Tim's Stemi Heart Attack - MY side...

I have always learned and retained more from “real life stories” so I ask that you give me your time as I share my story on what happened. Not that this is “about me” but I feel, as the spouse/witness – I need to tell you my side of the story so as YOU might remember and act accordingly should you witness the same in your spouse. In the following days, I hope to share Tim’s side as well.


Tim - The LOVE of my life!

Background for those reading who don’t know us: Tim and I live in the rural Interlake of Petersfield, Manitoba, Canada. We’re currently in our winter here which typically means cold temperatures, lots of snow and quite frequently, high winds. We’re a 20 minute (good conditions) drive from the small City of Selkirk which has a hospital. We’re also approximately 40 minutes from the north side of the major city of Winnipeg.


On Saturday, January 8th, 2022, Tim and I witnessed multiple miracles from God. As our story unfolds, the miracles happened well before Saturday and continue today… This story I share with you now is MY SIDE of the events. I ask you to continue to follow me as you need to hear Tim’s side. That will be shared when he’s willing to share it. To say it’s a nightmare is an understatement.


At 5:33pm, I called 911 and said the words that I never thought I’d say…


“911 Emergency… What is your emergency?”


“Please help me, I think my husband is having a heart attack!”


Saturday morning was nothing out of the ordinary for us.


I woke up around 4:30am and did some work on the computer until Liar and Gia were ready for their breakfast at around 9:00am. At this time, Tim also woke up and was feeling fine. He’d had a crappy sleep because of my tossing and turning but other than feeling a little tired – he felt fine.


The weather was proving to be pretty chaotic with yet another snowstorm, extreme low temperatures and poor visibility due to blowing snow so we both decided to have a pajama day! We talked about the movies we were going to watch, how we were going to do “nothing productive” and we even planned an afternoon nap with the dogs!


I think it was about 2:00pm when Tim and I decided to go into the bedroom, snuggle up with the dogs and a good movie. On my side, I knew I’d be out like a light before the movie started but I was welcoming it as I haven’t slept properly for about two months now.


I had an amazing nap but awoke to Tim changing out of his pajamas into normal clothes. After the movie had finished, Tim had decided he wanted to get some fresh air and because the snow had somewhat stopped, he was going to do some snow blowing to stay ahead of the game.


At 4:21pm, I quickly messaged a friend. At this point, I got up as well and I started on cleaning up the house and making supper.


Things are a bit confusing here so I’m going to try my best…


I was standing at the sink washing dishes when Tim came in. I heard/felt him come in and I caught him over my shoulder going into the mudroom where we normally take off our boots and outside clothes. I turned back to doing the dishes.


I’m not sure how much time passed, but I know that Tim didn’t come out of the mud room and truthfully, I assumed that he’d come in for something and headed back outside. I continued to do dishes.


Maybe 10 minutes passed? I don’t know, but I looked again behind me and Tim was coming down the short hallway still dressed in his winter gear and it’s at this time that he said he was really winded. I dried my hands, went to him and asked what was wrong. Again, he repeated that he was really winded and having a hard time catching his breath. He didn’t look panicked, he didn’t look sick – but he looked almost surprised and he was sweating.


At this time I said that it’s too cold outside and he should just leave the snow blowing and come in and relax. But I said that without panic or fear… Tim didn’t look bad, he was sweating but he’d been snow blowing. I didn’t see or notice anything that caused me to believe that this was a life threatening situation. He was winded, not outright gasping for air but he was breathing heavy. Again, I wasn’t scared of how he was in that moment, but I also didn’t want him going back outside and pushing himself more.


At that time, he told me that he’d finished snow blowing but wanted to go out and put the machine away. I remember saying it could wait but as he headed back outside, I headed to the back window to watch him. Now here’s the thing, that’s telling to me. Why did I go to the back window? Something must have been telling me he wasn’t okay…


Tim put the snow blower away in the garage and I went to the back door. As he came up the stairs, I could see he was having difficulties breathing for sure!


