It was Wednesday July 29th, I was at work. I had gotten up from my desk to go to the bathroom, when I returned I saw that I had a missed call from Mark and 2 more from Amaya, then my phone started ringing again. I answered the call, it was Amaya. I could tell from the moment she started speaking that she was crying and scared. I asked her to slow down and she started to explain. "Megan, Dad is having a heat stroke or something. I don't know what to do." I thought he was probably being dramatic, after all he had called me himself, he was probably just exaggerating. But then she told me that he had come inside sat down and called 911 himself. Mark never would have called 911 if he wasn't certain something was really wrong. As soon as she said that I grabbed my keys and left work. I drove home with Amaya on the phone the entire time. Its 14 miles to home, it wasn't yet rush hour, but it felt like it took an eternity to make it there. I talked her through everything I could think of while I drove, go get Theresa, open the door, flag down the ambulance, check for breathing, he isn't breathing, Theresa needs to do CPR now! Is the ambulance there yet?
When I arrived home there was no where to park my car, the street was filled with every first responder vehicle that exists. I stopped my car in the middle of the street and ran into the house. Mark was being worked on in the living room. As I tried to run into him, I was physically restrained, I was told that they needed room to work. The officer sat me down in a chair, the Paramedic came and asked me for a health history. I explained it all. Mark's mom died of a heart attack she was young, maybe 43. He had a full cardio work up less than 2 years ago and everything was fine. He was not on any medications. Narcotics were not an issue. Yes, he smoked sometimes, but not as much as he used to. They told me that his heart was stopped, that they had been unable to get it started via shock or medication. I remember screaming "No, no, no, no!" They told me they had a few more things to try and said I should go outside to be with the girls. I said "No, I need to be with him, I need him to know that I am here." They brought me outside anyway. The whole neighborhood was watching, standing at the ends of their driveways. I had Amaya call my mom, to tell her to come, and hurry. I called Pastor Jeff, I am certain I sounded hysterical.
Then the officer came out and explained that they were going to take him in the ambulance to the U of M Hospital, that there was something they could try there. He said I needed to put the girls in the car and drive down the road, that they shouldn't see him get wheeled out into the stretcher because they had a machine on his chest doing mechanical CPR. That I should wait a few minutes and then I could follow to the hospital, but perhaps I shouldn't drive myself. My mom had arrived by then and agreed to drive me. We dropped the girls off at my sister's house and headed the mile from there to the hospital.
When I arrived at the hospital it took them a while to find out where Mark was, because he came in on the ambulance. Eventually they told me he was brought to the CATH Lab. He was in the procedure room. We waited, I made phone calls, and sent messages, I answered Mark's phone as it rang, and I prayed. I prayed that God would bring Mark through this, that He would intervene, that He would heal him, protect him and allow him to come home. The doctors completed the procedure and came to talk to me. Mark had a huge heart attack, there was a blood clot in the largest artery on the front of his heart. They were able to put in a stent and restart his heart, but he was on life support. They explained the plan to me, that there was a balloon pump helping his heart beat, that he would be going on ECHMO, that he had a ventilator breathing for him, and that they were planning to put him in a hypothermic state after his CT. He was alive, and that is all I cared about. I remember they told me he had a 30-40% chance of recovery, but if he recovered it would mean 6-8 weeks in the hospital. He would have to relearn everything from eating to walking. He might never be able to work a physical job again. But he was alive. Due to COVID restrictions I was not going to be allowed to see him until after his test cleared. They let me watch as they wheeled him by on his way to his CT scan. I remember thinking that he looked tired, that I wish they would have stopped it for me, just let me brush my hand against his, to give him a quick kiss on the forehead.
I had to wait a few minutes and then I was able to look through a window at him in his isolated room. I asked how he would eat. I remember the nurse looking at me, asking why I would ask that. I said, "Well they said he would be in the hospital for 6-8 weeks, if he is not conscious he cannot eat, but he will waste away. My husband is big, he is strong, I can't imagine him losing so much weight that he becomes a frail little man." She smiled and said "We were just talking about how big his shoulders are, he is the size of a linebacker."
Then I went home. I thought about how I would need to let my boss know that I could probably only work half days for the next 6-8 weeks, I would need to go see my husband. That when he came home I might need to have some time off to get him settled. I remember thinking that 30-40% odds are excellent odds when I already had thousands of people praying for a miracle. Then I got the call where the doctor told me that Mark's COVID test had comeback positive. I tried to sleep as nausea filled my gut.