Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What Happened With My Wife's Heart Attack

I'm not trying to be morbid, but I've had a LOT of people ask me what happened with all of this. Some are just finding out about it and I thought that this would be an easier way to clear up rumors and misinformation that is out there as well.There is no way that I can call everyone and explain the same thing over and over again and there is no way in the world I can THANK EVERYONE enough for all of the thoughts and prayers. Please know from the bottom of our hearts how much we love and appreciate each one of you!

On Thursday afternoon, Aug. 20th, Janan was with our youngest son, Jordan at the local Jr. college getting him signed up for a course he is taking for his H.S. Senior year. While he was filling in some information on the computer she sat out in a hallway to wait and began to feel bad. She says that her chest began to hurt and she could hardly breathe. She told Jordan that she needed to go home and so they headed toward the house.Jordan has told me that he knew SOMETHING was wrong but that he wasn't sure what to do. Janan just told him to take her home and that she thought maybe she was having some sort of an allergic reaction.

Thank goodness I came home early on Thursday. I don't remember the exact time, but somewhere around 3 p.m. Jordan and Janan drove up and as soon as Janan got out of the truck I knew something was wrong. She was bending over as she was walking to the house saying that she didn't feel good at all. She went to the bedroom and lay down on the bed saying she just thought she needed to lay down. She did say that her throat felt like it was swelling so I got her some Benedryl to help with that but, upon continuing to question her, knew it was much more than that. Once she told me that her hands were tingling and that her left arm was hurting really bad I knew we had to get her to the doctor.

The 3 of us jumped in the Trailblazer with emergency lights flashing and made a very quick trip to town. NOTE TO DRIVERS: When someone is behind you with their flashers on and honking their horn at you - MOVE!

It had probably only been about 20 - 30 minutes from when she first began to feel bad at this time - so we were getting her to the hospital pretty quickly. We walked in and I told them I thought she was having a heart attack and they took her (with me right along beside her) back to the emergency room. Within minutes of hooking her up to all of the machines the doctor told us that, indeed, she was having a heart attack and that they had begun administering some medication to slow things down a bit and that they also were checking on the helicopter to come from the Heart Hospital in LR as well as check on their ambulances. I called our church office and asked the secretary to spread the word about Janan and within minutes I started getting calls on my cell phone. Some I just let go as things got very busy - but it was good to know that people were already reaching out.

The helicopter was unable to come from LR due to the weather and both ambulances were out at the moment but would be available very shortly as they continued to work with her. She was awake and able to talk to me - scared to death over what was taking place. I had to calm her as it all began to overwhelm her. The doctors told me that an ambulance was on the way and I asked them if I had time to run back to the house and grab some things since I knew we would be at the hospital at least overnight. Plans were for Jordan to spend the night at his grandparents home in Malvern - they had already been called and were to meet us at the hospital in LR.

For those that have never had to do this - do you know how hard it is to call your sons and tell them that their mother is having a heart attack? One lives in Ft. Worth (approx. 8 hours away) and the other in Houston (approx. 11 hours away)....they were both shocked at the news. Do you know how hard it is to call you in-laws and tell them that their daughter is having a heart attack? I was unable to keep a firm voice with ANY of them - as hard as I tried..but was able to get the message out that we were headed to LR in a few minutes.

Jordan and I made another quick trip back home to grab some clothes and then back to the hospital. This took maybe 20 minutes. As we got back to the hospital, a group of people from our church had already gathered in the waiting room and I was so glad that Jordan had someone to talk to. I made a straight path to the ER...I noticed out of the corner of my eye how quickly the lady behind the desk jumped up when she saw me heading toward the ER door. She met me on the other side and cut me off as I looked and saw around 10 - 12 people now over my wife working feverishly. They would not let me get to her. I know how important it is to stay out of their way.....but that was my wife and I needed to know what happened. I insisted that SOMEONE come tell me SOMETHING....the doctor came over and told me that they had to "shock" her and that she had even had a seizure while I was gone. (I WAS NOW BEATING MYSELF UP FOR EVEN LEAVING!!!)

