Serious surgery and a major anniversary

Published 7:12 pm Sunday, February 1, 2015

Ever notice how the biggies seem to clump together? We were in the midst of making big plans for our 60th wedding anniversary when I felt symptoms of a heart attack. Fortunately, the invitations had been printed, our Christmas cards were also printed and were ready to be mailed early with the invitations enclosed.

Of course there was still much to be done, but I threw a big monkey wrench into the proceedings. I told Fran I thought I might be having a heart attack and we’d better drive over to the ER at St Luke’s. Of course she called 911 and Goeff Tennant soon appeared, along with an EMS crew. Both took EKGs and I elected to have Goeff drive me to the hospital.

Once there an elevated enzyme indicated that I had indeed had a heart attack so I was taken to Mission Heart Tower by EMS. The only traffic I noticed was that all the 18-wheelers I saw were backing up at maybe 20 or 30 miles an hour, so my driver must have really had the “pedal to the metal!”

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Nurse Michele was standing in the door of room 419 when we arrived about 3 a.m. and welcomed me back to Mission Heart Tower. This was my second visit; the first was in 2005.

I had another heart attack about same time the next morning before they did a cath probe and discovered that only one of my four bypasses was open. Dr. Ely, who did my first by-pass, had reserved a time on Thursday for me, so I opted to come home for three days and return. Bad idea. All doctors advised against that, so I stayed in the Taj Mahal and ate gourmet food during the interim.

The surgery went well according to Dr. Ely but now the hospital food tasted really bad and they brought me too much of it. At last I was able to come home. I had lots of visitors, including son and daughter, as well as friends. Friends have stepped up to take me to Hendersonville for cardiac rehab. I can’t do it locally because we do not have a cardiologist.

Recovery from open-heart surgery is going well. Dr. Ely is so pleased that he does not want to see me again. Now if I can only get the waterworks going again!

With the help of family and friends, we went ahead with our 60th anniversary celebration. Son Thomas catered a sit-down buffet dinner featuring sliced pork, pulled pork and beef brisket BBQ for our guests, and they brought enough non-perishable food items for Thermal Belt Outreach to fill the back of daughter’s Suburban. I had a severe cold and Fran was running two degrees of fever, but the show must go on! We welcomed nearly a hundred guests, some from the D.C. area, more from the Virginia coast and mountains, and many from Hendersonville.

The only problem with a large party like that is you spend the first hour greeting guests and a second hour telling them goodbye, leaving little time for real conversation and serious visiting. But with both of us sick it’s just as well we did not get really close to any one!

We thank everyone who came and especially for their generous donation of food to Thermal Belt Outreach. People at Outreach received it happily and took our picture. We thank our son Thomas and daughter Sharon for hosting our event, and must mention Paula and Phillip Edwards for decorating the activities building simply but beautifully. And let’s not forget Jim and Judy North of Newport News, who came for the season to help out as needed.

Sixty years have produced a host of friends who came from all over to help us celebrate and help me get well. I must not drive my stick shift Saturn and I must ride in the back seat so the air bag cannot kill me. I’m driving now. But I am happy to be alive, buoyed up by prayer support and real help as needed. Know that I appreciate every one of you!