Family Magazine

Lessons Are Repeated Until Lessons Are Learned, Part 1

By Bigdaddycarlos @BigDaddyBlogger

Emergency Room @BigDaddyBlogger

This post has been a long time coming. Having a newborn in the house has been—ahem—somewhat challenging. It has also gotten long, so I’m divvying it up over the next few days. Spoiler Alert: I survived.

Some of the best moments in my life have been when I’ve been forced to admit the following:

“Boy, was I an idiot.”

That’s usually what accompanies my realizing that I’ve made actual progress in one area or another forcing me to look back at the previous, unknowing version of me and recognize the abundant idiocy that was there for all to see.

As you might imagine, this happened to me quite recently.

In the past few weeks, before Evie made her world premier, I had many conversations with parents. They asked how things were going, if the nursery was done, and such. I told them that preparations were being rushed to completion, and that I was looking forward to the baby arriving because then I would be able to take a breather. (I swear this made sense to me at the time.) The parents in question all smiled and nodded all Madagascar-penguin-like while they had thoughts like these:

“Oh, aren’t you just the cutest little babe in the woods. And, yes, that wolf IS your grandmother.”

 So, how’s my breather coming, you ask? Not so much.

Still, this is one lesson that now have down. Won’t be making the particular misestimation again. If only that was always the case.

A few weeks ago, I wrote that I was having an angiogram. That came to pass on Friday November 2nd. That angiogram turned into an angioplasty as two blockages were found, into two second-tier arteries, each about 95% blocked. A successful balloon angioplasty was performed on the larger of the two, but a stent could not be installed due to the torturous course the device was required to follow on it’s way to the appropriate spot. I was kept overnight for observation. My cardiologist informed me that my next option was open-heart surgery. A surgeon came by and tried to convince me to sign up for a spot on the surgical roster for the following Monday because “spots were filling up!”

If all this sounds a bit rushed to you, it did to me too. I had to get everyone to hold their horses, insisting that, first of all, the blockages I have didn’t just form yesterday, and that, secondly, I needed a little time to get my affairs in order as I have clients who depend on my services. Unless the odds were that I was going to drop dead right then and there, please, let me get my bearings here.

On Saturday I was sent home.

Sunday evening I left the house to run a very brief errand. On my way back, nearing the family home, I started feeling a pronounced cold feeling in my lower limbs, heart palpitations, and shortness of breath. By the time I arrived, profuse cold sweating had joined the mix.

By now I was fearing the worst. I made my way to the medicine cabinet, fished out five baby aspirin and chewed those down. I got in bed next to my wife and tried to ride it out. By now I was finding it hard to speak between breaths, and I was lightheaded—no surprise there. After a couple of minutes I knew that I could put if off no longer.

“Honey, please call 911.”

The next few minutes were a blur. Being wheeled into the cool night and into the ambulance. The IV, EKG, the blood pressure cuff, the oxygen mask.

“Are you having chest pain?” the paramedic asks.

“No—breath—no.” I answered.

“Concentrate on your breathing, take in the oxygen. Try to slow it down.”

They stuck a nitroglycerin tab under my tongue, and—just like that—we were in the ER.

“44 year-old male complaining of chest pain…”

“Why do they keep insisting on chest pain? I have all these other symptoms, just not that one.”

“… shortness of breath, heart palpitations, cold sweats…”

At that point I was rolled into my own bay in the ER and the door closed. I was quickly joined by two nurses that took my vitals again, drew blood, asked the same questions again, gave me a backless gown, and then quickly left.

For the first time I was alone with my thoughts.

My hands shook uncontrollably. I shifted on the gurney and realized my iPhone was in my pocket. I fished it out, intending to text my wife. I unlocked it and was greeted by the Facebook app. Without giving it any thought, I typed what I thought at the time could have well been my last status update:

In emergency room. Possible heart attack. Please pray for me.
After reading a text from Baby Momma—that she already waiting room—I put the phone down. A minute passed in silence. Then I broke out in tears. I wept for fear of dying. I wept in shame for bringing this upon myself. I wept, acknowledging possibility that my child might grow up fatherless, and that it would be my fault.

“Boy, was I an idiot.”

Soon I felt silent. I just lay there, the monitor beeping out my sinus rhythm in the background. Nurses came and went, they took X-rays and more blood. Soon I was alone again.

I nodded off briefly, then awoke with a start. Funny thing…

I felt fine.

 To be continued…
Image by robnguyen01 via flickr.

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