sharing my life experiences, reflections and insights as a mother, a writer, an Occupational Therapist, an unschooler, and and a spiritual being having a human experience

Perspecitve: one week after my husband’s heart attack and 911 experience

This is a slightly modified message I sent to my son’s scout troop to fill everyone in on my husband. My husband has served as the troupe Popcorn Sales head person for the past two years.

the message is long and not edited other than for spelling and quickly at that but I feel the need to write as this happens and to get the posts out as it happens.

My husband Don, aged 52, in perfect health, or so we thought,  had a heart attack   on Wed night may 4, 2011. He was moving the lawn and Thank God we were home.
911 cardiac arrest in home…scary stuff
Not stable when he left house.
had 2 stints places in heart in cath lab at Presby Main. Excellent care.
He had no prior history no high BP , good cholesterol, took 0 medications (which surprises everyone) never smoked. Hardly ever drank.
This was so unexpected it took me a while to call 911 even though I have had health care provider CPR .
He had been out moving the yard. I thought he pulled a muscle. He came in with sudden pain..I think it started in his upper back.
He does have history of lower back issues…we see a chiropractor and acupuncturist. .
So we both assumed he pulled a muscle

but the pain quickly increased and was in his neck and then shoulder blade and arm.
He was sweaty and clammy the whole time (which should have clued me in… and I say that NOT to beat myself up BUT as a warning to others and also the reality of when you are in that moment and how many react)
I  DID call 911 IN TIME  as they got to the house while he was still sitting up and talking. But shortly after they got there he said “I think I’m gonna pass out”. Then cardiac arrest.

I tell you all this  because it is a lesson in signs of a heart attack and how important it is to call 911 ASAP. And to have aspirin in your home (although we did not)
I have no regrets, I called in time and he is alive. Yet seconds later could have meant he would have died.
We are all so grateful he survived!
And a lesson in how stress can affect us.

He was in CCU (cardiac intensive care) through Sunday.
He had 100% blockage in his main coronary artery and 90% in a second and those got stints to open vessels up in cath lab the first night.
He had been in tachycardia when he left with medics and got to hospital and that was still an issue to some degree the first 24 hours but it resolved.
When I first saw him after he came out of cath lab he was fully with it and alert and soon after making jokes.
What a relief!

He moved to cardiac step down at Cardiovascular Institute there at Presby in Sunday. He did walk a short distance but low blood pressure esp upon getting up, makes it tricky for him to do too much..
He sat up in chair. Visited with kids Sunday longer than the 5 or 10 minutes we had done when he was in CCU but it wore him out.

Monday they decided that he would go back to cath lab tuesday to stint his 3rd artery which was 75% blocked. Much better way to go to cath lab
And many go to Cath lab in a non emergency and even out patient.
Yet he is weak. His heart had to have a balloon pump for a few days to help.
And so we were nervous. Not to mention me having to sit in cath lab waiting area again which is where we sat wee night, me and Lia and all 3 kids waiting for over 2 hours to know if he was alive.

Cath lab went well. Relief.
Back to his room where he was no need for the CCU this time.

this is such a shock to his body with all the medications he is now on. His body is not used to medications at all. Most don took in past is ibuprofen for lower back pain.
Last time he was in hospital was 17 years ago on our honeymoon in San Juan island (off coast of Seattle). He was helicoptered to main land after a food reaction where he had vomiting and swelling. and went as a precaution. No hospital on island. I had to wait for ferry next am to go join him. He resolved quickly so they don’t even know what it was..
But it was not very scary other than us being newly weds:). It was fun to reminisce and laugh about our honey moon. At least 2 of his three if not all of his  brothers (all older)got sick on their wedding day or honeymoon
We joked he was just trying to out do them. ( Stop that Don)

it helps to laugh and he has been joking with staff all along yet has times when he feels lousy between constipation and low BP and not being able to get up. First few days in CCU when balloon pump was in he had to be flat on his back with no bending at waist or legs at all…which aggravated his low back issues and just made him ancy
Don has issues getting to sleep and always has.
and like his Cardiologist, Dr. Iwaoka (Mid Carolina Cardiology) told him “you don’t come to the hospital to get sleep”

We love the care he has been getting between the doctor, nurses and all staff at Presby main. They are wonderful!

His only risk factors: family history and stress
He is the youngest of 6 siblings.
His dad died of a massive heart attack in 1976 at the age of 56, when Don was 17. His mother had a heart attack at about age 80 after having some TIAs
The family history is there yet we never though he would be the one to have a heart attack first. His diet is so good at least since I came into his life. He cut out red meat about 13 years ago to lower his cholesterol. It used to be 200 but it has been around 150 ever since. (and the MD told us upon his admission, his cholesterol was low..LDLs too low but even HDLs were maybe 90 (if I remember right)
We eat whole grain, vegetables at every meal. Olive oil and other good fats. We take fish oil.
We eat a far better “Mediterranean diet” than they are serving him in the hospital.
I could go on. we only ate fish and no other meat for about 5 or so years and Don prefers to eat vegetarian. we started eating just poultry again because as I learned more about nutrition, we were eating too much processed soy. I had fertility issues and did better with more meat and in past 3 years I’ve added red meat back to raise my cholesterol (it was 95 total and yes you can have too low cholesterol.)

