In single evening, even in a single moment. That is all it took to forever readjust my life and my priorities. I'm not even sure at this point how far the adjustment knob of my life has been turned.
My husband, Pat, and I had a normal weekend. We both felt a bit cruddy and didn't do our planned anniversary hike in the Pennsylvania mountains. Instead, we laid low - we walked the trails at couple of bogs and checked the state of the blueberry ripening. We watched a documentary on Edward Bruce, Robert the Bruce's brother, and his attempt to deliver Ireland from the English. We slept in a bit late on Sunday but made it to church on time. Had relaxing lunch and then went furniture shopping. We didn't see anything we liked but wanted to go home rather than continue shopping around. He napped a little then began his yard work that he loves to do. I made a gluten free black raspberry cobbler and he grilled some ribs.
After our late dinner, he went outside with the dogs to check the pool and make sure all was secure for the night. He was tired, a bit irritable and we were going to go to bed by 9pm. He came inside belching, complaining that after eating two Altoids he had developed heartburn. He was getting agitated and in obvious pain. He took Tums. By almost 10pm the emergency room had been spoken but he had me go to the store to buy Tagamet. He took it and we waited for something to happen. He was pacing. Putting his arms up over head and stretching on our pull-up bar. Sweating, frustrated. I kept asking where the pain was - and it was at the top of the stomach he said. I asked about his arm and he said no. He had me look up GERD and see what the dietary restrictions were and to find out what they would do if you went to the emergency room. When I read the lifestyle changes, when I said "No smoking" he got extremely angry at me and excused me of giving him a lecture. I kept asking him to go to the ER and he kept not wanting to. By midnight, I was exhausted and laid on a yoga mat on the living room floor. He was irritable and in pain, nothing helped. He tried a teaspoon of baking soda in warm water. Horrible tasting a no help. Finally, he agreed to go to the ER. I was exhausted, we argued while we were getting ready. He was unreasonable and that made me really angry. We bickered and he ended up driving his car while I drove mine. It was crazy and so abnormal.
We arrived at the ER and while the triage nurse talked assessed him, I did the financial stuff. They made him sit in a wheelchair. He was still agitated and very irritable. He was wheeled to a room ad rudely complaining about how long it was taking. It was actually very speedy, but time must have been going at a different pace for him. Once in the room, he was saying nasty things about the speed and a nurse came in to hook up an EKG. What she saw led her to rus to the doctor after 30 seconds, the doctor came in and told him that he was having a heart attack and they were sending him to Ahuja by helicopter. When they walked out, Pat got nasty saying that "This is Robinson, they don't know what they are doing, I'm not having heart attack." I had started to cry. I told hi he could always get a second opinion at the other hospital. The doctor and nurses came in giving him nitroglycerin, preparing him for the lifeflight. I kept telling him I loved him and he looked me in the eye and told me, "REMEMBER, I love you more" The lifeflight nurses gave him fentanyl and something else, we said I love you once more and he was wrapped up like a burrito and taken away.
My daughters all had their phones off but one. (I could only imagine how terrifying it would be to awake to those messages). Rhianna got out of bed, got dressed and prepared for me to pick her up. I ran to the house to pick up some important things and got her. We then drove the 25 miles to the next hospital where we were directed to cardiac ICU's waiting room. The team had been waiting for him and he was taken directly in.
It was a nerve-wracking wait - daughters had been waking up and calling, terrified to hear the news. We had even more terror when Rhianna and I suddenly heard, "CODE BLUE Cardiac ICU, CODE BLUE," We knew it was him. We prayed like never before. What an amazing wonder it was when the doctor finally came out and told us, that yes, it was him, but he had made it. They had resuscitated him and he was recovering and being put in a room. He had had a completely blocked artery, had heart catheterization surgery and a stent put in; as he surgery was ending, he had had a massive heart attack and pulmonary failure.
By 6pm, another daughter and her husband arrived, along with our pastor. When we could go back he prayed and we all hung around his bedside. After a time, the doctor said I should go home and sleep so Erin & her husband elected to stay. No sooner than Rhianna and I had gotten home and gotten prepared to rest, Erin contacted me to say he was going to be flown to Cleveland to the best cardiac unit in the state. No sleep - I then got my other daughter, Jenna, who drove while we rushed the 40 mile drive to Cleveland. Poor Jenna had been juggling what to do with three kids at home and praise God her husband was off for the Fourth. In spite of being 37 weeks pregnant and going through so many trials in the past weeks, she got us safely to the hospital.
Once in the heart unit, he had another procedure where a device called an Impella was inserting in his heart to assist the left ventricle and give the heart rest. A dance of adjustments between the respirator, the blood gas levels, machines and procedures I'm too tired to understand or describe. Not enough. After a night with a "suction event" and a mix of forward and backwards steps, he went for a new surgery to attach him to ECMO, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, the highest form of life support. A mad dash had to take place between the third and second floors, a dance of adjustments and a team of several people for the dangerous journey to the cardiac surgical ICU.
The amazing team of doctors did the job and here it is, I've lost count of when and all. I just know it is Friday. He's on dialysis. His heart is doing better, his vitals have been well controlled by machines and all the blood pressure controlling meds have been discontinued. He is allowed to come out of sedation briefly to be asked to wiggle his toes, blink his eyes, etc. He does well. I had been happy when he squeezed my hand a couple of days go when I asked. Today was better - he turned his head when I spoke to him and tried to say something to me (impossible with the tube down his throat and his very swollen tongue).
So here we are, Friday - and this ordeal started Sunday night. He is going to go back in surgery for a step forward, the ECMO is being switched out to lungs only support. The Impella is down to a super low setting. Things are healing. The nephrologist came and explained the kidney situation and that what has gone on with his kidneys is common to this traumatic injury of the heart and gave me a timeline.
The love and support of friends and family has been overwhelming. It is beyond incredible to know how many hundreds of people are praying for him. To God be all the glory! We have felt His presence and His hand throughout this whole ordeal. Not a moment has gone by when we didn't know that He is in control. Whether Pat lives or dies, we know that God love us and that He is able to lead us and guide us through whatever the future holds.
Family has been amazing - both immediate and extended. The girls have just been fabulous and been able to help and support each other. Mother-in-laws, father=in-laws, great grandparents, have helped out with children so the girls could be with their dad. Friends have dropped everything to be by our side. It is just so humbling and gratifying.