It’s incredible to think about what some people go through and how they manage to survive the pain of losing loved ones. In a personal essay on the website Love What Matters, a young mother shared the story of having to rush her husband to the hospital after a sudden heart scare.
Angela Menci got a call from her husband Gare in the middle of the day while he was at work. The 39-year-old dentist had been performing a root canal and just felt “off.” Thinking he may be having a heart attack, he asked his wife to come pick him up from his practice and take him to the hospital.
Home with their baby and toddler, Angela rushed to a neighbors house to see if they could watch them, but no one answered. After buckling the kids into the car, she rushed to help her husband. Once they got to the hospital and it became clear that it was no fluke, Angela had a friend come to pick up the children and keep them away from the drama that was about to commence. After hours waiting around in the ER, the doctor finally emerged to give her an update on Gare. She said “He has a tear in his aorta. It is catastrophic.”
“My husband was conscious, I had to deliver the news to him. His job now was to remain calm and keep his heart rate from elevating. The more it pumped, the more he bled out. He couldn’t freak out but that didn’t stop me from falling to the floor and crying as hospital personnel walked around me,” the woman said.
Then, Gare was transferred with an helicopter to a hospital in Portland. There was their only hope. But the things didn’t look good, so the couple tried to make a video of Gare for the children. Yet, he couldn’t bear to say goodbye.
“It was determined he would need to be life-flighted to a hospital in Portland, more equipped for the severity of his surgery. Sam, the life-flight nurse grabbed me by the shoulders and looked me straight in the eyes. He told me that his job was to keep Gary alive. He told me he was great at his job and he had confidence in delivering my husband safely to skilled surgeons that would fix him. He took my number and promised to update me from the flight,” Angela said.
When she arrived at the Portland hospital she saw two nurses walking out of Gare’s room crying. She assumed he had passed away, but he was still in surgery. They couldn’t tell her how likely he was to survive. After 8 hours of waiting, Angela got good news, but it was short-lived.
“I pressed the nurses’ button and they came out to tell me that the surgery was successful and that they would be bringing him up to the ICU. I jumped up and down and cried tears of joy. He is okay! He is going to live!”
Minutes later, the surgeon came out to tell her that Gare had coded after they administered the anesthesia and his aorta tore completely. He went 5 minutes without oxygen. Even if he lived, there was a good chance that he would wake up with severe cognitive and/or physical disabilities.
“The nurses tried to prepare me for what I would see when I entered the room. I appreciated their efforts but nothing can prepare you to see your sweet, loving husband laying there ventilated, swollen and unconscious. They told me that hearing is the last thing to go so to talk to him, tell him to keep fighting. I sat next to his lifeless body and encouraged him to keep fighting, that I would never be okay without him.”
After more waiting in agony, Angela’s mother showed up, but with even more unthinkable news.
“My mom showed up and she was hysterical. I thought to myself, ‘pull yourself together, I need you to be strong and support me.’ She immediately pulled me out into the hall and said, ‘Your sister passed away last night.’ What. It took a few minutes before my brain could register the words my mom was speaking. I walked back into the room and screamed ‘MY SISTER IS GONE!’ and I chucked a cup of water across the room. A wave of relief washed over me as I thought now that my sister is gone, there was no way God would take my husband too.”
Angela’s children arrived at the hospital to say goodbye to their father and she spent a few final moments with her husband.
“The image of those final moments with my children and their Dad will never leave me. It was the most heart wrenching part of this whole experience. They said goodbye and left the hospital. I climbed up on the bed and stroked his hair as the nurses turned the machines off. He was gone within minutes.”
Angela not only lost her sister and husband days apart but had to spend her baby son’s first birthday at the funeral home making arrangements for her husband. It’s an unthinkable situation. Angela is now living with her sister and brother-in-law who refinished their basement into an apartment for her and her kids.
“I don’t know why my husband and sister had to die. All I can do is have trust that God is here with me and is molding me to be the woman he knows that I can be. He gave me a wonderful sister and brother-in-law who immediately called and said they were finishing their basement into an apartment for me. Not only would I be living with them but they have been helping me raise my children. We have made our own little tribe.”
Angela is still adjusting to her new life. If you’d like to follow her journey as she rebuilds, you can follow her on Instagram.