By Brent M. Jones
I had 5 trips to the hospital for a heart attack between 2009 and 2016. Two trips were false alarms, but I still made it to the operating table 4 times.
The first trip was a complete surprise. I got up and started getting ready for work. The week before I had been in a group of volunteers that worked with older people and we were given instructions on what the symptoms of a heart attack were. I had a pressing pain in the middle of my chest, the inside of my arm hurt, I felt nausea, and just overall dizzy. I had made it downstairs and was sitting in the kitchen and just wasn’t sure what was happening, so I said a little pray and asked if what I had was a heart attack if perhaps I could recognize another symptom. Within a couple of minutes, I felt a cold sweat and so I went upstairs and told my wife and got into bed.
The surprise of all of this started to sink in when 8 EMT’s arrived in my bedroom lifting me onto a stretcher and carrying me to the ambulance. I just couldn’t stop thinking about how surprising it was that I was having a heart attack. Laying on the stretcher I looked up at the lady EMT leaning over and taking care of me and said, “I just don’t understand why this is happening, I have run 13 marathons in my lifetime?” She looked down at me and said, “Maybe it is just your time.” I didn’t laugh at the time.
Being wheeled into an operating room is frightening. They slide you over on to a cold stainless-steel table where you lay, almost naked, in the middle of the table. The room has a lot of people in it all seeming to be doing something important. The staff was young, professional and engaged in some good-natured banter was going on.
On my last trip to the cold steel table the first thing that caught my attention was that the music seemed to be a little loud. By this time I had my own personal heart doctor but he was not on site and when I met the doctor it seemed like he was so young he could have been my grandson. Every one was very busy of course and I just laid waiting for a drip anesthesia to be set up. From the comments and the volume it seemed clear that all those young folks walking around were enjoying the music in the background but and at least they weren’t staring at my naked and cold body. A young man came over and said he would get the anesthesia set up soon, a good thing I thought, but he wondered if I had some favorite music saying he would find it and play it. Well I still had my thoughts in place, so, figuring it was a long shot, I suggested Leonard Cohen. Not one person in the room had heard of him, nor could they find any of his music even though they actually made an effort to find him. I thought it was funny and might have chuckled, but I was out soon after that.
My last trip to the hospital was one where they again picked me up with the ambulance. For some reason the ambulance sat in our driveway in front of the house after I was in for a while. A fire engine crew and a support car team were there on site with us and several paramedics were regularly checking the back of the ambulance, and they each would greet me and ask how I was doing. One of these guys seemed to have paused for a few minutes so I looked up at him and told him I still remembered getting help like this the first time I had a heart attack telling him about the question and the reply I got from the EMT nurse about it “being my time”. Neither of the two paramedics said a word or even changed facial expressions. They just seemed like they had kicked into gear and was about some important business. I noticed that the one paramedic left the back door ajar as he left, I saw him go over to a group standing by the fire engine where they seemed to huddle and laugh, and then he went to a different group. I figure this was a good sign. The last heat attack event had a connection to the first. It still wasn’t my time.