Personal Stories: David Loder


Your story and mine are so similar, I must write and thank you for doing this website. We have so much in common, I feel we are brothers.
On August 16, 2005 early in the morning, around two, I couldn't sleep. Knowing I had only several hours to be on an assignment 50 miles from home at 7, meant leaving at 5:30 and going to the office locally, taking my limousine and driving to the client's house and back to Reno airport.
Around 4, I became aware of a slight pain on the right side of my throat, not unlike some I have experienced throughout life from difficulty swallowing.
By 5, I had already realized I couldn't be on duty at my site and although the pain had spread further across the right side of my upper chest, began migrating over and down the back of my shoulder, I kept calling for a replacement driver. No luck after calling everyone everywhere I could get, I finally reached another driver who was leaving for the office to pick up her client, and who in turn "saved" my client from desertion.


By now it was a little after six, and my condition kept feeling like something definitely was wrong. My legs had broken into a sudden sweat from the thighs to the ankles, and only for a few seconds. I was beginning to feel nauseous, but still hadn't realized I was probably dying.


Calling the local hospital closest to me I was lucky to get a nurse who told me to come in right away and offered an ambulance. Being aware of how long they can take, I told her I preferred to drive myself, as they were only a few blocks from home.


Arriving at St Mary's, rushing into emergency, I was immediately given  attention, and was being given a scan, which showed "something" was wrong....they didn't tell me for a few moments, until conferring with the Dr.who was present in the room, and just happened to be on emergency duty...a Dr. Athan Roumanas. Informing me (only half awake) in my groggy state of the need for surgery due to an aortic aneurysm, I asked him "are you a cardiologist?" His reply was "Cardio SURGEON" and I immediately knew this was no ordinary situation, thank God.

I was told only 20% chance of surviving the surgery, and I hesitated a few moments before consenting and then being wheeled into the ER, as I called my Sister-in-law on the cell phone, I briefly told her the situation. (She is the family's "Town Crier" who keeps tabs on everyone, informing the rest of us when anything happens). Her husband, my younger brother, has had a history of heart problems, with subsequent surgeries, beginning in his late 40s, and is now in his late 50s with a pacemaker, a bypass and, I believe, an angioplasty. I am 64, and have never ever been in surgery since my tonsils were out in 1945.


Coming out of anesthesia, some hours later, a man standing over me, was surprised I came to so soon. The on-duty Dr. said most people don't regain consciousness for much longer, usually remaining in a coma several days. I'd not been aware of where I was until seeing him where I had been, and was surrounded by the curtain in CCU and very aware that I had come to the hospital. When I asked him "when do I get my surgery?" he informed me that it was over. I still hadn't felt the impact, although tubes and electrodes were everywhere, including a catheter.


The next 2 days were kind of a dream state, where you know you've been through something, but haven't yet grasped the importance of what has happened. I live alone, and my only nearby family lives out of state hundreds of miles away. My son, fortunately was able to leave school, where he teaches in Southern California and came to my bedside a day or so later. The boss, Margot from the Limo Company also came, as did Andy from the courier service I also drove for, and both left me with balloons and good wishes for recovery.


In the ensuing 4 or 5 days after being moved to "telemetry" on another part of the building, I spent hours in bed for what seemed forever. The care given was absolutely everything one could expect, with constant monitoring, meals served, and round-the-clock attention from all the nurses. Everyone was so attentive, and caring, that I had mixed feelings when the time to leave came. They definitely spoiled me and I was given a big stuffed heart for everyone to sign, including the staff.


Finally being discharged, another chauffeur from work and his partner came to pick me up, she driving me and he driving my car back home. I felt like a freed slave, an although I had been confined, it was as if the dream was now over.
My work had been so demanding, lots of laundry remained to be done, which I immediately began doing. Living in a 3 story apartment the laundry room is on the ground floor across and behind the courtyard, meaning I was carrying the load down the stairs without feeling any problem, the weather was very warm and sunny, and I felt just like the guy who got out of the slammer, and glad to resume life.

 When I met a neighbor at the bottom of the stairs, I let her know why I had been gone a few days, as everyone here is close to their neighbor. She couldn't believe I had gone through heart surgery only days before, and now was carrying the basket down a flight of stairs. Somehow I know, others were concerned and caring for me, as well as my family, and our God.


Since that time not quite 8 months ago, I've lived as if this is my chance to begin life over. Being unable to drive, carry luggage, and doing anything physically demanding, I know I will probably never drive the many people who come through Reno, including dignitaries, celebrities, and billionaires who were some of the most memorable of passengers. Eight years here in the limousine business gave me an opportunity to be of service to virtually every walk of life, and then some!


I know somehow, that the future is always indefinite, but look at every day with open eyes, and as another step to life's journey. Being an outdoor type, and loving the sunshine and crisp air, I walk most everywhere the bus doesn't go. I am now two weeks into my first work activity, handing out goods at our local St Vincent's Food Pantry, which has been enjoyable, as most everyone there is a volunteer. AARP was instrumental in the placement with them, as they are a great resource for finding all types of help for us "older" people. I'm not really that old, having grown up in the 50s, and living through all the decades we've traveled to the present time. Our world is still beautiful, and it's good to be alive.
Most sincerely,
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