Heart Attacks and Helicopters
Or, if you prefer – the day Heaven didn’t want me.
I wanted to wait to write this blog until I had a little bit of a better (and grateful) perspective on my heart attack. If I would have told you how I felt right after this event – emotionally, it would have been a much different tale – true, of course, but not kind (either myself or to the others involved).
Everything in my world has shifted – and a new paradigm is forming yet again.
In order to tell my story completely, let me back track a little.
For the last couple of years, I have been in a dark place. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve enjoyed many happy memories too – it’s just that the world (MY world) was dark. I literally had NO energy. NO motivation.
None, zip, zilch, nada.
Oh, but I had the voices.
The Army showed up in full regalia and took over my house.
General Guilt, Colonel Shame, Major Should, Private Pity, Lt. Be-littler, and his sidekick, the filthy-name-caller.
All hailing from a well-known conquering army from my past.
To say I had given up on myself is an understatement. I was miserable and radiated it, and I do NOT blame anyone for stepping away from the negativity. I would have myself had I been able!
Anyway – this went on for months. I sank deeper and deeper. Sought medical help – was rudely shrugged off – then – screw it – I began to self-medicate. And while it didn’t cause my heart attack ( I asked a medical professional during my hospital stay), it certainly affected my emotions and the way I saw myself and others.
But that’s another story…
I was being downright mean and snarky. That was frightening – it’s not something that I’m (at all) known for – I hate to hurt people’s feelings. I drew further into myself by cutting myself off the computer. I had no energy for consistency or responsibilities. The ONLY thing that got me up and moving was the aforementioned self-subscribed medication.*
A couple of weeks into May – I began to lose my words. I would struggle to remember a descriptive word – and couldn’t. Simple sentences were becoming difficult.
Extremely scary stuff for someone whose identity is wrapped with words and excellent communication skills.
On Wednesday, June 3, 2015 at 7:12 am – I woke up feeling very strange, but let the dogs out, and stumbled to the bathroom (not unusual by-the way – the stumbling when I wake up!). I wanted to let Sandy sleep in – I remember that.
I tried to make coffee and emptied the full filter onto the floor – which I left where it dropped. I distinctively remember thinking, f*ck it, I’ll clean it up later..
After my third trip to the bathroom in twenty minutes, I wanted to throw up but dealt with the “other” end instead, and very weirdly, I felt as if my skin were sliding off my shoulders and was covered quickly in a cold sweat. I had stabbing pains in my chest – right in the center between my breasts, and I couldn’t shake it off or lay down on the couch comfortably.
I knew I was having a heart attack – I knew.
And I was pissed off.
This is not at all what I created for my death.
This freaking hurt.
Hey, I’m keeping it real for ya’ll. THIS is how I felt at the time.
I did not feel regret – I did not care I was leaving. I didn’t think of things I didn’t get to do.
I was going to a better place – one where it didn’t suck at all to be me – and I could be with my daughter, Dezi. I knew she was waiting for me.
Now, I have the most amazing relationship in the world with a woman who deserves the very best. Did I feel worthy? Nope. Still thinking she would be better off without me. The last few years have been rough for her, dealing with my issues.
After I was completely drenched in another wave of cold sweat, in spite of myself, I went to our bedroom, opened the door, and told Sandy I was having a heart attack. She took one look at me – leaped from the bed, called 911, and it gets a little blurry for me here until the firefighters came. Sandy later told me I looked as if I stepped out of the shower.
Then the ambulance came.
So, here I am on the bed, staring up at all these men in my bedroom – talk about weird right? LOL – the firefighters looked as if they stepped from a calendar spread. I asked Sandy later if they were all that pretty – or had I been dead and seeing angels – she told me they were pretty.
They loaded me up, and shut the doors. One of the paramedics tried to find a vein for the IV – but couldn’t. After searching – he gave up after one try.
I remember going really quiet, kind of numb. One guy told the other one to step on it, and turn on the siren, then ordered me to stay with him. Just like in the movies.
I only prayed that Sandy would get through losing me this way, and our sisters would get to her and help her cope. I was happy that she had her son to hold her up – he’s such a great young man.
Okay. NOW – I’m going to see Dezi any second now along with my beloved Nana, aunts, uncles, and friends who have passed. I wasn’t scared or nervous at all. I would come to Sandy every day until she joined me on the other side. I would screw with sisters and all my friends too.
I pictured popping up at Shelia’s house to give her messages – and get lectured about leaving her first. Oh, I would have to get a message to my mother too.
Being real folks 🙂 I was having a little bit of fun with this.
The ambulance pulled into the emergency entrance. I flew on the gurney down the hall (just like the movies) and into a trauma room where they were still looking for my veins.
Here’s a clue – I don’t have any. They are really tiny and not visible on the surface. AND at this point – I have NO oxygen in my blood and they are freaking out. I point them to my ankle – where they usually take blood from at the doctor’s office.
I’m calm and answering questions – people are everywhere. A man stands at my shins and starts tapping on the leg I had fallen on the day before – so I told him not there. I’m thinking he’s going to stick a baby IV in the vein. So he hides what he has and walks around to the other, left leg.
THEY DRILLED INTO MY SHIN INTO THE BONE MARROW – WHILE I WAS AWAKE AND SCREAMING BLOODY MURDER.
Remember those dreams where you try and scream at the monster and nothing comes out but a squeak?
Yeah, not so much.