They would not let me close enough to her but I insisted on being within eyeshot of her. My heart was being ripped out as I watched and could tell that they were working frantically to keep my wife alive. Two nurses insisted that I move down the hallway - but to a room out of even earshot???? I obeyed, but not for long...I had to at least have some clue what was going on. These were some of the worst moments for me --- I was so afraid that my wife was going to die right then and there.

They tried to get me to sit out in the lobby where everyone had gathered. I loved the people out there, but did not want to be out there - I needed to be near my wife. I also did not want my son to see me in the state I was in at the moment. The time came that they said there were ready to transport her and that I could speak to her - even though she was unconscious - before they wheeled her out. I asked the nurse to get my son and I spoke to him at the door and told him quickly what was happening and to see if he wanted to say something to her - he did.She was strapped down....they were "hand pumping" air into her lungs and she was unconscious - hard for anyone to see and I really hated Jordan seeing this....but, to be honest.....I didn't know if this might be the last time we had to speak to her. My heart aches even just typing that - but it was true.

As they wheeled her out, we ran through the doors past the waiting crowd to go get in our car. The ambulance driver told me that he would be driving "code 3" - I had no idea what that meant, but I knew it was fast. We had to sit in the parking lot a few minutes as they got everything situated and I know several came by the side of the car and patted my arm and said stuff to me - but I couldn't tell you who said what for the life of me. Thank you to those of you that consoled Jordan on the other side of the car.

The ambulance was finally ready to go with lights on and sirens blazing - we left the hospital headed to LR (about a 2 hour drive). I tried to keep things light as I told Jordan that this would be the fastest trip to LR that he had ever made. -- Yes, we were moving fast.

Little was said between Jordan and myself. We were both lost in our own thoughts. As hard as I tried to stay positive I couldn't help but keep thinking, "What do I say to my boys....her do I survive without her?" Tears were streaming down my eyes as I drove.

For those that know the area, not too far before we reached Locust Grove (about 25 miles) I began to notice another ambulance coming up in my rear view mirror. Now there's a dilemma! You're behind one ambulance with your wife in the back when another one comes up behind you - what do you do?

It was not coming up very fast - I was glad of that because it made my decision easier....and then it happened.The ambulance that was carrying my wife pulled over at Locust Grove and the other ambulance pulled up beside it -- a big, husky guy jumped out of the 2nd ambulance and climbed into the ambulance that was transporting my wife. I couldn't help but say to Jordan," Son, I'm not trying to be negative, but that's not good."

The main ambulance sped away and the 2nd ambulance decided to get in front of me - between me and the ambulance with my wife. NOT A GOOD PLAN! The main ambulance was pulling away.....increasing their speed as the 2nd ambulance was lagging behind. I was about to come unglued and decided that the road was about as clear as it was going to get as we came upon a straight stretch. I looked around the 2nd ambulance and saw that there were oncoming cars but that they were pulled over - so I pulled out with my flashers on and began to flash my lights and I floored it. You may think this was stupid...but you weren't in my shoes and I HAD to stay close to the main ambulance!!

All I know is that as I got around the 2nd ambulance and got closer to the main ambulance, I looked down at the speedometer and it was registering 100 mph (Jordan later told me he was watching it and it got to 105-110). In other words, this main ambulance had picked things up considerably which, again, was another sign that was not good.

One thought kept going through my head -- please, keep moving...keep the lights and sirens on. Why? I did not want to see the lights get turned off and the ambulance slow down. I assumed as long as they were moving fast and had their lights on she was still alive.

We got to the intersection in Batesville where you could either turn right to go to Searcy (and on to LR)or left to go into Batesville and they had their signal on to go to Batesville - not a good thing to see again. Once again I told my son, "Jordan....that's not good either."

