Suddenly, at 5:30 PM on August 19, 2005, I felt a kind of flushing throughout my body. I was on the phone and could tell that I was excited, while I was talking. The feeling was similar to when the flush of adrenaline and sense of fear that many of us experience before we get up in front of people to talk or give a lecture or speech.

As soon as I hung up the phone, a sudden weakness came over me like a wave. Both arms felt heavy. I clutched my chest thinking, Oh, my God. This can’t be happening again. Kurt had just come home. I could barely open the door and yell to him for help. He came running.

There was no mistake this time. I was having another heart attack. My arms hurt badly. They felt swollen and heavy as if they were dragging on the floor. At the same time, it felt like a tourniquet was binding my arm and strangling it, cutting it off my body. My chest was burning and heavy. I called the physician on duty, but at this point, I couldn’t even talk on the phone. I took two baby aspirin and we left for the clinic.

The clinic was a solid thirty minutes away. While we were driving, following the instructions for where to report, I knew that time was being wasted. When we arrived, the doctor was waiting for me. Every step I took toward him felt as if I was walking in slow motion. My legs could hardly move no matter how badly I wanted to move them. With Kurt’s help, I finally made it to the examining table.

By this time, nearly forty minutes had flown by—precious minutes lost. When the doctor saw the EKG results, he immediately called for an ambulance. More waiting. More time lost. I was thinking that my so-called “golden hour” was passing by, and I still was in a country clinic. (The “golden hour” is a term used to indicate that the sooner a person received medical treatment after a traumatic injury like a heart attack or an automobile accident, the more likely the person will survive.)

The time for optimal intervention felt short. I was scared. Thoughts of dying here were passing through my mind.

The pain was extremely bad by this time, so the doctor said that I needed pain medication. He began to look at the veins in my forearm. His hands were sweaty. Oh my god, big red flag, sweaty hands, I bet he has not done many of these! I knew he would be incapable of inserting the PVC without hurting me and failing several times! I said, “No, don’t set it in the vein”! That didn’t stop him and he tried anyway. So, with the pain of a heart attack and the goal of getting pain relief, I was angry that he would hurt me with the needle. He finally gave up and moved from my forearm to the crease of the elbow, where phlebotomists usually draw blood.

Before he proceeded, the doctor gave me a few squirts of liquid nitroglycerine under the tongue, which helped to relieve the pain a little but not enough. As he inserted the needle, I could hear and feel a ripping of the vein in my arm. Oh my god the pain in my arm!  Tears squirted out of my eyes as I begged him to stop. A lump formed immediately that was so big I couldn’t even draw my arm up. I was   furious. He then gave me a shot of morphine.

Abruptly, but blessedly, the morphine kicked in. After that, I didn’t care quite so much about everything. My pain was dulled but my mind worked underneath the painkiller’s fog. I remember thinking that the heart attack was still happening. I simply was not feeling it to the same degree.  Hopefully, I thought, the nitro will kick in and the blood flow will be restored.