The day started out with some fatigue and an uncomfortable feeling I wrote off to something it was not. After an exhausting ride to the bank, I decided to drive and not ride my bike to the P.O. and Centering Prayer group. I left the group early for my monthly x-geva injection at Touro Infirmary, followed by a pre-op visit for some planned testing mentioned in an earlier post. During the pre-op process, the pain in my throat I had written off to allergies was back. My left elbow was hurting too and I felt some tingling in my left arm. I asked the technician if the chair I was sitting in could lean back because I felt odd. She hooked me up to an ekg machine. The reading was not good. A quick second opinion – yes, not a good reading.
All I remember next was a “rapid response” alert and sequence of events I cannot accurately reconstruct – but included being placed on a gurney, racing through the halls, looking up and seeing walls and ceilings that looked somewhat familiar from my many visits to Touro since this past August. An oxygen mask. The first gurney stop was the emergency room. Then being asked all of those questions – the necessary name, rank and serial number kind – and the others to show I was still there. Everyone poking and prodding. Next stop is the Cath Unit. “get his shirt and pants off” and a million hands have me stripped in seconds. “we called your wife and she is on her way here.” the feeling of razors shaving the hair somewhere on my lower extremities.
Dr. Yount saying “you are having a heart attack. We are going to put in some stents.” and so on and so forth explaining the good, the bad, and the ugly of it all. I sign (and would love to see that signature) the form to permit the process. I know I am powerless and simply surrender to the process. I become more acutely aware of the pain in my chest and the relief when the stents are in. Emma told me I had tears in my eyes as I was wheeled out of the Cath Unit. I am next in the ICU. The doctors, and lots of them, explain the situation, Emma is there. A bad’s night sleep.
An eventful 24 hours with visits from many doctors, clergy, and friends. and now a room on the 8th floor of Touro Infirmary with the beautiful view of my hometown today. I am well cared for and blessed.
I am fortunate to have experienced the past 24 hours with the absolutely fantastic staff of Touro Infirmary. They have proven exemplary in every aspect of my medical treatment over the past several months.
So, with the requisite rehab I will recover from this event with no increased probability of another heart attack nor is there any permanent damage.
I ask myself what I am supposed to get out of this. I have posted before about what I learned from my alcoholism and cancer diagnosis. I don’t think it is necessary to come up with a Pollyannish blessing for every seeming misfortune. But I could not have picked a better place to have a heart attack. Had it not been for my pre-op visit to Touro, I likely would have just gone home, taken a nap because of my exhaustion and perhaps died in my sleep.
But of more relevance, I was sitting in my hospital room this afternoon with Emma and my friend Callie Winn Crawford, the retired senior pastor at Rayne Memorial Methodist. We were talking about the Enneagram book study in which we participate along with a handful of other folks. Most participants are institutionally retired, but still very active in their fields. We talked about the insights we now have on our lives and our path to true self, now not constricted by the narrow focus that nine-to-five jobs often entail. We considered that the insights are not just an academic exercise but entail an application to what we do going forward on that path. That leads me back to my post last week. I am called not just to visit places of long ago, but to take active responsibility for the luminous web of humanity that are a part of our universe. I will take my last 24 hours as a reminder to continue on that road.