Heart Break

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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.”

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.


  1. Stephanie (Just Me) says

    Oh, dear, sweet Susan. I am in tears reading this. I wish my tears could help dissipate some of your trauma. I think you are an amazingly strong woman, to be able to tell this story when it’s so fresh. I’m just sure telling it will be a big part of your healing.

    I’m sending up frequent prayers for you and your beloved BB. My dad had bypass surgery 15 years ago, and after he recovered from the surgery he felt better than he had in a long time. I’m praying this will also be true for the BB: more energy, stamina, and zest for life… a long, vigorous life.

    I’m so grateful this time bomb was exposed before it took him out; grateful it happened at home, not on a hunting trip; grateful he had the wisdom to ask for help; grateful you have as good a chance as anyone of enjoying a long, full future with your beloved. My heart’s wish for you is that you will take the time to process this event thoroughly and that it will deepen and enrich your love, but that no pall of fear will be allowed to overshadow you. Instead I pray you’ll be snuggled in your Daddy’s loving arms, in complete peace.

  2. *I* had to take a deep breath and relax after just reading that! I can’t imagine how scary it was for all of you.

    So glad that BB is doing well. 🙂

  3. Hi Susan,
    I don’t know you, but I stumbled across your blog (from TwentyFour), and oh my gosh! I couldn’t stop reading. You are an eloquent writer, and you did an amazing job communicating the scariness of the situation. I am glad your husband seems to have gotten the assistance he needs, and you can add someone to list of those praying for your family 🙂

  4. How frightening. Amazing that you had the presence of mind to make those decisions. I am just so relieved that everything seems alright now. You did a great job writing this scary story, and if you decide to write more, I can’t wait to read it.
    Blessings, Elizabeth

  5. :hugs: Susan :hugs:

    Wookie at 42 has outlived his Dad and is most of the way to beat his Uncle’s record… so I understand your worries.

    I am SO glad that you heard Chloe’s voice and listened to her! She’s a wise woman after all.

    So grateful for the new ambulance station and the check out that turned into a bypass. May it comfort you that things did turn out as they did.

  6. Stephanie – that is so great to hear about your Dad!

    Every day, I have been blessed to see more and more improvement in my husbyman. I am hoping for a similar outcome to what your Dad experienced.

  7. Thanks, Nat! :hugs:

  8. Kelsey: thank you so much for your encouraging comment. What is this TwentyFour of which you speak? I probably already know what it is, maybe, but I’m drawing a complete blank. Chalk it up to post traumatic brain flatulence.

  9. Thanks, Elizabeth! I so appreciate your kind comments throughout this.

  10. Missus Wookie: I am hoping that your dear husband has had a stress test. If not, I am URGING you to have your dear husband go in and have a stress test proactively!



  11. Makes me sweat just reading it and I already know how the story ends. I’m so sorry this happened because it just is sucky.

  12. If writing this story on your blog causes you this much torture, the therapy you call it must be physical therapy.

    Having followed an ambulance at 80 on an interstate for two hours (without lights/sirens), I was IN that car with you gripping the stearing wheel.

    Even in the midst of your trial’s grip, your writing has been amazing. What grace. God is merciful.

  13. Oh Sooze! I can only imagine the adrenaline rush that night. I’m not sure I breathed through the whole first paragraph!
    I praise God BB is doing well. Continuing to pray for complete healing and many years in the boonies.

  14. :hugs: to you and BB. Thanks for beginning to share your story.

    I do have to admit- juxtaposition of you driving and stressed and he riding in the ambulance texting did get a chuckle. It could have been my dh and me. Only it’d have to be me in the ambulance because dh has not found a good reason to actually text. 🙂

  15. Oh what you have been through.

    So glad BB is ok, he looks like a champ in the photo. He was so wise to stop cutting wood and come in. So few pay attention to the warning signs including my dearly departed father. If I didn’t miss him so much, I’d be mad.

    So glad your story ended differently. Good work on both of your parts.


  16. Chloe, does it kind of give you chills, too, that we had that conversation, and that it came back to me in that way? I often have Holy Spirit moments when we talk, and I hear God speaking to me. I don’t say that to puff you up: I clearly know the difference between your voice and his. (He really doesn’t give a rip about Retin A or glycolic acid, or my bust-to-waistline-to-hip ratio), but still, God really can and does speak through the voices of our friends, I think.

