Oh, the Stubbornness of Humans

Spiritual Smart Aleck


Becky Bumgarner would like to say a big THANK YOU, from the bottom of her still-beating heart, to the EMTs who were on duty at the fire house in Vashon early on the morning of Monday, August 3rd. They totally rock, and they saved her life.
A little after six that morning I got a call from Becky. She said she had been kept awake by chest pains all night.

Now, Becky is the person who took me to the Fire Station when I had my TIA, and she said she felt much better when I got into the ambulance and headed to Swedish, so on August 3rd, when she asked me if I thought she should have her husband Roy take her up to the Fire Station to get her chest pains checked out, I said, yes, I would feel much better if she was in an ambulance and headed to Swedish.

So Roy took her up to the Fire Station, where the EMTs informed Becky she was having a heart attack. They wanted to airlift her but there was too much fog, so they whisked her off in an ambulance to Swedish Hospital at Cherry Hill, formerly Providence, where she was found to have a completely blocked left anterior descending artery, i.e., the big one that runs down the left side of the heart.

The docs put in two titanium stents.

When I talked to her later that morning, she was feeling much better.

Stents do that for people. Amazing what getting the proper amount of blood and oxygen distributed to your body can do.

Some of her heart muscle has been injured so she is not home free, but she is home, and she is recovering, and learning a whole new regimen of pills. We were talking about blood thinners the other day.

I am grateful she got in there and was saved, and so is her family, and so are her many friends.

Thanks, Vashon EMTs! Thanks, Swedish Cardiology!

When I spoke to her daughter Maggie, we expressed frustration that Becky did not get help as soon as she felt chest pains the previous Friday night.

She did call a medical advice line before she called me that Monday morning, and they told her to call 911.

“But I didn’t want to do that.”

Oh, the stubbornness of humans.

When Rick first became seriously ill, he wouldn’t go to the doctor.

“I’ll work it off,” he said, which is what he’d done all his life with every ache, pain, sprain, etc. Turns out you can’t work off cancer or kidney failure.

I was angry about his refusal to take care of himself until he was nearly dead, and talking with other women, who said their husbands were just the same, I decided it was all men. Men! So stubborn!

And then … I had my TIA. Transient Ischemic Attack, or a little stroke that resolved itself so was not a stroke. Woke up with a loud noise in my head, a weak left arm, and crap balance.
This happened at four or five in the morning, of course, so I called a nurse hotline and the nurse told me to call 911.

But I didn’t want to do that.

Part of the reason was that my grandson was living with me then, and he was asleep upstairs. I had to make some provision for him. Finally called Becky and asked her to take me to the ER. She came over, looked at me, and told me she would take me to the fire station.

I argued with her, but finally gave in. She took me to the fire station, where the EMTs put me in an ambulance and whisked me away to Swedish, Cherry Hill. Becky, god bless her, took care of my grandson, until she could hand him off to my son, Uncle Drew.

By the time I got to the hospital my symptoms were gone, but they kept me for a night for observation. That’s why I take a blood thinner.

So now I don’t think stubbornness is a male trait. It’s a human trait. I think most of us, maybe all of us, are pig headed, or simply don’t want to admit something serious is happening.

“I’ll work it out.”

“I’ll just sit here with these stroke symptoms, and call Becky instead of calling 911.”

“I’ll put up with these chest pains all weekend and call Mary on Monday morning.”

I’m off my high horse of being angry at Rick, or anyone, for being stubborn. It is humbling to realize that refusing to get help is exactly what I did when the time came.

The best things I learn in life involve being humbled.

Takeaway: When someone tells you to call 911, call 911. Even if you don’t want to do that.