It has been a month since I had a full blockage of my LAD artery, a type of heart attack commonly referred to as “the widow-maker.”
Many readers have inquired about my current state of health. Thank you for your concern and support. I’m doing great. When I reflect on this experience, the greatest life lesson I’ve learned is one of appreciation, particularly for those in the healing professions.
The past month has also given me time to read more about these “widow-maker” heart attacks, and appreciate just how fortunate I was to have access to quality care and the speed with which it was delivered.
I was at a Wyndham Hotel next to Love Field in Dallas, Texas. I felt a strange pressure in my chest, so I called my doctor back in Carson City on his cell phone. Believe it or not, he answered on the second ring. He told me not to mess around, to get help immediately. Next thing I know, I’m in great pain, sprawled on the floor next to the reception desk. “Oh my, how embarrassing,” I thought to myself. “This isn’t good.”
First came the ambulance and two emergency medical technicians. I remember one young man holding my hand, telling me he had me covered. He gave me medication, oxygen and hope. It was a short ride to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center emergency room. I moaned and kicked my legs while an efficient, caring team went to work. Confident voices kept assuaging me. “Breathe,” they said. “Stay calm. Who can we call?”
Minutes later, I was wheeled up to the operating room. I dropped in and out of consciousness while a surgeon soothed me and explained what he was about to do. He said something about a wire going up from my groin to my heart. Then he was going to push through a stent that worked something like a finger trap. Was this my body he was playing around with?
Next stop was the ICU, and then four days in a hospital bed, where I received medication, care, education and encouragement. A few days later, I was flying back home, the owner of a repaired heart.
Looking back, I recognize what fantastic, personalized medical care I received. For example, a young stranger came up to see me during my second day at the hospital. He said he knew I had German shepherd dogs and that I believed in Interactive Journaling®. It was the surgeon who had saved my life. (Apparently, I had babbled a lot during the stent procedure.) He handed me a CD of his work on my heart and recommended I watch it sometime, perhaps while listening to classical music.
I also think of the educators who taught this surgeon and the many nurses who cared for me. I think of the parents who raised such good kids, and the systems of healthcare that allow for a stranger in a big city to go from the floor of a hotel lobby to an operating room in 28 minutes.
How does one say thank you to so many? And how to honor the fact that such miracles of care occur hundreds of times across the country each day?
I feel humbled, thankful and responsible to do my part to pay it forward.