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I guess I’m finally ready to tell this story. I wanted to wait to see how it was going to turn out before I told it, but really, do we ever REALLY know how “it” is going to “turn out”? When a story says, “and they lived happily ever after”, c’mon. Did they, really? Well…maybe in fairy tales, they did, but this is real life, and real life has its ups and downs, does it not? I just haven’t experienced so many intense ups and downs in such a short period of time before.
|The Bison in question.|
This all started on Monday, May 16th, at about 4:30 in the afternoon, when my dear, dear, DEAR husband, the Big Bison (henceforth to be referred to as the BB) was feeling his energy wane. He had ideas in his head that he wanted to try to write (he’s a musician, and a writer and producer), but felt a bit listless. In hindsight, he says he has been feeling tired for quite a while now, maybe since the beginning of the year, but neither of us paid much attention to it. He always struggles with allergies, and the Boonies are nothing else if not pollen-laden, so, he feels cruddy from time to time. Lots of folks do.
So, anyway, what to do about this tiredness he was feeling that evening? He made a reasonable decision (and what turned out to be the first of many reasonable decisions he made that evening). He decided to go outside and get a bit of exercise. The exercise that turned out to be a self-induced stress test.
I know many of you will remember my post from several weeks ago, where I told you about a particularly vicious spring storm we had had, that knocked down six trees around our house. A friend of ours from church came with some big machinery and took care of completely taking down those trees and chopping them into big chunks, and stacking them. One of them was a hickory tree, and if you are a regular reader, you will also remember that the BB is really into smoking meats right now. When we heard we had a built-in free supply of hickory, we were delighted! The BB asked our friend to leave those trees in big chunks, and he and our son would split them into smoker-ready size pieces, for exercise.
So, my BB, on May 16th at around 4:30 in the afternoon, decided it would be a good idea to get his blood flowing by chopping some wood. We were in an unseasonably cold snap, and it was only 53º outside, a chilly, overcast, gray evening. He swung the ax once, and felt quite lightheaded, and not well. He swung the ax a second time, and on that chilly evening, he felt a cold sweat break out all over his body. Not really the kind of sensation one would expect. And then, he noticed the fist pushing on his chest. And then, he thought of his Dad who had died of a massive heart attack at age 62. And of his uncle, who had died of a heart attack at age 50. (The BB is a very young, vital and vigorous 56.) And so he made the next smart decision of the evening: he decided to stop, and come inside and lay down for few minutes. And then, as he lay on the floor, with his hand on his own chest, praying, his left arm began to feel wonky. And then he made his next good decision: “I think I better go tell Sooze.”
At 4:45 that evening, I was sitting in front of my computer screen in my homeschool uniform. Yes, I had on my little black nightie. Don’t judge me. The BB entered the room and sat down on the futon to my right – I never glanced up. “Sooze,”, he said, “I think you need to get dressed and take me to the hospital.”
DING! DING! DING! DING! DING!
Woooooooop! Wooooooooop! Wooooooop! (imagine if you can the sound of the siren on the Star Ship Enterprise, warning the crew to go to Battle Stations, and you’ll get the feeling that was going off in my body. In fact, I just now had to run to the bathroom before I could finish typing this part of the story: every time we tell this to friends, I feel MY chest starting to tighten up, so I’d say it’s going to take me a while to work through this, but telling the story here is part of my therapy, so bear with me. THIS, telling the dramatic portion of it, is what I’ve been dragging my feet on, because it still affects me physically. Deep cleansing breath. Onward. )
Adrenaline began pumping, nay, gushing through my system. I looked to my right and saw his face, which was as grey as the temples of his hair. I shot up out of my chair. I called to my son to grab his Dad a couple of aspirin and a glass of water, and I told my dear husband to lie down on the living room couch. Did he? No. He went upstairs to get his shoes. Idiot. But that’s about the only thing he did wrong that night. So I ran to my closet and grabbed a pair of pants, and stood, paralyzed, like a deer in the headlights, looking at my shirts. I couldn’t find a shirt that would go with those green pants. God in heaven (to whom I was praying), my husband may be dying, and I can’t find a shirt to wear. And then, the calm voice of reason whispered, “You cannot drive him to the hospital. You can do many things, but if he slumps over in the car while you are driving, you cannot perform CPR. You have no paddles, you have no EKG, you have no nitroglycerin, you must not do this.” I am firmly convinced it was the voice of the Holy Spirit, who had had a conversation with me through my friend Chloe a year or so ago, when I had mentioned how isolated I feel sometimes out here in the Boonies, and how long it would probably take an ambulance to ever get to me out here, if it could even find me in the first place, and for gosh sakes, my BB’s family has a history of heart disease, and what if ever, God forbid, he should have a heart attack, I guessed I was going to have to just drive him in…And she said those very words that came to my mind while I stood paralyzed in front of my shirts in my closet.
