What happens when your relationship becomes a crucible within which you burn away the shallow self?
My wife Jennifer came into the recovery room in the cardiac ICU with my kindle and a small Kitkat bar. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to see her face.
Just the day before, the cardiologist who’d been treating me for minor chest pains, told her I had dual blockages in my heart. One of them was in the Left Anterior Descending Artery, also called the widow-maker; named for the fact that most men who had heart attacks originating there would die.
“He’ll need two stents.” The doctor said.
Jenny had been waiting in the little room right next to the cath lab. I was supposed to have a simple diagnostic procedure -an angiogram.
Mid procedure, as I lay there on a cold narrow table in an even colder air conditioned room, with three nurses milling about, their faces masked and eyes unreadable; my doctor told me I had severely blocked arteries.
That’s why I was having chest pains. My heart immediately sank. I felt lightheaded, and I could barely breathe. I’ve never felt more frightened and alone in all of my fifty years.
I was suddenly fragile, broken in places I could not see and the only connection to my life sat outside just around the corner, unaware she too was about to hear that I was closer to straight up death than both of us realized.
I had 100% blockage in one artery and an 80% blockage in the widow-maker.
But that was yesterday, today I lay drugged up and nauseated in the cardiac ICU. They’d given me heavy doses of blood thinners and they didn’t want the puncture in my groin (where they threaded the catheter) to bleed.
I couldn’t move for eight hours. But that wasn’t my problem, my greatest worry, other than there were no curtains around my bed, was the fact that there was no visible bathroom in the room. And I reallllllly had to go.