07 April 2020

“I Think We Lost Him”

I wanted to say I was hiding behind the refrigerator but instead, I opened my eyes, looked at the EMT and said, “I’m meditating.”

“Oh, sorry. You go on ahead.”  I closed my eyes and breathed slowly. I wasn’t in pain anymore because of the fentanyl and the ambulance seemed to be taking it’s time as it cut through an early Saturday morning fog. “Sir, when we get you in the emergency room, things are gonna move very fast.”  The EMT was young, fair haired and reminded me of myself when I was about 25. We were backing into the entrance of the hospital and the fair haired EMT along with his partner, a unsmiling and stern looking woman about 30, stood up in a crouch from their seats and unlocked my stretcher.  

Ambulance doors opened and I saw what I’ve seen in the movies so many times it’s like a cliche. The POV of the patient’s view of the EMT faces, then blue sky and finally the long tracking shot down a hallway and into a small room with about 30 people.  I wasn’t worried until I saw all those people. Doctors, nurses, spectators... I never did find out who they all were. They took my clothes off, stuck a lot things on my body and I heard a man say, “Alright, people. I’m gonna elevate this.”  My partners face appeared and she said I was going to be alright. I was wheeled down another hallway tracking shot into the Cath Lab. Cath for catheter not Cathy. A nurse shaved my pubic hair and when she finished I announced that I could finally be in a porno film.  There was a laugh or two but mostly there was a loud groan and a nurse responded with, “Too much information.”  

As I was being picked up and moved from the ER stretcher to the Cath lab table, my heart stopped. For about three seconds. I didn’t see a bright shining light but I did see a warm white glow and I was falling into it. As I got closer, it looked like a white parachute and it felt wonderful as it enveloped me. It didn’t seem like three seconds. It felt like there was no time. I heard voices and was back in the Cath Lab looking at the cardiologist standing over my groin and pushing the stent in somewhere between my right testicle and leg when all the lights went off and the room went completely black. I said, “Aren’t I supposed to see a bright shining light?” The lights came back on and the cardiologist looked up, pointed a finger at me and said, “You don’t know how close you came so shut up!”  That’s how I got another year of life the morning of April 6, 2019...but it’s also how I died trying to do stand up or lay down comedy in a cath lab.  

I was able to give a nurse who was taking her daughter for a weekend in NYC, a restaurant recommendation (Gramarcy Tavern). She was so grateful and I said it was a good thing I didn’t die and she laughed and with another nurse pushed me out into the hallway. We talked about New York as the tracking POV shot continued and my partners face appeared again. She looked at me and smiled and touched my head. “You’re glowing,” I saw her sister appear behind her and said hello.  The sister smiled and looked at me with some surprise. We all chatted for a while. About the stent in my heart. My 100% main blocked artery and another artery that was 55% blocked so it didn’t need a stint and about the wine list at Gramarcy and then down the hall again to an elevator and finally a room in ICU. 

It took all of 45 minutes I was told. No opening of the chest or pacemaker. Just a stent. It’s been a year and I am not ignorant of my luck. Many things could’ve happened and I wouldn’t be here. I told my doctor that if I had been alone, I would’ve taken three Tylenol and gone back to  bed. He said a lot of men do that with unhappy results.  It was my partner who insisted on calling an ambulance. Especially when I told her the intense pain in my left arm traveled to my left jaw. So many little things turning an event into a nonevent. Although, that white parachute has stayed with me. It provides me with comfort and a sense of peace. Because now I know... it’s okay. 

22 comments:

  1. I am glad we didn’t lose you, that you are alive and writing. You are a small white parachute to your fans at times, at least to this one. Thank you and greetings from Hong Kong.

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  2. D.C. Thank you for your thoughts and words.

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  3. The first time I, too, joked a lot: I do that when I'm scared as hell. Actually, I was more frightened when I found out the stent line went through the femoral artery, thinking I was going to bleed out.

    Second time, seven years later, I didn't see light but an intense blacker black. Mine had stopped too, and they gave me the paddles.

    Both times no traditional arm/jaw pain, but this incredible pressure, like my guts were being pushed up into my chest.

    Glad you made it too

    NCJack

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  4. Glad you're o.k., and will hopefully stay o.k. in these weird times. Stay with us . .

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  5. Nice try. We almost ignored your pain, suffering, and possible terror, due to your enormous gift of gab. But we didn't.

    Dude. I'm sorry. And glad you're here.

    Can I ask in what city this happened? I don't know if it's India or New York or somewhere else. If you're going to inhabit my imagination like this I request just on more level of detail. TIA.

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  6. Really glad to see you are posting again. Have always enjoyed your blog!

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  7. Lisa- I deserved that. For a second I thought you might have been in the cath lab with me. It wasn’t India or nyc. But a small city in a small state and Esther was driving the paddles. She came to see me afterwards. Everyone was so amazing. Although the cardiologist never seemed to warm up to me but i can’t blame him. I do have a big mouth. But it’s why I kiss so well.

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  8. So, so glad to hear from you again. You're a wonderful writer that I've sorely missed.

    Also, I'm a cardiologist, and yes, we (men) would have gone extinct a long while ago if it weren't for our partners and family members. I did some of my training in Chapel Hill so have always relished your descriptions of your time there.

    Welcome back, and glad you're doing well.

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  9. BuaidhNoBas, Many thanks for your kind words and works. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Chapel Hill & Cardiologists.

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  10. Read it. I’m ok. Glad you are as well.

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  11. So happy you're feeling well enough to begin writing again.

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  12. For some reason this morning the thought crossed my mind…I wonder if Tintin is writing again? So happy you’re doing well. We have a history of just missing each other at some intersections we had in common - Marvelous Mark R., Frank S. from Moore Bros, Philadelphia, etc. This year, for sure. Coffee’s on me. Yeah, I’m a sport. Sheldon Kormpett, Boston

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  13. Wow.... Scary to read, it is good to have someone to protect us from ourselves sometimes.

    It is good to see you writing again.

    I am glad you are well.

    Did you leave Manhattan?

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  14. Trad,

    I've been enjoying your work for years. I'm an old Philly prep school boy who shares your tastes in music, clothes and general outlook on life. You would have fit right in to our old crowd.

    And now I learn you're in the stent club like me. Got mine as a 50th birthday gift 5 years ago. Stupidly ignored the symptoms-numbness and shocks down my arm, shortness of breath. I'm fully medicated now, lift weights, ride my bike. Feel better now than I did at 49.

    Here's to your continued health.

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  16. Glad you are ok. Also, happy that they shocked you into writing again.

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