My Heart On The Kitchen Floor

The first drawing I did waiting in the Saratoga Hospital  ER waiting room.

It was a bang, hard and heavy.  I was off the couch and into the kitchen in seconds.  Jon was laying on his back on the kitchen floor. His eyes were open and his mouth was open.

But Jon wasn’t breathing.

Now when I think about it, it’s a blur of images and feelings but I have a hard time stringing them together in any kind of order.

I do know that I thought Jon was dead.  “This is it,” I thought as I held his face in my hands and called his name.  “This is the beginning of what it feels like to be without him.”

I know I didn’t spend much time calling his name and trying to “wake” him up.  Probably only seconds although it seems much longer.  When he didn’t respond I went right to the living room,  got Jon’s phone, and dialed 911 as I ran back to the kitchen.

I knew just what to say to the dispatcher although I’d never called 911 before.  Somewhere in my life,  early on I think, I was taught the importance of being clear and giving all the relevant information.

As I talked to the person on the other end of the phone, Jon started to breathe in long, rugged gasps.  I held his head in my lap and talked to him as he breathed.  My first thought was heart attack.  Then slowly Jon started to mumble.  He was trying to pronounce words but they came out as sounds.

That’s when I thought stroke.

By the time the ambulance came, Jon was saying full words.  But he wasn’t able to move his body and I wondered if he was paralyzed.

The paramedics did what they do.

Jon was in a lot of pain, and dizzy, but he could move his feet and hands, even if he couldn’t sit up by himself.     By the time they were rolling Jon into the ambulance, he was in reporter mode, asking the paramedics about themselves.  That’s when I crossed Stroke off my list of possibilities.

I grabbed my bag,  Jon’s wallet and iPhone, some water, and my sketchpad and followed the ambulance to Saratoga Hospital.    The second full moon of the month rode along with me.  A solid glowing disk in the sky that comforted me in its dependability.

I can’t remember what I was thinking as I sat in the Emergency Room waiting room.  I tried to draw, to help steady myself, but only words came, so I wrote them squeezing the long letters between the few images I had put down first.

I started to think about how helpless I felt as Jon lay on the floor unresponsive.  How I never thought to do mouth-to-mouth on him.  And I wondered if he hadn’t started breathing if I would have remembered to. It made me want to learn CPR again.

My first drawing from the Emergency Room at Albany Med

When I was allowed to see Jon in the emergency room after they did all the tests, he was in a neck brace and told not to move. I wondered if his back was broken.

I had been going through all the things I thought could be wrong with Jon,  heart attack, stroke, broken bones….but I never expected the doctor to tell us that Jon had blood in his brain.

My first thought was that this was the reason he had passed out in the kitchen.  That there was something wrong with Jon’s brain.

The doctor explained that they had to get him to  Albany Med, another forty-five minutes away as soon as possible in case he needed to have brain surgery.   As she spoke,  I felt like throwing up.   I had to put my head between my knees or I would have fainted.

This was a new kind of fear for me.   I had lost control of my body. I felt like a zebra being chased by a lion.

I took some deep breaths, then sat up.  I am not a stranger to death but I have never lost anyone that I love as much as I love Jon.  I have never loved anyone as much as I love Jon.  It’s not that I haven’t thought about my life without him.  He is 17 years older than me and we often talk about death.

My reaction was pure instinct.

It was only later, once we were in Albany Med that I understood that the brain bleed came from the fall, not the other way around. And it was still many more hours,  as we waited in the Emergency room in Albany Med,  that we learned that Jon wouldn’t need surgery.  The bleeding was small enough to be reabsorbed.

Jon’s heart was also fine, but they wanted to continue doing tests to make sure, monitor Jon overnight, and take one more scan the next day to make sure the bleeding hadn’t gotten worse.

The 4th drawing I did that day.

I was home by 7 p.m.

I took care of the animals and got the things I needed to bring to the hospital for Jon the next day.  Nineteen hours had passed since I heard the sound of Jon’s body hit the kitchen floor.  I went from thinking he was dead to believing that our lives might be changed forever, to knowing that Jon had a concussion and a badly bruised body.  And that he would probably be coming home the next day.

