The most chilling words I’ve ever heard came almost exactly one year ago, a little after midnight on Monday, October 21st, 2014. I was at the emergency room in Lindsborg with my wife Sheryl, sitting beside her when the doctor addressed us thusly:
Sheryl, you are having an acute heart attack. But you’re in the right place, and we’re going to take care of you.
I had taken her to the ER shortly before midnight. She had been feeling poorly all day, and retching all evening. Sadly, this was pretty much a repeat of her day on Friday. That day, she had gone to the doctor, had an EKG, taken some medication, and was seemingly fine through the weekend. Late Monday evening, after hours of discomfort and after taking the same medication, but this time with no effect, we headed to the emergency room.
I posted the following on Facebook after she was settled in the ER:
Hey everyone, not to worry, but I’m down at the ER w/Sheryl. Don’t know what’s wrong but she’s been in pain and distress apparently triggered by eating. In other words hopefully not her heart. She had something similar Friday and the EKG was fine then.
About 10 minutes later I heard the staff say something about cardiac protocol. Suddenly, I was very concerned. Shortly after that the doctor made her announcement, and I called my daughter to let her know what was going on.
Luckily Sheryl’s doctor was able to explain what was happening to Lisa (an RN) in medical terms, though in some ways that didn’t help. Given her training, she well understood how serious things were. In fact, I recall she didn’t want to ask about one specific reading … because some things you just aren’t prepared to know right away.
I updated folks with the latest news:
Ok u can commence worrying. She’s having a heart attack and well soon be on the way to Salina.
After that things became a blur, as I called Sheryl’s cousin Joni and picked up Lisa and Moneka to head up to the hospital in Salina. Actually called Joni as we were on the way; that was a tough call.
Lisa works at Salina Regional, so was able to get us to the right waiting room without any undue delays.
There we met Sheryl’s cardiologist, who explained what he was going to do (take a look with a camera, and then, in all likelihood, install a stent.) And that’s what he did.
Maybe 1/2 hour later, he was done, and actually brought us into the post-op room, where Sheryl was alive, but weak and looking a bit like a person who had just suffered a heart attack. I can’t express how good she looked to me at that moment!
He showed us the following pictures, the first showing the blockage that resulted in the heart attack:
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The following image shows the improved blood circulation after the stent was installed. The images aren’t quite the same size, but it’s not too hard to find the spot where the stent was placed. What a dramatic improvement in her circulation!
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Less than twelve hours after we went to the emergency room, I posted another update:
Update: Great news!
If you know Sheryl you know what a strong, amazing person she is.
I just got the most joyful phone call. I’m home, showering, etc before heading back up the hospital.
I left her while she was sleeping, helped by the morphine they gave her. She was talking and feeling OK before that, but definitely knocked on her ass..
Barely 3 hours later she calls me to let me know what to bring up, and I swear, if I didn’t know what had happened, I never would have been able to tell from her voice.
Strong, full bodied. Firm. Happy (well duh!) Just so very good to hear her voice sounding so natural.
I’m pretty sure I’d barely be able to whisper if this had happened to me …
Anyway, I’ve got my orders, back to Salina. She is in the ICU and visiting is extremely limited, just FYI for the locals. I’ll update when she moves to a regular room, they said probably tomorrow.
After a night in ICU she spent a couple days in a regular room and came home Thursday.
While Sheryl was in the hospital, I posted a note of gratitude; it’s worth repeating:
I could write a thousand lines on a thousand pages for a thousand years and barely begin to express my thankfulness for the Lindsborg medical facilities.
Over an almost 40 year period they have literally saved Sheryl’s life twice now. Back in ’78 Dr. Fuller recognized the then new tubal pregnancy and redlighted her to Salina for emergency, life-saving surgery.
And now they’ve done it again last night. Thanks to the quick and efficient work of Dr Bieker and crew Sheryl was diagnosed, stabilized and transported straight to the OR in Salina where a life-saving stent was installed.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, on behalf of our entire family and all of our friends.
And that brings us to tonight, a year later. Sheryl is still doing great, though sometimes a bit tired after overdoing things (but who isn’t at our age 🙂 and I’m still as happy if not happier with how this greatest story ever told has turned out so far!