Friday, May 21, 2010

the phone call no one ever wants to get

One week ago today, a series of events started playing themselves out that were totally unexpected - and completely unwelcome.

I had taken a day of vacation to get bags and boxes packed for our trip to Topsail Island the next day. Remember? The beach trip I've been squealing about? The latest loud squeal was right here -

Donald and Harley and I were going to the beach - Yay!!

But then, the phone rang.

Donald was at the hospital with chest pains, and next thing I knew I was by his side until two strangers strapped him onto a gurney, put him in a helicopter and whisked him away from me to Asheville.

Here's the story in Donald's words -

"I died last Friday from a heart attack. It wasn't for very long but a definite flat line on the monitors. Just like a light dimmer switch the light in my mind and the energy in my body were going to low in synch with each other and did go all the way to dark.
The emergency staff had given me blood thinner, clot busters, and even nitroglycerin. That was not enough. I found out much later that I had gotten the electric paddles. As I became groggily aware of my surroundings I spoke to whoever might be listening that I was not having fun and wanted to go home. There was some muffled laughter and someone told me that a helicopter from Asheville was coming to get me. I quickly requested a window seat and there was a little more muffled laughter.  
When the copter crew got there one of the crew was told by some unseen attendent that I had beat the ambulance fee by driving myself to the hospital and that made me laugh. My intent was never to cheat anyone out of a fee, but I was kinda of in a hurry. A special thanks to the quick actions of the Watauga Hospital emergency room staff who saved my life. Thanks to the Mission Memorial Hospital helicopter crew MAMA for getting me to Asheville alive. 
I would like to thank all the doctors, nurses, and other staff at Mission Memorial Hospital for taking care of me and fixing the broke part. They gave me a pat on the butt and sent me home yesterday around noon with Kaye Alan driving and Harley Doodle and I riding in style. Ms. Kaye is an excellent driver. It's great to be alive, home, and to sleep in our own bed. I want to thank everyone for their special support of Kaye Alan and I over the past few days

I am extremely grateful to be alive. Evidently God is not quite ready for me and the devil is not up to such a challenge. Both know I'd rather stand up and fight than do something I think is wrong. Thank you to all for your concerns and prayers."

So. There you have it. Today, Donald and Harley and I are together at home, almost as if nothing ever happened. Almost. But not quite. However - Donald is expected to make a full recovery and the damage to his heart was minimal (10-15%), and that's expected to come back.  He has a stent in an area that was 90% blocked and it is doing its job.

While Donald was being so wonderfully taken care of at the hospital, Harley and I spent our nights at the Marriott Residence Inn just a couple minutes away from Mission Memorial Hospital. The staff could not have been kinder. During our entire stay in Asheville we were surrounded by angels; both at the hospital and at the hotel.

And surrounded by friends and family - both in reality and virtually.

Donald's Mom & Dad were there, and my gal pals Nancy & Dindy were there. You've heard me speak of the importance of old and dear friends.  Donald and I are the luckiest people on God's green earth when it comes to being blessed with dear friends.  Nancy & Dindy have been a part of our lives for our entire married life, and were a part of my life even before Donald entered it.  We've been through all sorts of times together  -  the wild & crazy, and the saddest of the sad.  It's what has forged a friendship that will last forever.  I also had the virtual support of friends and family literally around the world, with a constant stream of emails and notes on Facebook and phone calls from people expressing concern and offering help in every way imaginable. We will never forget those gestures. Cherished and treasured are every one of the notes and calls. The warm feeling of having friends, family, neighbors and co-workers, along with the mystery/crime fiction community AND the blogging community sending prayers, warm wishes and positive thoughts is not something to be taken lightly. I will always believe it helped the doctors and the nurses pull Donald through.

We've had one incident which has hurt terribly. When I called the rental folks at Topsail to tell them we would not be arriving, I asked if they would be able to switch our week to a later date we would appreciate it greatly. Their response was that they would try and for me not to worry about it. So, I didn't. Silly me. I was naive enough to think that a near fatal heart attack would out-weigh contracts and money and that Donald and I would still be able to take our anniversary/vacation trip. Unfortunately, that's not to be. The contract and the money won - we won't be able to just change weeks, and we won't be getting any sort of refund.  So. We won't be having that beach trip this year after all, but I still have my Donald. And that's a pretty nice trade-off, don't you think? The beach? Maybe next year.  In the meantime - thanks everyone.  From the bottom of our hearts.


Vicki Lane said...

So glad you all got through this ordeal and how neat to hear from Donald (who seems to be a bit of wordsmith himself!)

Blessings to you both!

mybillcrider said...

Wow, I can't believe Donald was cool enough to joke in that situation. I'd have been a huge baby. As for Topsail, the swine, what can I say? I'm glad all is well at home and back to more-or-less normal. Hope it stays that way!

le0pard13 said...