People along this stretch of road had to wonder what in the world was going on....2 ambulances with a guy between them with his flashers on and his lights flashing!

We got to the hospital and ran up as they began to prepare to unload my wife. The look on one of the EMT's face scared me bad. Honestly, he looked lost. It was as if he already had made a connection as he looked at me - and I didn't like what I saw in his eyes. I did not want Jordan to see that so I grabbed him and held him close and he finally unleashed the tears. We both held each other and sobbed uncontrollably as the EMT mouthed the words, "She's alive" -- which, to be honest, was not all that comforting either.

As they rushed her into the Batesville hospital emergency room they rushed Jordan and I off to another waiting room. Do you know how much I hate those???? Jordan and I prayed and cried together as we waited for some news.(((Yes, I had made more calls during this time to dear friends as well as to my sons and to my mother-in-law......thank you for those that were receiving my calls as I did not do too well holding it together))))

I could not stay in the room the whole time so I wandered out in the hall to try to see what was going on - the one EMT that had made eye contact with me told me that she had been sedated but it had not been enough to last until LR and she was fighting them and the tubes so they had to get more help in the ambulance. I knew that she likely was fighting them....but I also know enough to know that they have more medication in that, again, I knew it was not good at all. (I later learned - not to my surprise - that she had "crashed" on her way to LR so they need to get to the closest hospital at that time).

My doctor friend told me they were going to do a heart cath. while she was there which would get us ahead of the game before going on to LR - and assured me that if it were his wife, that is what he would want. I trusted him with that and thanked him.

Some time later the cardiologist came to where we were and told us that a couple of stints had been put in and that what had happened was very unusual. I can't remember much from that time to be honest, but he used the word "fractured" or "splintered" the best I can remember. Not thinking clearly I asked him when we would be taking her on to LR and told me that there was no need because he had already done what needed to be done.

I was later told that it was a very good thing that he was there when she was brought in. I believe that to be true. More phone calls for the update. Emotions raw and flowing. Worrying about my son driving from Ft. Worth with his wife while so emotionally worked up. Talking to my other son in Houston that was so upset because he didn't' think he'd be able to get away and how it was killing him. I assured him it was o.k. and that Janan knew he'd be there if he could. Later he called and said he had been able to make arrangements to be there which meant them leaving around 12:30 a.m. Friday morning -- worry with that too.

She spent Thursday night, Friday and Friday night , and part of Saturday in I.C.U. and was moved to a room that was a "step down" from I.C.U. on Saturday afternoon. She was released to come home on Monday afternoon.

I went without sleep for 40 hours. I stayed by her side the whole time. The only time I left that room was to go get something to eat. There was no way I was going anywhere. Her mom and dad as well as Jordan, Jeremy and Cassidy and Jacob and Beth all were there by Friday evening...and it made an incredible difference in her. She was so glad to have them all there.

Again, I write all of this to share with you as much as I could. There was a lot of misinformation out there as well as some not knowing anything. I can't help but put in my thoughts and emotions as well - that's just me.

We are glad to be home and are so thankful for all that have prayed for us and kept us in their thoughts. I would say that there were easily over 1,000 people doing just that during this very scary time.

Key thing - she came home with me. Thank you, Lord.

Thank you Jeremy and Cassidy as well as Jacob and Beth for coming - it made a difference for mom to have her boys surround her.

And Jordan. Wow. No son should have to go through what he did. But he did and he did so very well. I earned a whole new level of respect for him through this - so proud of him. He took another stop into manhood during this for sure.

Thank you for allowing me to share this - it is good for me to get it out. Thank you all for your love and your concern. Some of you I don't know and will likely never meet...but thanks to each and every one!

Our next step is to try to figure out exactly what caused this and to see if we can keep it from happening again. Please continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers through this process as well. She is tired - as would be expected - but has no real restrictions on activity, etc.I hope this answers a lot of questions for a lot of people.

Feel free to email me if I left something out that is important.

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