Cardiac event

I haven’t been here for awhile. There’s a reason for that. You may already have read my ex-husband Doug’s post about what happened
ten days ago
. If you haven’t, let me summarize: He had a heart
attack and had to have stents put in. I moved into his house to take
care of the kids and be there for him until he’s cleared to drive, at
least, and maybe a little longer until he’s really back to 100%.

First, answers to the questions I know you’re asking:

* He’s 47, works out 4-5 times a week, eats well. He does
everything right, but still had a heart attack. Hereditary risk is a
bitch. But now he knows, at least, and can do something about it.

* In my 8-year-old’s bottom bunk. He let me use the Lightning McQueen sheets.

* The kids are ok. They didn’t see it, and Doug was talking and alert by the time they saw him.

* Yes, it’s weird.

And now, back to the story. Some of you know that I gave up
my lease on my deathtrap of a rental house and have been housesitting
for my parents while I look for a new place near Doug, so I’m further
away than just the four blocks I was before. Last Tuesday Doug and I
were planning to go to Curriculum Night at our younger son’s school, and
Doug asked if I could come a few hours early and hang out with the kids
at his place while he went to the gym. So I came over, he went to the
gym, and I was hanging out with the kids, when I got a phone call from
an unknown number. I answered, and the guy at the other end said he was
from the gym and that my ex-husband was having chest pains and they’d
called the ambulance.

So I told the kids to put on their shoes, I put up the status β€œCan
you guys pray? I’ll tell you what’s happening when I can,
but we really need some prayers right now. <3” on both Facebook and
Twitter, called my mom, called @jenunexpected, and drove to the gym.

we got there, the ambulance was about to leave, so they told me which
hospital, and we followed. We got to the ER and waited, and then were
taken to the cath lab and waited. My mom set up a far-reaching prayer
chain, and all kinds of people on social media–friends and
acquaintances and total strangers–checked in without demanding to know what was happening.
An EMT friend talked me through what was a reasonable timeframe for
getting info. We stayed calm. We hadn’t had dinner so we went out to get
something to eat.

And then the doctor called me and told me that Doug had had a heart attack,  and that
his artery had been occluded, and they’d put in two stents.


We went to see him, and he was a little disoriented and
anesthesia- belligerent, but otherwise normal, and that was a
huge relief to the kids. The nurse helped us figure out where his stuff
was, so the kids hugged him and said goodnight, we went and got his
wallet/phone/keys, I called his brother-in-law to tell his family, and
the kids and I went back to his house.

The next three days I ran the kids’ normal schedule from Doug’s house
and brought them to visit him, and thought about what was going to
happen next. I knew he wasn’t going to be able to drive for a week. I
also knew he wasn’t going to be healed for weeks and weeks, and that if
left to his own devices he would push himself too hard, and that the
emotional stuff wasn’t even going to hit him fully for who knows how
long. So I told him I was going to stay at his house after he got out of
the hospital at least until he could drive again, and probably for a
week or two after that.

And he accepted it.

So. We’re in the same house
for a little while. It’s weird. I mean, it’s way better than it was when
we were married and in the same house, because we’ve had six years of
refining boundaries individually and together. But it’s hard to have
another adult in your space, especially one who has authority over your
kids. And it’s hard to be with your kids in another adult’s space. 

I still don’t think the emotional fallout has started, for anyone. But things have changed, for sure.

For Doug, they’ve changed a lot. For me, they’ve made me
even more grateful that we got divorced. When I got the call, my first
thought was that I hoped he was ok. And in the last few years of our
marriage, that wouldn’t have been my first thought at all. Getting free
of our toxic marriage let me see him as my kids’ dad, then later as a
person. And I’m not responsible for him anymore, which has made it easy
to see him as family instead of an impediment to my happiness.

That’s what this is. He’s family. We’re family. I don’t know if I’d
say that we’re “a family,” because that sounds like there’s more
closeness than there is. But we are family.

This is also bringing up a ton of stuff about organizational
dynamics, respectability policing, modern healthcare, community, the
power of memory, and kids’ expectations of their parents, and all kinds
of co-parenting and former spouse things. But that’s all for another

I want to thank everyone for all the love and kindness you’ve shown
us so far. People have been asking what they can do to help us, and this
is what I’ve come up with:

* If you have stories about people
who’ve come back from something like this to better health, keep sharing
those stories with Doug
. It helps.

* Keep on buying and telling your friends to buy my MoxieTopics
and the subscription to the MoxieTopics
. The only way this worked is
that I didn’t have to be in an office somewhere or on a plane going to
someplace else. Word-of-mouth sales and the response I’ve had to these
is what let me drop everything else to be here for this event.

Subset: If you’ve emailed me about anything in the last two weeks and I haven’t gotten back to you, I apologize. Ping me again.

If you’ve been thinking about starting to exercise, start doing it. Do
the Couch to 5K, start swimming, doing Pilates, whatever. If you already
exercise, keep doing it.

