Prayer in a Family Matter

How often have you been met with a family matter that could mean life or death for a loved one? Learn from Lucille Williams her journey through this harrowing night when her husband had a major heart attack. She writes in first person:

My Husband Had a Major Heart Attack

feel like my life is over. Over may seem a bit over-the-top but feelings can be over-the-top. Certainly, my life has changed forever and my feelings are strong.

Tuesday night Mike woke me up at 3:00 a.m. “Something’s wrong,” he said, “I’m having chest pains…and my arms hurt…and my jaw hurts.” My reply was, “We need to get you to the hospital.” He hesitated. I told him to sit down in our bedroom chair and then he said, “I’m feeling better, I think it’s okay, we don’t need to go.” “Honey,” I calmly said, “Maybe it’s nothing, that would be great, but we are going to the hospital, you need to be checked.”

We both got some clothes on and headed out quickly. How I wished I had taken a shower before going to bed, because there was definitely no time for one now. I grabbed my Minnie Mouse ballcap to hide my grubbiness—which only weeks before I wore for fun days with the family at Disneyworld—now I was wearing it to hide.

Oh, how life can change in just a few short weeks.

When we got to the hospital the emergency room waiting area was empty. They took us in right away. After some questions we were in a room waiting to see a doctor. This part is all just a blur, I kept trying to think of any reason we were there that didn’t have anything to do with his heart. And then the doctor said, “I am going to admit you. Your symptoms and your age are pointing to a heart problem and we need to do more tests.” A bit of reality hit then but I still felt more comfortable in denial, so I stayed there.

Even though we had gotten to the hospital at roughly 3:30 a.m. it was suddenly 6:00 a.m.—time seemed stopped and flying all at the same time—and I decided it was time to call my kids. Since there was no cell reception in Mike’s room I went out into the lobby.

I called our son first because he lives in Texas, and I knew with the time change he’d be up. Once Tim was on the phone all I could do was cry, saying, “I’m so scared.” I was able to barely get the words out about where we were and what was happening and that I loved him. He later told me he wanted to pray before we got off the phone but he got too choked up to do so.

Next, I called our daughter. I could tell I woke her and I barely got the words out through my tears saying, “Dad is okay, we are at the hospital, dad’s having chest pains.” Her first words were, “I’m on my way.” Still living in denial, I’m thinking, “Why? You need to take care of your kids, he’s going to be fine.” But truthfully, I wanted nothing more than for her to come, I needed her. Mom had always been the one she reached out to in times of stress and trouble and now I needed her to be that for me. When she hung up the phone her husband, Kyle was already up and dressed and ready to go. He knew my early call wasn’t just for fun.

Then, I realized my friend, Priscilla, who is always up early would be up so I called her. But I think I woke her too, but she didn’t care. She got up and headed to the hospital.

Calling over and over my phone just wouldn’t connect to our youngest son, Joe, and I finally gave up trying so I could get back in the room with Mike. I did reach Joe later and all he got was me sobbing and telling him how scared I was.

It’s odd, when I wasn’t on the phone with my kids I could stay in the “I’m not going to be concerned until I have something definitive to be concerned about” space and a good dose of denial, but as soon as I heard their voices my tears would roll down my face.

Monica arrived, and not long after Priscilla arrived—with snacks and water and tissues—and all four of us waited in Mike’s small room. He had been admitted but getting to a regular room would take time. Meanwhile Mike would have bouts of pain which would subside while the nurses tried to get a reading on the EKG machine.

And we waited and waited. Tears would regularly roll down my face but we found some laughter too. Monica teased me because I texted her to bring lotion. (My body felt so dry and my skin hurt, I couldn’t imagine going through the day like that.) “Dad might be having a heart attack, bring lotion,” she joked, and we laughed.

Laugh, cry. Cry, laugh. Cry, cry. That partly summed up my day along with continually asking the nurses when he was getting a room. “Get a room” was a happy phrase to me heard by our kids many times, and now “Getting a room” meant something completely different.

Finally, at about 6:00 p.m. he got a room. Finally. Soon after his room, his dinner arrived. Priscilla had been voicing concern over him eating and once again questioned, “should he be eating?” I just wanted him to be okay, and eating was part of that, and part of the hope that nothing was wrong with his heart. One doctor we saw even said that esophagus spasms can mimic heart attack symptoms and I held on to that hard. With that I had hope he was going to be okay.

At around 6:45 p.m. he started having chest and arm pain again. We pushed his call button, like the nurses had instructed, and we waited. No one came. Ten minutes, fifteen minutes, and still no one came. Then after twenty minutes Monica went to look for someone. She found a nurse and asked for help. The nurse said she’d send someone but nobody came. Mike asked me not to leave, he said, “Stay with me, just hold my hand, don’t bother anyone.” He had been having chest pains off and on throughout the day so this just seemed like a weird kind of “normal” for us. Even though he wanted me to stay I said no, I’m going to get someone and I left. I found the nurses station and said, “My husband has been having chest pains for over 30 minutes, can you send someone in his room please?” The nurse assured me someone would be coming so, I went back to Mike’s room and held his hand.

