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154 year old Pennsylvania church converted to a home & artist workshop studio

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Time over money

Where to begin. So many things have been happening here at The1870 it's really tough to round them all up. Maybe bullet points will be best.

  • Our son, his girlfriend, their dog (our grand-dog BonBon) moved into the area we had been using as our studio.
  • Lots of organizing, projects, fun, creative stuff.
  • Morton and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary on Valentine's Day, low key with family in Florida.
  • Morton turned 56 on February 19th.
  • I turned 60 on May 11th and for a present, talked Morton into going to the Emergency Room.

Turns out that Morton was having a heart attack that wasn't like what you see in a movie where a person clutches their chest and falls over. His heart had serious disease that had been building up for years, could be a hereditary issue, and was so close to taking him from me.

What started as symptoms Morton put down to bronchitis, but were nothing like bronchitis, (side note, he's also agreed to never play Dr. Google again!), we went to the ER in Danville, Pennsylvania for my birthday. I'll always think of it as Morton's second birthday now and hopefully the pair of us will get to celebrate many more years together.

As tests were ran, the first EKG showed nothing. His pulse was slow, but it's always been like that. His symptoms were, and I'm going to bullet point them too, as follows:

  • Vomiting
  • Pain across the top of his back, shoulders and arms
  • Spasms of that pain where he would double over and have to lay on the floor
  • Difficulty taking full breaths
  • Weakness
  • Tired
  • Soreness in his chest area that he said was from throwing up

As I write that list, I wonder why I didn't nag him harder, call an ambulance or something. He had been doing this for a week when I finally convinced him to go to the walk-in doctor. Morton told the person that saw him he had bronchitis before, and this was that. They didn't do blood work, they didn't do an EKG, why would they? He said it was bronchitis, just like before. Scripts were written and we went to the pharmacy, then home, hoping they'd kick in and start working the next day. That was Monday.

Wednesday, with no noted improvement, I phoned the walk-in place while Morton was in the bathroom, being sick or laying on the floor to try to stop his pain. He wouldn't let me in with him when this was happening. The person I spoke to said there was nothing they could do for him there and if I was concerned with him becoming dehydrated from all the vomiting, which I was, take him to the ER so they could give him fluids.

Morton heard most of this call but was still convinced his Prednisone which he was given for his bronchitis on Monday, just needed more time to kick in. 

I'd like to stress here how important it is to be safe rather than sorry. Morton had taken early retirement in July 2022 at just 55 and a half years old. He did this with a huge cost of a greatly reduced pension. We did the math, figured out being frugal as we are, we could get by on $800 a month. We chose time together now, over money. After all, we aren't guaranteed anything when it comes to time. He was working 8 to 12 hours a day, commuting with 3 hours in the car each day and his work would switch shifts all the time that was leaving him constantly exhausted. He had spoke up about the shifts and was told it would put hair on his chest. That's the day Morton gave his notice. I think he knew deep down inside that it was really a matter of life or death getting out of that work schedule.

Morton was worried about the deductible cost on our insurance. What would the walk-in visit be? What would an ER visit be? All things he didn't know that were stopping him from seeking medical help. After all, being retired means you're on a very fixed income.

Thankfully, on my birthday Morton woke up. When I asked if he was feeling better, he admitted he wasn't. He quickly changed the subject to asking me what I wanted to do for my birthday. Now birthdays have never been something I was big on, except for my 11th, which is another story for another time. Today, that birthday, there was only one thing I wanted. The ER.

Morton was going to make excuses, stall, said he needed to take a shower and moving around would probably make him feel better. This was my birthday though, so I had wiggle room in being a bossy wife. Within five minutes he was dressed and we were on our way. I called both our children to let them know what was happening.

The staff at the hospital couldn't have been kinder, more professional and quicker to discover after 4 EKGS and one happening during a spasm he had in the ER, it was his heart. It was a sneaky and hard to spot heart attack, but the diagnosis melted together with the next several days of procedures to see if stents would work to open his 99% blocks, they wouldn't. It would be heart bypass surgery on Monday, a week after he was sure he had bronchitis.

Instead of a quadruple bypass, he needed a quintuple bypass. It was eight hours in the operating room, one of the longest days of both our lives and I was comforted by the fact that he was sleeping through it and finally getting rest after a couple weeks of pain.

Seeing him about 8:30 pm after a day of waiting rooms, TikTok (HUGE GIANT THANK YOU to all our TikTok family), thinking the most positive thoughts I could and just breathing, even with the tube down his throat, his eyes closed, his body hooked up to so many machines and bags, I watched his chest rise and fall. A machine was doing that for him. 

This wave of gratitude almost knocked me off my feet as I sat on the chair in the corner of his room watching the nurse care for him. Gently doing everything that needed to be done, I heard in my mind the words I had read that a friend on TikTok had sent to me.

The friend had a friend that was in the hospital in a panic. She was scared, emotional and so worried about the surgery she was waiting for and told her fears to her doctor. The doctor said, and I paraphrase, "I know you're scared, but I'm not. I'm trained for this, it's my job and I'm calm. Let me do my job and you just try to relax." Even though the words weren't spoken to me, they carried great comfort.

Looking at my Morton, knowing he was in wonderfully trained hands that were calm, I knew it was going to be alright.

Now here I am, sitting on the stage of the lovely old church we call home, as he sleeps near the bathroom instead of up here on the stage. He's been home for five days now, surgery is ten days behind him and I feel as though we have both been given the gift of time. I'll put today to good use, focusing on what matters most, my Morton.

Thanks for reading this, if you made it this far. Hopefully you got something from it that might help you or someone you know. 

Hugs and love,




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