Five years ago, almost to the date, my life was turned upside down. It was the evening before my baby sister Jessica’s wedding and I was preparing my dress, shoes, and other wedding attire. Shawn was playing with his Legos and Michael came home from a long, exhausting work day.
He came into our bedroom, got undressed, and got into bed. He said not a word to me but he looked miserable. I asked him if he was ok and he mumbled something at me about getting him something to eat. I asked him again if he was ok because he surely didn’t look like it.
Next thing I knew, I was getting him an aspirin and calling my MIL to watch Shawn and that I was taking him to the hospital. Comes to find out, he had been having a heart attack for most of the day and didn’t really know it. He didn’t feel well and couldn’t breathe well but his allergies were acting up and just thought that was the problem. He didn’t show any other “symptoms” of a heart attack.
He worked 6 hours like this… SIX. I didn’t question him right away but later on I asked a bunch of questions and I could have smacked him silly. I mean no one thinks at 41 they’re going to have a heart attack but come on… he worked SIX hours! (And he has a physical type of job too!)
I called my mom first to tell her the news and we both agreed to not tell my sister until morning. It was the night before her wedding and we didn’t want to upset her. After that I made the call to his boss. This was a Friday night and Michael was “sure” he’d be back to work within a week.
His boss and I both told him that he didn’t get to make that decision. He didn’t like that (it’s the Marine in him. He’s supposed to be invincible after all.)
After being transferred to a larger hospital in Buffalo (that specializes in all things related to the heart) it was discovered that he didn’t “just have a heart attack”, he had a massive one. One that they said should have killed him and if he didn’t have the triple bypass surgery, it would kill him when he happened again. (And it would happen again. Guaranteed.)
Obviously, the surgery was a no brainer but getting there sure as hell wasn’t easy. Since he was “doing well”, no one suspected that this was anything but minor and a couple stents would do the job. So they gave him a specific type of blood thinner but after the tests showed something much more, they couldn’t do the surgery until his levels dropped. It simply wasn’t safe.
He spent a total of 18 days in the hospital. 14 of those days were just waiting for the surgery and his levels to drop into the safe zone. My work was wonderful and let me take the time off to be with him. I spent every day there with him. Shawn on the other hand wasn’t able to.
It was Father’s Day, so I made sure that Shawn got to video chat and he opened his gifts. As the days went on, we had to fight to get clearance for Shawn to see his daddy. We pleaded our case numerous times about how he needs to see him and what if, God forbid, something bad happened. Finally they agreed to let Shawn come up to the waiting room on his floor. We were able to make this happen twice during his stay.
After we got the word that he was heading into surgery the next day, a whole wave of emotions went through us both. I’m typically an emotional, cry over everything, person (and I did cry a lot at the beginning but after that it was hidden during my car rides home) but I surprised myself on how strong I was.
We talked a lot. We talked about what we wanted for Shawn as he grew. What to do with the house, his truck, our brand new camper, etc. We laughed at silly stories and memories of our 16 years together. (We celebrated our anniversary in the hospital too!) We both cried and admitted being scared. It was a really emotional and yet amazing day together.
Obviously, he made it through the surgery. We marveled at the amazing procedure the surgeon had done. They look a huge vein from his arm and put it in his chest. Like wow! Modern medicine is amazing!
It was a long long road after that but he has recovered almost completely from the heart attack and surgery. If you didn’t know he had gone through this, you’d never even know. He’s still strong, still able to do 99% of the stuff he could do before and is living his life like he was previously.
The doctor said that while he needed to lose weight, that wasn’t what caused the heart attack. It was 100% genetics and was going to happen regardless if he ate wheat grass his whole life or a plate of bacon.
In the last 5 years, I have watched a man become much more aware of his health and he now takes good care of himself. He takes his meds, goes to the doctor regularly and has finally admitted that he’s not invincible.
I on the other hand am thankful that he’s still here with us because while he can drive me crazy like no other can, I couldn’t imagine life without him.