Ladies, Don't Be Afraid to Nag Your Loved One About His Health
A Heart Attack That Didn't Feel Like One
Maybe it was just a premonition. I don't know. But I do know that I made Shaun watch a YouTube video on angina just days before he died. He had been complaining of a "pulled chest muscle." He said it only hurt when he lifted things, so I let it go. But one day, we were walking down the street and he stopped and held his chest. "Is your chest bothering you again, hon?" I asked. "Yes," he replied. "I must have overdone it at work today."
Shaun had just turned 50. For a few months, on and off, he had been complaining about a chest pain, which he was convinced was a pulled muscle. "I've had this before," he said, "and it always goes away." He would rub liniment on it and rest for about 10 minutes, and then it would go away and he would feel fine.
In hindsight, I now know that he felt better because he was resting, not because of the liniment. The autopsy confirmed that his heart was enlarged and an important blood vessel was extremely narrow. Also, the coroner advised me that he had experienced heart attacks before!
Is it possible to experience a heart attack and not know it? It most definitely is. The pain Shaun was experiencing was exactly like the pain he had before, so he thought nothing of it. It went away, he carried on for a period of time without symptoms, and naturally he assumed it was nothing to worry about.
Sadly, when I returned home from the hospital where he died, I noticed a tube of that liniment on the coffee table in the living room. He had tried that before he called 911. I had no clue. I was still asleep.
After Shaun watched the angina video, he promised me that he would go to the doctor the next week. He never got the chance.
I had to ask the question to the coroner: "Would he have had a chance if he had seen a doctor sooner?" I think I already knew the answer, but I had to know for sure. "Yes," said the coroner, "There are things we could have done."