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Chapter XXV - Nicola's Health

After our vacation I had one more adjustment to make. It's not easy to take over the schedule one has left, especially when changes have taken place.

Helen had left for Venezuela where she had secured a teaching position with the Creole Petroleum Corporation. After eight years of teaching in Union, N.J., her salary consisted of $3,800. She had started working at a salary of $1,300. In Venezuela, teaching children of Americans working for the company, her salary rose to $6,000. There were many other benefits too.

Richard decided to enroll in Newark College of Engineering in Newark, N.J., to complete his education.

Edward had a job with a pharmaceutical company.

Marie was attending a school of design in New York City.

My family had indeed gotten small. I enjoyed the beauty of my new home and garden and occasional visits from my married children with the grandchildren.

In June, 1952, Edward married Alice, and Helen came home for a month's vacation.

Everything seemed serene on the surface.

We celebrated the holidays of 1952 with the love of our families around us. We were lucky indeed.

On New Year's Eve a light snow blanketed the ground. On the first of the year, 1953, the sun rose, shining in the sky, promising to melt the white beauty of the snow. We had been invited to share New Year's Day dinner with our son Tony and his family. My husband took the snow shovel and started to remove the snow. I protested that he did not need to do that since the sun would take care of it. I wanted him to get dressed, to attend the church service, and then go to Tony's house to spend a few hours with our grandchildren. He urged me to go on first and he would follow later. I did notice that part of his ear lobes were purplish. He arrived at our son's house all fatigued and said that he was unable to walk uphill straight. He had had to walk snakelike. He barely touched the food and right after he had eaten he said he wanted to go home because he felt gaseous. He urged me to stay and said, "I will be okay." However I felt worried and asked Richard to take us home.

Two days earlier I had fallen and hurt my back badly. The day after New Year both my husband and I went to see our doctor. Dr. Spallone had only to look at my husband to know there was something serious. He was not at all concerned about my back. He must have thought that if I could walk, there couldn't be too much wrong.

He proceeded to examine my husband and very seriously said that he wanted a cardiogram taken because he suspected a heart attack.

He gave us instructions to have a cardiogram taken the following day and told us to report to him in two days. He then would give us instructions to follow.

While the tests were being taken and evaluated my husband was to do no work whatsoever, though he could sit and watch television. The next few days needed for the evaluation were the longest days of my life.

Finally, the doctor called and said, "I have the report. Your husband is a very sick man. He has suffered a heart attack, the kind that could kill him in less than five minutes. He has suffered a thrombosis."

He told me he wanted to examine him again to give him instructions to follow.

This news was too much for me. The thought of losing him suddenly overwhelmed me and I collapsed. Fortunately my daughter Lucy had come to see us and realizing the gravity of the situation, she called the doctor.

My husband was sitting in the living room when he noticed that I was not moving around. Lucy had to tell him that I was not feeling well. He came into the room and said to me, "Don't worry. I am not going to die. I am going to get well."

Lucy told him that she had called the doctor and that he would arrive soon. The doctor came and administered some sedatives. He assured me that with the medications we have today he would recover. The doctor's assuring words and the sedative produced the calm that I needed and I fell asleep.

When I awoke I felt much better, and I realized, that two days of waiting and the abrupt news of his serious condition had played a trick on me. Now I knew I had to be strong in order to nurse my husband back to health.

The doctor told us that my husband did not have to have bed rest, that he could sit up and read or watch television. He could walk inside the house but he was not to go out or do any work until he gave the word.

The medication, the diet and the rest had a good effect and my husband improved steadily. After six months of obeying doctor's orders he improved enough to resume some light work around the house and garden. That summer we spent two weeks at the shore. One week we were guests of our son Tony and one week we were guests of our daughters Colette and Irma. Along with their husbands they owned a business at the shore.

My husband started to take long walks on the boardwalk. He would sit on a bench looking at the ocean and watching people bathing in the water.

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