why gabe is in the hospital

Hey, friends. We interrupt FREEDOM PARTY WEEK to give you an update on Gabe and why I posted a pic of him in a hospital gown with oxygen up his nose last night at 10pm.


Here’s the deal. I gave a little overview yesterday of Gabe getting some questionable blood results and how a visit with one of his docs at lunch (to talk about the blood work) resulted in some serious anxiety. Then some conflicting advice. Then he came home and was in tears most of Monday.

In the midst of that, he made two phone calls for help. One to his cardiologist begging him to order an angiogram and one to Dr. Esselstyn (we’re signed up to attend one of his seminars next month) about the conflicting dietary advice he got.

I blogged here about our decision to try a plant-based/whole foods diet. Our hope was that we could eliminate Gabe’s risk of another heart attack which would then set his mind at ease and his anxiety would be gone.

It has been a loooooong, hard, but God-is-good two years of chest pains and anxiety and doctors and counseling and losing jobs and not having money and anxiety and chest pains and you get the picture.

Yesterday morning (Tuesday) he told me he couldn’t go to work, and I said, “Then go to the hospital. Tell them you want to see a picture of your heart. Tell them you’re having a hard time believing that you’re fine when some of your blood results aren’t good and you’re having chest pains and you think it’s inflammation. Demand to see your heart. You’re not going to have any peace until you do.”

In hindsight, we should’ve just driven to his cardiologist’s office, banged on the doors, and demanded (or asked nicely, whichever) to see a picture of Gabe’s heart.

But I drove him across town to the same hospital we went to two years ago (as opposed to the one right by our house where we’ve always gone when Gabe has anxiety/chest pains) and dropped him off around 9am.

A few hours later, they had done some more blood work, checked his cardiac enzymes, ordered an echocardiogram/stress test and told him they wanted to keep him overnight. They’d do the stress test in the a.m.

Um, why? Because we’ve played this game before, and I know that a hospital bed = one very, very expensive (and uncomfortable) hotel room.

The girls and I went to the hospital at 3pm, and I asked why he couldn’t come home and come back for the stress test at 9am.

Oh, protocol and all that. He came in with chest pains, and this is what we do for patients with chest pains.

Even though Gabe has had chest pains every day for the past two years. And each time we’re in the ER, they tell me things like, “You did the right thing. Anytime you feel a chest pain, you need to call a squad (hundreds of dollars) and come in (thousands of dollars) where we will keep you for 24+ hours and you can use our TV and take our expensive meds even though you have the exact same ones in your pocket from home, etc etc.”

(Oh, do I sound bitter?)

They told us that if we left, we’d be going against medical advice, and the echo/stress test order would be null and void.

Whose dumb idea was it to take a little jaunt over to the hospital, get some heart pictures taken, and go back on our merry way?

We called Gabe’s cardiologist and left a message to see if he could order a stress test instead, so we could leave. He never called back.

The girls and I left the hospital at 5:30pm, so we could eat and go to tutoring. I was angry, in tears, feeling defeated (I left out a bunch of my interaction with various hospital personnel, because boo.)

Tutored. Massive headache. Gabe calls at the end, begging me to come back. I said no, because I wanted to free him from prison, and he chose to stay because he’s worried he’d never get a heart picture if he left (probably true). He said his heart rate had shot up to 130 at one point and he thought he was having a heart attack and they gave him meds and put him on oxygen.

It was a panic attack, caused by being in the hospital alone.

Our friend Pam offered to stay with the girls at our house, and I went back to the hospital. It was sad and pathetic and depressing, and I told Gabe I love him and this is all going to be okay, and I didn’t throw anything at the nurse when she told me I couldn’t give Gabe his meds I brought from home because they weren’t in the original packaging and she had no way of knowing what kind of illegal drugs I might be pumping into him (I just said “bite me” under my breath when she left).

Then Gabe’s phone rang and it was Dr. Esselstyn, whom we have previously only seen on CNN and Forks Over Knives. He was very sweet and encouraging.

And I find it mildly, if not wildly, ironic that Dr. Esselstyn returned Gabe’s call and his own cardiologist didn’t.

And right when Gabe didn’t want me to leave and I was exhausted and his roommate had been snoring for hours and it was almost 1:00 am and I went to get him some earplugs and the nurse realized I was still in his room and that’s a big no-no and did I want a comfy pillow so I could sleep in the family waiting room which brought back delightful two-year-old memories of another October 29 where I tried to sleep in a family waiting room but someone was snoring louder than a jet plane engine and I “slept” on the very cold, hard floor in the brightly-lit hospital hallway.