I got Tim into the mudroom where he sat down and I started taking off his boots. He again stated he was having trouble breathing and visually I could he was panting more than normal but I did believe he just needed to come in and relax. I felt like he’d pushed himself too much and just needed to relax.


I got his winter coat off but before we got the snow pants off, he got up and said he wanted to sit in his chair in the living room to relax for a bit. This is where things started getting weird, confusing and a bit scary.


In his chair, Tim’s breathing seemed to be a bit better but he was shifting a lot. Shifting in his chair like he was uncomfortable. At this point, my thoughts jumped straight to Covid.


Both Tim and I had felt “off” at various times in the previous week but nothing really concerning. At one point, I had a bit of a sore throat but I wrote my sore throat off to snoring. Tim had a few headaches but popped some Tylenol and they went away. Both of us felt tired on and off but as I said – I haven’t been sleeping well and because of that, neither has Tim. Covid has been spreading like wild fire here and in the last two weeks, we’ve had friends get it and many of my co-workers have gotten it.


Now looking at Tim – my thoughts were that even though we’re both double vaccinated maybe we had not realised we’d contracted Covid and maybe it was now starting to hit Tim like a freight train! Our one friend had gotten Covid, tested positive but had mild symptoms for a few days until he spiked a fever so high that he was rushed to Emergency. Thankfully, he’s okay but this Covid is weird!


I don’t know how long Tim was in his chair, maybe another 10 minutes?


Tim was still sweating but I wasn’t too concerned as he had been snow blowing – I felt it was likely sweat mixed with snow that had melted. I remembering offering him water… He was still breathing quite heavy, but not as much as before and still shifting in his chair.


Tim wanted to lay down a bit so I got his pillow, brought it into the living room, helped him off with his snow pants and he moved to the couch. Normally, I would have suggested he go lay down in the bedroom but at this point, this was serious enough that I wanted to keep an eye on him. I was getting nervous here because I was certain at this point he likely had Covid and I’d heard things could change very quickly. At the same time, because Covid has spread like wild fire, they have specifically asked people not to come to the hospital unless it’s an emergency… What’s an emergency? This is starting to look like an emergency…


I sat down beside Tim but very soon, he got up from the couch and started heading to the bathroom. I followed him and saw him bending over to dry heave into the toilet. This worried me but the thought came to my head that we had a smoothie early and then a bowl of cereal – maybe he was dry heaving because he was hungry?


From the bathroom, Tim went into the bedroom and laid down on the bed. I remember him asking me to turn off the lights and I said “no!” I was worried and wanted to be able to see any and every possible change in him. I don’t know if he suggested Aspirin or if I just got it, but Tim took 2 Aspirin with some water.


As I sat beside Tim, the thoughts started…

  • Is this Covid? The say not to rush to the hospital but the roads are bad. Maybe we should start heading out…

  • No fever, but sweaty.

  • How long will it take me to drive to Selkirk? The roads are bad and it’s dark…

  • Why is he shifting so much?

  • He doesn’t look bad but yet, he looks bad…

  • What the heck is going on?

  • This doesn’t make sense… He’s so healthy!


I had been talking to Tim during this whole situation. I had mentioned a few times that we could go to the hospital and he kept saying “no”… Then Tim rolled over and threw up in the waste basket on my side of the bed. Years ago, I had a co-worker that was really healthy and while gardening with his wife he “threw up for no reason” and started sweating – it turned out it was a massive heart attack. Panic set in. I jumped up and remember yelling (pardon the potty mouth), “F/$% this!” I rushed for my phone.


OUTGOING CALL 5:33 pm, 5 mins 55 secs – Emergency number: “911 Emergency… What is your emergency?”


“Please help me, I think my husband is having a heart attack!”


Gosh I wish we had a recording of everything that transpired that night because certain things stand out, some seem to have lost their order and other things I know I’ve forgotten due to the stress of the situation…


What I do know and remember is that the operator told me to give him 4 more Aspirin and have him chew them up so they got into his system quicker, which I did. The operator confirmed my phone number and only needed a partial address because technology is at a point where they can find you with your cell phones, thank God for that! The operator very quickly said that the Ambulance was on their way and now she wanted to ask questions. Here’s my answers as I remember them:


Tim and I Ice Fishing.
  • Tim turned 50 in July of 2021.

