It’s a beautiful day…

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”

Rumi

This is a work in progress. The account of my heart attack, which I keep revisiting every so often. Today marks the fourth anniversary. It’s a long read. I think it important to share.

Sunday morning, everyone’s still sleeping, I’m heading to work. A cup of coffee in hand I almost tripped myself on the shoes laying on the floor. ”Not in the foyer, shoes in the closet!” what a neat idea for a forehead tattoo I think to myself, relieved not to have spilled anything on my suit.

I cried again in my sleep last night; dreamed about the parents. Why do their deaths hurt so much,

The asphalt ribbon disappears under my hungry wheels, I love driving fast. Michael Bubble sings:” It’s a beautiful day” On a deserted highway singing at the top of my lungs is one of my many favourite activities. 

It’s a beautiful day.

 Still humming the song I enter the mall, a stubborn smile planted on my face. My colleagues sitting on a bench across the store, are all waiting for our manager to arrive. One of them tries unsuccessfully to quiet me down.

“Oh, for goodness sake’s will you shush already?” he says jokingly winking at me. 

“Keep going, do not pay him any mind.” says my manager smiling keys in hand as she arrives ready to open the jewellery store. Gathering behind her we enter the quiet store, one at a time. Lights still off we start uncovering the counters from the protective blankets, folding them neatly one by one. 

I open the display case door, carefully keeping it open with my hip while grabbing the heavy jewellery tray. Twisting my body I slide it in along the display ridges. Checking every piece is neatly placed, I press the door locked and move on to the next one.

“All done, everyone?” asks my manager checking to be sure every empty metal shelf is back in the vault. 

“Let the show begin.”, she says turning on the big lights just as the mall announcer’s voice on the pa informs us all it’s opening time. Not a speck of dust to be seen but it’s good to keep yourself busy at all times. I’m still humming a big smile on my face:

“It’s a beautiful day.“ 

The day goes fast. A half-hour more and it’s quitting time. My mouth tastes like liquid lead. I can’t shake this awkward feeling. Something’s wrong, I’m off tomorrow it’s going to be fine. Closing my eyes I’m trying to forget this gripping weight on my chest. Somehow it only feels worse. The idea of having to drive home soon seems impossible. I move my jaw up, down and sideways. Why does it hurt so much? Coming down with an ear infection, maybe? That’s it, I am going to see my doctor tomorrow. 

My co-worker looks at me puzzled: 

”What’s happening to you girl?”

 “Are you OK? You look like shit”, she mouthed with a chuckle.

 “That exactly how I feel.” I answer in a low tired voice. “It’s like I’m on LSD, my head tied to a floating balloon. Soooh weird.” I say still trying to make sense of it all.

The iron hand now squeezing my chest is oppressing. I’m having trouble breathing. Doing the best I can to ignore it, doesn’t get me anywhere. My manager arrives, looks at me and tries to get me to sit.

“Can you smile?” she asks nervously . I look at her confused. “Please lift your arms, will you?” she says in a concerned voice. I excuse myself and say: “I’ll lay down if it’s OK, I’m not too feeling good” and lower myself onto the store floor.

 My jaw is now completely paralyzed. I realize I can’t speak anymore yet I can hear everyone going back and forth, distant voices on the phone. Someone’s asking for my husband’s cell number in the back. A call to 911, if only I could talk to let them know it’s going to be OK. I feel so silly making everyone panic for no reason.

 That iron hand in my chest puts a tremendous amount of pressure on my heart. Unbearable. I want it to stop. A stranger flashes light in my eyes.

He says “Can you hear me?”. I blink frantically.  “One blink for No, Two for Yes.” he says with both kindness and authority. I blink twice. The room is spinning. I close my eyes trying to gather my thoughts. I blackout. The wheels under the gurney are catching the cracks of the mall floor on the way to the ambulance. I’m feeling faint once more. A woman voice declares:” No this one’s going to RCH”, “Phone her husband, let him know”. 

