Can you support CaringBridge during our Spring giving campaign? Generous donors like you ensure that CaringBridge remains ad-free, private and protected.
Sep 16, 2018 Latest post:
Dec 10, 2018
On September 13th, while finishing up preparations for Hurricane Florence, Eric suffered a cardiac arrest. Here's what happened leading up to it, so you can learn from our misfortune.
Honestly, looking back trying to figure out if we could've prevented this, I don't know when it really started. I know he had a physical recently and his doctor told him his cholesterol was high, as was his blood pressure. He would not take the cholesterol medication, but did take the blood pressure. He wanted to see if he could bring down his cholesterol with diet & exercise. He'd been diligently going to the gym all year and working out, so he is healthy, otherwise.
He had been complaining about being lightheaded and dizzy. He thought, and I agreed, it was probably his blood pressure medication. He took a reading on Tuesday and it was low. He credited it working in the heat trying to prep the house for Hurricane Florence. The next morning, he told me his blood pressure was 103/60 and said he'd only taken 1/2 a tablet and couldn't figure out why it was still low. He continued trying to get ready for the hurricane while I worked. He went to store to stores to get food for us and the cats; he got pallets to break up to place over the windows (my idea, incidentally, when there was no plywood left); went to the gym; and worked getting stuff out of the yard to put in the garage (I did help with that). I mean, there was a LOT of strenuous activity the last few days, in the extreme heat. He said on Wednesday when he quit, he felt tired and couldn't figure out why.
We initially had a plan to stay in a hotel in town, which took pets, figuring at least the structure would be sound, and maybe they would have generator. That plan fell through when news reported some hotels downtown were closing and had evacuated their guests. I called the Extended Stay and nobody answered, and was transferred to main reservation. They'd closed. So it was stay at home or leave - we were going to wait to see if anything changed by Thursday morning to make a decision.
On Thursday morning, I'd woken up and turned on the TV in the bedroom to catch the hurricane news. Eric always gets up hours before I do and I assumed he was doing his normal morning routine. I heard a strange noise (grunt/groan, deep sound) and thought it might be Panda because when he has a hairball, which isn't often, he makes some pretty loud noises. I heard it again and still didn't sound right so went downstairs to see if the cat was ok. I saw Eric with arms and feet out, in one of the patio chairs we'd brought inside for the storm. His eyes were open, he had no color, and he wasn't responding to me. I thought he was gone - his face was cold and clammy. He then took a sharp breath, so I ran up to get my phone and dialed 911.
The 911 Operator asked me to get him on the floor immediately. He's a big boy and I was panicked and tried to pick him up under his arms. As I picked him up and tried to move him back, I couldn't hold on to him, the chair went out from under him and I dropped him, but he was on the floor. Operator told me to tell him every time he took a breath (I guess in the meantime, she'd dispatched the EMTs). She then asked me to get the defibrillator, which I told her we didn't have so she asked me to start chest compression, and walked me through how to do it. The emergency vehicles arrived quickly and they took over.
Doctors are worried, and I am too, that there might be damage due to lack of oxygen to his brain. I have no idea how long he'd been like that. I do know that was he who was calling out - I'm sure of it. He was so worried about keeping me and the cats safe. I was crushed when I saw an empty can of Sbux Doubleshot Espresso can in the sink. He must've been trying to get energy to finish the job before the storm came rolling in.
Anyway, here we are - he was so determined to keep me safe that he had a heart attack so we could be in the safest place in Wilmington. I am counting our blessings that if it had to happen, it happened when it did because the storm hadn't started and EMTs were still being dispatched - they do not go out when wind reaches 50mph. If it had to happen, that I happened to be up and watching TV because my normal routine is to hit the snooze button for an hour before getting out of bed and that morning, I only hit it once.
Even though I know he wouldn't have gone to have it checked out if I asked him to, I hope we can help someone learn from our experience. If you're not feeling well, get it checked out. He always thinks I'm a hypochondriac because I want to get things checked out, and I've become a little complacent when not in the pink because I don't want him to make fun of me, but I won't do it anymore and I hope you don't also.