Our Life

Anatomy of a Heart Attack and My Possible Return to Public Life

Four weeks ago, Bob suffered an impressive heart attack and we both fell off the map.

In this age of Instagram, Facebook, and Personal Weblogs, we find ourselves continually on display, posturing for a remote crowd of socially-distanced friends and strangers hungering for intimacy.

It’s fun to play around in this pool of self-selecting glimpses into each other’s lives. I devour Emily’s Instagram posts – how else will I watch Evie grow? I enjoy Kathie’s Facebook updates, happy to share in her ups and downs. And I revel in my writing life, live to share my epiphanies and hurrahs in comments and posts.


Four weeks ago, Bob suffered an impressive heart attack and we both fell off the map. We didn’t know it at the time because to Bob it seemed like an unusually prolonged bout of chest-clutching indigestion. We didn’t know we were about to embark on a dark roller coaster ride into the bowels of our psyches.

We went to a clinic the following Monday and when Dr. Whitt read his EKG, she blanched and sent us to the Emergency Room. I waited in the car until Bob called to say he was in an ambulance headed south to Reid Heart Center in Pinehurst. I can count on two fingers the times we’ve been forcibly separated in this manner.

Two weeks later, Bob returned home, thin, unsteady, stitched and stapled. Andy steadied him as he slogged up our long wheelchair ramp, across the ratty green AstroTurf, and over the jutting tin sill inside our back door.

At first, Bob was a full-time job, but as his newly-plumbed heart finds its footing, he is reinventing himself. I log his milestones: the day he was able to brush his teeth. His first shave. First solo shower. First amble across the lawn.

Meanwhile, I morph from caregiver to caretaker to gardener. On Sunday I allowed myself to crouch over a garden bed and pretty it up. It was what I most wanted to do right then and so I did it.

I have been unable to write. Although I took extensive notes from the seat next to Bob’s hospital bed, I find them tangled, technical, and too personal for sharing. The many conversations, the middle-of-the-night scares, the tender hand-holding moments all remain unwritten. Best we keep that mountain of stories close, incubated, to share with our daughters, my brothers, and our closest friends when we are able.

Amy, Molly, and Bob, three weeks after open heart surgery

There is no public story here. Nothing to tell beyond the trite: We went to hell and back and are working towards a new normal. Everything seems either trifling and cliched, or unfathomably complicated. I have joined the silent millions who are too busy navigating to telegraph their blow-by-blows.

By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.

11 replies on “Anatomy of a Heart Attack and My Possible Return to Public Life”

Glad u still breathing and learning how to Breath. Anyway .Life has cause a shift in happiness but i see u can still smile . thinking of u Sandra.

So grateful for the love you share to carry you through and the good medicine surrounding you. Onward with courage and the knowledge of all that is truly precious. Love, Laura

Sending strength to you both from our warm sunshine today. I could tell you many things to be thankful for. But the most important is that you have each other. Hang in and hold on. With all our love, Jane and Charlie

I think you guys made it through the worst part, so it should be pretty smooth sailing now. Spring…a time of renewal, growth and happiness πŸ™‚

Thanks for sharing and so happy Bob is on the mend and you can get out and garden. Although I hope for better gardening weather than today.
Love to you both.

Sitting next to someone you love is what it’s all about… during this pandemic, it’s even more important. Bob is determined head strong and loved! So wonderful your Daughters could be there too. Sending our thoughts and hugs.

Bob, and Camille…… I am so Grateful, Bob that You are Alive, that you both survived the Experience. May Life continue, with Healing, continued Love and Gratitude. Love, Scotty ~

Life can change in a moment and with it our priorities! You have each other. You will grow stronger each day. Love to you both 💗

Camille, thank you for sharing. Our very hearts. An attack manifests in so many different ways. So glad you all caught it, that you have each other and that Bob is on the mend. As long as it takes. Heal well.

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