* Hug the front desk staff at your gym, an EMT, and any cardiac care nurses and doctors you know. They matter.

Thanks. For everything. Seriously. 


21 thoughts on “Cardiac event”

  1. My brother died this way — crested a hill while riding his bicycle and had a heart attack. A piece of plaque had pulled away and … he was just gone. So fortunate your family’s story did not end this way. People should get an all-clear before exercising at all. xoxo

  2. My husbands father died if heart complications- he was 44. My husband now is 45 tries to exercise regularly. Ill be honest, this scared the poop out of me when I read it. I’m glad he wasn’t alone. He’s lucky to have you all. Best of health and healing to him

  3. Best to all of you. I’m so glad he’s made it through the crisis stage. I’m also glad that over the last few years you’ve made it to where you can feel and act as family. That’s huge. Huge for you, perhaps, but really really huge for your kids. And beyond that, huge for everyone who is stuck in a marriage they shouldn’t be in, and worries that there is no hope that they can get through to a good place. There isn’t a lot I can do from here, but you’re all being held in the Light.

  4. My dad had a heart attack when he was 50 something, and he’s been fine since then (he is 70 something now). So everything can go well from now on, I send you and Doug all my very best wishes. And great that you could handle it so well with your kids!

  5. Oh Moxie — I’m sorry. And for Doug and your boys. I mean, I know there’s lots that didn’t go wrong here and much to be grateful for, but still.

    I have no fabulous advice or insights, but for those seeking to follow your "… exercise… " advice, I tried and could not stand Cto5K (though many, many, many people find it works fabulously for them — so it’s not it, it’s me) but then found and her running advice (which in two words is: run slower!) got me — running. So those looking for a plan and not clicking with Cto5K might want to look at her site.

  6. Oh, jeez. I’m glad he’s ok. My partner’s stepdad had a near heart attack several years ago and had heart surgery to clear the blockages, and frankly, he’s been a different and better person since then. (He’s even talked about it in those terms). He says he feels freer emotionally. He’s more open. I don’t know if it’s because he had a brush with death or because his heart was figuratively blocked as well as literally, but it’s been a good change for him. He grew up in a military family, and was very emotionally closed off before, so it’s been a big and positive change. Good luck to you guys.

  7. Your blog frequently gets posted on my mother’s group in San Francisco. In fact, tonight I was just about to post your 18-month sleep regression post and then I saw this post (I’ll still post the sleep regression one for you and drive traffic your way! πŸ™‚ ). I have so much respect for how you are handling this and for the co-parenting relationship you’ve worked so hard to establish.

    As a success story to share (as asked), my mom was a few days away from a full-blown heart attack. Fortunately, she had shortness of breath, listened to it, and when they checked she had two arteries 95% blocked. She had angioplasty and has stents in both — that was nearly 20 years ago (when she was ~55). 2 years ago, she had one of her valves replaced. She’s active, plays tennis and eats right.

    Wishing strength, patience and good things to you and your family.

  8. Argh. It’s been long enough since you posted that I’d started to wonder. I’m sorry there was something worth wondering about…but glad it seems to have gone as well as these things could go. Best to all of you as he heals.

  9. Magda, Hugs to all of you. Just reading through your post brings tears to my eyes and a very visceral drop-in-the-stomach kind of feeling. As I’ve posted before, DH had a heart transplant when he was 30. And then stent put in a year before our son was born (main artery 90% blocked…and he found out because he went to the hospital himself because he was winded when he went rock climbing). He’s 48 now, and living a life like the rest of us (lots of meds, extra doctor visits, & biannual biopsy’s not withstanding). I’m sure if you asked him, he’d say that some of the best things in his life happened post-transplant. I was worried a year or two ago about planning for the future, which felt uncertain. We asked one of his doctors about it and her advice was "Live your life. We’re not there yet. And if and when we are, there are things we can do." She walked us through the things they can do, but reminded us that DH’s health was good, all things considered. Heart medicine is changing so rapidly it’s hard to know what will be available 5, 10 or 20 years down the line. Wishing you all gentle healing and everything that you need to work through the coming days and weeks.

  10. And perhaps we could extend some compassion to those who do not "do everything right"? On both this and your ex’s blog, there’s a "This isn’t my fault, unlike you fat losers out there" subtext. As your ex’s experience indicates, all we can do is raise or lower our risk, not eliminate it, and many of the people who get sick will get sick regardless. Other people’s lives require them to prioritize other things above their health. Being healthy is not a badge of moral superiority.

  11. Wow, Agnes. What a completely unwarranted attack. I’d ask you to pay attention to my pointing out issues of respectability policing, and the fact that that’s the first question every single person asked me about this. Why not wait to see what I’m going to say about this, especially in light of what I’ve written about fitness and health before?

    1. Your new post (which I was happy to see) wasn’t up yesterday, and the "I do everything right" bullet point was the first thing listed on both your and your ex’s posts.

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