From: Gene Sent: Wednesday, December 13, 2006 2:25 PM Subject: FW: thought
So, there I was, June 5, 2003…staying with my kids while my ex was out of town for the weekend. I was in fairly good shape…matter of fact, I ran twice that day. That evening after dinner, the kidlets and I went to Dairy Queen. I had a medium cone dipped in chocolate. Medium! Heck…their medium is big enough to feed half of Scappoose, fer cryin' out loud!
Anyway, there I was, lying on the couch at around 11:30 PM, the kids were in bed when I started to feel heartburn? It seemed to be a bad case of heartburn, probably from that danged dipped cone that I had at DQ, so I got up, went upstairs and woke my oldest boy (he was 16 at the time) and asked him to get me aspirin. All that was in the house was those kiddie aspirins…you know, " St Joseph 's" aspirin. So, I took 5…I figgrd that should be enough. I went back downstairs…after 30 minutes, the feeling was getting worse and my boy woke up to my groans as I was lying on the couch and said something like, "call the hospital?" So I did and the advice nurse suggested that she send an ambulance. Umm…oookay?
While I'm waiting for the ambulance, all of a sudden, I felp…umm…poopy, if you know what I mean. So, I headed to the can, sat down and…ewww…but you know how you feel so much better when you have an upset tummy and you either have an "ewww" on the toilet or you throw up? Well…I felt much better! So much better that after the paramedics arrived and after they inspected, detected and did all kinds of nasty things to me, I said, "thanks boys but I don't need that ride after all!" So, they had me sign the "I don't want a ride" waiver and off they went!
Ok…now it's 3:30 AM, and the feeling is MUCH worse. I drag my butt off to the toilet again but, try as I might, nothing's coming out. And as I try, with each attempt, I feel weaker and weaker. This ain't workin' so I stumble out to the couch, sit and moan. Yep, I woke my boy up again and he says, "go to the hospital?" Yeah…good idea…but….my thinking was cloudy so, instead of getting wacked with a $1,000 ambulance bill, I said, "I'll drive". Really stupid but here I am writing so it worked out.
We get to the hospital at 4:30 AM, check in and 10 minutes later, I'm being wheeled into the emergency room. They put me on a bed, hook me up with all kinds of wires and take all kinds of tests. One of the male nurses comes up to me, tells me he's going to remove the wires from my body and then simply yanks them off all at once. Ok…I have a hairy chest and well geez louise…get the picture? Not pleasant!
A few minutes later, the doctor in charge of the ER visits me and says, "You're having a heart attack." Mmmhmm…I let that sink in and I ask, "are you sure?" "Yes", he replies to which I reply, "are you really sure?" He says, "let me ask you a few questions. Are you having pains that run from nipple to nipple and straight down?" "Uhh…yeah", I reply. He continues with, "is the back of your neck sore?" "Umm…yes", I quietly reply, feeling hopeless. He then says somewhat sarcastically, "Umm…yeah…we're pretty sure you're having a heart attack."
Half hour later, I'm medicated and being wheeled into the surgery room. It's like a tv show...you know the scene from the patient's perspective…lying on his back, watching the ceiling tiles go by, raising your head a little, seeing the nurses pulling your gurney, looking back, seeing the nurses pushing your gurney and so on. We roll into the operating room and I think to myself, "I know what's going to happen next" and sure enough, the roll me up to the operating table and say (I knew this was coming because I've seen it on tv), "One, two, three" and they hefted me up and off the gurney and slid me on the table..whoosh! Yep…just like on tv!
Surgery went well and before long, I was back in the Intensive Care Unit. About a couple of hours later…I started to feel sick and I knew it was coming, so I grabbed the bucket and threw up. You have to understand how much I hate tossing my cookies because I am a loud, violent thrower-upper…ughh! I usually throw up chunks of kibbles and bits through my nose too! But I got through it and nibbled on the saltines they gave me and sipped on my water bottle. Soon, my doctor showed up to check on me. He gave me a thing to help me with my breathing…kind of an exercise thing. It was a round plastic tube with a plastic straw attached and a it had a flat round thing in the tube that you move up by sucking in air. So I gave it a try and barely moved it! He said that I had water in my lungs because of the amount of liquids I had been given and that, before he released me from the ICU, I had to suck on this thing, once every half hour until I could move the thing in the thing up 6 inches. He left…I thought, I want outta here so I'm gonna suck on it every 15 minutes! Well, by the end of the day, I had that thing in the thing going 12 inches…all the way to the top!