Finally, after 45 minutes a nurse came in. She asked him what was going on. He explained and she slowly sauntered out. Then another nurse came in. Then another. I told them that the cardiologist said to give him the nitro medication if he had another chest pain. In fact, that instruction was given in the morning and even though I told every nurse no one gave it to him all day. This time I insisted and the nurse finally gave it to him. It didn’t help, it only made him nauseous—which for them indicated something serious, but I didn’t know that. Suddenly, after another EKG the room was flooded with nurses and doctors. I heard them reach out to the cardiologist and having “meetings” about what to do, all the while I held his hand and cried.

Then I heard those horrific words “He’s currently having a heart attack.” The doctor told us it was a STEMI heart attack.

I could no longer be in denial nor could I stop the flood of tears streaming down my cheeks. They allowed me to stay right next to him and hold his hand up until they took him in for surgery. I’d see my daughter on the phone with her husband crying, but then when she’d see me looking she’d smile and say, “It’s okay. Everything’s going to be okay.”

Before Mike went through the operating room doors I gave him a big kiss and realized this could be our last one.

It was about 9:00 p.m. and Monica and I waited in the big empty waiting room just the two of us. We both were numb and could hardly believe our reality. And of course, I prayed, but I also realized God could decide it was Mike’s time to go home to Him. And as much as I didn’t want that, I knew that could be my reality—I could be going home alone.

After roughly 45 minutes, a nurse told us it was over and he was fine.

The cardiologist showed me pictures of his heart. Mike had a full blockage of the right main artery and the doctor put two stents in. All of his other arteries didn’t need stents, and he didn’t have any heart damage. Thank you, God!

Then I got to see him and I cried some more. Only this time they weren’t fearful tears they were “Praise God you’re alive tears.” Mike had been awake through the surgery and felt the pain of it—they couldn’t put him under because he had eaten—Priscilla was right!

The ICU nurse said I had to go home but could return in the morning. Monica spent the night with me—which I was so grateful for—the thought of going home to an empty house haunted me. It was after midnight once we got to my house and we got a few hours of slept before returning to the hospital. I hardly slept and got up before 5:00 a.m. and finally TOOK A SHOWER. Funny how what we can consider small conveniences can mean the world to us once denied. A hot shower felt like rays of gold falling on my body.

Once I got to Mike’s ICU room I cried again. I thought all my tears had been cried out but apparently not. He stayed in the ICU until Thursday late afternoon when he was released to go home. During his time in the hospital even though I had hardly any sleep for days I felt tired and yet very awake—almost like someone had given me an adrenal drug—my brain didn’t seem to be working right and yet I was hyper vigilant all at the same time.

Wednesday night I came home alone—Monica needed time to see her family and not be strong for me before returning on Thursday—and the house was so quiet and felt a bit eerie. As I collected things Mike would need to come home the following day I found “love notes” from me he had placed all around, on his nightstand, in his office, and on the counter. It was a sweet reminder of my love and commitment to him in sickness and in health. At this point I think my love has grown in sickness.

Now I am consumed with gratefulness to still have my husband and thankfulness that I get to take care of him while he recovers.

And to be vulnerably honest and transparent…

I just want someone to tell me my husband is going to be okay.

I started this post by saying, “I feel like my life is over.” The truth and reality is that my life has just begun. My new life with laser focus clarity and clear priorities and zero capacity for drama and unnecessary concerns has beautifully emerged.

Reader: Take this story and teach yourself and you loved ones how precious family is and what to do.

Post by Lucille Williams, posted by Admin.

Coordinator of the Heartprints Blog Page: Gaye-Ellen Austin or SonShine has a passion to train people to be successful Bible students, following the words of Paul to his protégé Timothy: “ entrust to faithful people who will be competent to teach others as well.” (2 Tim 2:2). She taught 15 years in public schools and 12 years in a Christian school where she was coordinator of the NILD program for learning disabled students. She has taught Precept upon Precept classes and was a discussion group leader for 10+ yrs. in BSF in Daytona Beach. Fl. and Atlanta, GA. Also, Gaye-Ellen is the writer for the https://www.facebook.com/bible.org/ She also has her own personal blog page: https://sonshinesjournal.com/ David is a full time director for Bible.org as well as his secular job. He and Gaye-Ellen along with their son, Dr. Mark Austin, daughter-in-law, Dr. Blanca Austin and granddaughter Christina (https://christinaaustinlopez.com.) live in the Dallas area. Gaye-Ellen's goal is to present Christ and live Christ glorifying God. One of her favorite verses about the role as parents, teachers, and adults for the next generation comes from Psalm 78:4, "but tell to the generation to come the praises of the Lord."

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