  • Very physically fit – very active and strong.

  • Probably a smidge overweight – but we all are…

  • He did have violent sunstroke and heat exhaustion when he was young and did suffer a mild heart attack and was hospitalized due to that.

  • We smoke.

  • He was a long haul trucker for years.

  • We eat okay – better than most, that’s for sure but ate a lot of crap during the holidays.

  • We’ve been under a lot of stress for the past 2 years since Covid hit – he’s a people person and really missing family and friends, we both lost our jobs so money has been an issue etc… A lot of stress.


The operator told me at that point that Ambulance should be here shortly and being in a rural setting to consider turning on a lot of lights – maybe even start my car and move it roadside for the ambulance to see with the hazards left on. At that point, the operator said she was going to let me go as EMTs would be here shortly.


To say I ran around like a panicked fool is an understatement… I got the dogs in their kennels, started tidying up (what?!?), kept looking out all the windows, checking on Tim, check out the back door… It was a mess. In my head, I kept saying “What the $%/” is going on?!?”


Tim was quiet and still shifting – like he was really uncomfortable. He looked nervous, shocked and somewhat scared… He wasn’t panting anymore… But – he looked nervous.


There’s a lot of holes in this part of the story and chaos…


The ambulance arrived and two EMT’s came in and I led them to the bedroom where Tim was. Gia started going bat shit crazy in her kennel. Then there was two more EMT’s… Then another… Everyone had masks on and talking to me and I couldn’t hear them… I kept saying I’m hearing impaired I can’t hear you and they kept talking… Everyone was rushing around and the lady took me out of the bedroom. I was crying because nobody would tell me what the hell was going on… Gia was trying to break out of her kennel. I couldn’t see Tim… I was crying… They seemed to get frustrated with me not answering… The fucking masks – I can’t read lips through the masks and there was so much noise. I heard someone say heart attack… I was now crying really hard but now it was like I wasn’t even there. The one guy in the hallway wouldn’t let me in the bedroom but I could see cords everywhere, ticker tape and wrappers. Gia was still going ballistic in her kennel. The woman came into the kitchen and started trying to explain things… I kept saying “I can’t hear you but we’re vaccinated”…


What I understand to have happened is that they got an EKG off Tim while he was in the bedroom. Something didn’t look right on it so they called the Cardiologist in Winnipeg. They got a second EKG and sent it “real time” to that cardiologist somehow, who stated they needed to bypass the hospital in Selkirk (20 minutes away) and go straight to St. Boniface hospital in Winnipeg (maybe 50 minutes away) which specializes in Cardio.


As they started getting Tim ready for transport, the lady EMT said I couldn’t go. In fact, there’s no point even going to the hospital because with COVID, I won’t be allowed in at all. I remember saying I was going anyways and no one could stop me. I remember her saying I would be sitting in the parking lot then.


Then… They took Tim!


I didn’t even get to kiss him or look in his eyes… They just took him... That was it… They said that someone would call me in a few hours… I remember yelling that I loved him but I didn’t hear a reply. Why didn’t they put a jacket on him – it’s cold outside!


There was all this chaos, all this noise, all these people and now – nothing…


The ambulance was sitting in the driveway with the lights flashing and I didn’t know if they were sitting there because Tim was dead or alive. Maybe they weren’t leaving because they were doing chest compressions or… Why are they sitting there? I didn’t want to leave the door because part of me felt like I could at least wave… I know that sounds stupid, but in the moment, you’re not rational. I always wave when he leaves the house…


And then they drove away… With my Tim… I watched the flashing lights disappear with my Tim…


I remember going to the bedroom window to see if I could still see the Ambulance and there was medical wrappers everywhere. I watched the Ambulance lights drive down the country road through the trees.


