LOS ANGELES, CA
Los Angeles, CA
Lisa Tatum is an Emmy nominated producer who has worked in every genre of reality television, with some of the top names in Entertainment- including Ryan Seacrest, Tyra Banks, RuPaul and Wayne Brady to name a few. She has produced shows for CBS, NBC, ABC, CW and VH-1 as well as major studios including, Fox, Paramount, Sony Pictures, Tele-Pictures, and Universal Television. When she is not working on television shows she is watching them with her wonderful husband of 15 years and their rescue dog, Beau.
August 1, 2020– It’s a very warm summer day. My husband takes our dog out on their usual walk. He comes home and we are picking up the house before the maid comes. (Yes, we kept our maid. She is as essential to us as we are to her.)
While we are picking things up, my husband says he feels nauseous and tries to vomit. He has cold sweats and feels light headed and dizzy – he says he is very tired and must lay down. I assume he is just fatigued from walking the dog on a hot day. He says he just needs to rest.
I open the door for the maid then run back upstairs to see how my husband is doing. He looks pale and says he feels out of it. I asked him, “If I felt the way you are feeling, what would you want me to do?” He replies, “Call 911.” I never thought I’d hear those words come out of my husband’s mouth. I get up- grab the phone and calmly dial.
Here we are in a pandemic- calling 9-1-1.
I warn our maid that this is happening. Within minutes the fire department and paramedics arrive. We are masked. They are masked. They bring in equipment. They do an EKG. It is not a heart attack. I am relieved—But, they want to take my husband to the Emergency Room anyway since he is overweight and over 50.
I get ready to go only to be stopped. I can’t go to the hospital during Covid. I know this- but this is not what I wanted to hear. Don’t they know I am special? That my husband needs a champion at the hospital?
The Chief pulls me aside and says that my husband will be fine- to call the ER in a few hours for an update. My husband leaves on a stretcher in his stocking feet, t-shirt, shorts and with his phone. They give him 2 aspirin and take his blood sugar. It is through the roof. I wave good bye & say I love you to him as he reclines helpless in the back of the ambulance. The feeling in the pit of my stomach starts to resonate in my entire body. I have never felt such terror. I am all alone, worried, sad and kinda mad. Mad that my husband has not been taking good care of himself. Mad that we are in a pandemic and I can’t go to the hospital. Sad that he is alone at the hospital at this very scary time in history. More than anything I’m filled with paralyzing terror.
I wait two hours and call the ER. I speak with a very nice nurse who says he is doing fine-and offers some comfort and hope that he will be home later the same day. A few hours later my husband and I can text each other. He really thinks he is coming home-and that is great news- deep breath-nothing serious. I want him ouf of the hospital- out of an area where Covid lives. One more test…this test shows some cardiac enzymes in his blood.
We talk to the masked cardiologist over face time. I hate that I can’t see his full face. Who is this guy? They want to keep my husband overnight and do an angiogram in the morning.
I am the Google queen- looking in to exactly what this angiogram means. I Google the doctor…he is over 70. I call the nurse practitioner. She assures me that this doctor is good and has had years of training to do angiograms and stents. We are assured that all my husband needs is a stent and he can come home Sunday afternoon.
It’s noon on Sunday, no test yet. Some delay. My husband needs a Covid test before they can do the procedure. What the hell? Why didn’t they do that yesterday or last night? SO, we wait. Covid test is negative. 2pm-they start the angiogram. 3:30pm I get a call from the doctor-things didn’t go well…my heart sinks. The doctor wants to do a surgical consult on Monday. My husband has several blockages. I go in to super Google mode. My stomach hurts. I have that all-over terror feeling again. I beg the nurse to let me come in to the hospital. She informs me that the visiting rules are under review and she will do what she can to get me in.
Monday late morning- I am not allowed in for the consult. I FaceTime with the masked medical team. The surgeon is 12 years old. I swear to God- he is Doogie Howser. Ok, really, he is a short man of slight build who has just completed his medical training. He tells us why by-pass surgery is needed. I am freaked out. I need to be there. I can’t get in. I want to scream. I hold it together. I watch every video I can find on Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG)- NOW this is real. I call my parents. I e-mail my husband’s brother. I call all our friends who need to know. I call my brother. He says he will come sit with me at my house during the surgery.
Tuesday – surgery day. The nurse tried again to get me in… no luck. I am devastated. Home, alone, and truly deeply scared. I call my brother who says to call him with an update then he will come over. I call my brother again- he doesn’t return my call or texts. I am alone during the scariest time of my life. I am pissed at the selfishness of my brother. I can’t ask anyone else to come. Others volunteered but I said no due to Covid. Damn COVID. I get a call late in the afternoon that everything went well. My love is being moved to ICU. The worst is over. He survived the surgery. I feel the tension release from my body.
My husband will spend several days in the hospital. I will pick him up on Aug 8th. He is weak and tired, scarred, sore and sad. We have all kinds of rules to follow. He is diabetic- but he knew that years ago and chose not to take care of it. His thinking that his blood sugar was under control in 2018 when he ran a marathon still means that it is still under control. His blood sugar was the main cause of his cardiac issue but the marathon training probably saved his life. There is no damage to the heart muscle. Silver lining.
It has been weeks of living with fear, anxiety and silver linings.
Due to Covid my husband’s office closed and everyone has been working remotely since mid-March. That is a silver lining. My husband can work from home and no one needs to know if the visiting nurse or physical therapist is here or if he takes a nap.
I am not working right now. My job ended with the onset of the pandemic in March. I am home to monitor all his calls and take care of him. This too is a silver lining.
In the weeks that have followed this life changing event we have been in and out of countless doctor’s offices, blood labs and the cardiac rehab gym. Every single day I fear he could get Covid. He is officially in a high-risk group. This is the reality of life in the pandemic right now.
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