Sunday morning, 2:15 am, I feel a tap on my chest. I roll over and doze off. A couple of minutes later, I feel it again. I hear a soft whisper, "Come here, come over here". Not sure if I'm dreaming, I drift off to sleep again. Suddenly I hear moaning, a sense of urgency. I'm having a heart attack! I practically fall out of bed and run over to the other side of the bed. I flip the lights on. His chest clutched in hand, "It hurts, it hurts"! I'm gonna pass out, here I go, I'm going! Trying to reorient myself from a deep sleep, I run into the bathroom and grab the blood pressure cuff. I feel no pulse. The blood pressure will not register. I try again, and again.
Ryan loses consciousness.
I cannot think. Everything is in slow motion, yet happening so fast. All I can think of is "Not now, not like this. I need you, we need you".
I panic, yelling, begging him to talk. Do I need to call an ambulance? Tell me what you are feeling, whats happening. I palpate his carotid pulse....erratic, wild. Ryan has gone into a lethal arrhythmia.
He regains consciousness, diaphoretic and clammy. I yell and scream, "Wheres the nitro?, wheres the nitro? Nothing. The room is spinning. I can't think.
I glance in his direction as he begins to violently shake. "My chest hurts, why am I shaking''?
I grab the cell and dial 911. Nothing. I try again. Still nothing.
I run down the stairs, locate the house phone and dial 911. 1st ring....nothing. 2nd ring, 911 emergency? I spout off all I can remember as fast as I can. I run back upstairs. Ryan is disoriented. I wait for the ambulance, I beg him to talk to me. I am helpless and scared.
I look out of the window, desperately searching for ambulance lights. All is quiet and dark outside. Ryan stares into space. I run downstairs and wait. Where are they? I flip the lights on, open the door and wait. It seems like an eternity.
Finally.......they arrive. The EMT's slowly and leisurely walk across the lawn and make way to the door. We all walk upstairs.
3:00am. I follow rescue to the Emergency Room. I look up and see his head through the windows of the ambulance doors.
The tears well. This can't be happening.
Keep it together, stay strong.
The waiting is incessant. After what seemed like an eternity, I am finally allowed to go back. I walk past stretchers, past patients, past equipment. Ekg done, labs drawn. The physician and I recap the events in detail.
Do we go home, or do we transfer and admit?
After much coercion, Ryan agrees to be admitted for further evaluation.
I find myself once again staring into the back of an ambulance. It is always somebody else braving the storms of uncertainty. Not my husband.
My heart races wildly. God thank you. Thank you for not taking my rock, the daddy of our little boys.
We arrive at the 2nd emergency room. I wait.
My eyes meet his. The tears well, my cheeks burn.
The following days would test my soul, see what I was really made of.
The hospital room was small, brightly lit, with little decorating the white walls.
After undergoing a battery of tests, we would consult with another physician specializing in electrophysiology.
Dr. Patterson sat across the room next to the window. The long white lab coat was draped across his lap as he studied the chart behind his spectacles.
His words were gentle and slow.
WPW. Sudden cardiac death.
I am suffocating. My chest was about to collapse. The tears spilled.
His quiet voice was being drowned out by the torrential downpour of thoughts pounding through my head.
Tomorrow we will continue invasive testing that will include an EP study/heart cath. We will try and isolate and ablate the extra pathway that is causing your arrhythmia. I knew this test was not without significant risks including death.
My head hurt. The walls were spinning.
Word spread like wildfire.
(How blessed we are to have prayer warriors that would stand in the gap and intercede on our behalf).
I feel like I am walking in a tunnel and living a nightmare. Family arrived.
My sister in law and I trudged through the hallways. It was cold, bright and sterile.
This was the moment I fell apart. The tears spilled violently. My knees quivered as I sobbed. We prayed and cried together.
I desperately tried not to dwell on the what-ifs, but no matter how hard I tried, images of the possibilities would flash before my very eyes.