As I sobbed, I quickly grabbed a dish towel to wipe the floors because there was snow and water. The meat loaf was still raw on the kitchen counter and the stove was on…


Silence… Except for Gia whining in her kennel – there was complete silence. I went to Tim’s side of the bed, sat down on all the medical wrappers that were strewn and just sobbed… Now what?


I had to take a break in writing this because I started sobbing again. Watching them take him away into the darkness and not knowing if he was dead or alive…


Screen shot of my phone records. This doesn't show the video calls to Tricia in Michigan.

OUTGOING Video Chat ended. 8 mins 0 sec. Jan 8 at 6:31: I called my best friend Tricia in Michigan. I felt like if I called her and freaked out – she would get me back to a mental place where I could do something… I needed a plan. She would help me get a plan – figure things out.


I didn’t want to call any of my family or Tim’s because the roads were a disaster and I needed a plan first. I didn’t want anyone rushing over on the dangerous roads until I knew what I needed to do. I knew I couldn’t drive like this.


Thank God for Tricia! I have very little memory of the calls that night but I know I was a basket case, I know I freaked out and she did exactly what I thought – she “grounded” me… She helped me get my “plan”. I need my cousin! Johnny and Dawn could help me fix this!


OUTGOING CALL 6:31 Johnny Tubicz: I called my cousin Johnny and his wife Dawn who are more like our brother and sister. I was hysterical, tried telling them what happened and told them I needed help NOW. Zero questions asked – they left their home in Winnipeg and headed out on the crappy roads.


VIDEO CHAT ended. 9 mins 40 secs. Jan 8 at 6:48pm. I called Tricia back, more hysterics and she helped me again, “get my shit together”…


OUTGOING CALL 6:48 Bonnie and Jeff: I called Tim’s sister, relayed what I knew, which was pretty much nothing, and asked that she contact his family. I told her I’d keep her apprised of any developments and she could “fan out” the information. I’d call the girls…


While I waited for Johnny and Dawn, I finally let Gia and Liar out of their kennels.


Liar was nervous… Gia was a lunatic. She ran in circles from the back door to the bedroom, sniffing the bed, the floors, ran into the basement looking for Tim. The hackles on her back were up, she was crying and frantic. I can only imagine the foreign smells in the house…


I called Tricia back and cried more, got angry, probably rambled on like a lunatic… Truthfully, I remember very little now of anything that happened. Bits and pieces come back…


Thank God again, Johnny and Dawn arrived and I just remember Johnny coming in and saying… “What the fuck is going on here?!?” That question is so what this evening was… What the %&?!


INCOMING CALL 8:22pm Tim – My Love: This call was the best phone call I’ve ever received! Tim was alive and actually feeling pretty good! He got two stents put in – he’s safe… Thank God!


They took my Tim on January 8th. I picked him up at the hospital doors on January 11th at roughly 2:20pm. I had not seen him since they took him away from me. Due to Covid, Tim was not allowed visitors of any kind while in the hospital. There’s not much to say about those days for me… I didn’t sleep, eat, shower, I just cried, cleaned everything and anything and stared at my phone waiting to see Tim’s name pop up. Each and every call from him was a blessing!


Tim and I need you to follow me in the next few weeks for when I share Tim’s story from HIS side. First and foremost, we are grateful that he’s alive but what happened in that hospital, no one should EVER experience. HIS story will be shared! It will also reveal that where Saturday was a complete shock and surprise – there WERE signs that both of us failed to recognize. These signs, you need to know.


Thursday, January 13th: Here’s what we know. Tim had a Stemi heart attack. He had two arteries that were 100% blocked (blockages do not happen overnight). He had two stents put in and may receive another in a month or so. Other than that – we don’t know much!


Since this whole ordeal, I haven’t heard from the actual Cardiologist. I’ve talked to a Resident who voiced his shock that Tim made it out alive. I think I’ve talked to two different nurses.


Apparently our medical system is “overwhelmed with people due to COVID” so Tim was sent home with:

  • Copy of his medical file.

  • Brochure about “Heart Health”.

  • Brochure on quitting smoking.

