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 “Can
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.