Preoccupation with my own woes blinded me to my husband’s suffering, which culminated in a heart attack on Saturday night. We are shell-shocked.
“That’s what happens to caregivers,” a callous nurse commented. Am I supposed to feel guilty?
Unable to either drive myself, or push my own wheelchair, I am reliant on the goodwill of others to get me to the hospital, although even then, my body’s limits scream: Halt!
I trust that my husband is in good hands, and getting the help he needs. Meanwhile, I am home, alone, processing a gamut of emotions and what if’s.
This is not his first heart attack. The first was silent, and according to the specialists, all but fatal. It caused sufficient damage to have us all on edge. Thank God I saw the signs and called 9-1-1 this time around. The hospital said they will not release him until either medications are in place, or surgery has corrected the issue.
Our dreams have been so focused on RV travel that we have thought of little else, least of all the possibility that one of us would be gone and the other left to pick up the pieces. As terrifying as it may be, this recent incident has forced me to face reality. I am a fifty-seven-year-old, totally dependent female, who would not be able to maintain this lifestyle without the love and support of my husband.
I mentioned this to my son, whose words offered reassurance, but whose tone of voice conveyed a whole other message: How has our strong, independent mother come to this? Why can’t she just get better and get on with life? It has been hard enough for my children to come to terms with my illness, and thanks to Ric, they really haven’t had to consider my dependency. They still think of me as the super-charged single mother that raised them. Weakness was never an option then.
I am angry too – the kind of anger that looks for blame and is seldom satisfied. He is feeling it too, I know, because he lashed out at me for offering information to the doctor that contradicted his own answer. I almost think that the separation is good for us right now, as it gives us a cooling down time.
Something as serious as heart disease requires major changes – all the doctors have said so – and I worry that he will be able to follow through. My brilliant, big hearted husband, has slayed many dragons on behalf of others, but not so much for himself. I only hope that he can turn some of that indefatigable fighting attitude inwards and value himself enough to make the hard, but necessary, shifts.