"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

Who was that mystery man?

By on June 25, 2019 in Uncategorized with 0 Comments
Mike and Susan on a healthy day.

By Susan Ruth Williams

My husband, Mike, went to work that morning, starting at 5 a.m.

Afterward, he would tell me he hadn’t felt very good getting ready, but he had muscled through.

If Mike hadn’t gone to work, none of this would have happened. But something else may have happened, something potentially devastating.

The phone rang at 8 a.m. Mike, on a break, would sometimes call to teIl me something, or just to see how I was doing.

Not today.

Mike said, “Susan, I’m not  feeling well, and I need you to take me to the  ER.” The wavery tone in his voice seized like a thunderclap in time, one where everything after would never again be the same. Fumbling with this news, the urgent demand to drop everything and leave, at once, was galvanizing. At the same time, it was other-worldly to move through.

I had not fixed my face, or self yet, and that did not matter. In a reel of freeze-frames, I grabbed a sweater, my purse and keys, and bolted down the steps and out the door. Agitatedly, I covered the vast mile distance to the store, and drove to the rear employee entrance where I saw him standing with the HR lady.

“Oh Mike, honey, what’s happening? What’s wrong?” It took every ounce of my being to exude calm presence as I surveyed my husband standing there. I don’t know if I waved at the lady, or merely blinked, as Mike folded himself into the passenger seat.

I drove out of the Fred Meyer grotto to the Central Washington Hospital ER entrance in a blur.

In this time in the car with Mike, I heard his incoherence as he was telling me about how strange his morning had been. I was focused on driving.

They took him rapidly into the ER, and I parked the car. When I came back in, they told me Mike’s heart was in atrial flutter, at 140 beats per minute. He was given Diltiazem and Lopressor, and labs were done.

There was no heart attack, such good news, but clearly, he wasn’t out of the woods yet. They were admitting him, and he stayed two nights. I slept on the fold out.

During the hospital stay, and the exams by the various doctors, and the inquiry into the symptoms, reasons were collected to answer the why.

Over and over again, Mike, stated that, yes, he had felt an “oddness” on six other occasions, always after lunch, over the last two years. He described a lightheaded state and dizziness, which passed always after 10 minutes. Each time this happened, once the attacks passed, he resumed whatever he’d been doing.

The difference on this morning was the sensation of odd disequilibrium didn’t pass, persisting and getting worse. He told co-workers that he wasn’t feeling well, and that maybe he was coming down with the flu and to not get close. At one point, he had to grab hold of a table to keep from falling down.

Finally, after not feeling any relief, Mike decided to head over to the in-store Starbuck’s, where they have comfortable chairs.

While taking this break, he was approached by an older gentleman who said to Mike, “You don’t look like you’re feeling well. Would it be okay if I check your pulse? I worked for Ballard Ambulance, but I’m retired now.”

He took Mike’s pulse, found it to be very high, and told Mike, “You should go to the ER, now.”

An echocardiogram found no heart disease or blockage and the determination was made that chronic insomnia was the source of Mike’s dysrhythmia. For 40-some years, Mike’s inheritance has been that he’s gotten by on very little sleep, maybe four hours a night. And he has restless leg syndrome, at times. And he snores, at times. When this event happened, Mike had gone without any sleep for four nights in a row.

Mike is fine, back at home and back to work. He has a plan for better sleep and it works.

The intervention by the retired Ballard Ambulance man had everything to do with that outcome.

Mike, very likely, had his life saved by following this older man’s direction.

I wanted to know who to thank, so I visited Ballard Ambulance and spoke to a Penny, who said she was going to look into their retired employees.

I haven’t heard back from her.

I’m still wondering who you are. Because, if there is no other answer, I have to ask: Are you an angel?

Susan Ruth and Mike Williams moved to East Wenatchee in 2010 from Whatcom County. In July, they’ll celebrate their 37th anniversary whale watching off Cape Ann, MA.

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