Although it has been over 30 years since this near fatal event happened, I can still get in touch with my feelings of helplessness very quickly! In honor of American Heart Month this February, I wanted to share my story with you and encourage everyone to be proactive in your heart health this year!
My husband and I had driven to Wyoming from our home in Wisconsin to visit my Uncle and family and enjoy a vacation. On the first night of our arrival, my husband had cardiac symptoms and I drove him to the local hospital. They determined he was having a heart attack and he required a specialized cardiac team beyond what this tiny hospital could offer. Life-Flight was dispatched and he was evacuated to the closest major medical center in Casper. I remember feeling so alone that night as it became very real that I could be raising our 4 small children, ages 2, 5, 7, and 9, by myself if he did not survive this crisis. Although, my husband was only 36 years old, we knew his own Father had passed away of a heart attack when he was the young age of 7, and his Mother had gone through open heart surgery. He spent the next week in the Cardiac Care Unit after he was airlifted and was blessed to go on to make a full recovery in the months ahead.
One of the most poignant memories of that scary night is walking with the medical team from the hospital Emergency Room to the waiting helicopter and holding my husband’s hand as his stretcher was lifted into the Life-Flight helicopter. As we said our tearful good-byes, we both knew this situation was critical and beyond our control. The dark cloud was, with his family history, we knew the unspeakable truth–this may not end well. I remember the stress of the whole ordeal making my entire body shake and tremble uncontrollably that night. I was not allowed to ride in the helicopter with my husband, so my Uncle drove me two hours to Casper while my Aunt and Grandmother took care of our 4 children at their nearby home.
I remember returning to our hotel room from the hospital to pack everything up to leave. Only hours before we had been in the pool with our kids having so much fun. As I looked around our room and saw all their wet swimsuits scattered on the floor, the gravity of this traumatic event started to set in. It was a turning point in my life, and I knew I was in way over my head!
The only place I knew to go was to a much higher power and so I dropped to my knees in the hotel room and prayed to God to bring my husband through this trauma and allow us to raise our children together. Becoming a widow at 35 was incomprehensible to me, and I knew this was going to require divine intervention.
In the next few days the cardiac team shared with us that my husband had no lasting damage to his heart muscle and that he would make a full recovery which they termed a “miracle.” They also told us he was very fortunate and not many people get a second chance in these situations. We are very grateful for his skilled medical team and all of our extended family and friends who came to our rescue with support during those horrific days. It truly takes a village and we could not have survived without the loving acts of kindness that carried us through those challenging times.
As we focus on “GO RED DAY” and the many events of heart month, let’s encourage our loved ones to take their cardiac health seriously and be proactive. My husband and I are grateful for answered prayers, miracles, and second chances. Life is incredibly fragile and precious, and as we learned that night in Wyoming, the line between life and death is an extremely thin one.
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!
Sending much love and big hugs to you all—-