80 days later…

Two weeks ago, Bill was working it up on a treadmill literally wired all up for sound.

Wired all up for ultrasound that is…a stress echocardiogram along with a 48 hour monitor and cardiac labs all to determine if he was healthy enough to return to work and play and basically normal life…or at least a new normal life not smoking, taking multiple cardiac and cholesterol medications twice daily, exercising more and eating better.

And the verdict is labs are still a bit off but his heart is strong enough to return to work and ease slowly back into his Krav Maga workouts. Oh, and the cardiologist commends the wife, that’s me, because the diet changes are working. The diet changes that basically I have done all along but someone might not have been eating…AHEM!

And so 80 days later, after the STEMI, the 100% right coronary artery blockage that could have been, should have been fatal according to Bill’s cardiologist, my darling husband has been here the last three days.

Believe me, he is smiling on the inside. He’s back to work. He’s at a job site on a project that he was hoping to be working on because, like the Levi’s Stadium project that he was a part of, this is kind of cool.

At our dinner celebration last night, he shared with me just how awesome this is because back to work…and alive…and celebrating another year together…

The conversation went on as he reflected on a coworker, age 46, who died from the same type of heart attack the same week Bill had his…and an old friend the same age who also passed recently…and a younger, former colleague…and the father of someone we’ve known for the past 10 years who was not that much older than we are. I’ll confess the last one shocked me because I did not know what he died from, just that, sadly, he died very unexpectedly. But Bill is friends with our friend on Facebook so he was privy to the details. The loss of all of them was sobering, very sobering. Sitting beside my darling husband right now I can not imagine the pain and grief their families must be feeling even though we came so close…much too close 80 days ago.

Bill agrees.

So much has happened the last 80 days or so. We can’t help but think about life, fate, luck, grace and how close we came to not being here now more than 80 days later.

And what happened to these two kids from 1982 because if you look past the damaged heart and grey hair and no hair and creakier limbs and worry lines and laugh lines, they are still there…somewhere.

Thankful.

So very thankful.

Heart Attack Warning Signs

Chest Discomfort- Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain

Discomfort in other areas of the Upper Body- Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.

Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.

Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

IF THESE SIGNS ARE PRESENT CALL 911!!!

Learn CPR!!!

Your actions can help save a life…perhaps the life you love most.

adventures in pet sitting

When you regard a mother of five healthy, bright, engaging children, ages ranging from 28 to 13, you might imagine that this person certainly can manage the care and feeding of someone’s beloved fur-baby…

especially a cat, because, it’s a cat.

Cats do what they want, where they want. Your job is to keep the food bowl full, the litter box clean, share your lap and, if they so decide, offer a little bit of affection…not too much though…they’re not needy, pet-me-all-the-time dogs.

This can’t be hard.

Heh!

True, Albert is comfortable enough under The Big Top now to TAKE OVER our bed; but he is also relaxed enough to open doors and possibly turning on the water in the kids’ bathroom and letting it run for at least an hour or more during the night…severe California drought and family circus water conservation efforts be damned. Don’t argue with the whole he has no opposable thumbs thing because he can literally open doors!

Still he seems to be settled. He even let me pet him…once…and he is quite happy to curl up next to me when I am sleeping during the day when I am Vampira, the Night Shift Nurse. Yes, Zelda is curled up on the other side and I am waaay over-heated.

Even Zelda has settled into a playfully antagonistic almost sibling-like relationship with him…or perhaps younger auntie/older nephew relationship which seems awfully familiar as I recall my first born and my youngest sister’s relationship as they grew up. At least Zelda and Albert haven’t drawn blood…yet.

That doesn’t mean that there has not been blood.

Being the nurturing pet-sitter that I am, I gifted Albert with a lovely collar  He wears it well and I can hear him when he stalks me. Zoë warns me that it won’t last.

Of course I don’t listen or ask why.

I’m having fun pet sitting.

Easter Sunday evening came the blood. Albert decided that he had had enough with the fancy blue collar with the bell and tried to take it off getting it stuck partly in his mouth and choking him. Such a bloody mess…and a very angry, scared cat.

Naturally the 24 hour pet hospital is closed because it is Easter Sunday and this is my family and we only do things like this over holidays, vacations and out of town travel.

