Liz Amaral: Hi Blog, I’m Back
July 23, 2014
Hi Blog, I'm Back
My heart attack in April had few warning signs, and they were subtle. Except for a nightmare. That wasn't subtle at all. Everything dark, vicious and violent. Scary as hell. I awoke with my heart beating so hard I thought it would burst, and that feeling, and the fear, persisted.
So this is what I did. I sat in the living room, early in the morning. Four o'clock, five o'clock. And then, when I heard a thud outside our apartment I went to pick up the Sunday New York Times. As I was doing the puzzle I began to feel a slight pressure in my inner, upper left arm. As though I were pressing it gently with my right hand.
I thought, this really might be something. When the pressure spread to a small area of my left shoulder I called my doctor. It was the weekend, but the covering doctor called back within minutes. He asked a few questions then told me to come to the hospital's Urgent Care unit because the emergency room at NYU Langone still wasn't operational after Hurricane Sandy almost two years ago, and an ambulance would take me elsewhere. And I wanted to go where my doctor is, where my records are. I called a car service.
The car arrived in ten minutes. A quick U-turn and we were on our way, a short drive on a weekend morning, from 23rd and Ninth to 30th and First. How long could that take?
Forty-five minutes, that's how long. Due to a street fair on 6th Avenue, traffic came to a standstill with people clogging the intersection. Food stands on the corners, lines of people deciding on what to eat. I'm not religious, but I prayed in that car that I'd make it to the hospital before Italian ices, corn on the cob, or calzone killed me.
Once we arrived I was seen immediately. EKG, chest x-ray, CAT scan. Then a bed in a room with other people, a needle in my arm and blood taken, frequently. No pain at all, yet I was told I was having "an extreme cardiac event."
I was told that my enzyme levels were rising.
My what levels?
I felt occasional twinges near my heart. Sharp little twinges that concerned me, but not nearly as much as they concerned my husband. He looked worse than I felt because I still had no pain, not even discomfort. And this hospital made me feel I was in the best hands possible. If I had a chance, it was here.
I was told the next morning, after my stent, that I might not have had a chance. If I hadn't reached the hospital in time, I might not have made it.
What does that mean, exactly? I asked.
And I was told: I could have had a severely compromised life style, or sudden death.
A sports term to describe how life can end. My life. I thought briefly of Agassi and Sampras and then forgot about them. Really.
Sudden death. I never would have known, that's for sure.
Now it's three and a half months later and my stent and I are doing well. The dark, immobilizing moments of terror that hit me in waves during some days and weeks that followed have mostly disappeared. I don't want them to disappear, because they are a reminder of what I must now do to stay safe.
I didn't plan to put this out there, that's why it's taken so long. Yet now, having completed more than two-thirds of my rehab, heard how it happened to others, seen the effects and how debilitating they can be, I feel compelled to post this. Maybe it will help someone. While a part of me says that this is nobody's business, a larger part says that it is.
Liz Amaral is a retired New York City real estate broker. The following submission is an entry from her website, elisabethamaral.com.
Liz studied with Kathrin Seitz in New York City. She is a member of the East Coast Writers' Collective and has published in Method and Madness. Since then she has published two books: When Any Kind of Love Will Do and Elodie at the Corner Market. Soon to be published by iUniverse is Czar Nicholas, The Toad, and Duck Soup: A Memoir of Marriage, Mime, and Moving On. Hopefully it will be available by Thanksgiving.
We tell stories.
We tell stories to make sense of our lives.
We tell stories to communicate our experience of being alive.
We tell stories in our own distinct voice. Our own unique rhythm and tonality.
Transformations is a weekly story-telling column. The stories are written by community members who are my students. Our stories are about family, love, loss and good times. We hope to make you laugh and cry. Maybe we will convince you to tell your stories.
— Kathrin Seitz, editor, and Cheryl Durbas, co-editor
"Everyone, when they get quiet, when they become desperately honest with themselves, is capable of uttering profound truths. We all derive from the same source. There is no mystery about the origin of things. We are all part of creation, all kings, all poets, all musicians; we have only to open up, only to discover what is already there." — Henry Miller
Kathrin Seitz teaches Method Writing in Rockport, New York City and Florida. She can be reached at email@example.com. Cheryl Durbas is a freelance personal assistant in the Midcoast area. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.