4:54 p.m. My phone rings.
It’s my mother.
“She never calls before 5 p.m.,” I think to myself.
I answer, she says “how’s it going?”
“Fine.” Just say it already.
“Well not so fine here, Jim is in the hospital. They think he had a heart attack.”
That’s the moment my life changed, went in another direction, again. My heart sunk, my throat felt thick, I couldn’t swallow. I had to leave and I had to see him. But first, I had to find Jessie. Jessie needs to be there. She is a pro at not returning/answering phone calls, so I made sure to leave an impression when telling her to reach us. I believe it was maybe too strong, by the time I reached her she was bawling. I did my best to undo the damage and tried to calm her down even though I too was scared out of my mind.
My mom had us talk to Patty. “They are taking him to St. Cloud as a precaution. Breathe, drive careful, we don’t want anyone else in the hospital ok?” Her words, same to each of us, calmed us down and we were on our way to meet him. She does a perfect job at calming people down.
St. Cloud is about an hour drive from where I work. I spent the entire time crying, and whenever I thought something negative, I chewed myself out and said, “That won’t happen to Jim. Jim is strong. Jim is our rock. Nothing can hurt Jim.” I repeated that to myself for the rest of the trip.
I used the time walking into the hospital from the parking lot as my time to get it together. Many people have these situations every day, I need to hold it together. Be strong.
I saw a lady at the front desk and she said, with such a caring tone, “How can I help you?”
I lost it. I completely lost my shit! “My dad had a heart attack and they are taking him here and I don’t know where to go or where they are bringing him. My mom said a big word, it started with T. T – E – R- I think!”
She kindly placed her hand on my shoulder, said she didn’t know what that was, but we would find a solution.
The gal I met next was Grandma Gretchen, Grandma I and Jane (all past loved ones) rolled into one. She calmly walked me to the Telemetry unit (apparently no R in the beginning). Walked me through what was probably happening, how it would go and kept remaining calm. After the walk to the north end of the hospital, felt like a mile, I was at my destination. She made sure the nurse knew I was there to see Jim and even checked with the ambulance to see where he was at. For that walk, information and caring gesture, I will be forever grateful.
My goal for the next, however many hours, was to be the rock for my family. When he arrived I greeted Jim with a smile. Even took a picture of him on the gurney. Anything to keep his mind off of things. Family arrived very quickly after and we all hugged and the world didn’t seem so lonely.
The next morning, we were going down for a routine Angiogram. They would put a few stents in if they needed to, other than that, no big deal.
It felt like we were about a half hour in and the doctor came out. “Triple bypass” is all I heard him say. At that moment, you can no longer hold it together. You hold your family and you cry. The next few moments, hours and days were a blur. He ended up having a five way bypass. Not something that you would expect to happen to an all around happy man.
Now we learn to live a new normal. Again. It’s what we call life.
None of this would be possible if it wasn’t for family, prayers, positive thoughts and friends supporting our family. Jim is healing quickly, kind of like superman. The scars will always be there, but the pain will slowly fade away. You never know until you go through something like this what it truly feels like. I hear of bypasses all the time. I think, ‘oh dear.’ Not anymore. I also want to give a special thank you to those who visited us in the hospital and comforted my mother, told Jim to stay strong and gave great hugs. You matter, you made a difference, thank you.