I know most women would agree that men tend to have this “It’s no biggie” attitude with just about everything… with the exception of when they are at the top of the blood pressure scale, watching a football game with bated breath because they need just ONE MORE catch from their best receiver to win that week’s fantasy football…. you with me?? It’s only THEN that we actually see the female “worry wart” mentality rear it’s ugly head out of their normally passive suave demeanor. 🙂
So, I believe we got to the point of agreeing to disagree and sucked it up and began to prepare for this trip. There is no doubt General Char will have to make an appearance for a while or we will never leave in an orderly fashion.
With many, many double checks, a van packed with the 6 of us and a trunk bursting at the seams, we were off! General Char for some reason didn’t leave yet, probably because I was so worried about everything that I kept her around as a safety net for my own piece of mind.
The trip wasn’t too bad. About 7 hours. We did pretty good with stops and Hubby’s blood sugar and meals. Got stuck in traffic for an hour when we got there. It was so congested. I guess it was big day for most people to arrive.
The small resort we were staying at was an older place, kinda reminded me of something from Mad Men. It was much more affordable than most places at this beach and our new strained budget was thankful. We were pleasantly surprised at how lovely it was. It was private and had its own beach. All we had to do was walk out our door, walk down the sidewalk, and we were on the beach! If you have ever been to Fort Walton you know just how BEAUTIFUL that beach is. The water is crystal blue and the sand is pure white. I have never been a big beach person but this one won me over..it was Heaven on earth. And, after all we had just been through, it was a welcome blessing.
So, we began to get organized and I spent a lot of time setting up our food supply and all our belongings. It felt like home pretty quickly. the condos were not fancy and a lot of them pretty outdated, but they were clean and pretty roomy. I think that’s what gave them a homey feel because they WERE so outdated. Ours had some updates though and newer appliances which was perfect for how much time we would be in that kitchen. They had a gorgeous pool which the kids thoroughly enjoyed and this place was so neat they even hosted weddings. There was a banquet hall on site as well. As you can tell we would highly recommend this resort 🙂
We seemed to be managing ok. Hubby would try to get his walking in early and he stayed in the shade as much as possible. But, it was just so hot ALL the day through. And, we really kind of forgot to take into account how much hydration Hubby would lose in all that extended exposure to that heat and didn’t increase his fluid intake enough to compensate for it. Remember, we were in “keep the swelling away mode” and we were petrified of that coming back, so we thought we were doing everything right. I felt Hubby was exerting himself a little too much on his walks but he claimed he always felt good, but what we learned the hard way is that dehydration doesn’t show any signs until it becomes serious…
All of a sudden, Hubby started telling me his stomach didn’t feel right and he was increasingly having a hard time eating, which is not good for his blood sugar. We both thought it may be from him just doing too much so he stayed back at the condo for the day and rested. But, then out of the blue, he started throwing up… probably every hour and could not keep anything down.
Now this all started to seem just too familiar. Too much like when he first got sick and we thought he had the stomach flu. I kept it to myself but my thoughts were this was heart related and I was getting more than worried. I already told myself and was getting myself prepared for an ER trip. I could feel General Char bubbling up because in my gut I could feel what was coming. The kids were getting worried. I felt so bad for them and for Hubby. I know he was feeling guilty for interrupting the vacation and the kids felt guilty if they did anything fun while Dad was so sick.
So, after a full day of this I made a decision and Hubby didn’t have a say this time. I wasn’t taking any chances. If he was having another episode I wasn’t waiting… even though his blood pressure and blood sugar numbers seemed to be fine at the moment his other symptoms were not good signs so we packed it ALL up and headed to the nearest ER. It was in the evening so I knew we would probably be there all night so I prepared the kids and made sure they had all they needed.
We would have never expected what we walked into.. this ER was somethin! When we first pulled into the parking lot we were relieved because it was a heart center. Ok..that’s good. Looked like a pretty good hospital and thankfully it was the closest. Then we walked in….
WOW… if I hadn’t been so desperate we would have left. I am pretty sure we were in a waiting room with every scary person who had an emergency in town. We tried really hard not to make eye contact and sat in the only corner we could find.
Hubby was holding up pretty good. He stopped throwing up mostly because he had nothing left. I kept making him sip water at least. We got called in to get registered pretty fast because he was high risk and I think they wanted to make sure he wasn’t having a heart attack. They did an EKG and thankfully it was good. That was a huge relief. But, still the mystery of why he’s so sick?
We, unfortunately had to go back to the waiting room… ugh it was terrible. After about an hour or so they called us in. They put Hubby in a bed and we went thru paperwork and a million questions. It had become obvious to them that Hubby was severely dehydrated and they immediately started him on an IV of fluids.
He was so tired so he slept for a while. I had brought a book so I tried to read. It wasn’t easy to do any of it with the sounds happening all around us. The only thing separating us from all these scary moans and screaming, yelling and coughing like I have never heard is a thin curtain hanging around us. We were all crammed in there like sickly sardines and I felt like I needed a mask and lots of hand sanitizer.. and possibly a security guard!
On a side note.. after all was said and done, when it came time to report all this to Hubby’s cardiologist we came to find out his nurse practitioner had her first job at that hospital in Florida and she said it was the WORST place she ever worked and tried everything to get out of there!! We weren’t surprised…
Finally, after I think like 4 hours we finally see a doctor. It was confirmed that Hubby was dehydrated and this doc did not like how low his BP was. We tried to explain that this was normal for him but that wasn’t enough. They wanted him to stay until his BP went up a bit. But after another 4 hours they FINALLY let us go home because he was no longer symptomatic and could see his BP was just going to stay low. I was never so glad to leave somewhere. I think I had about 10 crying episodes during that ER visit. I tried to keep it from Hubby though because he felt bad enough. I just kept feeling this fear creep up on me that our life had now become about THIS. About being in and out of SCARY ER’s and always worrying. But, once we got back to the condo I pulled it together and realized how thankful I was that Hubby was ok and that we dodged another bullet.
We had a couple days left before we had to leave so we made the best of it. We kept Dad as cool and hydrated as possible and he was feeling much better. He was starting to eat better and was getting some energy back. The kids were so relieved and were starting to have fun again. I just sat back and watched them. I don’t care how old they get I never tire of watching them goof off and have fun. I never tire of watching them do anything. We are very fortunate… our kids have such crazy unique relationships and it’s adorable, dysfunctional, and just so entertaining all at the same time. They are special and we are so blessed…we love those goofballs so much 🙂
We hated to leave that gorgeous beach. Even though we had a crazy couple days we would like to forget, that was one of the best vacations we have ever had. Being on that beach was really good for Hubby’s spirit and all of us being together was wonderful. We were missing our oldest son and his family.. unfortunately they couldn’t get the time off work 😦 Hopefully we can have the ENTIRE gang there next time.
And as for the softball games, it wasn’t a very winning week but not too bad. I have NO idea how those girls played in that heat.. bless their hearts.. they are tough cookies!!
Since this trip we have had no crazy scares and we are ever so THANKFUL. But, with that episode and the advice of Hubby’s doc we are now faced with making a new decision…
Defibrillator or no defibrillator????
Until next time.. be a blessing.. share a blessing.. be blessed… xoxo