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In less than twenty-four hours' time, I went from being terrified of losing my only child to being terrified of losing the love of my life.  

It was a full hour or more before the gravity of the situation actually made it through the sleeping pill-haze I was suffering. I called my mother, who answered the phone with "Is Jonathan all right??", and explained the new development and that I needed to bring Jonathan to her house so he wouldn't be alone.  From there I drove to the closest thing our town has to an emergency room, a facility loosely referred to as an Urgent  Care Center.  They saw him immediately, hooked him up to a bunch of machines and made me wait, by myself, in the empty lobby.

I can’t remember ever being so uncomfortable with my own thoughts. Scott had already had two heart attacks before I ever met him. He'd been a life-long smoker and, when his first marriage went bad, he pushed himself at a pace that kept him from being home much. He was working 70 hours a week, living with a woman he couldn’t stand and living a less than healthy lifestyle. A heart attack (or two!) waiting to happen.

Genetics played a huge role in his heart disease, too. To date, Scott's mother has suffered 5 strokes and 6 heart attacks. His grandfathers all had blood pressure and cholesterol issues, and Scott had been diagnosed hypertensive years prior. Once, when we were both having our routine blood work with a new doctor done, the doctor told Scott, "Mr. Herndon, as of today, there are three kinds of high cholesterol: there's regular high cholesterol; there's really high cholesterol; and then there's what you have." It was a joke to Scott, as he'd heard it his whole life.  "It's in my genes," he'd announce, as if that excused him from any responsibility for his condition.

When we met and then eventually married, though, I struggled to get him to come to terms with (and admit to) the fact that he could make a difference. We were both smokers, so we quit together! We were both over-eaters, and fixed that, too! I was so in love with him, I couldn't imagine only getting a couple of "good" years before his bad habits and bad genes took him away from me. To support the changes I wanted to see in him, I was willing to make those same changes in myself, and did so wholeheartedly. I had just found him and vowed that I was not going to lose him if it could be avoided!

After what seemed an eternity, the nurse came and told me the doctor would like to speak with me. All of a sudden, the dread that had just begun to lift a few hours before once again wrapped itself completely around me.  Scott's condition had deteriorated a great deal in the half hour or so we'd been apart, and he looked awful. Much to my dismay, the doctor didn't look much better.

"We're calling an ambulance to transport your husband to Clear Lake Regional," she said to me. "Although we don't believe him to be in the throes of a heart attack just yet, we believe he is rapidly approaching that situation and we need to get it under control. Your husband's condition is very serious, Mrs. Herndon."  

I crumpled as she left the examining room, not sure what I was supposed to do next. He had just been so strong for me throughout the whole ordeal with Jonathan. He was the only man I'd ever brought home that my mother adored almost as much as I did. He was my husband, my lover and the best friend I'd ever had, and I had to admit right then and there that he could very well die before the night was over.  

"Honey, don't. I'm going to be okay," he said to me from the bed. He held his arms out to me, and I was helpless to do anything other than fall into them. I could feel his heart beating against my cheek, and I wanted to scream that it wasn't being fair, it sounded just fine to me, and I would never forgive a world that would take him away from me just when I was getting used to having him around!

By the time Scott was admitted to the hospital, he was having a heart attack.  He was admitted to intensive care and remained there for the duration of his hospital stay. The treatment he received while in the hospital was the worst I could have imagined, but distance from the situation has led me to believe that I may have just been too involved to see it fairly at the time.  I filed formal complaints for the situations I determined warranted them, and then have done my best to just let the rest go.

The six days Scott spent in the hospital were the worst of my life. I moved through my days like I was swimming in soup and unsure of my direction. My best friend Lisa and her mother came to me with loads of food, intending to hang out and keep me company, but my own state of mind was so bad that they called my mother with their concerns. Not that my mom wasn't already aware.  I was nowhere near my usual self, and everyone (including me) was helpless to make it better for me.  I cried all day, and most of the nights.  I tried to be brave for Scott when I went to see him in the evenings, but he knew better. My world was absolutely falling apart, and me right along with it. I was already lost, and I couldn't imagine not looking forward to him finally coming home.

He did come home, though.  He had a freshly-inserted stent to clear the 95% blockage that had caused the heart attack and a prescription for Plavix, a medication that would help to prevent the platelets from building up around it. I handled him like he would break, but was so grateful to have him home!

After getting him settled into bed, I left to pick up his medications and his paycheck. His employer was very kind and gave him his vacation pay rather than allow us to go without the income we were used to and would definitely need. Then, to further lighten our load, they threw an extra week's worth of pay in there for good measure. As I stood there waiting for them to cash it, one of his co-workers asked how he was doing.

"Much better," I told him. "Still pretty weak, but they say he'll be back to normal in no time."

"Better than normal, I hope," he said to me. "He drinks so much coffee, and smokes all day long..."

I am being completely honest with when I say that I nearly fainted in the middle of the store my husband managed. Scott and I had quit smoking, together, over a year prior to this situation. We'd vowed to set a better example for our children, and to support each other.  We'd promised.

There had even been times throughout the year since we'd quit that I'd suspected he was smoking, but he always denied it when confronted. And to know Scott is to trust him! When he told me that he knew how much it meant to me, and how he would never do anything behind my back, I believed him.

My emotions being what they were, chances are good I didn't handle the next couple of days nearly as well as I should have, but I regret nothing. In no uncertain terms I made sure Scott understood that if he intended to kill himself, he would do it without me. There wasn't a snowball's chance in hell that I would allow myself to go through again what I’d just survived. He caused me the worst misery of my life, and I had a hard time imagining I could ever forgive him for it.  

I remained angry for a long time, and actually wondered for a while if this would be the end of our marriage.  I may not have lost him to his health, but so severe were my issues with dishonesty (and issues that he was well aware of) that I would have given him up to live with his deceit.


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