So Bill and I corral the frightened, angry, choking, bleeding cat, remove the collar and try to clean away the blood to figure out just how badly hurt he is and if he needs to see a vet. After a time, the blood is washed away revealing a cut nose and a lop-sided, swollen mouth…and a very angry cat piercing us with his Zoë warned you angry eyes!

Yes, she did.

This girl. This cat. This girl’s cat. This girl’s cat just might be the death of me. Thank goodness he is okay because he is this girl’s everything. Of course he makes no apology because he is a cat…and an asshole.

No one ever ask me to pet sit.

I’m serious.

for the calming effect on the nervous system of humanoids

We have a pretty awesome son in law, in case you all don’t already know. Hearing that his dad-in-law and the guy who married him for love and infinity and beyond to his gorgeous wife, he wanted to do something for him…because love and gratitude and the fact this guy let him marry his baby girl and even married them, his baby girl and the son in law.

We hear that this is a favorite shot from their wedding day because while the groom and bride were so nervous, the officiant/Daddy/Dad in law seemed to be having a really good time.

He was, Hollie and Ben. You all wouldn’t be old married folk if he wasn’t having fun standing up there with his buddy/baby girl and the man whom she loved. But you all already know that and have known that through the years together.

So Ben came to visit his Dad-in-law bearing a special gift, a gift he knew would be the right gift.

Yes, a tribble.

In the 23rd century, an enterprising trader named Cyrano Jones procured an interesting and adorable little creature. These tiny furry beasties had a calming effect on the nervous systems of humanoids – well most humanoids, anyway. They were called tribbles.

These tribbles, when they’re not busy being cute and purring, were prodigious breeders. As one country-doctor once quipped, “Well, the nearest thing that I can figure is that they’re born pregnant – which appears to be quite a time-saver!” In fact, their ability to multiply is so incredible, they can fill an entire cargo hold in three days – that’s one million, seven-hundred seventy-one thousand, five hundred sixty one tribbles… assuming one tribble with an average litter of ten producing a new generation every twelve hours. That’s some impressive breeding, right there. It would make any man want to high-five any tribble, except tribbles don’t have arms.

This tribble, however, is genetically altered to be sterile. Or so we have been told. God, I hope so! Our Big Top is crowded enough already.

Meanwhile, this tribble proved to be the perfect gift as after Ben, the son in law, left; Ben, Bill’s nurse, was pulling the venous and arterial lines from his groin which meant 30 minutes of seriously, hard pressure applied to those insertion sites to insure that there would be no bleeding from those big blood vessels. The tribble purred and cooed a lot as Bill hugged it tightly during that time. Thinking he his definitely not a Klingon.

Good thing.

Oh, and thank goodness for Bill’s tribble!

The same day that Bill went to the hospital for chest pains, it was announced that Leonard Nimoy, Spock, also was.

Coincidence, yes.

And Friday morning, as Bill finally came home to The Big Top, we were greeted with the breaking news that Leonard Nimoy, Mr. Spock, had died. And being the nerdy family that we are, we honored Mr. Spock and celebrated Bill’s homecoming the best way that we knew watching some of the original Star Trek series, including, but of course, The Trouble with Tribbles, because, seriously, what else is there?

The House of Cards, Season 3?

Yeah, there’s that.

Whatever. 

We’ll catch up soon enough. For now we are watching Star Trek on Netflix starting with The Trouble with Tribbles…cuddling with our tribble, of course.

LLAP yo!

 

catharsis

Bill is home!

We couldn’t be happier. Now the entire circus can hopefully get a good night’s sleep and maybe eat a decent home-cooked meal. I’m not sure about other things like laundry and other chores around the house. Maybe after we all catch up on some sleep.

In the meantime begins the recovery process and new reality. Five to ten minute easy walks as tolerated and lifting nothing more than ten pounds are acceptable activities which means no working, yard work, Krav Maga classes or dog walking for at least the next month or so.

Six prescribed and two over the counter meds every morning and every night. Nitroglycerin if he has chest pains. The cardiologist also recommends a home AED (naturally not covered by insurance) and CPR for all the kids.

