Carolina: Cruising Past 70: WOW: Getting Scared!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

WOW: Getting Scared!

undergoing EKG at the ER
This was supposed to be entitled ‘Focusing on Health’ talking about my ongoing health issues.  But events have overtaken that idea. Last Thursday after breakfast, Bill felt severe sharp pains in his chest. Then both arms started to get numb and heavy. Soon after, he felt lightheaded and dizzy. He still had the sense to get and use my blood pressure monitor. It read 166/98 (vs his usual 110/70). That was when we got scared.

his souvennir of the ordeal...
We quickly got into the car and proceeded to the nearest Urgent Care facility only 1 mile from the campground. We were turned away by the doctor who said we had better hurry to the nearest hospital, the Heart of Florida, 12 miles away! (Was I glad we were in Orlando and not some far away nature preserve!) Knowing that I was nervous, with little driving skills, and not really familiar with the roads, Bill drove us to the hospital (he said it was less stressful than watching me try and suffer). 

Bill was supposed to be the healthier of us two! I was the one who was having all sorts of issues.  He kept on reminding me about the promise to give each other at least 30 years even if we had found each other at this late age! We had just celebrated four years of being together.  We had just started this cruising lifestyle 2 ½ years ago. And we have such a looooong bucket list to complete! In fact, we’ve only just begun

echocardiogram at the ER
                                                                                                                                                     The ER staff jumped on his case right away. By about 1 pm, Dr. Siddiqui, the cardiologist on call, told me that Bill had had a heart attack, quickly transferred him to the ICU, and ordered a heart catheterization the following morning. My heart sank. That was an invasive procedure! Even if death was rare, there are complications in 1/1000 cases. All sorts of images raced through my mind. But Bill wanted to have it done, because not doing anything may be as deadly, if not more. Besides they do about 200 such procedures in the hospital every month! It is in fact routine. I told him that I was just simply scared.

I could not stay overnight with him in the ICU.That first night alone at the RV was tough. As soon as I got in, the tears fell unabashedly. After a small bowl of hot soup, I reached out to family and friends. I called each of my children, Bill’s sister Rosemary, Dan and Bev, our new camping friends, and Joe and Dottie, camping friends we met in 2009. Their voices calmed my very frayed nerves. I managed to get 4 hours of sleep.  Unfortunately and understandably, Bill had tossed and turned more in his hospital bed.

before the procedure, a whole artery blocked!
The waiting room outside the catheterization lab was not a good place to be that morning. The courtesy TV was at a program that was discussing the stresses of a funeral with some grieving folks. But the procedure was over at noon and the doctor called me in. Bill had 2 blockages, one 100%, the other 75%. The cardiologist had inserted two stents to open the more damaged artery. He said it would have been too much for him to bear the procedure on the other one at the same time. So it has been scheduled for mid-January, to give his heart some time to rest.

The pictures of the before and after the catheterization showed the amazing opening of new blood pathways that are now feeding his weakened heart muscles. I was glad he had it done! We are now home at the RV and I am now an ‘experienced driver’ (I had to go back and forth between the campground and the hospital for three days!).  Bill is a lucky guy...and not only because he is married to me!
the same area, after the procedure...with a full artery now serving the heart muscles...
Bill back to his computer...albeit at the ICU!
                                                                                     We both thank the Lord for giving us this manageable wake-up call and making it a quick recovery. Looking back at possible risk factors, it could not have been about eating bad foods or not exercising regularly. For Bill, they are genetics (his mother and grandmother both had cardiovascular diseases) and yes (now he has to finally admit it) age both of which he can not do anything about!  Plus the few extra pounds (about 15) which he is now determined to lose.

There will definitely be some changes to our lifestyle. Prescription drugs will certainly help steer the course. We hope to continue cruising in our RV, maybe trim our expectations a bit, go a bit more slowly, and settle longer at a place more often. In other words, we may accelerate our progress towards Stage 4 of the cruising lifestyle (please visit It is, after all, a very good life that we want to continue living for as long as we can!