“No thanks. On my way home right now.”

Got home at 1:00ish, relieved sweet Pam from her Mom duties, climbed in bed.

Gabe just called. He’s scheduled in a bit for the echo and stress test. It will take three hours or so. Then hopefully I’ll go get him and we’ll all come home.

And I will wake up tomorrow on my birthday in my very own bed. Claiming that here and now in the name of Jesus.

Thanks for your sweet words and prayers, friends. They’re a big part of what keeps us going. xoxoxo

18 thoughts on “why gabe is in the hospital

  1. Karen

    Oh, Marla. I am so, so sorry … and I am praying. I’m a regular reader, but seldom commenter. And man, I’d love to do some butt-kicking for you (stinkin’ rules people!) Praying that God will take your weary, weary soul and breathe new life into it … and give you the best, more fun, most carefree birthday ever! I am praying!!

  2. Julie Sibert

    I know we don’t know each other beyond the world of blogging, but I’m sad with you and praying with you just the same, as one wife to another, of knowing all about heavy and exhausting and gutwrenching lifting in what seem like insurmountable circumstances. I can’t do much, all the way from Nebraska… can’t bring you a meal or be a shoulder to cry on or run errands for you or just listen… even though, I send my prayers and love just the same and pray, pray, pray things will get better soon and that you will feel comforted.

  3. Sandra

    I am glad to hear Gabe will be getting the answers that he needs to hopefully move forward. But your “righteous indignation” is a little displaced. You chose to go to an ER and they want to keep him because he is having chest pain. Then, you complain that he has been having chest pain daily and why can’t you go home and come back. Well, if you didn’t feel it was an emergency…why did you go to an EMERGENCY room?? A BIG part of the problem with our healthcare system is misuse of emergency resources. If you didn’t feel it was an emergency, why didn’t you call your cardiologist office and accept the next available appointment given to you? Because you wanted something right away…and it was given to you and now you are complaining about it. Can’t have your cake and eat it too.

    1. Marla Taviano

      You’re right. The ER was the wrong place to go. But Gabe’s cardiologist rarely returns our calls. It causes Gabe to feel very abandoned, to panic, and then his situation does become an emergency. That’s why I said I should’ve gone to his office and beat down the doors. And I never claimed my indignation was righteous. In fact, I’m pretty sure most of it isn’t.

      1. Sandra

        No, you didn’t call it righteous. That was my interpretation of the tone of the post.
        Your frustration and anger which is sounds justified from all you’ve endured over the last 2 years seems displaced onto the healthcare staff.
        Knowing only what you have publically shared, it sounds like Gabe could benefit from seeing a mental health professional for evaluation of PTSD.
        And, he needs a new cardiologist.
        Good luck to you both.

      2. Judy

        Don’t feed the trolls sweetie. 🙂 The medical system sucks. They treat grown adults as children, saying you ( a grown woman) can’t give your husband his medicine. A great deal of their decisions have to do with making money and avoiding being sued, not with good service.

        And yes, they should be flexible. I think doctors and patients should have a customer-service provider relationship, but as it is now they are authority figures over grown adults. It’s ridiculous. And yes, you were stressed. Why should someone judge you if you (maybe) didn’t make the perfect decision? If his cardiologist wasn’t available then you were left with the imperfect choice of an ER, and they make people wait forever and don’t treat the whole person. Did you feel like they cared about you and Gabe as actual human beings or a body presenting symptoms?

        I pray that Gabe and your family get freedom from this, because it just breaks my heart when anyone feels enslaved to the modern medical system. They don’t deserve your time or money. hmph!

  4. Jill Foley

    I went to bed praying for you all and I guess I’ll continue those prayers all day today!
    What a pain in so many ways. Praying for health, praying for peace, praying for resilience, praying for sanity, praying for strength….

  5. valerie (in TX)

    Oh Marla, I’m so, so sorry. I am praying. I wish I lived close so I could bring you a cup of something warm and take your girlies for manicures or ice cream (or whatever would busy their minds for a while) and just sit with you. Sitting with you from afar. And praying. Love to you, friend.

  6. Annmarie

    Thank you so much for Gabe’s update. I am so impressed that Dr. Esselstyn called you guys. Please continue to update us. If there is anything we can do for you guys, please let me know. We are praying for your family.

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