After a nice lunch, we strolled out of the restaurant hand in hand and I began to feel some slight pain in my chest. By the time we were in the car, Bobby had become quite concerned and asked me if he should take me to the emergency room. I thought it was just gas, but in the back of my mind I was worried and so was Bobby. So he made the decision for me and took me immediately to the hospital.
Well, to make a long story short, I had quite a few tests over the next few days to include the one where they go up through the main artery of the leg to the heart. The results were shocking. I had six blockages and I was going to need surgery immediately. So, Friday the 14th of May, I went under the knife for a long and enduring surgery.
When I finally woke in recovery, all I can remember is the pain and the tubes in my chest that looked as big as water hoses.
By the time I was discharged, I was still having a problem with my left leg but I was looking forward to going home to our apartment and getting into my own bed, but it soon became obvious that wasn’t going to be possible. The good news, however, was that our daughter, Christina and our grandsons had flown in from Houston to stay for a few weeks. It was wonderful seeing them and just having them around. But I was, unfortunately, very miserable. I couldn’t sleep because I couldn’t get comfortable and my leg was becoming more painful as each day passed. I wanted so much to get out and give our grandsons a good time, so I pushed myself to do just that. We began by going out to eat on the way home from the hospital. One night we even took them bowling. Of course, I wasn’t going to bowl, but I wanted to sit and watch them have a good time. Unfortunately, however, I had a problem. There had been a tube in my leg for draining and suddenly it opened up and began bleeding. Christina grabbed several rolls of toilet paper from the ladies room and my husband applied pressure for quite some time, but to no avail. It just wouldn’t stop bleeding. So after bowling, I ended up in the emergency room. And that was only the beginning. Before long, my leg grew huge. It felt like I was dragging a large boulder, and it was becoming more painful.
Both Christina and Bobby insisted that I go to the emergency room. So off we went and of course, I was admitted. My leg had become so infected and filled with liquid that I could barely move. I feared losing my leg at the time especially with my diabetes, but they worked round the clock treating me. An infectious disease doctor (my very own private vampire) visited me the following morning around 3:00 AM and drained my body of about ten vials of blood. This gave her a good idea of the specific antibiotics she needed to use in fighting this particular infection. I was also given strong fluid pills and I was surprised to wake up at one point and see that I was being given blood through one of my IV’s (Two pints to be exact).
When I went home, Bobby rented a hospital bed for me, which he set up at the foot of our bed. It was a real blessing and the boys slept at the foot of our bed. Each of them insisted on taking turns on being the one closest to me by my special bed so they could hold my hand during the night.
We spent the rest of their time with us taking them out to eat, going to the movies, playing laser tag and, of course, sightseeing. The mountains there were beautiful and they loved spending time along the Kanawha River where they would sit and watch the coal barges run up and down the river. And they were thrilled to see all the deer that wandered about up on the mountain where we lived. They also couldn’t get enough of fireflies (lightning bugs). And we took them to a place called Billy Bob’s, which was like going to Chucky Cheese.
Now maybe if I hadn’t been so insistent about entertaining my family after my heart surgery, I would have recovered more quickly and maybe I wouldn’t have had the complication with my leg, but I seriously doubt it. I personally think my leg was going to an issue either way. And, besides, the good times I shared with my wonderful husband, my beautiful daughter and my two precious grandsons made it all worthwhile.
The point is that I wouldn’t have changed anything I did during that time. It was meant to be and it all came about for a reason. You see, the night before Christina and the boys left, Bobby began having strange pains down his arm. Several days later, we found out he had two blockages and needed by-pass surgery. Who would have thought? Who would have known? So not quite two months after my by-pass surgery, my husband underwent his. And it was difficult because this time there was no family. I was all alone and still recuperating myself. The stress was overwhelming and I was scared, but God saw me through. A friend at Bobby’s work came to the hospital to sit with me during his surgery and he even accompanied me to the room where the surgeon talks with you about the outcome. It was odd, but definitely a blessing.
The most difficult part, however, was the moment I was allowed to see Bobby for the first time after the surgery. As I walked through the doors of ICU, I suddenly had to stop. The thought of seeing him in the condition I was in after my surgery pierced my heart and I almost passed out. A nurse came to my side immediately realizing something was wrong. She held me up and prayed with me while I silently cried at the very thought of the pain Bobby was in and what his condition would be. It was that nurse’s prayer that helped me face what I needed to do. Walk boldly and without fear directly into the room where my precious husband lay just having come out of recovery. And he was just as I had imagined him. He looked pitiful and he was in a great deal of pain. It hurt me very deeply, but I knew I would have to take this one day, one hour, one minute or even one second at a time. All I knew is that I wanted and needed to be there for Bobby just like he had been there for me.
Twenty-two days after Bobby’s surgery, we began rehabilitation together. It was the highlight of the class since we were a husband and wife team, which was very unusual to say the least. Now the funny thing about this was that most people knew that Bobby and I never did anything without each other. We were inseparable and except for the fact that he had to leave me when he went to work, we were always together. So the joke amongst most of our closest friends and our relatives was that we were carrying this ‘together thing’ just a bit too far.
--- Patty Dowling