This easily is the best news I've heard today, Kaye. Our best to you and Donald (who now has a place on my hero mantle, BTW). Thank you very much for sharing the good news.

Jill said...

Glad Donald is feeling so much better and that you are both getting some rest. Hard to believe that the Topsail rental would not at least let you switch weeks or give you a partial refund!

Diane Chamberlain said...

So good to hear the story from Donald himself! As a Topsail "landlady", I am hereby sensitized to the things that can happen to screw up people's plans and I will be kind to my tenants. I'm surprised, given the fact that you are regulars at this particular house, that you weren't given a little more understanding. I do hope you'll get a little beach time when Donald feels up to it. Hugs to you both and to Harley, too.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I too am so happy to hear you are all back home and hubby is healing. Praise God! Lots and lots of prayers were offered for both of you.


Shirley Wetzel said...

Phooey on those beach people! Donald is indeed much more valuable than a beach vacation! It heartens me (no pun intended) to "know" two people so devoted to each other. I join you in thanking God, the doctors and nurses, and the prayers of many people who love you both that you still have each other.

Julie Hyzy said...

What a wonderful story to share. Vicki's right, Donald is quite the wordsmith! So happy to hear that all is well again, and that you're both home and safe and healthy. I think everyone who reads your blog should make an oath to avoid Topsail. What a shame. But your attitude is an inspiration. As always.

Lesa said...

I love Donald's sense of humor! You said he was joking afterward, Kaye. You didn't say he was cracking jokes in the middle of everything.

I think you should have given all of us the name and address of this place in Topsail. We could have bombarded them with nasty comments online and in the mail until they would have felt guilty enough to give you your money back. I think it stinks.

LJ Roberts said...

I am delighted the three of you are home and together again. Long life and good health to you all.

Sarah Shaber said...

I agree with Lesa--give us that Topsail email and we'll have at them!

Wendy said...

Donald's right. The devil is not up to the challenge! LOL! Glad Harley is okay.....that was DLOT's big worry, Kaye. Hope your mom is doing okay too. You know he's her favorite!!

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

Oh Kaye, I'm so glad there was a good ending to this story. Forget those ole nasty Topsail people. They aren't worth your time. Apparently they don't know what's important in life (except for the greenback).

Stay close to each other and share lots of hugs and quiet moments.

Mary Jane Maffini said...

Kaye, I am so happy to hear that you are all home again (and glad that you are a good driver!) It was amazing to read this story from both your points of view. It brought tears to my eyes. Donald tells a good tale too. It's great that he's alive to tell it! How wonderful that two people with such humor and spirit found each other. I am glad you and Harley have your Donald back. I agree with Lesa - let us get at those Topsail people! That is really heartless. Much love, MJ

Julia Buckley said...

I never realized what a good writer Donald is! He has a bit of Mark Twain in him, I think.

Donald, so glad you're better.

Kaye Alan, thanks for sharing.

I can't believe the vacation people are that lacking in compassion--but then again, it takes all kinds.

Unknown said...

What a wonderful story! (Except for the Topsail people. Send me their name and address and I'll see what kind of harassment I can send their way.....)

It is so good to know that the three of you are home and safe and together.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Huge thanks to each of you. You're very special folks.

Vicki - He IS a bit of a wordsmith, isn't he? I'm tell you, the man is full of surprises.

Bill, you probably would have figured out a way to keep everyone around enthralled with a wonderful story - who're you kidding?

Le0pard13 - I can't wait to tell Donald he's now going to be on someone's hero mantle! Someone's besides my own. He'll love that!

Jill - it was great seeing you & Brian this afternoon!

about the Topsail deal. I've gotten notes from a few home owners there - some of whom wanting to know who the "culprits" were, but I think it's best we just keep that to ourselves. The one thing each of them have in common, is that they've all been renting places out long enough to have had similar things happen, and they each agree that you have to be ready to bend and compromise depending on individual circumstances. Seems reasonable to me.

Diane, I know you would have handled this differently. I know it in my heart - you're a dear and gracious woman who would not be capable of such coldness.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

And thank you Marilyn, Julie, and Shirley (pfooey on 'em indeed!), LJ and Sarah.

Lesa - isn't he silly?! I've told you before - he makes me laugh practically every day of my life. It wasn't necessary that particular day though!!!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Wendy, Mother is doing O.K. You are SO right about how much she loves Donald (and vice versa). She forgets that she did not actually give birth to him. I have to remind her every so often that he did, after all, marry into this family!

Thank you,Sam - yep, lots of hugging going on around here.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

MJ - Leave it to you to pick up on that remark about me being a good driver. I'm not. pffttttt. Donald, bless his heart, does realize though that I'm the one who will be doing all the driving for a little while, so . . . hence the little bribe.

