Sunday, December 4, 2011

Man with Heart Attack 1989


My friend Kay had called, it seemed, just to chat.  We spoke often on the phone, and our conversation was fairly mundane:  how was my corn growing, were we going to go for a ride that day?  However, this time, after we talked, Kay asked if he could talk to Bob .  I put Bob on, and listened with some concern as I heard Bob say, "I'll meet you at the hospital as soon as you can get up here".  Bob hung up and told me that Kay had been having chest pains and his arm hurt, classic signs of a heart attack.  Bob was getting ready to head back to the hospital and meet Kay(Bob had walked home for lunch), when he said, "Somethings wrong. I'm going down to Kay's".  Kay lived about five minutes away by car,  so Bob took off.

Here's what happened next:  Bob arrives at Kay's, sees his car in the driveway, so Bob knows he's home.  Kay's mean dog, Jack, is barking ferociously, loose in the yard.  Kay is not standing on the porch holding Jack by the collar so Bob can come in. Kay is not standing anywhere. Bad sign.  Kay always comes out to greet his guests.  Bob steps out of the car, thinks of himself as bigger and meaner than Jack, and manages to get inside Kay's mobile home without having Jack tear his leg off.  He finds Kay on the couch, arms splayed, mouth open, not breathing.  He pulls him to the floor, lays him on his back, and attempts CPR.  He realizes he has forgotten to pinch his nose shut when the air he exhales into Kay's mouth comes shooting back out of Kay's nose.  He pinches Kay's nose shut, tries again. More breaths, this time going where they need to go. Kay gasps and then vomits. Bob knows Kay is back on the planet.  He calls the hospital, gives them Kay's name and says "heart attack".  He hangs up and attends to Kay.  The ambulance arrives within minutes and Jack has to be distracted so the paramedics can get out and get to Kay.

Soon after they brought Kay into the hospital, I arrived and went to be with him in the small room used for emergencies.  He came in and out of consciousness--muttering to me he was worried about his socks being dirty. He had to be shocked several times to keep his heart going, and I waited just outside with the door open, terrified at what I was seeing.  My great and wonderful friend Kay, one of the kindest and warmest people I had ever known, literally, at death's door, in terrible pain.  A plane was summoned and it landed on the small runway adjacent to the hospital.  Within a very short period of time, Bob and Kay were in the sky, growing smaller, and then disappearing as the small plane headed West, to Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque.  Once there, Kay coded several times, but made it to the OR where a cardiac surgeon performed bypass surgery. Twenty years later, just two years ago, he died at the age of 80. He had lived those intervening years in Zuni in his mobile home under the big cottonwood tree with his little brown VW bug, his horse, and his dogs.  When he had his heart attack, he was the age I am now .




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