Many things about the past 18 months have surprised me.  Previous to K's heart attack, I had never dealt with anyone being ill.  No one in my immediate family was ever ill for more than a day or two.  My grandparents had either passed away or were a long way away, so I was never confronted with illness.  And my parents' friends never had any health problems that I knew about.  My parents are both in excellent health.  Chronic illness and doctors did not factor into my worldview.  Thus, not only was I shocked to have a partner with a heart problem, I also had to learn how to function as a caretaker never having seen it done.
One lingering effect of 2003, when most of the crisis occurred, is my fearfulness.  Not only was the heart attack almost fatal, K had a number of other health problems throughout the year.  These additional problems had us averaging a visit a month to the emergency room and four hospitalizations.  Every time, I learned a bit more.  One tidbit of knowledge is that cell phones frequently don't work within the hospital and getting in and out is difficult.  Now, I always have a prepaid phone card in my wallet, so I can make calls directly from the room.  (The exciting part is that we have had ZERO visits to the ER in 2004, only one angiogram, which was scheduled.)
Despite K's improvement, I know that I am still working through the fear and pain of 2003.  Movies featuring death, music, and books all have the power to evoke tears and pain.  There are times when I remain frightened wondering "What's next?"  Those times don't last long, but they remind me of the psychological bruises that I have. 
A positive sign is that I have the time to reflect on these emotions.  During the crises, I shove everything to the side and focus on the day, the hour, or the minute, depending on which is the most manageable.  However, the thing  I continue to question is how long before I no longer burst into tears?  How long before I can trust that we are able to live our lives normally without crisis?  How long before I can purchase plane tickets and be certain we will be able to use them? 
Slowly, I'm gaining confidence, but I'm impatient and I'm tired of being frightened.  I don't know that answer.  All I can say is that it is better than it was a few months ago, but not good enough.


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