If your heart abandons you


It’s been a week now. The normal film is still being played. Also tonight. Friday night dinner with two brothers and my sister.
Came home and talked through the evening and then went to bed. I was exhausted, had a far too busy week. I had already lost the rested feeling of the holiday on Wednesday.
After breakfast by car to the gym. It should not get any crazier than going by car to exercise! But I don’t think about cycling because I’m already tired.
When I get home I realize that I still have to do some shopping. But no desire whatsoever. First a nice cup of coffee with Hans. I can now make a shopping list.

Then suddenly I don’t feel very well, could it be from the Ardennen paté sandwich? No, Hans has also just eaten that. Wow, it is getting worse. I have pain in my breasts, as if a band is pulled around it and my arms are so tired. Could that be coming from the heart? “No, no” is the convincing answer from Hans “you must have rowed too fanatically. Just take a paracetamol and lie down for a while”. Okay, he can know as a nurse in the cardiac catheterization department. Paracetamol and on the couch for a while then it will get better. But lying down is also no good, upright is better. “Well then you stay upright” is Hans’s wise comment.

Yes, the grocery shopping will still have to be done. Once in the supermarket I want to get all of the groceries as soon as possible and then go to bed because I really don’t feel okay.

Oh, no there are also a couple of people in the room. My brother and his wife, that’s nice. Then I will first drink a cup of tea with them. After the second cup of tea I really had it, the pain is getting worse and the sweat breaks out. Guys I am going to bed, I feel so bad. According to Hans I also look very pale and he assures me that if the pain does not go away in an hour, he will take me to the hospital. That is fine by me.

I get undressed, take out my contact lenses and crawl into bed. I am in pain; it feels like my breasts are going to burst. I hear the front door close, luckily they have left. I get out of bed crying in pain. I can no longer take it; the pain is too much to bear. Hans immediately calls the hospital and asks about the cardiologist on duty, although he is still convinced that nothing is wrong with my heart. Put on your sweatpants and I’ll take you away, Hans says.

Got in the car, luckily it is only a two-minute drive. Hans stops in front of the hospital and tells me to wait by that lamppost while he puts the car in the parking garage. Where is he now, I’m in such pain, it seems like hours. There he is. We walk to the emergency room and Hans says what he is coming for. A nurse sees that I am in a lot of pain and immediately takes me away. I can sit on a bed.

How much pain do you have on the scale of 10? Now 7 but it was 9. If they asked me this again 10 minutes later I would have said 26, that is how bad the pain will be. It is also getting very busy around my bed. There is a lot of commotion about the curtain being too short, which I think I told them to leave that curtain, and do something. Hans sits next to me like a faithful dog and holds my hand and strokes my forehead. You have to hold on, he says. Slowly I realize what happened and I ask Hans if I have a heart attack. That is indeed the case. My God, it hurts so much. Even the top on my finger hurts terribly and that oxygen mask is getting in my way.

You will get something for the pain, Hans assures me. A spray under my tongue and I go straight down the 8 lane. I don’t think that’s the intention, and it’s also very nasty.

What goes through your head? The pain makes me so indifferent, I don’t care if I die now. Luckily we still had the holiday in Bali and it was great, they can’t take that away from us anymore. I was lucky to have seen my brothers and sister yesterday and today. Mom where are you. I miss you.

Then suddenly my bed is moving; they steer it carefully but I notice that they are in a hurry. I am taken into the cardiac catheterization department and see the nurses. Fortunately now they are going to do something to me. I climb from the stretcher onto the table by myself.

In the meantime I have been stripped naked and slathered with iodine. Then it all goes very quickly. I feel a liquid in my body and the pain is gone. Incredibly it’s gone. I feel like I can walk out of the hospital again.

As I said it feels like I can do everything once again, and the pain is 100% gone. But to be honest, I don’t have to go home yet. Just let me be guarded here for a while. And that of course was also their intention. I’m going to the heart monitoring ward. I am tired and cold but it all seems to be part of it. It all feels very safe there in the hospital. When I go to sleep, the film in my mind keeps running for a while, but fortunately it goes out fairly quickly.

I can get rid off of the monitors on Monday and get a different monitor. You can just go to the toilet on your own which is a real liberation. Your world will also become a lot bigger once the corridor is added. Later in the day I go for a walk with the physical therapist and in the evening I am moved to the ward.

Tuesday during their rounds I am told that the monitor can be removed and that I can go home on Wednesday. Blessed and happy to be in my own bed. I immediately took off my sweatpants and put on real clothes and went to the hall with Hans for a cup of coffee. Really nice how you can be happy with so little.

When I am waiting for Hans in the hall on Wednesday I realize that I am moving further and further away from the safe zone. At home, the house is full of flowers. One more stage to go: rehabilitation. Fortunately, I love sports and it is nice to also hear from fellow sufferers what they have experienced and how they deal with the phenomenon “your body has let you down”.

Five years have now passed. I quickly resumed my normal life and the medical checks were minimized to once a year.