Community Columns

Putting the eraser to best-laid plans

Last month, Frank and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary. I wanted to make it memorable, so I meticulously planned a romantic weekend in Manhattan.

Our plans included a stay at a ritzy hotel, tickets to a hit Broadway show and reservations at a couple of Zagat’s top-rated restaurants. I even splurged on something pretty to wear.

Well, memorable it was.

Musician Jon Bon Jovi has said, “Map out your future, but do it in pencil.” I get it!

A couple of weeks prior to our anniversary, Frank and I had appointments with our health care practitioner. At that time, she suggested that we undergo routine cardiac stress tests.

We scheduled our tests on the Thursday before our getaway weekend. I was a bit anxious until I met with our cardiologist. His pleasant manner and obvious expertise put me at ease immediately.

I passed the stress test without breaking a sweat; Frank became short of breath and his test was aborted. I knew it before our cardiologist said it — Frank needed further cardiac evaluation.

Our cardiologist made all the arrangements, and Friday morning found us in a renowned cardiac facility where Frank underwent an angiogram. The intervention cardiologist somberly explained that Frank’s arteries were severely occluded. He needed quadruple bypass surgery.

OK, I was in shock, as was the rest of the family. Frank doesn’t smoke, eats healthy, walks every day, bicycles, kayaks and chops wood. He never complained of symptoms. Distressed, I could only manage two coherent sentences: “How can this be?” and “Thank God for the stress test.”

On the night prior to Frank’s surgery, I was allowed to sleep at the hospital. The staff was very accommodating. They brought in a reclining chair and put it next to Frank’s bed. Upon learning that it was our anniversary, the nurse snapped our picture while we were eating dinner. It was goodbye to the Zagat’s top-rated restaurants and hello to hospital food.

At 10 p.m., aided by a pill, Frank started to drift off, while I was left to my own devices. I changed into a pair of sweatpants (a far cry from the something pretty I’d bought), and tried to get comfortable in the reclining chair that wouldn’t recline.

I must have dozed, but came awake to the sound of a television. The big clock mounted on the wall said 1 a.m. First off, I don’t do well with clocks in the bedroom, but that’s another story.

I took my hospital-issue blanket and pillow and found a lounge. Sitting in the lounge were two gals who had identical hospital-issue blankies and pillows. In a short time, we were commiserating like college roommates. Soon the hospital din lulled us to sleep. But not for long. I awoke to the sound of big-time snoring.

With my blankie and pillow in tow, I wandered the halls until I found another lounge. This one had a comfy sofa. I fell into a deep sleep until…

I was nudged awake by a nurse, who asked, “Are you a member of the family?”


I had meandered into a private suite.

I returned to Frank’s room, with my blankie and pillow. The television was blessedly silent. The big clock said 4:14 a.m. I crawled into bed with Frank and fell asleep.

I was jolted awake by the sound of a rolling cart. It was blood-drawing time. I jumped out of bed, startling the technician. “Not me!” I cried. It was 5:10 a.m.

The hospital was waking up. I splashed cold water on my face and remained with Frank until he was wheeled into the operating room.

Frank’s surgery was a success. Words simply cannot express our gratitude to the skilled physicians and health care professionals who saved Frank’s life.

Next year, on our anniversary, we are planning a trip to Hawaii. I’ve already marked the date in my calendar; however, I marked it in pencil.

Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.