Friday, October 17, 2008

Heart Attack--Part II

Well, by now, you know that this hasn't been a normal week around the Heartsill household. The week started normally enough, going to church on Sunday, hearing my wife sing on our church's praise team, eating Sunday lunch out, and spending time relaxing on Sunday afternoon and evening. Monday, my wife went to work, and Evan and I planned out a "Daddy Daycare" kind of day. It was a great weekend and a great start to the week.

All of that changed at 1:30 PM on Monday afternoon. At 1:30 (almost on the dot), I had a crushing pain in my chest. Almost immediately, the pain radiated to my jaw. I became nausated. I felt weak. I really had no choice but to sit down and catch my breath. Well, sitting didn't help. Not a bit. So, I tried to lay in the bed for a few minutes. But, laying down was not an option. I couldn't do it!

Almost immediately, I knew what was happening. If someone tells you that they had a heart attack and didn't know it, then they are a far better person than me! I knew immediately. I've seen enough commericals on TV that I knew what to do. I went to the bathroom and found an aspirin. Unfortunately, the aspirin didn't help.

That's when the reality kicked in. My wife was 30+minutes away, in a teacher training meeting. I didn't know whether or not I would be able to locate her. Also, I was upstairs. And Evan and I were alone. At 8 months old, there was not much Evan could do to help, but I knew I had to take care of him no matter what! So, what should I do? Call 911? If I did, what would the firemen and EMTs do with Evan? Would they call Child Protective Services? If I called 911, I also realized that I was upstairs and they would have difficulty geting me downstairs, not to mention the fact that the front door was locked and deadbolted as well. So, I knew they would have to kick in the door, which would leave the house exposed to whatever and would leave Tonya to deal with the mess.

So, I picked Evan up and we headed downstairs. I laid him on the floor, and tried to call my wife. No answer on her cell phone. I knew I couldn't wait to talk to her. I remembered that about 2 miles from our house is an Urgent Care facility. So, I loaded Evan into his car seat, believing that I could drive him the short 2 miles. I also knew that if I started to feel worse that I could pull over and dial 911. On the way to the doctor's office, Tonya called. How does a husband tell his wife he is having a heart attack and not frighten her beyond reason? How does a father tell a mother that their 8 month old son is okay, but not sure what to do with him? There's no way, trust me. Tonya dropped everything and headed toward the Urgent Care clinic.

When I arrived at the clinic, I walked past 12 people sitting in the lobby, those waiting patiently to see the doctor. I leaned over the counter and told the person behind the counter that I was having serious chest pains. The nurses came out, and took me and Evan to the back. Within a minute, the doctor was there, I was being stripped naked, was getting an IV, having a nitro patch placed on my chest, and having an EKG run. The nurse didn't wait for the doctor to read the strip, she immediately said, "You're having a heart attack. What hospitial do you want to be taken to?" Within three minutes, the ambulance was there. Here's another piece of the God-thing. The ambulance for our area is normally about 5-10 minutes from that clinic, but they were at the fire station resupplying their equipment. That fire station is less than 1/4 mile from the clinic!

The nurse tried to reach Tonya on the phone, but she was in a dead spot and didn't answer (maybe we need to switch to Verzion). A minute or so later, she tried again, this time reaching her and explaining a little of the situation. Within 9-10 minutes of arriving at the clinic, I was on my way to the hospital. Here's another God thing. Two young nurses came over. One said, "I'm due in January. I also have a little boy at home." Would it be okay if we take care of Evan until his mother gets here?" The other nurse said, "I have two children as well, I think we will know what to do!" The nurses and their staff had begun meeting my physical needs and now they were taking care of my wife and son--I couldn't ask for more.

Well, you now know a little more of my journey. I plan to blog about it for several more days. I have much to say and much praise to express. Bear with me if you will. Before long, I'll return to more regular programming. But, that's days away.

So, hopefully you will say, after reading this, that I was very calm through the whole process. What caused me to be so calm? Well, I could say that it was my training as a pastor, or even my training as a volunteer fireman--and I'm sure those things contributed to the calmness. But, I think an even greater answer was knowing that God was in control of everything. He knew long before I felt the first pain what was going to take place. He had prepared me, in numerous ways, to be ready for what was to come. So, with Him in charge, I really didn't need to fret. That's another God thing.

I'm stronger this morning and had a good night's sleep. I'm still very weak and am having to adjust to taking 4 meds! Thanks for your prayers and words of encouragement!

In my next blog, I think I'll share my thoughts about my ambulance ride and arrival in the ER.


  1. I would say you were lucky, but you and I both know there was no luck involved in this.

    I am truly thankful that you recognized the symptoms and were able to get to a "care place."

    Our prayers are still with you!

    And please, for the love of all that is cute and fuzzy, lay off the Kid Rock videos, 'kay?

  2. Karma, thanks my friend...

    And as far as the KR videos, I think the Lord got my attention! :)

  3. Steve,

    Now you've done it again! Made me all teary-eyed.

    Keep writing and processing it. Funny enough? It was during the years that I was ill that I also became a writer. That was such a God thing!

    What I continue to look forward to hearing/seeing is how much closer you become to God through and after this whole experience. And how it truly gives you a new perspective on real living and health.

    It's like I told someone earlier today.... I'm thankful that I was physically healed. But, if I wasn't spiritually healed - it really wouldn't matter in the long run.

    Maybe now you'll write a book too!

  4. OHHHH! I did forget to mention that Austin said last night, "Now HOW OLD is Steve again?"

    See you have a real friend in Austin too.. ;)

  5. Tell Austin...I'm VERY old! He'll believe it!

    Sorry to make you you teary-eyed.

    Oh, I have the book written, just need to find a book publisher who wants it...

  6. Steve,

    I'm praying for you again. I'm sure that was scary.

  7. Thanks Kevin...and you know, not as much as I thought it would be! It had to be God's peace...

  8. Yikes...

    I had a heart attack in 1999, and it was in the middle of the night...

    Thankfully, my roommate (and fellow seminarian) worked at the same hospital where I worked...

    I'll be praying for you, dude. Let me know if i can do anything more for you.

  9. Steve: just got in this afternoon to read this. Man, no question that God was with you. So glad you were able to think things through and knew the peace of God. My prayers are with you. Amazing how someone whom you don't know and have never met except by writing gets into your skin. Bless you my friend.

  10. Bill, I know what you mean. One of my wife's first concerns...well, on the way home from the hospital said, "What are all of your blogger friends going to think about you being online for so long?"

    You guys missed me more than some people I actually "know..."

  11. Steve,

    OF COURSE we MISSED you.. you b family. Not just a friend or co-worker. Sorry you're stuck with us. As for the tears.. just call me tender-hearted..


    I was wondering the other day if there was some type of ointment to put on what has gotten into my skin. Then, I realized... not the type of thing one wants to clear up like acne! (humor is always a good thing!)

  12. Its amazing how our thoughts fly when in a situation like that. Calm in a storm can only come from above.

  13. Camey: rather see you tender-hearted than stoned. I mean, stone-hearted. As for the cure for empathy and friendship except isolation and hard heartedness. I prefer the tears myself. :)


Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I can't wait to read what you have written.