Part I: David's Saga
Third Time's the...
It was an ordinary afternoon. Susan was giving a singing lesson on Skype. Adam was quietly doing his homework. (Their parenting-by-guilt was working remarkably well.) David was staring into his Big Data, trying to make more efficient the single-payer health care system his white paper helped get enacted. He was so proud that he helped pass the law that allowed 50 million more people, including 11 million formerly illegal immigrants, to get health care.
And then David felt that pressure in his chest again. But this time, taking deep breaths didn't help. As before his previous heart attacks, it kept getting worse. "Susan, call 911."
But this was Sage River not San Francisco, and five minutes, ten minutes, 15 minutes, and still no ambulance. Susan called again but 911 said, "I'm sorry. The system is overwhelmed. We just don't have enough ambulances. We can't keep up with the demand. It shouldn't be too long."
But when you're having a heart attack, you don't have long. David was getting dizzy and the pressure in his chest intolerable. His skin, normally pale, was now red and shading to purple, with Susan and especially Adam, looking on in horror.
Finally after 20 minutes, the ambulance arrived and a paramedic and EMT moved David onto the ambulance, with Susan and Adam by his side. Unless it's a real emergency, noise abatement rules require ambulances to use their siren as little as possible, but this was a real emergency. The driver turned on the siren and kept it on.
While starting an IV drip to reduce David's pain, the paramedic told the EMT to start CPR. "No, slower! Harder!," the paramedic coached the EMT. The EMT pleaded, "This is only my second time. I'm new!"
David got more purple. And then blue. Susan screamed, "He stopped breathing!" The paramedic pushed the EMT aside and continued the CPR, far harder. But it was too late.
A month later, Susan received a copy of David's will. He had always lived modestly and invested rather than spent. Every time he had an extra thousand dollars, he'd invest it in Vanguard Growth Index Fund, a widely touted smart place to put money. As a result, although he never had a huge salary, in the 20 years since he started saving, his nest egg had already grown to $500,000. He chose to leave half to Susan and Adam and the other half to the American Heart Association, specifically to fund research on sudden heart attack in men, which kills many more men, earlier, than other diseases, yet receives proportionately much less funding.
Susan decided that the next plays she directs will be fundraisers for that cause.
Although guilty for feeling this way, she felt relief that only now did she feel free to live the life she really wanted to live--if only she knew what that was.
* * * * *And that ends David's Saga, Part I of Days of Our Work Lives.
Next: Episode 1 of Part II: Susan's Saga.
Part III will be Adam's Saga.