Don is thin 6 foot 1 and about 175 or 180 pounds although he has put on about 10 or 15 pounds over the recent years but it doesn’t show.    Every one sees him as skinny.  He looks slim but has been saying he feels like he has too much weight (and I have laughed because I had three kids and our waists are about the same size)…in my opinion mine should be smaaller….just now wondering about this….

I think it is a lesson to us all how stress can affect us.
I started this intending just to quickly recap what happened. As I wrote it, I knew what questions people would ask and so it felt easier to cover that too.
It is a miracle Don is alive. And we are grateful for that every day and every moment.
I think everyone can learn something from our experience and so I feel the need to share it.
It helps me to talk about it and I don’t mind talking about it.
I do have so many things I have to take care of right now that it is easier to send one message to many people. I have been updating his status on FB to keep friends and family quickly informed. I have a BB so I can do that wherever I am which is either at hospital or taking care of my kids (esp my 2 year old and 9 year old)

The kids. Have been amazing through this.
And Harrison, my oldest has been amazing: strong, taking care of his little brother who is used to being with either mom or dad. We have friends or family helping and at house when I am not but Jason, age 2,  clings to Harrison and he is the best but brother. I can’t even describe in words how wonderful it has been to have Harrison help me with kids and even in other ways.  He is growing up to be an amazing responsible young man. And deserves a huge award for all he has done. Even that couldn’t express how grateful I am to him. He is 13.
And my daughter has been amazing too.  Her OCD seams to be lessoning like a crash course in CBT.  I am keeping a close eye on her and seeking extra help for all my kids and esp her but am amazed each day and what she does.

We are all sleep deprived. Adrenaline is keeping me going and I am at peace with the quiet hours I have in the early am to take care of my needs and get some of the high priority things on my long to do list done.

We are all so grateful to everyone. We have so much support in so many ways right now. More than we could ever have imagined. And I know we will need that support for sometime.

Out lives are forever changed. I have no regrets and know the past is behind me and I must keep moving forward. I almost can’t believe how we have all had a positive attitude (sure we have our moments).
A crisis brings out your best. You can do things you never thought you could. Sad that it takes a crisis to get to that point.
Miracles are happening around us every day, we just may not see it until we most need a miracle.
Don is alive and we have many miracles happening around us every day. It continues to amaze me.
Thanks to the universe for all for your support. And for listening. Expressing this is helpful to me.

Peace, love and joy!
Gina Grothoff
May 11, 2011


Comments on: "Perspecitve: one week after my husband’s heart attack and 911 experience" (7)

  1. Reblogged this on A Fresh Start with our New Rural Life and commented:
    So grateful to have found your post, so sad for what your family went through, and back to being grateful that 5 months to-the-day after my husband’s heart attack your family also avoided a greater tragedy. There is great comfort in reading experiences similar to ours. Maybe it’s that I don’t feel others understand how traumatic a heart attack can be, even though my husband survived, or I feel guilty for not doing more with each day when so many others have been denied a second chance at life. Whatever it is, it did my heart good to read your blog and hope others will read and share as well.

  2. Thanks for posting this. Here is a little of my story:

  3. Thank you for your post…when I was reading this I thought it was my life you were talking about…same age same exact everything you went thru is happening to me right now..right down yo the same night Wednesday this happened to my husband to just everything…very strange….I’m scared now cause I’m not sure how I’m going yo run our business and do everything by myself…am I selfish gor worry about that…I really mean that everything right down to calling 911 like you ..everything is my story exactly….strange….

  4. Sherry. Wow Eerie. Take a deep breath Sherry. Is he still in the hospital?
    If you’re story is the same, then your husband survived and it’s somehow going to be ok even though it may not feel like it right now. This happened 5 years ago for us and my husband made a full recovery. It took time and he went through outpatient cardiac rehab which I think is a must both as an Occupational Therapist and as a wife. My husband wrote an book about his experience. In addition to following Doctor recommendations, he also went to a Naturopathic Doctor who started him on several supplements. Our NP actually came to the hospital to see him because I called him. And he used EFT and is now an EFT practioner. I will post a link to his ebook
    Sending you prayers and healing and love.
    I would love to hear how he is doing and how you are holding up.

  5. Thank you for your reply…just feeling s little blaa right now..I’m glad he is home but have so many emotions right now I’m not sure how to feel…ty for your kindness

  6. That was the most difficult time for me Sherry when he came home. I totally get that feeling of being out of sorts and having so many different emotions. Happy to listen and answer any questions. Hugs

  7. Hi…..well he is doing quite well….he is such z busy guy it will be hard for yo too sit….bug then he just might like it to much being waited on…smile. ..we own a business .actually a pool store and have patented a product which is in Canadian tire and home hardware. .if you get a chance please go on our website . It explains who we are and a picture of us’s a big Web site… hope you enjoy it. Well gotta go..I have to go yo work ty for taking the time to’s greatly appreciated. .

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