Yesterday we planned a quiet day. Rene was to sleep late.(Even though she is now out on permanent disability, she still keeps second shift hours.) I went out with my friend Peggy for beeakfast, then shopping for backing for the quilt she is making me. I got back home around 1:15 to find her quite upset; her brother Kevin, age mid-fifties and athletic, was in the hospital in Providence, undergoing a stress test because of suspected heart problems. Seems he want to a ball game the night before, had chest pains and shortness of breath on the way in, went in anyway, left early when the pain continued, then DROVE HIMSELF to the hospital, because he didn't want to bother anyone!( Talk about a no-no. Please, if you ever have chest pains, BOTHER someone, call 911, ask a friend, don't risk a heart attack in a moving car!)
Kevin is Rene's number one brother, a wonderfuil man with whom she has a very special bond. He has a great wife, Betsy, a neat daughter, Jennifer, and a bright, demanding 5 year old granddaughter, Marlee, who loves her Poppie more than anything in this world. Over the last decade they have welcomed me into the family with open arms, something that does not always happen to gay or lesbian partners, and I have come to love them, too.
We called the hospital, and Betsy said,don't come, he's still in testing, he might be sent home. The next call she said we didn't have to come, but he had some heart abnormatities, and they were keeping him overnight. Don't come? Of course we were coming! It's Rene's brother the Kev in that bed! We got our act together in under a half an hour-the warp of speed for us-and set off for Providence post-haste.
When we got there, Kevin was looking out of place wearing a hospital gown sitting awkwardly in a hospital bed. Betsy looked tired, and Jen looked exhausted- she was the one who went to the hospital after working til 2AM, and was still there at 5PM. The cardiologist had been in to say there were definite blockages, and he was scheduledfor a cardiac cath, and probable angioplasty on Monday.The angioplasty will only happen if he has three blockages or less, otherwise he faces open heart surgery.
"You'll do anything to get out of work," was his beloved sister's greeting to him! ( He is out on a stress related disability now.) "Yeah," he responded deadpan, "do you think the doctor will write me a note?" What a pair! Betsy and Jen are worried sick, but trying to stay calm for him, and he and Rene are joking back and forth. Of course, humor is the only way to cope witrh such stressful medical issues-and Rene and I have had more than our share. Bets and Jen left, and we stayed for an hour olr so, then met friends of his coming in as we were leaving.
In the car on the way home, Rene was calm- she doesn't let emotions get the best of her- but I was overcome with memories and feelings. Just 10 years ago June, I was in Yale-New Haven Hospital with the same diagnosis, only I was 44, diabetic for 20 years, morbidly obese, scared to death, and alone. Rene was scheduled for a knee replacement surgery and in a lot of pain, so driving an hour was hard. I had arrived by ambulance because I was diagnosed in our local hospital, which didn't do angioplasty. Kevin is lucky. It took me from March to June to get a proper diagnosis (starting with bronchitis and winding up with it's all in your head, you need to see a psychiatrist. I knew something was wrong, and kept going back and going back and going back, until they did an "unnecessary" cardiac cath and discovered heart disease!)
My angioplasty went well, but closed up 2 months later, and I had open heart surgery in Sept. of '94. Women, I am told, present differently, and have less luck with angioplasty than men. On the way home from Providence I realized that this was the very beginning of the changes I am still struggling with all this time later-and thank goddess I had the courage, and support from Rene, to demand an answer back then. It was a learning experience that I have needed often in the last decade!
We didn't go up today, but have spoken to Betsy, Jen, and Kev, He is doing well, except for a massive headache due to the nitro they are giving him. I can relate- I would rather have chest pain the a nitro headache! We will go up to9morrow, more to be with Betsy than to see Kevin.
Please, anyone who stumbles across this entry, keep Kevin in your thoughts or prayers, or whatever it is you do to connect with the godhead. Thank you.
Heart from www.wehug.com