O…bye the way, I threw up two more times that day and the third time, it was all liquid and it was a yucky brown color. The brown…it was blood…some concern was felt by me and others! My mother and brother came to visit me around 5 PM. Mom left around 6:30. At almost 7, I got that "I'm gonna toss cookies again" feeling and, since I didn't want to worry my brother any more than he was worried, I said, "Jimmy…I'm getting tired…I think I'm gonna sleep now". He understood, said "see ya later" and took off. The second he walked out, I grabbed the bucket and…
I wake up…I'm shaking…I'm confused! I look down at my toes and I've covered in brown-throw-up and the bucket is laying on its side. "What the heck!", I'm thinking. I look to my left…my nurse is sitting next to me…she looks concerned…I ask, "what happened?" She says, "you threw up so hard, that you stopped your heart…but…you're okay now." I look back over my right shoulder and notice a guy-nurse standing there, holding those paddles in his hand…you know, the paddles…the things that they use and yell, "CLEAR" and then they shock you with! But he didn't need to use them but I was seconds away from that!
I notice that there are four or five nurses in the room…and they look like they're ready for action. I notice another four or five nurses at the door and they too look like they're ready for action. And then, I can't help myself…I start sobbing uncontrollably…it lasts about a minute. And then in about 3 more minutes, I start sobbing again…I can't help it. And then…in about 3 more minutes, I feel the sobs coming…and I get pissed! I get pissed because I had a heart attack. I get pissed because I'm gonna be bed-ridden for the next 4 or 5 days in the hospital and that's gonna be real boring! I get pissed because I'm covered in my own puke! I get pissed because I'm crying in front of cute nurses! I just get really dang pissed and…I suck it in…gather myself…and I don't sob again. And as I'm "sucking it in" I feel myself returning. You know that scene in Terminator 2, the one in which the liquid nitrogen spills on the bad Terminator and Arnold walks up to the bad guy's frozen self and smashes him into a bazillion pieces with the 2x4? Remember how the fire warmed up the pieces of the bad guy and how they rolled back together and slowly, the bad guy reformed? That's EXACTLY how I felt…I could feel the pieces of me coming back to me…I could feel myself reforming as I was getting pissed and when I got really pissed and stopped the sobs…I had completely returned!
Well…long story short…they rolled me outta the ICU the next afternoon right after I showed the doctor my sucking the thing in the thing ability! And the doctor told me that as soon as I could walk a half a mile, he'd let me go! The hall in the wing I was in was 1/8th of a mile around. I took a couple of strolls the day they moved me from ICU and then Thursday, the next day, I said to myself, "I am soooo outta here", and so I walked. That afternoon, the doc came up to check on me and eventually asked me how far I walked. I told him "12 laps". I watched him calculate, I saw his eyebrows raise when he figured that I had walked a mile and a half and so he said, "ok fine…you're outta here tomorrow". Before he left, I asked him what happened, what were the signs, what were my vitals?" He said that my cholesterol was 129…that's dang good! My blood pressure was 110/80…I had the blood pressure of a 16 year old (bye the way, I was 47 at the time) and my resting heart rate was 65…and that's good too! "So why did I have a heart attack?", I asked. He's from India and so in his cute Indian accent, he replied, "you inherited some faulty hardware". Hmm…ya never know, do ya!
So, I left the next day.
But this isn't a story about my heart problems but the problems continued.
This is a story about my girlfriend Sabrina and how much I love her…how much she means to me…and how I can not imagine a life without her.
Like I said, the problems continued. March 3, 2006, 11 AM…I go to the bathroom in the office building. I'm sitting on the can and when I'm done, I reach to my left, place my hand on the roll of toilet paper and…I just sit there, not knowing what to do next. So, I pull my hand back and think about it. A minute later, I again reach for the tp and again…I don't know what to do next. Another minute passes and again, same thing. And then I notice that I'm slumping to the right and the more I try to sit up, the more I slump. Now I'm leaning against the stall wall and as I thing to myself, "sit up stupid...what are you doing", I slump and eventually…all of a sudden, I'm lying on the floor in the stall, kind of in a fetal position with my pants around my ankles. I think, "ok...this is dumb…git yer butt off the floor before someone comes in and sees you lying here with your pants around your ankles." But try as I might, I can't move.
I don't know how long I was lying there, 5 minutes or less and then I look up and there is a guy climbing over the stall wall and he looks concerned! "Crap", I think to myself, "there's a guy climbing over the stall wall…and my pants are around my ankles!" I struggle to move and do something…anything, but I can't. A few minutes pass…maybe, I have no track of time…and now I'm being dragged by my shoulders by paramedics. Where did they come from?!?!? They're checking me out…I'm still fussin' with my pants…and then, I surrender…I become the leaf in the stream and I figure I'm gonna end up where I end up and so, like I said I surrender.
