Monday, September 24, 2007

Trial By Fire

We are not quite out of it yet, but BigGeek is on the mend. He still has some fever (which truth be told is freaking me out a little, but he is on antibiotics) I am so scared that I don’t want to say anything more. BigGeek is a very, very strong guy. This happened so suddenly, that it left me struggling to cope with day-to-day issues like caring for Chip. BigGeek was scheduled for the Cath procedure (angiogram) at 9:00 am Thursday. They were going to transfer him from the local ER to the Cardiac Institute at INOVA, Fairfax at 5:30 am on Thursday. It would have been difficult for me to drive to the hospital 25 miles away in the ugly rush hour, while getting Chip ready for daycare. So I asked a friend to be there before 9.00, to meet with BigGeek and Cardiac surgeon. I really did not want him alone. But they started the procedure at 8:00, so BigGeek was all alone, but look at his indomitable spirit. I would have been shi**ing bricks if I were in his place, but he told the surgeon he wanted to see the stent go in. They don’t give an anesthesia for this procedure, just a mild sedative. So he was asleep while they were investigating, but the surgeon woke him up when he put the stent in. When I told this to a co-worker, he could not believe it. But that’s quintessential BigGeek. I fondly call him my Rock of Gibraltar, and he is a very, very brave guy and a real trooper. I am so proud of him and so proud to be his wife. The first words out of his mouth when I went to see him in Cardiac Recovery, where hooked up to allsorts of machines and looking feeble, were “I saw them put the stent in!”

If I had to start narrating the events they would go back to Tuesday evening. BigGeek's aunt is a scientist and was in D.C. for what would later be so ironic, a heart failure conference. We met her for dinner at a popular Kabob place and were discussing stents and stem cells. Who knew what had been in store for us later that night? Around 2:00 am early Wednesday morning, I woke because Chip was calling out to me. I tended to him and realized BigGeek was sitting up in bed. His arms ached he told me. Did you strain them while picking up Chip, did you twist them in your sleep? No. When I went over, to massage them, his back and chest were as hard as a rock. No exaggerating. I asked him if he thought he was having a heart attack. He replied no. No perspiration, no chest pain, no palpitation or shortness of breath, just a dull ache in both his arms that extended from the shoulder blade to his palms. I put on some Bengay, gave him a couple of painkillers. He said he had a little heartburn (which he never has), but so did I, so I blamed it on the food.

I asked if he was doing ok, the next (Wednesday) morning and if I should stay home. He said he was better and I left for work. He did his morning routine, dropped Chip at the daycare and went to work. He worked for an hour or so and decided to look up these symptoms on WebMD where he found something curious about heartburn which is a symptom of a heart attack. He decided to go to his doctor and have it checked out.

On Wednesday, BigGeek called me at work. I was just about to go get lunch and was reading Rohini’s blog when I got a call from an unknown caller id. It was BigGeek calling from his doctor’s office. They suspected he had a heart attack and had called 911. I sent three emails. One to my boss, one to his co-worker and friend to tell his workplace what had happened, one to another friend to tell him to pick up Chip from daycare. When I reached the ER, they had taken 4 EKGs, had given him baby aspirin and nitroglycerin.They were waiting for a CT scan, a chest X-ray and on results of blood work that would prove beyond doubt that he indeed had suffered from a heart attack. He was met by a cardiac surgeon who scheduled the Cath procedure for the following day. You gotta love the ER. They work like a well oiled machine.

Three close friends came to the ER and I don’t know what I could have done without them. Another couple of friends M and S stayed with him while I went back to K’s (a friend) home to see Chip who K had picked up from daycare. I stayed there through the night, readied Chip for daycare the following day (Thursday) and left to see BigGeek. Another friend Y knowing the traffic and that I had to be with Chip, left from her house (which was close to the hospital) and was there by the time BigGeek got out of the Cath-lab. She talked to the Cardiac Surgeon and was there waiting for me. Soon an old college friend N and her husband arrived and stayed by my side all day. BigGeek was very tired and was sleeping in the ICAR. Y in the mean while went home, made some food for BigGeek and me and brought it. N stayed with me until late afternoon when my mom arrived from Toronto (thank god, she was a couple of hours away from us). After which P got there with dinner and to stay by our side. I don’t know what I could have done without this immense support system that we had. I cherish them deeply and we are lucky to have such incredible friends.

The following day more visitors – his classmates (who told him if he could have just asked for an extension on his exams instead of taking this extreme step) and more co-workers (some also wrote emails to him saying that if he was reading this email on his blackberry, he needed to hand it over to me, so I could throw it out the window and yes, he did read this message on his blackberry, he is incorrigible). Y had set up a website on Caring Bridge and BigGeek got messages from 300 people. I didn’t know he knew 300 people.

A and S bought a cute gift basket with heart healthy food, but most importantly a card, not a get well soon card, but a Happy Anniversary card, because it was our anniversary that day. And that little gesture spoke tons.

Snippets of what left an indelible memory. Me being held tightly by Y as I cried my heart out all the time telling me he is going to be fine. K who took care of all the nitty gritties of daily life (including asking me if I needed to pay bills) S and R who bought in warm tea to soothe us thinking we would have enough food which we did. R also brought food. Another friend S who had a good techie-banter with BigGeek (who always loves a good argument). My old college friend N who would not leave my side despite a doctor’s appointment for her 4month old daughter. The nurses in the ICAR who came up to me and asked me if I was doing OK.

