I initially began writing this post two months ago, as a reflection on our 40th anniversary. But life happens, and alas, the post was neglected and forgotten. But so much has transpired since that day, that I am not sure where to begin or how much to share. Things are a bit of a blur, and truth be told, I am not sure of the dates anymore. Let me begin with with Art’s brothers in Texas.
Art has always tried to maintain a positive relationship with all of his brothers, being the only family member who moved away from the Houston area years ago. Thus, keeping the connection to his extended family in Texas was vital to him. As with brothers, the bonds of love and devotion tend to render one set of siblings more tightly than the others. This closeness transcends to his brother Bobby, the brother closest to him in age. Bobby was a police officer for 35 years, and had recently been having significant health problems of his own. On a fateful day in late May, Bobby believed an intruder had entered his home. Sadly, Bobby shot and killed one of Art’s other brothers, also in law enforcement for a number of years (can you see where the media would seize upon this story?). In our heart of hearts, we believe it was a horrible accident. Sadly, while one brother was being laid to rest, the other was being charged with his murder. Art was unable to communicate with Bobby for roughly two weeks throughout the initial stages of this horrendous ordeal. The daily pain and stress of not knowing what was happening to his beloved brother, not being able to talk to him, was sheer torture for Art. Not a day went by that we didn’t discuss the events that had taken place in Houston. it weighed heavily on his mind constantly. This entire scenario took a tremendous emotional toll on my husband.
Of course losing a brother is also a profoundly sorrowful experience, especially in the manner that occurred. Art chose not to attend Rocky’s funeral, as the media attention and his overall crumbling emotions were overwhelming at that time. Physically, it would have been a challenge of epic proportions, as traveling these days requires a male companion to help with various tasks related to his illness. No one was available to assist in this potentially arduous travel south. Emotionally, for a multitude of reasons, I just think such a trip would have destroyed him. Art was walking an emotional tightrope wire as it was, and I just couldn’t take the chance of allowing him to enter a potentially disastrous situation for his overall well being. There are times when making a tough decision may not be a popular one, but in this case, it was the right one. Our immediate family was united in this decision. So we remained at home. Our deepest sympathies were with Rocky’s wife and son on that crushingly mournful day.
In early June my niece Melanie graduated from high school, a happy diversion from the grievous events in Houston. We have always been close, so as a gift to Melanie we took her to one of our favorite places, the White Mountains of New Hampshire. We rented a cozy cottage on a serene lake, and meandered the spectacular towering mountains and pastoral valleys of the area, with a breathtaking awe that never ceases to astound us with its peace, tranquility, and beauty. We were happy to share this beloved area with our sweet Melanie. But our brief, uncomplicated three-day holiday quickly became a confusing, suddenly grueling, heart wrenching five day experience we’ll not likely to forget anytime soon. On the day we were to leave our quaint little cottage, Art began to suffer terrifying stroke-like symptoms. Against his will, and with Melanie backing me up, I brought Art to the tiny local 25 bed hospital in North Conway, New Hampshire. Art’s anger at me for bringing him to the hospital spilled over as we entered the E.R.: “I’ll bet you a million dollars we are in the waiting room for hours before being seen.” I took that bet. We were whisked away ASAP, never having to endure the waiting room of the busy E.R.! I am still waiting for that million dollars to miraculously appear…
To make a long story short, Art was kept just short of 48 hours in the hospital. After much poking, prodding, and testing, we were sent packing with a diagnosis of a mini-stroke, commonly known as a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA). Thankfully a TIA while incredibly disturbing and frightening to witness, does not leave lasting brain damage to its victims; hence, these are short-lived attacks mimicking a full-blown stoke without the residual permanent effects. We were ordered to see Art’s primary care physician, along with his neurologist at Massachusetts Hospital in Boston, immediately upon our return home. After the lengthy drive back, we were exhausted, but comforted to be back in the welcoming, familiar surroundings of our own restful home.
Fast forward to recent events in July: Art has indeed been to all his doctors, with most concurring of the TIA diagnosis in NH. There is nothing to be done but watch and be aware of its potential to develop into a significant stroke, with residual, detrimental consequences. As of today, Art’s cardiologist has been added to the mix with testing as well. For the next seven days Art will be wearing a portable heart monitor, which will translate all information directly to his cardiologist. Crazy little contraption, for sure, but truly amazing in reality! Art has two additional heart related tests to follow this seven day at home heart test, or “study”. Art has been suffering chest pains and palpations multiple times per week. Thus, an aggressive approach to this situation is warranted. While, all his doctors are doing their best to care for Art, his cardiologist is my unparalleled favorite; pointed, quick witted, and thorough, he leaves no stone unturned. His easy going, unobtrusive manner sets us both at ease immediately. But when he and Art get to bantering about his medical issues with Art’s lackluster responses to the doctor’s recommendations, it can be quite titillating! Yesterday’s visit was no exception:
Cardiologist: “Have you given any consideration to a vape (instead of smoking cigars)?”
Art, deadpan response: “Nope.” (followed by a long, hard, cold stare at the doctor.)
Cardiologist, undeterred: “Will you consider any alternatives to smoking and inhaling those cigars?”
Art, instantly replies without a moments hesitation: “A pine box.”
Cardiologist, abruptly and fervently declares: “THAT WILL HAPPEN.”
And so it goes with my often ornery, sometimes argumentative, at times witty and outrageously inappropriate, but much loved husband. He is living life on his own terms; however challenging he becomes, we will roll with the flow and accept his situation as it develops over the course of his evolving issues and illness. Anything else would be pointless, lest we deny him life’s simple pleasures with whatever amounts of dignity he can muster in the face of adversity. Indeed, and so it goes.