Going over the post cardiac cath diagnostic tests, Bill’s cardiologist told us approximately 40% of his heart muscle has suffered damage. She is hopeful with some radical changes and medications, we can hopefully see some healing in time. This include working on lowering his bad LDL cholesterol and raising his good HDL cholesterol with medication and Bill sticking to the dietary changes that I have already been forcing on him. Then there is the big one…the smoking. The cardiologist made it very clear that he must stop smoking. He must never smoke again. Bill agrees telling her that he quit smoking at bedtime Monday night and that since then he has had no desire or craving to smoke. The hard part, the hardest part will be once he is home, she tells him. He agrees as she advises everything and anything smoking related should be removed from his home environment. As he nods his head in agreement, I offer to take care of that before he comes home and he tells me to do that for him.

I guess he missed my eager enthusiasm to fall on that sword for him…or maybe he did not. Who cares! He told me to get rid of those f-ers!

I tell Daniel as we were driving down to Modesto to see his dad yesterday.

Can I help? I want to smash them with a sledge hammer! No, I want to blow them up with dynamite!

I guess he has strong feelings about his dislike for cigarettes…like his mama. I assure him that he can easily destroy them all for his dad…without dynamite or a sledge hammer.

You can’t imagine how cathartic shredding these felt for my son and me.

And thus begins a new day here under the Big Top for my darling husband and our circus.

Everyone, family, friends near and far, lurkers who bravely reached out, total strangers who don’t know us at all but perhaps know one of our children or a friend, my estranged brother, even our mail carrier who offered kind words, prayers, hugs, texts, calls and visits — thank you, thank you, thank you! You can’t even begin to imagine how good your kindness was to us all…usually during a moment when one of us, or all of us needed it the most.

THANK YOU!

 

heart thoughts

Working as Vampira, The Night Shift Nurse, I am used to 3 o’clock in the morning phone calls because there’s always a mommy of one of my tiny human patients at any given shift calling because she woke up and thought of her baby. They are usually pumping the liquid gold that is mommy milk and naturally their thoughts are on their tiny baby wondering how he is doing…did she gain weight…did he have yet another episode where he stopped breathing or dropped his heart rate to delay (again) his discharge that was anticipated the day after tomorrow…is she crying… So around 3 AM Tuesday morning as I’m taking mental inventory of what I need to do before my last rounds with my patients when the phone rings I am not surprised. It’s probably baby boy’s mama calling to see if he gained weight.

Room 1. This is Laura. Can I help you?

Mom?!

Abby?…??!!??

Dad had a heart attack. We’re at Doctors in Manteca. It’s bad.

What?!

His nurse needs to talk to you.

And Patrick comes on the line calmly explaining that my darling husband has suffered a STEMI and needs a stat cardiac catheterization. Unfortunately, the hospital where he is at is not set up to do the procedure so he is going to be transported by ambulance to my hospital, its sister hospital. He carefully explains what has been done and given to Bill so far, how Abby is and that he, Patrick, will be accompanying Bill to Modesto. He adds that because we are “family” within our hospital system, he is going to be calling me during the transport to update their arrival time.

OMFG!!!!

Patrick gives me his cell number telling me that is the number he will be calling my cell so I’ll know it’s him…because who else is going to call my phone around 3 AM?…looking at my silenced phone I see that Abby tried to call me…Oh. Yeah….Patrick tells me he will call as they leave Manteca and again as they approach my hospital so that I can meet them in the ER.

OMFG!!!

Inside I am freaking out…majorly freaking out saying “fuck” often. Outside I tell my charge nurse what is going on. I’m too calm. At least I think that I am too calm.

She immediately calls our resource nurse to take over my patients’ care and directs me to update her on what needs to be done for the next few hours. I give the handoff to our resource and accept the hugs and promises of prayer from co-workers and the family of one of my patients as I blankly wander to our nurses’ lounge to wait for Patrick to call me.

I’m too calm, I think again. My husband just had a heart attack and needs an emergency cath procedure. Why am I not freaking out? Why am I not crying? My phone rings. It’s Patrick. They’re on their way he tells me. He adds that Abby is following in her car. And so I wait while my mind races…and wonders why am I not crying, screaming, throwing something…my husband has had a heart attack and is coming by ambulance to my hospital.