  • Poorly photocopied hand out on what physical activities he can and cannot do for the next few weeks.

  • Pages and pages of information on his meds.

  • His dietitian who he didn’t get to see, called him for his email address so she can send him a YouTube video on healthy eating.

  • No follow up dates yet – I imagine someone is going to call or?!?


Here’s what I know…


Tim walking out of the hospital, unshaven, looking bedraggled with a knapsack slung over his shoulder to the truck was the most beautiful sight I’d seen in a very long time! He came to my side of the car and gave me a kiss through the window that I had dreamed about for days.


I had brought the dogs with me and could barely hold Gia back when she saw him! When Tim did get in the truck, Gia was on his lap and smothering him in Dobie kisses in seconds! I’m so glad I got my kisses first!


I’m a very logical thinker and numbers person. I’ve read Tim’s medical chart from the whole ordeal. Tim and I believe in God. Speaking for myself, I know I have witnessed multiple miracles from God over the last few days and I have no problem telling you that.


Here’s a timeline of that evening as well as some “numbers”… You do the math – my math adds up to miracles from God!


  • 4:21pm – everything is “fine”

  • 5:33pm – Emergency Call

  • 6:23pm – Call to Tricia: this means that 50minutes transpired between my Emergency call and Tim leaving in the ambulance. On a bright sunny day, travel time to Selkirk hospital is roughly 17minutes. I say this as I’m assuming that’s where the Ambulance came from. The EMTs said it was a slow go because the roads were absolutely terrible.

  • 7:46pm – Call to St. Boniface – Tim is in the Cath lab.

  • 8:22pm – Tim calls me: St. Boniface hospital is a 49 minute drive in pristine road conditions. In two hours, Tim incurred AT LEAST a 49 minute drive to the hospital, arrived, got into the Cath lab, had an angiogram, had two stents put in and is now in the cardiac ward recovering.


IMPORTANT NOTES:


  • I’m not a doctor but I know a lot about heart issues with family experience etc. – this did NOT seem like a heart attack to me! I keep playing things back in my mind and at no time did I think Heart attack until Tim threw up.

  • Covid this, Covid that, Covid, Covid, COVID!!! All we’ve heard for two years is how Covid is ruining everyone’s life. Was I so entangled with Covid in my mind that it caused me to overlook the possibility of Heart Attack at a variety of different times BEFORE Saturday?!?


I posted on Facebook that Tim suffered his heart attack… The outpouring of prayers, well wishes, love and personal success stories have been absolutely mind blowing… We haven’t even begun to address all the kind words and quite frankly, I don’t know how we could ever repay so much kindness! We have literally been smothered (in a miracle way) in Prayers and love which has helped get us through this!!!


Praise be to God for everything during this time… Tim being alive when he “shouldn’t be”… The ambulance crew who made it safely to our home in such quick time on dangerous roads… The technology to be able to send an EKG directly to a Cardio specialist in Winnipeg so he can see the heart attack happening in REAL TIME… The ability to get stents put in so fast – the key to Tim’s success. All the friends, family, neighbors, strangers that have been helping and supporting us during this time.


To say I feel grateful... I don’t even know what to say other than truly miracles and blessings from God!


Today’s Saturday, January 15, 2022. It’s now exactly 1 week since Tim’s heart attack. He is doing so well physically! Emotionally, he openly admits he feels like he’s on a roller coaster. A rollercoaster full of happiness and gratitude one minute and then sorrow and anger the next… This is going to take time for the both of us to navigate all this.


I said earlier that I was going to work with him in sharing his story. This is HIS story but only MY side of it and what I saw and felt. Over the last few days as Tim and I have talked, he has shared more and more of what HE experienced and it’s CRUCIAL for everyone to hear it.


Please keep us in your prayers!


Never has it been so true, love deeply and laugh freely, you never know when you’re last day is, or that of someone you love.


Thank you for reading – please stay safe and know the signs…


Karen Grzenda, Author and dog lover

Check out my other blogs and published books at: www.karengrzenda.com


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