HOLIDAY TO NIGHTMARE

Our last trip started out with excitement and anticipation…a new baby in the family tends to do that to grandparents. But somewhere on the way home it turned into an ongoing nightmare.

The reason for this trip was that our youngest son and his wife had their first child, a boy to carry on the name. At over 9 pounds and 21 inches long at birth, he is a big one. He’s so cute and sweet and very comfortable to hold since at his size he doesn’t seem a fragile baby. We were there for Lincoln’s church blessing which was very special to us and I got to hold and snuggle him to my heart’s content.

Our time there passed swiftly and we reluctantly left Georgia for North Carolina where we planned to attend another grandson’s school Fall Hoe Down, a carnival which was reminiscent of those I remember from my own childhood. That event was cut short by rain but the most important things were realized…games, sand art, cupcakes and cotton candy.

Another important event occurred while we were there, a birthday party for our 3-year-old grandson. Balloons, decorations, party hats [which were forgotten in the excitement], presents, and most important of all, cupcakes with candles. Little Nash loved to blow out the candles and have happy birthday sung to him so we did that a few times….just as we had done for his father when he was that age. In some respects children are the same in all generations.

During our time in N.C. my husband had some chest pains that were mostly controlled by his nitro tablets. I really wasn’t concerned about this because it has happened to him on several occasions since his by-pass surgery eight years ago. We enjoyed ourselves there and our visit was low-key and restful and it came to an end all too soon.

The day we started home was bright and beautiful and my husband felt great so he did the driving. We stopped for lunch in Ashville, N.C. where we were waited on by a cross dresser with a high falsetto voice. Now this may not be unusual for some of you but it was the first time that I had actually seen one in person, and I’ll shamefully admit that I could hardly keep from staring at him…er her. Who says someone my age has seen it all? Well maybe now indeed I have.

The drive that afternoon through the Smoky Mountains was absolutely fantastic; the trees, wearing their autumn gowns, were breathtakingly beautiful with colors ranging from dark purple, to red, to neon orange and brilliant yellow. As the sun started to go down the colors were intensified so that we almost needed sunglasses to protect our eyes from the brilliance of the trees.

We spent the night in Knoxville; it was a good night for me but my husband had some pain and indigestion. We started off the next morning in fog and rain,  anticipating sleeping in our own bed that night for the first time in two weeks. The day quickly went downhill with my husband having such terrible pain that his nitro pills couldn’t control it. On a scale of 1-10 he said the pain was a 12. I suggested we either go to a hospital or stop in a motel for a couple of days but he wouldn’t agree to that. His feelings were that if we could just get home to his own bed he would be fine. I wasn’t so sure about that but at his urging, I continued to drive and drive and…drive.. Those who know me know that I don’t like to drive, especially through city traffic. Well we had to go through Nashville, Memphis, and Little Rock but we must have had angels riding with us because somehow we made it home in one piece and with Bruce still in the land of the living.  After stopping in Conway to get gas I anxiously drove the last 30 miles home.

What a welcome sight to see our little home sedately waiting for us, and what a disappointment that we didn’t get to sleep in our own bed that night. Before we could make our nighttime absolutions, I had to call 911 to take Bruce to the hospital and I had to follow in my car…more driving for this already stressed out chick. Lucky we’d had the foresight to fill the gas tank on the way home for it was back to Conway to the hospital we went. In retrospect we should have checked him into the emergency room on our way through the first time.

For the next week I drove to the hospital in the early morning and came home in the late evening.  It was determined that my husband had a heart attack and he also has a leaky heart valve. For the first few days he was in the Critical Care Unit and I wasn’t allowed to see him except at certain times during the day. After he was moved upstairs to a regular room I spent each day with him. The chair in his room was so uncomfortable that I knew it was hopeless to try to sleep there at night, besides one of my sons came for a few days and made me go home in the evenings to get some rest; he even cooked for me. After he went home a granddaughter spent a night and a day with me so that I wasn’t by myself for very long. How happy I am that they know me so well.

Thankfully I now have him home once again and I want to keep it that way. Six new medicines were added to his morning cocktail of medications since the doctor is going to try to control his recovery in that way instead of with another surgery. He was put on a salt free diet in the hospital as well as skim milk. He was already on a low-fat, high-fiber, sugar-free diet and he says he wants to be on that mostly vegan diet that our children have been pushing him toward….but he doesn’t want them to know. Typical male thinking but I guess he doesn’t want any ‘I told you so’s’. He didn’t eat the meat on his tray in the hospital and he has requested none here at home. It will be interesting to see what kind of staying power he has. I’m certain he can stick with it as long as he remembers the pain he was in with his heart attack.

He had a really bad day yesterday but I’m much encouraged today. He put on his new walking shoes we got in Atlanta and went for a little walk with his cat trailing along…she hasn’t wanted to let him out of her sight. He opened the car door to get something and, surprisingly, she jumped in, not willing to let him go off without her again. That certainly delighted my husband since she is a fairly skittish girl.

This afternoon he’s been playing his least heavy guitar and singing. I know his recovery may be slow but surrounded by the things he loves [and that love him] I hope it will be steady….and as complete as it can be for a man his age. I’ve already decided that we aren’t venturing so far from home again; so no more holidays that turn into nightmares. No, if we are to have nightmares, we’ll do it right here at home.

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