It was just like she said. When the ER doors opened, people began rushing towards me. Someone put little patches on my chest while a blood pressure cuff was strapped on. Another nurse looked for a willing vein.
I just wanted the pressure in my chest to stop. Especially since my brother, George had been to the doctor just a few days prior with a 70% blockage. 70% used to be a C, it was good. But not when it comes to blockages.
I couldn’t relax. And forget about modesty it’s impossible in an ER.
“You’re blood pressure is dangerously high!”
“Are you on medication for hypertension.”
“Did you take your meds today?”
More probing, more cuffing, more questions. And then the room got quiet. We waited for results.
My husband Mike decided to go back home to Jess, our daughter who was worried. I could wait for the results. I could call Mike if I needed him. And honestly, I relaxed more without seeing his worried eyes.
Quietly I wondered if coming to the ER was a mistake. I had spoken to Prompt care, telling them my symptoms and she advised it. I made the right decision.
The cuff around my arm tightened. That hurts. I could tell my pressure was still high.
One hour turned into two then four. Someone came in to attend to my upset stomach. In the meantime Mike was back with Jess. The nurse told me,
“I’m giving you this special drink. It will numb your tongue and eventually numb your stomach. Then you won’t feel any pain.”
I took a swig. I could feel my mouth numb, but my stomach wasn’t cooperating.
I couldn’t stop looking at the nurse.
“You look just like my brother, Steve” I said. “Don’t you think so, Mike?”
“Maybe around the eyes,” he answered quickly.
When the doctor finished talking, Mike followed him out of the room.
“What was that about?” I asked Mike when he returned.
“Nothing,” he lied.
I would be spending the night. Soon I’d be taken to my room. Maybe I could finally get some rest. I said goodbye to my family.
Around 11:30pm, I was wheeled to my room. My roommate and her guest were sleeping, so I slipped into a waiting bed and closed my eyes.
In the morning, I met my roommate and we visited a bit.
The doctor came in and explained my heart was strong, I had not experienced any trauma. I was to return next week for a stress test.
My roommate’s family members trickled in the room. When Mike came in with Jess I introduced him to everyone.
He was preoccupied. After shaking hands he suddenly turned to me with urgency. The words blurted out.
“I’ve got bad news to tell you. Your brother, Steve died yesterday. He had a heart attack.”
Immediately he stood by me, while Jess joined us. Someone pulled the curtain shut for privacy and I heard people leave the room.
I started yelling over and over, “No, no!”
Thinking back on those two days, I remember that nurse. Steve’s look-alike. I wonder if God sent him as a gift?
I learned while I was on my way to the ER, Steve died at home. That week all three of us struggled with our hearts.
I can’t believe he’s gone. He called me to tell me,
“Anne, I read your book. It’s really good. And I’m not just saying that.”
At Steve’s funeral I saw so many people he had touched with his big heart.
I wish I could talk to him once more, see him again.
I have no regrets. Steve knew I loved him.
When I was in 5th grade I wrote a story about my shadow who followed me everywhere I went. At the end of the piece I revealed it was Steve, my three year old brother. As one of the winners, I got to read my essay on the radio in downtown Chicago.
I’ll always miss my brother, but I’m thankful. Thankful God gave me Steve. He was a great guy with a big heart.
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