In a country where manpower is premium and which thrives on the each-to-his-own mentality, these friends left behind their little children, their jobs and their commitments to be by our side on those three harrowing days. To thank them, is lame.


Tharini said...

Oh my God Dot mom. I feel speechless. You've been so amazing, and Big Geek all the more. His courage and spirit has shone thru. So collected and calm to check out the symptoms on the web, and what;s more, actually following thru with a doctor's visit. I know lots of people who would continue to ignore it, esp. while at work.

Your support system has been so wonderful and prompt. Glad you have your mom with you now.

Sending prayers for a smooth, smooth recovery and for all of you bouncing back. Hugs to little Chip. Hugs to you!!!

noon said...

A huge hug from me. I feel for you. You have been so strong and brave...and so has Big Geek. How did Chip react when someone else picked him up at day care? You really are truly lucky - to have this kind of support system here. Was so touched by how every one was there for you...what a blessing in the midst of all this...300 people!!! He is a celebrity pretty much! ;)
Take care.

Maggie said...

Incredible! So glad that in this difficult time you were surrounded by people who love you.

Best wishes for a quick recovery to BigGeek and hugs for you and Chip.

RJ said...

I have been a lurker on your blog. Hugs to you. Wish BigGeek a speedy recovery. Amidst all this take care of yourself too. Oh belated Happy Anniversary.

noon said...

Oh yes!!! Wish you a very happy anniversary and many many more wonderful years together and good health cheer for all of you!

Timepass said...

I was relieved to see that you have such wonderful friends in ur hour of need. God has been kind enough to send u such help when u r far away from family. Take care of Big Geek and chip and urself too. Happy Anniversary.

Pixie said...

Oh My God!
I hope BigGeek is better now...
Wish you a very Happy Anniversary too - hoping you have many more years of happiness together..

Altoid said...

Hey Dotmom

Speedy recovery to BG and do take care. Sent you an email as well.

Lots of prayers and wishes

Anonymous said...

Wish him a speedy recovery.
Happy Anniversary to both of you…
I am glad your mom is there.
Indeed you are blessed with wonderful friends.

I am so glad you wrote the symptoms so someone can be careful and not to ignore.
Can I ask you one more thing does he has high cholesterol?


Savani said...

tharini: BigGeek is truly amazing.

noon: thanks. thanks for the email too. he is one well loved guy.

moppet's mom: We were very lucky..

rj: thanks so much.. hopefully I'll get out of this funk soon.

noon: thanks, again.

timepass: thanks.. don't know what providence has in store for us.

pixie: thanks and i hope so too.

altoid: thanks. lets meet up when this is over.

anon: thanks. every chest pain can be different. he has slightly elevated cholesterol. 230.. not very high. but the blockage wasn't plaque.. it was a clot (thrombosis).. so basically it can happen to anyone anytime.. men and post-menopausal women are more susceptible.

Just Like That said...

I remembered you in my prayers today. Hope Big Geek is progressing well.

You know as I read through this, I had goose pimples and I was just thanking your lucky stars- for that is what you were- very lucky and very very prompt in following things up, esp Big Geek.

Happy Anniversary dear, and God bless both of you with many many more years of good health, happiness and good luck.

am so glad for you that you have such wonderful friends and all the people around helped so much. Hope Chip is coping well with the sudden lapse in routine, and take care, all of you.

Sahithi's Mom... said...

OH MY GOD...I am speechless after reading this.

Hugs to you and hope that BigGeek will recover soon.

Both of you are brave to deal such a storm with so much calm.

Glad that you mom is with you now and THANK GOD for friends.

Swati said...

OMG..I still cannot believe this.

Wish him a speedy recovery.

Anusha said...

Dotmom, I am amazed by your unflailing strength in such times. and THANK GOODNESS it wasn't anything worse. Your husband sounds like an incredible person - no wonder he has 300 people who care about him.
Your support system and your friends rock - they are out of this world.

Sending a prayer your way for his speedy recovery.

Rohini said...

I read this first at JLT's blog and I almost thought she had made a mistake.

Don't quite know what to say that hasn't been said by others or that won't sound lame, just hope that Big Geek gets better sooner than soon.

dame's diary said...

So glad he is ok now ....

mnamma said...

Glad to hear that Big Geek is on the road to recovery. What you said is so true - man power is really scarce here and you are really blessed to have so many people around you at the time of need. Both you and Big geek were strong throughout the entire incident. How did Chip take the whole thing? Belated Anniversary wishes and a big hug to you! Everything will be all right in no time.


Sunita said...

Wish BigGeek a speedy recovery. Amazing the way you guys handled it all.

Belated anniversay wishes. May God bless.

Usha said...

My very best wishes to the Big Geek to get back to good health soon.
I am speechless at the way you and the BG handled it all so efficiently under the crisis situation. And it is so wonderful to see the support from your friends - you must be great as friends too.
My prayers for the good health of the entire family.

Trishna said...

Hey Dot Mom,
I just hopped over from Boo's.. and I was in tears reading this post. I am so glad, the Big Geek is better now. It just brought back memories of my husband's hospitalisation..and he is also 33.. its just too close to home.
My prayers are with you guys. hope Big Geek's first drive alone was good.

Anonymous said...

Ho Dotmom, how is BigGeek doing now. He sounds exactly like TAADad, the brave soul BigGeek is. And you have been so brave too, writing and all. did they tell you why he got it. Does he often go to get his stent checked. I believe they last for a couple of years - the cheney story. Take Care Dotmom,i feel for you !!