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 “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.

As 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 time.

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.