As you know, we are self-employed, and we live pretty frugally, because financially it seems to be either feast or famine around here, and I was thinking about the cost of an ambulance, and how my dear husband accuses me from time to time of overreacting to health crises, but I KNEW I needed to call an ambulance, so I geared up my mind for the fight he was going to give me. “Honey,” I called, “I really believe I need to call an ambulance”. So, when he said, “Well, go ahead, then,” you could have knocked me over with a feather. No fight???? Well, alrighty then! I grabbed a shirt, ran to the phone, and dialed 9-1-1, and in the most surreal moment of my life, said, “I believe my husband is having a heart attack”.
Oh God, oh God, oh God, let it not be so, but I believe he may be.
With the ambulance on the way, and my clothes on, I looked at the BB’s face. His color was coming back a bit, and he claimed to be feeling a bit better, and within 15 minutes, which I found to be AMAZINGLY fast (found out later that they just recently put in a brand new ambulance station 15 minutes from our house, and I love those guys. I am so taking them some cookies, soon!) and they and the local police were soon pulling down the driveway, and entering our delicious smelling home, where the chicken I had fixed earlier in the afternoon was just approaching doneness. The BB told the guys he was feeling better, and maybe it was just not eating that afternoon, and maybe a sinus infection that was coming on, and they smiled and shook their heads, and told us they couldn’t MAKE us do anything, but they encouraged us to strongly consider getting him checked out. We agreed. Another surreal moment: my husband is placed on a rolling cart and wheeled out of our home. SERIOUSLY??? I leave my kids at home, because my son is 17 and able to drive, and I head out to the car, where I quickly call my friend Chloe, and tell her that I’m waiting for the ambulance that is parked behind me in my driveway and blocking my car to move, so that I can follow it to the hospital. She sounds stunned, but I figure not any more than I am, and frankly, my hubby and I could use the prayer cover, and I’m reasonably certain that she will contact the necessary parties.
The ambulance is going nowhere. What the crud is going on??? Is he back there dying, inside it? I climb from my car and peek in the back window of the ambulance, and no one seems to be moving in a hurry, although I can’t see him. Turns out they have been giving him an EKG, and checking his vitals, and everything looks good, and he asks to speak to me, and he again wants to ask me if we should send him on this ride, or if I should take him in our car. The paramedics have told him that at present, he looks good, but this could have been a little warning shot. Those words were enough for me. “You know, you’re strapped in there: you might as well go for a ride with them.”
So, off we go to the hospital.
No lights, no sirens were used, although I knew the whole 35 minute drive that there was every chance that they might turn those suckers on somewhere along the way, so I was as tense as a tightly tuned guitar string. Driving at 80 mph down the interstate, with me wondering if the police will stop me. Turns out my dear husband was sitting in the back of the ambulance TEXTING his friends, while I’m driving praying out loud the whole way. At least one of us was having fun.
OK, I don’t think I can type anymore. My shoulders are in knots from the tension of telling this. Let me tell you more tomorrow.