It felt like a miracle to me.

As I fell asleep, there was the moon again.  This time glowing orange in our bedroom window and waning.

The fifth drawing I did that day.

Jon and I spent yesterday together in a regular hospital room in Albany Med, where they took more tests and we waited for him to be discharged.  (After a while Jon got tired of waiting and convinced the doctor to get the necessary paperwork done.)

Practically things are going really well.

Jon is still in a lot of pain from the bruising on his back.  And he is dizzy from his concussion, but that is already easing.  I think the hardest part may be getting him to rest.  As you can see from his blog, he had a busy day already.

But his daughter is helping out with that.  An editor at The Athletic,  she’s covered many stories about athletes and concussions.  She gave us more information about what to expect than all of the doctors at the hospital. (and there were a lot of them)  She’s also only a phone call away to help me remind Jon that rest is an important part of healing.

Emotionally I’m still a bit raw.

I know how lucky we are, how bad it could have been.   Jon and I both said it was like a rehearsal for the real thing.  For a few minutes, I knew what it felt like for Jon to be dead, even if he really wasn’t.

I won’t dwell there.

But I do feel like I have traveled to a place I’ve never been before. And because everything turned out so well, I’ll put that trip away.  Tuck it under the socks I don’t wear in the back of my dresser drawer.

Like something of value, that I don’t want to see unless I have to.

The last drawing I did while Jon was in the hospital

16 thoughts on “My Heart On The Kitchen Floor

  1. I just left you a comment on your last post, Maria. Thank you for the update and your expressive thoughts and drawings. Be resting together, Joan again

  2. Reading this I’m in tears. I feel your fear. The unknowing. I’ve been there! My heart goes out to you. May the God I believe in heal John and sustain you both through his healing. Also guide him to keep hydrated!

  3. Wow. So we’ll written. I was right there with you, on the kitchen floor, the hospitals, the fearful inner monologue. So glad you have your heart back and home. On and upward now!

  4. Maria, as usual you made the right decisions and likely saved Jon’s life. It seems this event was related to dehydration and another lesson has been learned (drink more water during the day). Feeling scared is perfectly normal, when you love someone and find them on the floor, anyone would be scared. It’s the subsequent actions you took that made the difference. Good job!

  5. Maria, I am so glad that Jon is going to be okay, but at the same time, I am so sorry you had this experience. Take care of yourself over the next week or so. For me, I am wonder woman in a crisis. Something happens and I’m on it like glue with superhuman powers. And then when it’s over and everyone is relaxing, I am coming apart piece by little piece. Be good to yourself this week. Sending healing energy for both of you. Love you!

  6. The gamut of emotions is intense in what you experienced! It always amazes me how during a crisis I can keep myself calm and orderly but once I know things are going to be okay I turn into a puddle of emotions. You did a great job staying on top of a very frightening experience!

    Sending prayers for strength and healing for you and Jon. I know in my heart the Creator is watching over both of you and Bedlam farm.

  7. Maria, I felt my heart tug and tears form as I read the recalling of your encounter of Jon after his fall. Surely it was a deeply frightening experience. My husband is also older than me. and I can’t imagine what I would have done. It is moments like these that bring our vulnerabilities to the surface and remind us of how quickly life can change. I admire you for your strength and that you are able to work through this experience through your art and writing. You’re an amazing woman.

    I send you a warm hug with gladness for Jon’s recovery and for the love that you share that is so deep and big and wide. Truer than true from my vantage point. I pray that you have many more years to enjoy the richness and blessings of your love and life together on Bedlam Farm. You both, along with your fur family, mean so much to so many.

    May you breathe in deep peace,
    Kim Glenn

  8. I’m so relieved that Jon is doing better. Take extra good care of yourself, too. You have both been through a lot.
    Wishing you both peace and rest.

  9. Oh, Maria~

    Thank you so much for sharing this story, your pain, with us. I hope you have someone to help you through this.
    Your drawings.. what a great way to capture your feelings.
    Love to you & Jon.
    (just someone who reads your guys’ blogs
    and love your photos)

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