“On three, one, two three:” says a young voice on top on me and I feel the gurney lifting. No control of my body anymore, I am being handled as if I am a piece of meat. It is all very surreal. I never fully grasped the true meaning of this word:surreal. Until now!

A soft voice within my head coming from a faraway place, speaks to me. Its calm tone contrasts with the deafening sound coming from outside. I feel I am as big as the whole world. I am relieved and calm.

 If this is what dying is all about, I’m good. 

Death by water or fire were the ones I am not keen on, this is fine. If only the angry metal hand grabbing hold my heart would just let out a bit, I’d say this dying business is a walk in the park. I know the ambulance siren shrieks so everyone knows to give way, but why is it so loud inside?

 “She’s off the chart” “Left main, left main” screams a man’s voice close to her.

 “Cold sweats, heaving” I don’t get it, “she’s not in the textbooks” answers a woman voice.

  I’m OK with it all then I think of the children, they’re too young to be motherless. I feel a bit sad, a single tear is slowly running down my cheek. The quiet voice whispers: “You’re going to be fine.” And deep in my heart I know I am.

 The shrieking sound of the ambulance siren is piercing my ears, it’s driving me mad. Opening my eyes, I am blinded by the violence of the white neon lights. My senses are being assaulted I just want to start hearing myself think. 

LET ME SLEEP  I scream in my mind. Let me close my eyes can’t you understand? I’m so weary.

 “Stay with me, lady” says the man’s in a commanding voice.

 I wonder why he’s so bossy with me, who does he think he is talking to me like this. I am confused and I want to apologize for thinking this way but just end up heaving bile on the side of the gurney.

 Finally the sirens stop, the ambulance stops too. I can try to sleep. The neon lights on the ceiling are passing fast on top of my head. I’m worn out, if only I could just sleep a bit.

“On three, one, two, three.”The gurney disappears under me, for a few seconds I’m suspended in the air. I land heavily on a cold metal table. A giant projector hovers on my face its bright light shines directly in my eyes. I just want to sleep, why don’t they leave me alone? I’m exhausted.

“Don’t you dare close your eyes.” Says a very angry nurse looking straight at me “who’s got the scissors?” ask someone in the back. I feel the blade on my skin and much to my dismay I understand my favourite top is being cut to pieces. Every fiber in my body wants to protest, limp and lifeless I’m unable to react. I want to retreat in a quiet corner to forget about what’s happening. I’ve had a good run at it, let’s face it. 

A finger gently strokes my hand in a sweet and surprising gesture. I open my eyes. My husband looks at me in such a tender way. He’s very distraught, I don’t understand what’s going on. Looking around I see my boss, I’ve never seen him so distressed. What’s happening?” I ask my husband turning my head, trying to read his thoughts. “Where am I?”

“You’ve suffered a major heart attack.” his voice shaking slightly. “They’re going to keep you under observation overnight to run some tests.“

Looking at my boss “you shouldn’t have come all the way here.” I say “Man you sure know how to exit” he answers smiling uncomfortable. “You scared everyone at the store” “If you wanted an extra day off lady, you just needed to ask.” he continues jokingly. 

So much I do not understand. No history of heart attacks in my family, on either side. Brain tumors, yes, cancers, yes. Heart problems? No. Why me? The irony of it all is lost on me. The iron hand around my heart is still there. Its hold has somewhat softened though. Moving my right hand to tidy up the blanket on the hospital bed I feel a sharp twinge of pain. Looking down I see it is all taped with an enormous intravenous needle plucked in the middle on my top vein. From there I follow a transparent tube going all the way up to a watery drip. On my left side is a grey monitor showing all manner of coloured lines and numbers. I’m here to stay.

My husband and my boss’s conversation is getting harder to understand. Safe for the continuous beeps on the machine close to me, it’s fairly quiet here. I am finally going to be able to sleep. Michael Bubble is right:

“It’s a beautiful day”

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