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Fifty Years of My Life (1939 - 1990)
A Memoir by Jeff R. Noordermeer

Symptoms of heart problems start

One day my best friend, Dr. Herman Franssen who is the economical advisor to the Minister of Petroleum and Minerals of Oman, came for a business meeting in Washington. Whenever he came to Washington he was always a guest in our apartment. At that time Herman and I had to meet some friends and went to lunch together. We had eaten and drunk a little too much. I suddenly got very bad pains in my chest and arms. My arms became so tired that they felt numb. I also had breathing problems, but I didn't tell Herman anything about my symptoms. I just said to him, "lets sit down for a little while and rest". As I sat down for a little while the pains disappeared. I had a little feeling that I had some heart problems, but I just couldn't face the fact that I might have to take off from my job.

Jeff and Lu Lu
Jeff and Lu Lu

It was almost the end of the year, and I had to work full year to qualify for my yearly bonus which was always a big, fat check. The New Year increase in my salary was also due. All of this was stuck in my mind. The pains in my chest and arms attacked more frequently, and kept reminding me that I should see a doctor, but I kept quiet and neglected the symptoms and was telling myself that eventually it would go away.

During the Christmas Holiday Lu Lu and I were invited at Douglas Lin's house for a party. Douglas Soe Lin was the son of our very good friends U San Lin and his wife Sally. We had known Douglas when he was a young man and going to Oklahoma University where he was studying for a degree in architecture. After he graduated, several years later he was able to form a partnership with one of his former bosses and called the company D.D.S.L. (Donnally, Donnally, Soe Lin). Douglas and his wife, Myadally, and their son, Wyn, adopted us in their family as Uncle Jeff and Aunty Lu Lu. Many of their friends became our friends. During the party as I was drinking a scotch and soda I was getting those pains in my arms and chest again. Doctor Bo Zaw Win, who is a friend of mine was also at the party. I told him about my symptoms. He told me to be careful and get a check-up as soon as possible. He even wanted me to come to his office in Bel Air, Baltimore. I told him lets wait until after the Holidays. At work I never told anybody about my symptoms, but some of my co-workers noticed as the day went on that I looked very tired. There were many days that I felt so tired that I could hardly stand on my feet, but I just kept pushing myself to the limit. Driving home from work I was so tired that I could hardly keep my eyes open. I knew all along that something was going to happen.

January 11th, 1985... It was one of those weekends I had taken off to take Lu Lu around for shopping. That morning I had eaten a large breakfast. I didn't feel like going anywhere as tired as I felt, but I didn't want to spoil Lu Lu's Saturday for shopping. I would never tell Lu Lu if I felt bad, because I knew she would worry too much. As we were driving towards Rockville to do our grocery shopping I was getting those chest pains again as before, but I kept on driving and didn't tell Lu Lu anything about it. Once we arrived at the grocery store I told Lu Lu I would wait for her in the car at the parking lot. I thought by resting a little bit in the car my chest pains would disappear. But as I waited in the car for Lu Lu to return my chest pains became worse. My arms started to feel numb and I started to perspire. I said, "God, please don't let me have a heart-attack". I was always much more concerned about Lu Lu's health than my own. I was glad when I saw Lu Lu coming out of the store so I could drive home, but then Lu Lu said she wanted to go across the street to another store. I was so nervous that I scolded her for buying so much food already and why she had to go to the other store. But I gave in and drove her across the street so that she could so some more of her shopping. While Lu Lu was in the store to do her shopping and I was sitting in the car to wait for her to come back, I suddenly got this onset of severe crushing internal chest pains with shortness of breath and pains in the back of my left shoulder. This time the pain did not disappear, instead it progressively increased in intensity until it became unbearable. I knew I was having a heart-attack.

CONTINUED: How I drove to the hospital during a heart attack
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© Copyright  - Antonio Zamora

- Foreword
- Old Rotterdam
- World War II
- After the War
- Coming to America
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