  17. Yup, Dawn, today, at least, I think I’m still in the realm of physical therapy. And cognitive therapy. We are such WHOLE creatures, if you know what I mean. How could what I have been through in the natural not affect me physically, and spiritually, and emotionally, and mentally? We’re built that way, designed that way, that what we go through is manifest in every area of our being. I need the One who designed me to do his rehab work inside my being as my husband does his own rehab work on his physical frame.

  18. Susan, I’ve been following BB story from the start. I’ve been praying. I’ve been thinking. I’ve been silent support.

    Thanks for sharing the story. I cannot imagine how difficult that day and the days following must have been.

    I hope that if this every happens to me that I will have the same presence of mind you did.

  19. colon hug colon (I thought you could use that for the PTBF.)

    Still praying. You know I am.

  20. Oh gee whiz, SOOZE! Your house and woods are very pretty, but whoa, what a story. So glad you called the emts!!!!!!!!!!

  21. That must’ve been very difficult to write. Thanks for sharing. :::HUG:::


  22. I’m reading…and will continue to read when you continue to write!


  23. I am married to the absolute love of my life, so reading this made me feel sick, scared, sweaty….. I do not know how you went through this!! I can tell how much you love your man and this must have been so hard. But thank you for sharing. This has made me thankful, and less likely to take my life (and my love) for granted.

  24. I got here. 😉 Wow — so thankful BB was listening to his body and communicated it to you. And that you listened to Chloe & the Holy Spirit for direction too. I will probably listen to all of the above when in those shoes. I know we will weigh the $$ between 911 & my driving. ((hugs))

  25. Oh my stars. I have been, and will be praying for you both, as you adjust to the new normal! Thankful it has turned out so far! May there be lots of bison tunes still to come!

  26. Oh Susan! My worst fear, I felt every word of this with you! Bless your heart. I will keep praying.

  27. Visiting from SITS. What a horrifying story! You definitely did the right thing by calling the ambulance though. Hope all is well with your hubby now.

  28. Hi Susan. WOW, I never really thought about the heat attack from the side of the spouse before. And Byron isn’t as forthcoming with thinking out loud or in writing as you are.

    In any cases, I also wanted to add, that along with the BB, I’ve been known to text in the amblance on the way to the hospital and joke with the medics mid-heart attack (and angina attack and anything else that was going on when I was in an ambulance).

    Glad the decision was made to take him in the ambulance and that he’s on the road to recovery.

    PS I’ve gotten changed while the ambulance is on the way and wondered what I should wear…. my brother used to kid me that I never bothered to wear shoes when they showed up and then when I was discharged, Dave and/or Byron would have to bring me a pair to go home in.

  29. Oh my, you have had a couple of sucky weeks! We luv you, your BB, and I especially appreciate your ability to find humor while totally stressed out.

    Take care of you both:)

  30. I get the surreal – can’t think – this cannot be real – I must pray but I can’t think – adrenaline panic. This was hard to read (b/c who wants to imagine living through it?) but good to share; I’m going to ask my dh to read it too, so he’ll know how a heart attack can look and feel. Thanks for sharing, Susan. Hugs!

  31. Wow. My heart was racing. I was with you in your room standing in front of the closet- staring at your shirts with you…what a crippling feeling. Great post- looking forward to reading on.

  32. That is really scary! I’m glad your husband decided to go get checked out when he did. Happy SITS Day!

  33. Oh – blessings to you both. I hope he’s doing well. I’ll never forget a middle of the night call I got from a chaplain at a downtown Denver hospital regarding my son who had been in a horrific car accident. After that it was all a blur and STILL very hard to talk or write about.

  34. Whew. That’s what I think. And that I’m so grateful that you could pray. There is amazing comfort in crying out to God and I’m so glad you did!

    And I’m glad your hubby is okay!

    Enjoy your SITS day!

  35. Oh my goodness. What a scary experience. Usually husbands are so tough, but when they say they don’t feel good, they mean it for sure.

  36. I know we’ve just met, but I really want to hold you right now.

  37. Hi I’m stopping by from your Bloggy Feature Day. Can I just say I have lived the exact same thing you just described except it was my dad (who I adored) … in the country … taking forever to get to the hospital … praying, crying. Gosh, that was nearly 30 years ago and I just relived every minute of it while reading *your* story. It’s one we never forget. I’m going to go look for Part 2 and hope and pray you got the happy ending we did 🙂 Hugs ~ Mary

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