There is nothing wrong with the volume of my screams – so there, monster.
(Poor Sandy is in the hallway, hearing me and not able to help. She said a nurse was rolling her eyes, she’s shooting her dirty looks – she had no idea they were drilling into my bone marrow while I was awake and fully conscious of the pain.)
The ER doctor is screaming at my face that I’m dying – I’m screaming back at him he’s killing me – three or more people are holding me down while they drilled into my leg.
Having the absolute GALL to tell me to calm down.
Take it out – stop what you’re doing – I would rather die. Get off of me, mother*cker.
I was not a happy patient.
Take your worst pain – even childbirth for those who have had it – multiply it by a thousand – throw in some PTSD from a previous rape and a complete sense of powerlessness – THEN try to feel grateful/and or calm while someone is drilling (YES, DRILLING) into your bone with no lidocaine, no painkillers, no numbing agents at all.
When they pushed medicine through it – I was on fire from the inside out. It didn’t numb a thing – it was liquid acid flowing into my leg – breaking my knee from the inside before settling the hot coals into my spine.
THEN the ER doctor is shaming me for scratching him while he was trying to calm me down. He’s acting like what they did was no big deal.
Still keeping it real….
I hated them with every dying cell in my body.
I’m ashamed to say that I wished the pain on every person in that room who wasn’t sympathetic to the fact THEY DRILLED into my leg and flooded me with what felt like acid.
They ordered me onto a helicopter to airlift me to Dallas. One of the guys tried to calm me down, talked soothingly, and he told me he would try and get that out of my leg for me. I think I traumatized him.
I know I was traumatized.
I wasn’t at all scared of the helicopter and they were relieved. I’m all, let’s go – get me away from here. (And this maniac who’s shaming me for scratching him – really prick?)
I’m thinking at the time – he should consider himself lucky, I would have ripped his face off if I could have.
I briefly see Sandy – and I’m trying to tell her what they did to me and to help me rip this spike out of my shin.
(After it was all said and done – she and I have very different perspectives on this.)
She’s white as a sheet – telling me she’ll meet me there. I can hear them giving her directions as they pushed me out the back door.
They only had the small helicopter – one where I would ride by the windows and they were stuck behind my head. So, he had no access to my leg or any of the spots he could have put in another IV.
The vibration of the helicopter kept the pain excruciating. I could think of NOTHING but my leg.
Did I mention I had NO PAINKILLERS or numbing while they did this?
Screw the heart attack – that was nothing compared to this pain.
I’m thinking I’m going to lose my mind before I see the light and Deserae.
I’m LIVID that the pain is keeping me awake and focused on it.
Liquid fire came again as they remembered I’d had no painkillers and pushed some morphine through it.
I’m pounding on the roof and screaming bloody murder again. It only numbed it a little, but I’m finally calm enough to think a little. Hoping the light was coming now.
Instead, I see the roof of Dallas Presbyterian.
Oooh, it’s like Grey’s Anatomy. They’re on the roof waiting.
A beautiful blonde PA meets the stretcher and I begged her to take the thing out of my leg. She’s telling me there’s whole team waiting just for me –to save my life – and I had the best cardiologist in the state.
At this point I’m still horrified they are going to use the IV that feels like acid and makes my knee feel as if it’s being ripped apart from the inside. ALL I’m concerned about is getting the spike out of my bone marrow.
Through the halls, looking at the lights on the ceiling (again, just like the movies) – I’m freezing. I was only in shorts and a sports bra – which they take. The doctor is an angel – very soothing. I beg HIM to take out the nail. He pats me, tells me he’s going shave me.
Sandy later informs me while she checked on my wound – it’s a cute little Mohawk. 🙂
I only remember a little pain when they went in through my groin to insert the stint. Dr Park was kind enough to put another IV in next to the original hole so I don’t have to feel the fire – but the spike is still throbbing in in my leg.
I woke up in the ICU. I had a whole crew asking questions. One doctor asked me to tell him what happened and did I know where I was.
I was sarcastic – and I used quote fingers:
“Well,” I said. “It wasn’t “JUST” a panic attack.”
Ha-ha! You should have seen the look on his face.
No, he told me I’d had a “real” he used quotes back – heart attack. And I should take this very seriously.
I agreed then I proceeded to beg HIM to take that damn thing out of my leg. (I could care less about the heart attack.)
Sandy popped from behind the curtain.
Wow, that was fast. I looked at the clock and it wasn’t even lunch yet!
She’d been told the wrong room number, went to that bedside and saw a woman hooked up to a dozen machines and ventilator. She paniced, turned around and went to the nurses station to ask about me.
The relief on her face was obvious. Could you imagine having to drive to a hospital while your wife is being airlifted and not knowing what you were going to find when you got there?
It breaks my heart that she felt that.
I’m going to have to break this blog into another part. Please understand I’m keeping it truthful – and telling it exactly how I felt at the time. It’s what I do 🙂
If I have to go through this stuff – how can I help someone if I don’t tell on myself?
I shall title the second blog: Heroes and Hindsight
In which I will thank everyone profusely for their part in my recovery. I felt all the love, truly I did.
In spite of myself – I did a complete 180 emotionally.
I blame the lack of oxygen – and you should too 🙂
Love you all,
Don’t let the cartoon fool you – this is excrutiating.
*(If you need to know the substance – Read Shade’s story in The Deadening.)
And then know I’ve had NO desire to use since that day.