Monday, January 24, 2011

What would become of the shop expansion, with Cliff in the hospital?

Cliff had been having heartburn (we thought) every time we went for our walk, as we were climbing the steepest hill.  When my visiting friend Joanna suggested I should get him to the doctor about that, I took her at her word and made an appointment.  Meanwhile, we went ahead riding our motorcycle every chance we got.  Somehow I had forgotten all about the fact that you can't take anything for granted!  We were having a blast, and nothing could spoil our enjoyment of life.  
Nothing except maybe a four-way heart bypass.  Yeah, that'll do it.  
Cliff was sent to a cardiologist on Wednesday and they put him straight in the hospital; an ambulance took him there from the doctor's office, because the doctor said, "I can't in good conscience let you to drive a car."  
What?  We'd been running all over the countryside on a motorcycle.  How could this be?   
An angiogram told the story, four blocked arteries; one of them was narrow and "weird" according to the cardiologist, so stints weren't even an option.
We spent that afternoon together in a hospital room, stunned beyond belief.  At one point Cliff said, his voice breaking, "We'll have to sell the bike."  
"Maybe not," I told him.  "The doctor said something about your being able to resume normal activities in three months."  
He didn't seem convinced.  
The thought crossed my mind that it was surely a good thing we'd gone ahead and built the shop; Cliff had already had seven years enjoying it.  I didn't expect him to die in surgery, but I figured this thing would definitely shorten his life span... thanks to all the information I was hunting up on the Internet.  
Ailing people and their relatives should be locked off the Internet; it'll scare you to death, and if you're not sick when you start googling up symptoms, you will be when you're done.  

After four days in the hospital, Cliff headed home, hugging his "heart" pillow.  He wasn't supposed to lift over ten pounds for three months.  As you can imagine, he didn't stick to this rule; but he'll tell you that for the first several weeks, he couldn't have lifted anything heavy if he'd wanted to.  Believe me, he tried.  Thanks to his wonderful job, we didn't miss a paycheck and most of the over-$100,000 hospital bill was paid by insurance. 

He sat around the shop a lot, wishing he could get back to work on the shop addition he'd begun before all this stuff happened.  Left to right, that's David, one of our neighbors; Tony, the guy Cliff rides to work with; Cliff, of course; and one of the twins next door.  Cliff was letting that unfinished lean-to drive him crazy; he hates to leave a job unfinished.

He wasn't supposed to be outside if the temperature was over 85 (for the rest of his life, actually), and he wasn't supposed to exert himself for three months.  So he watched the neighbor boys do a lot of his work.  He drove me crazy pushing the limits of what he was supposed to do, but today he seems very much back to normal.  We're still riding the motorcycle.  
As for the addition to the shop, family members stepped in while Cliff was still too weak to pick up a hammer (he tried, but was weak as a kitten) and finished the job.  I know I have pictures of that somewhere, but I couldn't find it.  His sister and her husband, the daughter's entire family, and the next-door twins, at least one of them, pitched in to help.  

Looking back, I still wonder why it didn't occur to me that a person having chest pains every time they're doing something strenuous probably isn't having heartburn.  Most likely it's angina.  Remember that, because it might save the life of someone you care about.  I still shudder when I realize Cliff was so at risk that the doctor wouldn't let him drive four miles to a hospital, and yet we'd been riding the motorcycle all over the place.   


my stuff said...

For the life of me, I had a feeling that I had to go to Missouri. I didn't know why - now I do.


lindie said...

when my husband had heart pains I was so surprised! He told me to take him to the hospital and the two days later he was having heart surgery. I know exactly how you felt. I moved into the hospital, they had rooms to rent, and lived for the hours I could spend with him. Well, 5 min. every hour.

Mo Rage said...

man, that's all great news. thank goodness it all turned out well. yahoo!

Ms Martyr said...

I'm so glad this story has a happy ending. Thank goodness Cliff was willing to see a doctor. You're right about getting too much information from the Internet. That was one of the first things my surgeon warned me about when I was initially diagnosed with cancer. That warning kept me from overloading with information - both good and bad.

Milly said...

Interesting to read about Cliff's experience since I've just been through it with Will, though not nearly as serious. In our case, we had driven to the doctor's appointment and they took him by stretcher to the amubulance. Man was he mad! We only had to drive 2 miles to the hospital -- but nope. Glad to hear that Cliff has rebounded so well. We're still working with Will -- but we'll get there. M.