Vacation 2010: Thursday. Part 1.

Sorry to break this into pieces, but it’s a long story. And I don’t want to edit it too heavily.

So, obviously, it was a late night on Wednesday night. I sat down (per my journal) at 11:57pm to write about our day and our plans for Thursday, which was our last full day in MI. We were planning to take the chain ferry across the Kalamazoo River, take a hike (something Luke had been wanting to do) up Mt. Baldhead, which overlooks Lake Michigan, and then return to Oval Beach for the afternoon. Also, I’d hoped for some time wandering Saugatuck, and of course, some more Kilwin’s fudge.

Matt and I went to bed around 12:30; I fell asleep pretty quickly. At 1:45am, I heard him call my name in a panicked voice, and I jumped out of bed to find him laying on the floor of the living room, 3 ibuprofen beside him, his hand on his chest (I’d later find out that his middle/upper back had been hurting so badly he couldn’t fall asleep, and thus, got up for ibuprofen and then started to feel sick). In a few seconds’ time he told me that he was short of breath and felt some tightness in his chest, and that he was about to pass out. And then he did.

Honestly, it’s hard for me to even write about the next 30-odd seconds (that’s how long I’d guess it was), because then I have to remember how scared I was. I couldn’t get him to come to; shrieking his name, moving him around. I grabbed my phone and punched in 911, my mind racing; was I watching him die? Just as I was about to call for an ambulance, he woke up. I decided that second that I wasn’t, in fact, calling 911. I was going to take him to the hospital* myself, because I knew it would be quicker. I threw on some clothes, threw some clothes at Matt, and started waking the boys to get them into the van. Thankfully, I thought to grab flipflops for them or I would have been so grossed out at the hospital. Matt somehow made his way to the van and laid in the back, and I drove like a maniac through the streets of Holland. I kept talking to him and making him answer questions, and tried to briefly explain to my sleepy boys that we were just going to the hospital to see what was wrong with Dad.

It was maybe an 8-10 minute drive; I pulled up to the ER entrance, ran inside and told the security guy at the desk that my husband was having trouble breathing, and I thought he was having a heart attack. He was whisked into triage while I gathered the kids, and for the first time, briefly broke down while telling them what was happening. They stayed pretty calm, and within a few minutes, we were all back in the ER with several nurses getting Matt’s vitals, putting in an IV, and taking vials of blood. They fairly quickly gave him aspirin and nitroglycerin tablets to stop a heart attack, and the kids and I huddled in the corner. Luke was upset for a while, but I assured him (and, myself) that Matt was where he needed to be and all we could do was pray that he’d be ok.

Over the next couple of hours, I remember these things:

1. Matt was lucid, but trying to rest the whole time, so we didn’t really talk to each other much.

2. He had multiple EKG’s done, with nurses observing for long periods of time, trying to catch the “abnormal” beats they were seeing on the EKG. Much later, they took him for a CT scan.

3. It was freezing cold. Like 50 degrees cold.

4. The nurses took good care of us. We ended up with 6 chairs and several blankets (plus, I’d grabbed the boys’ “stuff” that they sleep with when we left the cottage) in the corner of Matt’s ER room, where I made up 3 makeshift beds for the boys to sleep on. Bennett fell asleep immediately; Luke about 20 minutes later; Jack Henry another 30 minutes later.

5. After the boys were all asleep, I paced the room like I’ve never done before. Praying, trying to reason this out in my head (he’s so young, no family history, we eat pretty healthy…), and trying hard not to vomit.

Around 5:00am, with really not much information from our ER doc (he came in once around 4:15am and said, “We think you’re having a heart attack, but we’ll know more when we get CT results back”), they told us that Matt was being transferred to the telemetry unit, where he’d be closely monitored. I spoke with the head nurse, trying to get a few answers:

Q: How long might we be here (as we have to check out of our cottage tomorrow morning)?
A: I really can’t say; the first thing we’ll do is monitor his troponin levels (enzyme that indicates that the heart is under stress, and likely because of a heart attack) for 24 hours and then decide if he needs a catheterization or what further treatment he’ll require.

Q: Is he stable?
A: Yes. And being watched very closely.

Q: We didn’t get results from the CT scan; do you know those?
A: They were normal.

Q: What does that mean?
A: Your husband is having a heart attack.

To be continued…

*I knew exactly where the hospital was. We’d seen it on the way in, and I had literally made the comment, “Well, there’s the hospital if we need it,” (thinking about stitches, broken bones, etc, all possibilities when you live in a house full of boys). Guess what we will always do when we go to a new town now?

18 responses to “Vacation 2010: Thursday. Part 1.

  1. what a scary, scary situation. thank God you heard him calling your name.

  2. I am so sorry you had to experience all this and I can’t imagine all that you were feeling. Just reading this brought tears to my eyes!!

  3. I know this had to be upsetting to write b/c even though I knew what was coming, it was upsetting to read.

    You are my hero.

  4. nicole, i can’t even imagine. you are a strong woman, my friend.

  5. I could not get through this without blinking a lot trying to clear my eyes, even knowing the good outcome! You were definitely not “alone”!

  6. You’re amazing. Obviously I’ve known this for a long time, with you being my awesome big sister and all. But seriously, even reading it I still can’t imagine how scary it had to have been.
    Love you guys!

  7. I can’t imagine how you felt watching him pass out like that. And how on earth did you remember all of those things… flip flops, snuggle objects, etc? WOW! (Why are hospitals 50 degrees?)

  8. Wow, you are so brave and isn’t it amazing how we are able to gather together stuff/think of the craziest things during panic? I got tears in my eyes reading this and I hope you write the next part soon!

  9. WOW – i agree with everyone else – very scary – you are awesome – i probably wouldn’t have remebered the kids more less all their stuff!!!

  10. I know the outcome and I still had to fight back tears while reading this! Good grief….what a scary experience.

  11. Nicole!! Oh my gosh! I held my breath while reading the end. Gah, no words. I’m so sorry. Serious tears here.

    Glad to know that he’s ok though. Man.

  12. I think the worse part was being in a strange town with no family or friends nearby. Your faith in God carried you through and I think it was your Guardian Angel that gathered up the flipflops and other gear to help the boys. You are one strong lady, Nicole, just like your mom. We love you all.

  13. Robin Vierling

    Oh wow. Frightening. I just can’t imagine.

    sidenote~I always comment where I see hospitals when we travel, “just in case we need it”. Now, I’m certainly looking for them!

  14. I can’t imagine how awful this must have been. Strange town, three kids in tow, and you still managed to remember the blankets and shoes. I’m so glad everything turned out ok. I’m sure its one of those things that’ll make you appreciate life even more.

  15. i had a hard time reading that. so scary. i’m so thankful…

  16. Whew. That would have scared me to death. I’ve never even thought about scoping out hospitals. Um…yeah – we’ll be doing that from now on.

  17. WOW Nicole, I had no idea. How scary! Matt has one heck of a woman on his side. What a great mom, wife, and friend!

  18. Oh my goodness! That is so scary! Way to keep a level head through everything – you are incredible!!

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