I've struggled to want to write about this because last week, it was causing so much anxiety just to think about it, but fortunately, that's starting to wear off now.
On Easter morning, my husband, D, was just finishing breakfast, sitting at the table when I came into the kitchen. I was talking with him and he suddenly said, "I feel like my blood pressure is really low."
I responded, "You should go lie down then," but he didn't answer. I repeated myself, putting my hands on his shoulders but his torso just tilted to the side. He moaned a very deep, strange, close-mouthed moan.
I yelled, "Are you okay?" And sat him up a bit so I could look at his face and see if he was choking. His head flopped back a bit so I supported it and i looked at his hands to see if he was motioning as if choking, but I just saw his right elbow on the table with his forearm held up perpendicular to it and his contorted hand silhouetted against the sunlit window.
I thought he must be having a seizure (though he's never had one) and started screaming for a housemate to call emergency as I felt for his breath, intending to give him mouth-to-mouth. He wasn't breathing at all, however, he let out another weird groan, so I knew he wasn't choking. Since I knew he'd said he had low blood pressure, I wanted to get him lying down.
One of my housemates came and started calling emergency as I grabbed D from behind with my arms under his armpits, tilted the chair over to the side to get him on the floor as gently as passible and then laid him back, supporting his head. I thought I might have to start CPR, but almost as soon as I had him lying down, he started breathing again.
I asked him if he was ok. He answered, "Why?"
I said something like, "Do you know why you are on the floor?" And he responded saying something like it was because he hadn't felt good. Later I found out that he wasn't even really conscious when he had said, "My blood pressure is really low." He just remembered thinking it and not being sure if he had actually gotten the words out.
The ambulance came, and medics took his vitals while he continued to lie on the floor. His head had been in my lap, but we put a pillow under him instead so that I could go get dressed.
When they were done, they wheeled him out on a stretcher and my housemate, E, and I joined him in the ambulance.
At the hospital, a minor abnormality in his EKG seemed to indicate pericarditis, but it turned out he didn't have that. We still don't really know what happened, but it could have been a response to some back pain he was having that morning and maybe some dehydration.
He had to stay overnight for monitoring, but I couldn't stay with him. They admitted him to a bed in a ward where all the beds were only separated with curtains and there was no place for a family member to stay. Plus they said they didn't let local visitors stay overnight.
He was frustrated staying there. They had him hooked up to a heart monitor and he wasn't allowed to get unhooked even to use the restroom. E and I stayed with him for all the visiting hours. We entertained ourselves with Snapchat and such, but I was still in an adrenaline rush and was frequently shaking and feeling keyed up and hyper.
Fortunately, the next day, they released him at about noon.
Now he can't fly for a long time. He has to get all these tests and jump through a ton of hoops. He is not very eager.
We had finally finished converting his US licences to Australian ones. He had finally just started flying for work 2 months ago, and now this.
I loved flying with D as the pilot. It was so cool to go out to remote communities with him. I am so proud of how hard he worked, and how patiently he waited to get to where we were able to work together like that. I loved seeing how skillfully he did everything and how focused and calm he was doing all the pre-flights and run-ups and handling the traffic and radio calls at the bigger airports. Now we are faced with this huge set back and even more waiting.
Fortunately, I was able to focus on a project with an Aboriginal lady who was in town this past week and could get my mind off of our now (even more) dubious future. Also, every time I remembered what had happened and how scared I had been that D was dying in front of me, I felt panicky, so it was good to have some work to distract me. I'm starting to recover from the panic now. I am thankful that D wasn't flying when he passed out. And obviously I'm super glad he is alive!
I don't know if his passing out had to do with dehydration. He doens't seem to have a very responsive sense of thirst. I'm always having to remind him to drink. It sometimes seems like a "drinking disorder" or something, like he just doesn't have an appetite for fluids. But it's not psychological, it's just that his body doesn't seem to remind him to drink. In the past, he has had the occassional migraines from dehydration, but it's been years since that's happened. I'm the complete opposite. I drink tons of water, feel thirsty frequently. I sweat a lot and drink a lot. However, when I get anxious or depressed, my appetite for food diminishes. So sometimes, I'm the one getting D to drink some more water, and he's the one getting me to eat some more food.
I wish this was the only time I had been afraid for D's life, but we had another scare shortly before we got married.
He was swimming in a pool and wanted me to time him for swimming down and back on just one breath. As he was swimming back toward me, I saw him do a breaststroke as he reached the shallow end and his head came above water and went back under. I thought, "Oh he didn't make it on one breath." Little did I realize he was already unconscious at that point and hadn't breathed in when his head came up. He stood up suddenly and was having laryngeal spasms that sounded horrible. His whole body was in a sort of spasm and he was starting to sink back under when I grabbed him around the waist and hauled him to the side of the pool.
I was going to try to push him out of the pool for CPR and was about to yell for help when the spasms stopped and he began breathing again.
I asked, "Do you want to get out and sit on the side for a minute?" He said sure.
While we were sitting there, he asked, "What was my time?"
I was shocked! "You didn't make it all the way. Don't you remember coming out of the water for a breath?" That's when I discovered he had been unconscious already when I first saw his head come out of water then go back under. I had thought he only lost consciosness after he stood up. I didn't realize that the body can have all sorts of reflexes to save itself.
Actually the first scare I had with D was before that. We were sitting on a couch talking and he suddenly stopped being able to speak or form normal words. I thought he was having a stroke. It was terrifying. About 10 minutes later, he could talk again and I found out that it was probably "just" aphasia which can be an aura for a migraine. Sure enough, he had a terrible headache start shortly after that. Sort of funny is that when he started to get his speech back, words still sounded really weird to him and we had a mild argument about whether Skype was actually called "Skype" or whether (he thought) it must be called something.
For as much as my husband cares for me, I'm glad that I have the strength and fortitude to care for him, too. I have the strength to haul him to the side of a pool in 4 feet of water though I'm 10 inches shorter than him. I have the strength to get his unconscious body out of his chair and lying down. Even though it is easy for me to feel discouraged by my many weaknesses, I'm thankful to God that he has helped my body and mind to come through for me in times of need. (But may I never need to do anything like that again!)