Well these don’t get easier but no one is ready these anyway…
This one is easy. Now granted there are many tragic times in my life. All my grandparents died before I was 18. My father died when he was in his early 50’s. His wife, my stepmom, Judy died just over a year later from cancer. My stepfather died here in the house while I attempted CPR but could not revive him. One of my closest friends in high school drowned at Lake Lewisville the summer before my junior year. My best friend died in a car accident. I have made many bad decisions that have negatively impacted my life but there was one thing that happened that was the most difficult time of my live.
Several days prior I went to the doctor due to having what I thought were back spasms. The pain was in my upper back and neck. It would come and go. The doctor checked my out and prescribed muscle relaxers. He told me to take them as directed and if the spasms get worse to come back in or go to the ER if they are bad. I went a few days of in and out pain. When they would hit I would take a pill and everything would be ok.
On the evening of the 10th I had a massive spasm that knocked me to my knees. I was on the floor of my apartment for over an hour and could not move. The phone was too far away. I passed out a couple times as I laid there on the floor. The pain in my back was so bad. After sometime the pain stopped and I was able to get to my feet. It was close to 10pm so I decided to go to the ER. As I drove there I called my late friend Jason and told him what was going on. He told me to go get checked out and call if I needed anything.
I walked into the ER and it was very quiet and there was no one in there. I walked around to see if anyone was there. I could not find anyone. It was weird. I was like “screw it, I am going home” and I decided to leave and just go to the doctor in the morning. As I hit the door I heard a woman call for me. I turned around and there was the attendant. I told her what was going on and she took me to one of the rooms where they quiz you and take your vitals. The ER doctor came in and I told him what was happening. He asked if I have chest pains, jaw pain, left arm pain… I said no. My blood pressure was high and that was thought to be due to the stress of that moment. He said he wanted to take some blood. As they were starting I told him I had some pain in my left shoulder and arm pit. He decided to do an EKG to check my heart.
They take me to a room and draw my blood. The tech guy comes in and puts a big cold plate behind me and does a chest x-ray. He then attaches all the wires to me to do the EKG. It took seconds and then started to print out the results. The ER doctor comes in and crabs the print out and shouts “OH SHIT!!” and walks out. I was like “WTF!?!?!?”
He comes back in a couple minutes later and said he wanted to get my blood results to check something and he said that my EKG and my blood showed that I had a major heart attack within the past 24 hours. He said my heart was in severe distress and they called in the Cardiologist and asked him to rush in. He said they were going to try to keep me alive until he got there. The ER doctor said it was bad and gave me back my cell. He told me to make “the call”. I did not understand at first then he told me to make “the last call” as in the last call I will ever make. I literally started calling everyone and I could not reach a soul. I got voicemail after voicemail. No one answered. I finally called a co-worker and left a message, “Hey Jen it is Richard. This is not a joke. I am at North Hills and I had a major heart attack. They said it is bad and I may not survive the night. Please let my manager know I will not be in tomorrow morning. If no one has heard from me please check with the hospital as I probably didn’t make it. My car in the ER parking lot so please have someone come get it and take it back to my apartment for me. Love you and goodbye.” Then it happened…
The ER tech guy came in and said he was going to give me nitro under my tongue to relieve the pain. As he placed the first one under my tongue, I was gone. My heart stopped. They started compressions and broke out the paddles… There was no response. I was done. Now as I laid there I was in darkness. I heard a women telling me to stay where I was and I would be ok. She told me not to move and to stay quiet. Then I woke up. Laying on the table. I said “what the hell happened?” The ER tech guy was sitting there with his back to me and he said “FUCK!” and called in the ER doctor. Apparently they did what they could but I was non-responsive. They stopped. Then I woke up after. They plugged me back up and my heart rate was elevated but not in high danger. They were freaked out a bit. So I asked where the woman was. They asked if I meant the woman who checked me in up front? I said whoever was in the room with them and they said no woman was in there. The ER nurse was dude. So there was that..
Now I get moved to ICU and the Cardiologist showed up around 2am. Little guy from India. Very blunt. He told me that if I survive the night that they would do a stent procedure. I was peaceful at this moment. I was in a room with a TV and was watching Food Network. I made it through the night and the next morning I went into the Stent Lab and they stented the entire left side of my heart. They could not do the whole heart because I would not survive. They scheduled me for the other half a month later. The procedure was intense. My heart was stopped several times to place the stent. I faded in and out. After the procedure I was taken back to ICU with a pressure seal on the artery in my crotch. It was the worst pain in the history of pain. Friend and family eventually found me and came in to visit. It was embarrassing to me. I did this to myself by the way I was living. I was pushing 335 pounds at the time. I am far more than half that now but at the time, I was living wrong.
Although that was the worst moment for me it was not the most difficult time. That happened in the weeks, months and years after. Due to what happened, I felt like I was tainted goods. They told me I would probably be back in less than 10 years if not dead. It was bleak. My blunt little cardiologist was perfect for my needs. He spoke the truth and really lit into his patients because he wanted people to live. He was a lifesaver. The main issue for me was the mental side. I was tainted. I was on a short list for a long life. Who would want someone with that limited lifespan? I pushed people away and still do. Why be friends with someone who is going to drop dead suddenly and ruin your day when he does? This is the reality I lived in. It was hard to push past those thoughts and feelings and I still revert back to them at times because, at times, I feel like a let down. I want to be happy and hopeful that I can gain things in my life that will show me that living a long and healthy and happy life is worth it and possible.
I was lucky to move past that. The events of the past year threw a monkey wrench into it but I have learned how to cope. Mainly it is about my personal happiness. It is my priority so I give my all to people but in the end I have to focus on me. Some people are selfish and don’t like it when I don’t cater to them but it is about me and what is left of my life. I have been on the other side of death and came back. It was the most difficult time….