Sunday, September 04, 2011
SUSAN RESPONDS: The Journey We Take Together -- Part Six
By Susan Prisant
I never thought the Walls of Jericho would come tumbling down. Sandy seemed so invincible. He was very successful professionally. He was always sure of himself and he attracted people like bees to honey. He took care of me as if I was a princess and made me laugh with astonishment at his antics.
We had an appointment to see Eddie, his cardiologist. I remember kissing Dr. Anderson hello. Sandy went into the cath lab for an angiogram. He needed two stents. It was decided that they would do one of then and the other a week later. Over the weekend in between we went hiking with the family, not having a care in the world.
When we returned for the next appointment, Sandy Coplon, the wife of our nephrologist, came to sit with me. It didn’t seem strange, as they are friends and we were staying at their house.
I had no idea that the walls were starting to crack. He was in surgery, and time was passing. "Last time we came, he was done by now," I was thinking to myself. More time passed. Now I was saying to my friend Sandy: “Something is wrong.” I started pacing back and forth, thinking, ‘Eddie, Eddie.’
The door opened. Eddie came out and held me. He said, “Susan, Sandy has to have an emergency bypass; I’ll take you to him to kiss him good-bye.”
The Walls of Jericho came tumbling down. I walked over to Sandy like nothing was wrong. I kissed him and said, “I’ll see you in a while.” They wheeled him away and I practically collapsed to the floor.
Thank God, Sandy Coplon was there. I called my brother-in-law with the news. He came to the hospital. We all went outside. In the garden I smoked what felt like 100 cigarettes. The waiting was so hard. My mind was running. It’s not fair; how could Sandy die? I can’t live without my partner, my best friend. No one could console me. It was too scary for all of us.
Seven hours passed. Then I saw Eddie walking over to me. His face didn’t show signs of grief.
“He’s okay, Susan.” We held each other tightly. No other words were necessary.
And my mind shouted, "He’s alive! He’s alive!”
It was another two hours before I could see him in the ICU. I will never ever forget what I saw. He had a large plastic breathing tube coming out of his mouth and he was connected to so many monitors that you couldn’t even get close to him. I wanted to hold him. I needed to hold him. I wanted him to know that we’d made it. But he was still under deep anesthesia; so I just sat down and stared at his face.
After a while, the curtain opened and there stood Norman—Sandy’s friend and nephrologist for 20 years. He walked slowly, his eyes fully attentive. He ever so lightly picked up Sandy’s wrist to take his pulse, as he had a thousand times before. Tears were swelling in his eyes and his thoughts were far off. When he came back to earth and saw me, he gave me a bear hug in a way only Norman could. “We’ll see you later back at the house,” Dr. Coplon said and left us.
It was another two hours before my best friend opened his eyes with a quick flash of surprise. The clock on the wall faced him.
It was nearly 6pm. I could see his brain calculating that over nine hours had passed since I’d kissed him good-bye. He then took in all the monitors and the blue tentacle snaking down his throat. He pointed at it vigorously -- he wanted it out. I called the nurse, who explained that it was too soon to remove anything. Naturally, Sandy wasn’t going to let this decision lie.
He was pointing more vigorously now, looking to me to do something. The nurse interrupted this manic behavior between the two of us.
“If you can write down what you want…” she said and brought back a large pad. She didn’t know Sandy had only five words for her. He took the pad and wrote in large letters: “Take this fucking thing out!” as he pointed vigorously at the breathing tube.
The nurse read the note, stood there laughing, then pulled the privacy curtain open and yelled out so everyone in ICU could hear, “I have a live one here.”
Susan Prisant is a Florida-based writer who is composing a series of articles called "The Journey We Take Together." This piece is a direct response to a piece by her husband, Sandy Prisant, who is awaiting a heart and kidney transplant.