Julia - Mark Twain! I love it! Wait till I tell Donnie!

Thank you, Aubrey!

you guys are cracking me up with these comments about Topsail. mm mm mm - those people have no idea what they "could" have been in for had we not decided to be so discreet!

But - don't let those meanies ruin a truly beautiful spot; and Topsail truly is a beautiful spot. Everyone should experience it (but call us before you make any reservations!).

Shane Gericke said...

Your writing has heart, Donald. I can say that because you're on the road to recovery!

That was one HELL of a lead sentence ... and the rest was even more gripping. Who knew you were as talented a writer as Your Kaye? (Unless Harley was ghosting for you!)Thank the Graces and the hospital staff you're back all safe and sound. We know for a FACT that Kaye would have walked off a plank in her grief over missing you. And we'd be deprived the discovery of your wonderful writing style.

Just think of an easier way to put your thoughts down on paper next time!

Seriously, glad you're back.

Mason Canyon said...

So glad ya'll are back home and Donald is improving so well. I agree with Lesa, a nice e-mail campaign might change their mind about your money or give you a new date.

Take care and enjoy each day.

Thoughts in Progress

Patty said...

Wow - two talented writers in the family (or is it three, will we be getting the whole story from Harley's pov as well?)

So glad you are on the mend Donald, Kaye had us worried and we don't want that, we do so enjoy our happy, silly and upbeat Kaye!

Earl Staggs said...
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Sam said...

What a wonderful sense of humor Donald has...amazing to be that cool under fire. I am happy to hear that things are so much better now. You are both in my thoughts and prayers.

Lesa said...
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Bo Parker said...

My thoughts reflect all that has been said, plus one more. Your decision regarding the Topsail issue does not surprise me. Webster’s 1913 edition includes, in addition to the definition, quotes to enhance the meaning. One of those is, “The moral grandeur of independent integrity is the sublimest thing in nature.”

Your decision about Topsail Beach reflects that concept. And it underscores what many of us have learned over the years from your comments on DorothyL and in your blog. That is this: you are an embodiment of the “quality of being honest and morally upright.”

It would be a very human reaction to identify those who have wronged you and Donald, and Harley. Had you done so, the wrath of your friends would rain down like hailstones from hell upon the guilty party.

But I know the thoughts of a song are echoing through your home. “You’ve got accentuate the positive / Eliminate the negative / Latch on to the affirmative / Don’t mess with Mister In-Between”

A lot of us waste a tremendous amount of time frettin’ and messin’ with “Mister In-Between.” You do not. We all should strive to follow your example.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Shane, Mason, Patty, Earl, Sam, Lesa and Bo.

oh my. thank you.

You know that old saying about how you wish you could be the person your dog thinks you are? (did I get that even close to right?!) anyway.
Bo Parker - I would give anything to be the person you've described me as. Thank you.

Earl, Darlin? You made me hoot out loud (again!), and you might be a bad influence on my sweet friends, Lesa & Mason, but what the heck - have fun!

Shane - it was a hell of a lead wasn't it? a stunner, and it still stuns me every time I read it.

Patty - we're trying to get Harley to write, but so far - it's not working out too well. I've told him there ARE some dogs and cats who are making some money writing mysteries but he thinks that's just all too silly.

Earl Staggs said...

Kaye Darlin', I've always said as long as you keep your sense of humor, nothing can whup you. Based on that, you and Donald are invincible.

Lesa, meet me at midnight and don't worry about getting caught. It's not like I haven't done this before.

Anonymous said...
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Cometprof said...

I'm so glad that Donald is recovering. That is wonderful. With regard to Topsail, I'm a firm believer in Karma, "everything you say, and everything you do, sooner or later comes back to you", a bit of compassion on their part would have been much more to their good.
To yours is the fact that you two are together and that Donald has the kind of sense of humor that I can appreciate. Enjoy each other's company.

Charlotte said...

This is great news to hear that Donald is at home and doing so well. Donald, may God bless you with long life.

May you both have many years to enjoy the beach together, sorry it want be this year.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Dear Cometprof and Charlotte - Thanks much for the kind words; it means more than you know to hear from so many with words of encouragement.

Donald talked to the rental company this morning, they called to say the homeowners said it would have been handled differently if we had bought the "rental insurance." Of course it would have, and I wish we had. But. Since we did not they're sticking to their guns and doing nothing.

the rental company is willing to give us 10% off a rental house if we rent it through them.


I'm just not sure we'll be going back to Topsail. we'll see.

One thing we have done for them is through word of mouth advertising, I can guarantee more people now know about Topsail Island than they did a week and a half ago. Between here and Facebook - a whole lot more.

Earl - maybe you and Carol will have to come from Texas and we'll all just go to Ocean City, MD like we've always said we would anyway! so there!