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The Lesson Learned From The Most Stressful Day Of My Life

In work and our personal lives, we are often asked, whether intentionally or not, to push the limits of our comfort level.

My Boundaries:

I know many times, at various stages of my career, my boundaries were pushed far beyond what I thought I was capable of.

“Let me start at the end. All is well.”

Recently I attended a virtual session that included some work on reducing stress. We were taught to set a timer for 12 minutes and in solitude, just write. Doesn’t matter about what, just put the words in your head and heart on paper. Physical paper. When the timer goes off, light a candle and burn the paper. WOW. Unimaginably powerful and fulfilling. I, more than ever before needed to do just that. And now those words have become this blog.

Let me start at the end. All is well. My hubby of 42 years is healthy and home and I’m breathing a huge sigh of relief and shear gratitude.

The Most Stressful Day In My Life:

“The procedure went well, though it was a bit more involved than the cardiologist had initially thought.”

Yesterday was the second most stressful day of my life. Hubby, Al, was scheduled for a fairly routine (no medical procedure is truly routine) cardiac procedure. Many years ago, he had open-heart surgery for a valve repair. That surely was the most stressful day in my life.

Al has struggled with long-term side effects since his Afib. He has had numerous procedures to control it and yesterday he was scheduled for an ablation, his second in 12 years. The plan was to admit him following the procedure for observation and discharge him the following morning, which would have been today. The procedure went well, though it was a bit more involved than the cardiologist had initially thought.

After six hours, and with no bed availability, he was discharged home. We live 90 miles from the cardiology hospital, and I had arranged to stay overnight with friends in Phoenix (we live in Tucson).

Call 911!

The discharge personnel helped Al into the back seat of our SUV, and I drove us home. As we walked in the door, he began walking to the other end of the house, independently, said he was fine, and I grabbed the mailbox key.

Cell phone in hand, I made the 90-second walk down the driveway and back. As I entered the front door, halfway point in our ranch, Al was holding his hand near his groin, which was bloody, and said, “Call 911!”. We got him on the floor, and I (literally) ran to the cabinet for clean towels, knelt down next to him, pressed as hard as I could to stop the flow of blood, as I dialed. The dispatcher was calm and told me what to do and not to do.

“Let me tell you it was the longest eight minutes of my life!”

Our local fire department’s closest station is 1.1 miles from our home. I knew they would be there quickly. Well, the firemen that arrived came from six miles away because the crew nearest us was still at a prior call. Let me tell you it was the longest eight minutes of my life!

Al was taken by ambulance to the nearest emergency department. He was stable and after three hours of observation, he was released back home. Phew! We had been up since 4 AM to make the early morning trek to Phoenix and now it was close to 9:30 p.m.

Overcoming Multiple Fears And Phobias:

I’m very grateful to dear friends who live 1.6 miles away and who took me in when I was told I wouldn’t be allowed into the ER (due to Covid protocols). They ordered dinner, gave me wine, and let me literally cry on their shoulders. They were prepared to have me sleep in their home, anticipating the hospital would likely keep Al overnight.

So, how does this tie in? Those of you who have read my book, know I’ve been overcoming multiple fears and phobias over the past many years. One fear I have is of blood. Anyone’s blood. Yet, here I was holding towels over my husband’s private parts, knowing full well he could bleed out from the femoral artery where the cardiologist had just inserted catheters to do the procedure.

“The ambulance and paramedics that arrived after the firemen, told me I had saved Al’s life.”

Al is a former EMT and firefighter (chief) and so he also knew exactly what could happen and told me what to do as I was calling 911.

Save Someone Else’s Life:

I instinctively did what I knew I needed to do. Sure, I was emotional. I had tears streaming down my face, but I did what I had to do, blood and all. The ambulance and paramedics that arrived after the firemen, told me I had saved Al’s life.

Many of us in our lifetime won’t be able to literally save someone else’s life. We definitely will, however, be able to overcome our fears and push past obstacles that come our way. It’s okay to step into that opportunity because it enables us to grow. And then we need to be grateful for the opportunity and remember to thank those around us who help us through those difficult times and most importantly, remember to tell your family and friends that you love and appreciate them. You can never say it enough. And here’s to the most stressful day of my life being in the rearview mirror.

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