That night I drove our big boys home from the hospital. Carson melted, his world turned upside down. In between sobs I would hear, "Daddy, I need you, daddy come home, daddy I miss you". My heart was bleeding and had been ripped out of my chest. I couldn't breathe. I held his little hand in mine and together we agonized. Was anybody else dying this slow death?
I placed the boys in the hands of my mother in law who selflessly met needs that I could not meet. I had to be with Ryan. I couldn't leave him.
For better or for worse.
I drove back to the hospital late that Monday night.
I was utterly exhausted and emotionally drained. I had had 6 hrs of sleep in 3 days. The drive seemed endless. I prayed. I cried. I tried to erase the possibilities from my mind. I could not. I can't think, can't focus. My lense had been clouded with a whirlwind of emotion, desperation, and sheer exhaustion.
7:00am the following morning I found myself in yet another cold waiting room filled with people. I decided that a warm energy restoring coffee was just what the doctor ordered. I would let the caffeine do its job and maybe somehow I would wake up from this nightmare. As I strolled back into the waiting room, I was greeted by Ryans physician. We have isolated the problem and this will be resolved in a few days.
One test down, the big one still to come. The hallways of the hospital were strangely becoming familiar, even comfortable.
That afternoon, family gathered. We visited. We cried. We broke bread and chewed on the Word, on soul food. The only food that mattered. I studied Psalm 91, "My faithfulness will be your shield and rampart". Rampart- a defensive wall. I quickly remembered God's shield of faithfulness. I remembered His wall of protection. I remembered my cries for help and pleas of mercy in the middle of the night for my precious son and my husband.
I digested this.
I let this breath of God become the oxygen that coursed through my veins.
The moment had arrived. They were on the way to pick up the love of my life for his EP study/heart cath. My heart began to race. My soul ached. My heart was pierced. I cried. We gathered around Ryan and prayed.
We followed the stretcher down the long white hallways adorned with bright lights. The sterility was penetrating. This was the image that would be permanently imprinted in my mind. I kissed Ryan goodbye and told him how much I loved him. I watched the stretcher disappear behind closed doors. I felt like the ground would give way. I precariously choked back the tears. I wanted to be back there to hold his hand. What if he was scared as his heart began to beat wildly? I was utterly helpless.
Previously, the nurse entered our room as she was returning Ryan from a procedure. Lynn was her name. This precious woman of God was sold out for Jesus. She prayed with Ryan prior to testing. She would encourage us in the Word and was interceding on our behalf. It hit me, God is completely in the middle of all of this! None of this came as a surprise to Him. The following morning I got a phone call. It was Lynn. She had started her day by praying for us and asking for wisdom for her and the physician regarding Ryans case. "My faithfulness will be your shield and rampart". She would be the nurse to sedate and care for Ryan during his ablation/EP study. What an awesome God we serve!
I stared out of the window bleary eyed unable think. I watched cars come and go, people walk by, and rescue delivering its latest victims into the hands of skilled physicians and nurses. I stood motionless, paralyzed.
For hours we waited. Lynn would call me with periodic updates. The first phone call: Ryan was doing great, we are trying to get him to go into a rapid rhythm....click. My heart sank....could they not get it? Were they not able to find the extra pathway? We waited.
2nd update: We have done an ablation and are pulling the sheaths. We should be finished in 15 minutes. What? The procedure was supposed to be another hour and a half. "My faithfulness will be your shield and rampart".
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God.
Today is Wednesday morning. I sit in this little hospital room not sure of all that has happened. I sit here only because of Grace. Our lives are but the breath of God. I do not know what lies ahead. The recovery will be long and painful in more ways than one. I am forever indebted to my Saviour. I owe Him my life.
Ryan and I are humbled beyond words for you our friends and family who stood in the gap and interceded on our behalf when we were exhausted, overwhelmed, and emotionally drained. Grace. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.