I feel no pain. I feel no fear. All I feel is inconvenienced and powerless.
Soon it's 1-2-3…poof, and they lift me into a gurney and roll me into the hall. I see lots of people, a few I recognize. And yes, my final thought when I see people is (can you guess it?), "My damn pants are still around my ankles!" Priorities…gotta have priorities! I learned later that my pants were pulled up before I was lifted into the gurney but what did I know?!
30 minutes later, I'm at OHSU ( Oregon Health Sciences University …one of the local and nationally famous hospitals). There's a lot of people in the room and there seems to be confusion on who can sign for, as I learned later, experimental surgery. They call my brother and my mother, but they're not home. People from work are there, my girlfriend is there but since they aren't family, they can't sign. Somehow, someone notices that I seem somewhat coherent so they suggest I sign. Ok, I figure…gimme the pen. But I can't read, I don't know what I'm signing…I'm nervous but, whatdaheck…I sign! At first, I couldn't write coherently…my whole right side is virtually useless. I'm pissed that I can't read my signature but finally, the effort of being pissed is too much, so I just scribble. I doubt very much that it is readable but…good enough for the docs and whoosh…I'm off to surgery!
I don't remember anything until 7 PM that nite. Apparently the surgery was done by 2 PM and I was moved up to the ICU around 4. 5 PM, I wake up to see this big guy, I think he was black or latino…I don't know…and he's yelling in my face! He's trying to get me out of my drug-induced sleep and wake me the heck up. So I wake up but…I don't remember anything else until 7 PM when I look to my right and see my girlfriend sitting there, watching me and being her beautiful self…and I look to my left and see my brother Jimmy sitting there also watching me.
I try to speak…a word comes out and then…nothing. So, Sabrina and Jimmy play verbal charades and try to guess what I said and what I want. A few long seconds go by and I utter another word…and the charades begin again! A few more seconds go by and I again utter something…charades…and then, the effort of trying to talk is wearing me out and so, with my right hand, I make a waiving-off gesture and I utter the complete sentence of, "O…never mind." We go through this effort concluding with the gesture and the "O..never mind" four or five more times until I give up and just let them talk too me and at me. 9 PM rolls around, Jimmy goes home. 10 rolls around and Sabrina goes, although I could tell that she didn't want to.
Next morning at 9:15, I pick up the phone and call Sabrina. She answers and I say, "Hi baby…how are you?" The words just roll off my tongue! And she goes ballistic…she is beside herself, she can't believe I'm talking! Later, I found out why. You see, I had had a massive stroke. Sabrina and my family were told that it was possible that, worst case, I could be a vegetable! But only time would tell how much, if any I would recover. Matter of fact, had I not been found for another 3 hours, I would've died and the fact that I was operated on within 3 hours is why I recovered. Within 24 hours, I was 95% recovered and I recovered the other 4.99% within a month. I had "expressive aphasia (?) which means I sometimes would get this blank expression on my face in mid-sentence as I tried to find a word to express what I was saying. To some degree, I still, once in awhile, can't find the word. And I still have the residual affect of my handwriting is crummy. I used to have very nice penmanship. Now, I have to make sure I pay attention to what I'm writing, otherwise it comes out barely readable.
Anyway, the next day, Sabrina came to visit me and she filled me in on all the details of what happened, why she freaked when I called her. And then she let it slip…I don't know if she realizes the magnitude of what she said…but she said that, when the docs told her of my potentially bad condition, she told me how she started looking down the road, planning how she would take care of me!
My God! We're not married! And she is planning to take care of me! My God! My God! My God!
You see, I have not been the best of boyfriends to her. I've put us…I've put her through some rocky times. So rocky that anyone else would've ended the relationship a long time ago. Yeah, I could blame and I have blamed a lot of things I've been through before I met her but that is dishonest and cowardly. Bottom line…I loved her the minute I met her…really…I'm not kidding…I knew I loved her and would love her within 5 minutes of being with her…but, my actions did not live up to the standard that love requires.
And now, day by day, I'm focusing on doing the things that love requires. I've never really been "in love" until now so I'm still learning what that means. I pray that her patience lasts a little longer so that I can show her what I've learned as I learn it and so that I can continue to show her, through my actions, for the rest of my life, how much I need her…how much she means to me…how much I love her…and…how much I am in love with her.