Life this holiday season was a little fragile

By Wendy Nugent, Newton Now

The day after Christmas, which we spent in Manhattan, where my parents and sister live, I saw a bunch of inflatable holiday lawn decorations deflated in various yards and chuckled.

I told Rodger, my oldest who was driving, the decorations looked like our family after we open presents on Christmas. Most of us collapsed, taking naps, watching TV, eating pie, etc. People sprawled out all over the house.

Little did I know I’d look like that in just a little bit. That Thursday, Rodger was kind enough to accompany me to one Sprint store, then another, then to Verizon and back to another Sprint store because my boyfriend got me a really nice phone for Christmas. It’s magnificent, but we had to work out some account details.

Then, we were so tired, we stopped by Starbuck’s in Aggieville. I have trouble with caffeine, so I always order decaf, which I did that fateful day. I don’t know if it was accidentally made with caffein or not, but after that, I got a little hyper, but not as much as I have in the past with caffeine. I also couldn’t recall if I had taken a certain medication or not, so I did. Maybe I had taken it; I’m still not sure. Later that night, I couldn’t sleep, and I just felt really strange.

In the morning, there was chest pain and palpitations with nausea. I packed up the car some to head back to Newton, but then with the heart palpitations, I decided to go get it checked out, and I messaged Adam at work, telling him, after I arrived to the hospital ER, they were checking me for a heart attack. I’m not sure what kind of flurry happened at work after that, but I do know what happened in the hospital.

There was an IV, three does of nitroglycerin, four baby aspirin and a slew of questions. Since I was already confused, I wasn’t able to answer all the questions, like what meds I’m on, etc. I need to carry a list in my purse. The nitro helped alleviate the chest pain, front and back, and then the cardiologist thought I needed a heart cath to see what was going on with my heart. They found a little blockage, but nothing to worry about, from what I’ve been told.

That day, I think I saw four docs and lots and lots of nurses. We were there from about 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It was a whirlwind of questions and scrubs, nursing flying around. Tests revealed there wasn’t a heart attack, which is nice, but they’re not sure what caused all of this. My blood pressure was all over the place. It was even high at one point, which never happens to me.

Everyone was awesome, helping out. It’s amazing how people pull together when a crisis strikes. The palpitations are what had me worried, and the chest pain. My son was there, as were my parents, with my mom and him staying a long time, and my boyfriend. My sister didn’t show up because she thought we were in Newton or Wichita. Rodger and my mom both weren’t feeling well, either, so there wasn’t a lot of communication.

They gave me a sedative and poked a hole in an artery. I learned a few things from this experience—releasing pressure on an artery poke is a slow process that takes hours.

By the time I was released, we basically sprinted toward the door. The front desk guy yelled, “Wait!” We didn’t. We wanted to get the heck out of there.

The ER was taking care of its Friday night crowd by then. There was a sick kid, an older lady, a man who kept staring at me, not breaking eye contact as he shuffled past my room, which was creepy, and a lot of employees scurrying about.

We got home, and I went into the bedroom and crashed. I slept from around 6 p.m. that Friday night to around 10:50 a.m. the next morning. The hospital’s care made me feel better, physically and emotionally. Initially, they had talked about transferring me to another facility if I needed a bypass surgery, and I got a little freaked out about that. My mortality really hit me at that moment.

With my family’s history of heart problems, I think that caused all to be a little freaked out, since my mom had a heart attack a couple years ago even though her heart tests had been normal before that, and my dad had a quadruple bypass when he was about my age.

Now, when my mom looks at me, which she does more often now since I spent a while recuperating at her house, she just stares at me like I’m going to die any second. I don’t think she knew she was doing that until I brought it up.

It’s really nice to know people will be there for me, whether it’s the ER workers or my family. Be grateful for the life you have today. It could be gone in a flash.

Wendy Nugent is the features editor and lead photographer at Newton Now. She can be reached at

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