Saturday, March 14, 2009

Ya gotta have heart

Have you missed me?

Remember that I told you I was moving? I was having trouble breathing during December, but attributed it to the exertion of moving boxes of stuff, many filled with books. You know how heavy books are. One day, while carrying an overweight cat in a kitty-kennel, I was so out of breath that I got the door of my new place open, set down the cat, and sprawled on the floor. I thought maybe I was breathless from bronchitis or pneumonia, but the doctors now say I have had one (or more) heart attacks. On the morning of January 31, after a night of being unable to sleep because I couldn't breathe, I called my friend Donna to take me to the emergency room. That's when I learned I had congestive heart failure. They kept me overnight and helped me breathe better, but with instructions to see my primary physician that week. I did, and she sent me to a cardiologist -- who did a stress test, which I failed. Heart catherization showed the three heart arteries were 100%, 100%, and 90% blocked.

To shorten this story, I had open-heart surgery on February 19th, with four bypasses. I was able to leave the hospital after six days but, being unable to do much if anything for myself, went home with a friend who volunteered her home and her time to take care of me. I was at her house for eleven days before moving back to the new home I had not fully gotten moved into. I joked after the surgery that I must have gotten blood transfusions from a non-reader, because I had no interest in reading for days and days.

Wanna know what I've learned from this experience? How important it is to have loving friends. Two old friends and three women in my writers critique group have been my faithful supporters, re-scheduling their time for overnights at my house, getting me to doctor's appointments, bringing me meals, running errands for me, and generally "babysitting" me. Friends are wonderful.