A small excerpt from an autobiography I am writing
|Driving on the expressway to an art show, I had a vague dead feeling in my left arm that wouldn't’t go away. I pulled over safely to the side of the roadway and placed a nitroglycerin tablet under my tongue. These tablets relax your artery walls and allow blood to flow more freely. Since they can cause your blood pressure to bottom out, it is only safe to take one every five (5) minutes for a maximum of three (3) times in fifteen (15) minutes. The rule is to take up to the 3 maximum tablets and seek immediate medical attention or call 911 if there is no relief from pain. If you are having a heart attack nitroglycerin won’t help anyway. The first tablet didn’t work and the pain was increasing. Now there was intense pain in my teeth and it was becoming unbearable. The pain was severe and spreading from my jaw down my neck and across my shoulder blades. Five minutes later I knew I was having a heart attack and nitroglycerin would not help me but following rules I placed another under my tongue.1
I was sitting in my car, having a heart attack, alongside of one of the busiest expressways in Michigan with cars whizzing past at over 80 miles per hour and I was scared. No one was stopping to help me and my 5 minutes were up. I didn’t have a cell phone to call 911 and the pain was unbearable now. I placed the third nitroglycerin tablet under my tongue. I was getting light headed and close to passing out. I knew if I passed out I would die.
I started my car and drove at 10 mph along the side of the expressway for several miles to an exit with a hospital sign. I was fading in and out of consciousness but I managed to keep the car moving. I thought about my wife and children, wondering "How are they going to make it without me."----"If I were to die I would be letting a lot of people down."----"Oh how I wish I had been a better father to my children from my first marriage."---- " What will they say at the art show when I dont show up?"----"Please God, don't let me die."
The hospital was about 2 miles north of the exit ramp and eventually I pulled in front of the emergency doors. No one was there to help me so I got out of the car by myself and the unrelenting pain drove me immediately to my knees. Pulling myself up I slowly managed to go through the doors which opened automatically (thank goodness) and to the emergency desk. I must have looked pretty bad because there were about five people there and they all looked up at me as if in shock. I muttered “I need help” and my knees buckled. Before I hit the floor I felt someone’s strong arms around me, holding me up. I sank into ---oblivion.
I remember doctors and nurses standing over me. Some were inserting IV needles in my arms. Someone was looking into my eyes with a bright light. Another person was attaching wires to my chest for an e.k.g. and/or monitor. My pain was so intense I was throwing my head from side to side trying to make it go away. They injected morphine and it didn’t help at all. It seemed like hours, but in reality it was just minutes.
A doctor leaned close to my face and said he was injecting a newer clot-busting drug (TPA) into my IV. And it was possible I could die from it. It could also stop my heart attack, which was at that time still evolving. He wanted me to sign a waiver agreeing to the use of that drug. I signed it. It didn’t matter if it killed me----would actually be a relief to be dead and pain free. I welcomed it. I wanted to die. “Just stop the damn pain,” I cried out. He injected the drug into my intravenous port slowly and before the syringe was emptied the pain was beginning to go away. Within minutes I was pain free. My heart attack had stopped. I drifted off to peaceful and painless sleep.