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

Lu Lu's operation

On my way home I was very nervous and I was having pains on the side of my heart. I was driving myself at night which I didn't like to do, but I didn't want to bother my friends. Once I was home I couldn't sleep. So many things went through my mind and I knew that Lu Lu's operation was very serious. I started thinking about so many things. Suppose something happens to her; what am I going to do with my life. I suddenly felt loneliness as I understood the seriousness that my wife of so many years could be taken away from me. Even with all the differences we had over all those years, but there is a bond of love that had grown over the years which is not easy to break or be taken away. In your heart you feel the pains she has to go through and you want to be very close to each other. As I wasn't feeling good at all, I think the worries and stress were giving my heart slight problems. Even with all of this I was so restless that I took a shower at two in the morning and by three o'clock I left the house to go to the hospital again. I had this urge to be next to her.

When I walked into Lu Lu's hospital room at four in the morning, Lu Lu was very surprised. I told Lu Lu I couldn't sleep and would feel better if I was close to her. During the ride to the hospital on the beltway I suddenly got very bad pains on my heart side. I didn't tell Lu Lu anything about it, but I called one of my friends and told him I was scared to drive the car again and asked him if he could take me home that night after Lu Lu's operation.

Surprisingly, Lu Lu looked very relaxed considering the situation. I walked with her to the door and told her I would pray for her. As the door to the operating room closed I went to the reception room where many other people were waiting for their loved ones who had operations or were in operating procedures. Many people spent the night on the bench and tried to make a comfortable bed to sleep on. During the time of waiting I talked with many people around me and found out their family medical problems. Sitting on the bench and just waiting to hear some news about the procedure of the operation becomes one of the longest days of your life. You keep looking at the clock and it seems it never moves fast enough. Inside you're eating yourself up with nerves. You try to say a prayer, but you can't remember the words. It's funny, but whenever we are in very serious trouble in life we know where God is, and always beg him for help. I have noticed this so many times in my life. Where does this praying gift come from, that we know there is a strength above us that only can help us. When the fear is there, we know where God is, and this is true with all kinds of people all over the world. If a person in pain or distress, no matter how rich or how poor, gives his soul and mind to the Divine, he will receive great comfort.

Late in the afternoon, after sitting on the bench for ten hours, the doctor came out to see me. He was very nervous and told me it took more than 7 1/2 hours to operate on Lu Lu. He said that he had to do four bypasses and had much trouble to stabilize her heart. I asked the doctor how Lu Lu's condition was, he told me that she was in critical condition and had a fifty-fifty chance to live. He said the biggest problem they had was stabilizing her heart beat. When he told me this I burst out in tears and told the doctor that I knew she was not able to survive this operation. By this time several of our friends had arrived at the hospital. After I was in control of myself I went into the intensive care unit where two nurses were working in vain with the control instruments to stabilize her heart. I asked them how Lu Lu was coming along, they told me that she was in critical condition but not to give up on her. It was a very painful sight, but I prayed to God to save her. For five days I spent most of my days at the hospital and visiting Lu Lu in the intensive care unit. Many of our friends called from all kinds of places. I received many phone calls from other countries, and all of my friends were telling me they prayed for Lu Lu. God heard all those prayers and after five days she was removed from intensive care. Ahna is Lu Lu's closest girlfriend and during the critical time she visited Lu Lu twice a day. Ahna had told me not to worry, she said Lu Lu will make it. Whenever Ahna went into the intensive care unit, she talked very loud in Karen to Lu Lu and held her hand. During that time Ahna told me that Lu Lu squeezed her hand. This was an indication to Ahna that Lu Lu was still very strong.

After ten days in the hospital Lu Lu was sent home by ambulance. Most of the recuperation could be done at home. Some of the visiting nurses came to our apartment until it wasn't needed anymore. To my surprise, Lu Lu recuperated very well. Lu Lu was operated on October 22nd, 1988, and by Christmas time she was already sitting on the living room floor wrapping packages for her friends. Lu Lu is a very strong-willed person and she knows how to survive the most complicated medical problems. She is an amazing woman.

Lu Lu took a lot of medicines over the years, and I thought after the operation the doctors would decrease the intake of many of her prescriptions. But this wasn't what happened at all. Before the operation she had problems with very bad arthritis in her legs. The operation didn't help her legs any because she was cut on both to take out the blood vessel veins to be replaced in her chest. For a little while after Lu Lu's surgery it looked like it had helped her arthritis in her legs, but not long after that her legs started to give her problems. The doctor prescribed a strong medication so that she would feel comfortable when she walked. With all those medications she became an addict. I noticed whenever she couldn't find her medicine she became so nervous like her life was at stake. Living with people like that is not very easy and it took a lot of patience and understanding on my part. It was a pity to see her taking all of those medicines, and I could see that in the long run it was doing her more harm than good. Lu Lu became so addicted to her medicine that she watched the clock up to the minute to take her medicine. If you would take her medicine away or she missed her time she would become frenzied. As the time went on I noticed that Lu Lu started to tire very quickly. It looked like she didn't have that energy like she did before.

We had planned a bus trip to the Casino in Atlantic City. I was worried whether Lu Lu could make the trip. I asked her if we should cancel the trip, but she didn't want to hear about that. She said she would rest for a few days and it would made her feel better.

CONTINUED: Sometimes medicines make you feel worse
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© Copyright  - Antonio Zamora

- Foreword
- Old Rotterdam
- World War II
- After the War
- Coming to America
- Washington, D.C.
- Southeast Asia
- Philosophy of Life

- Book Index