Patrick soon calls again telling me that they are getting off the freeway so I hug coworkers once more and head to the ER. There the STEMI Alert team is waiting and ready…nurses, doctor, phlebo, x-ray tech…

This is serious.

Before I can think to ask a thoughtful question, the ambulance arrives with Bill and Patrick. Bill is pale, much too pale but joking with me as he does, as we do.

Freak, freak, fucking freaking out inside I am again.

I’m calm as Patrick explains what meds Bill has had so far…aspirin, morphine, heparin. He tells me he went over consents with Abby and she has signed them so he’s good to go to the cath lab. Numbly, I thank Patrick for everything so far as he says goodbye while I watch Bill receive a new IV, have labs drawn, get a chest x-ray and have his pants removed all in the matter of a few minutes.

Mrs. Scarborough? We’re heading upstairs now.

Holding Bill’s hand, my mind moves from “OMFG! This is for real” to “He’s seriously high right now” as we head up to the cath lab. As they push the bed with my husband through the double doors, they direct me to sit and wait.

So, I can cry now?…

A text from Abby pops up on my phone. She’s here. I tell her where to go so that we can meet. What she tells me is so hard to believe to be real. Bill woke her up after 2 AM telling her that he needed her to drive him to the hospital.

Why, she asked?

His arm hurts and he needs to go now. Bill’s arm and shoulder has been bugging him for a few days. He blames it on overdoing it at Krav Maga, as does the family doctor who prescribed rest and a muscle relaxer. Abby tells me that he was a bit breathless and coughing a lot…as he has been because allergies and the cold Bill believes he caught from Daniel (who has not had a cold). Abby gets him to the ER close to home where they begin to triage and take his vitals…

It all changed when he was placed on a monitor. The nurse abruptly leaves the room calling a doctor in. Soon a party gathered in his room, Abby tells me. A doctor tells her that her dad is having a serious heart attack and need to be sent to another hospital.

My mom is at work at Doctors in Modesto. She will want him there.

You know the rest.

Can I just say here how impressed I am with my Abigael Rose? I am! She remained calm through all of this. I imagine that she was freaking out inside with a steam of OMFG and fuck, fuck, fuck happening because she is her mother’s daughter. Still she remained calm and even advocating for her dad and mom when they first planned to transport him to a hospital in Stockton rather than where I work, where the Central Valley cardiology rock stars are. I am so proud and so impressed with this child of mine.

The cardiologist soon comes out and tells us that his right coronary artery was 100% blocked but she was able to open it up with the cath procedure. She adds that his heart went into v-tach and he had to be shocked three times before his heart converted to a normal rhythm.

yeah…inner major freakout happened.

As the sun rises, Abby and I meet Bill in the ICU. He is on several drip medications with a venous and arterial line in his groin along with an IV. He’s pale…so pale…and he’s trying to tell jokes.

Stop!

I hold his hand as I remind myself that this is his turn for the in  sickness and health part of our vows. Yeah I am mad because he never seemed to listen to me about my worries so here we are but here we are, together in sickness and in health.

Dammit!

The family starts to call as they wake to receive my texts to call me because it’s an emergency. I want to cry and scream and curse and sleep because now I am tired, so tired, but I can’t because our daughters are calling, his sisters…

Sleep is for the weak…and people who had a heart attack…the most severe type of heart attack…and for people who needed to be shocked several times after cardiac arrest. I’m not sleeping now.

The family comes. The friends check in. Bill is awake then asleep then awake then asleep and all the while looking so pale. Everyone who sees him cries a little or a lot. I don’t.

Clearly I am defective.

I know I did way too much in sickness and in health events having babies and preterm labor and anaphylaxis episodes and meningococcal meningitis but, dammit, this is too much. His heart. I told him. I did. I nagged and I begged.

As the day progresses, he slowly stabilizes.

Thank god!

We settle into what is right now our normal and perhaps the most awkward, surreal date night ever.

As a wild, wild party seems to be commencing under The Big Top.

What can I say?

You cope your way.

And this circus will cope ours.

The good news is that by Wednesday night, Bill is much improved. no chest pains, rare arrythmias, femoral lines and drip medications discontinued and, after more than 36 hours for the first time he is sitting up in bed.

So. Damn. Lucky.

The adventure continues…