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One night I crawled into bed about 1 a.m. Just as I nestled in, I felt a sharp pain under my left breast. I have a blocked circumflex artery that sometimes gives me angina, so I took a nitro. No pain in my arm, but the pain under my breast got worse and worse. Finally I called my friend Suzanne, a nurse who lives next door.

“Should I call 911?”

“You should have called 911 before you called me!” So I did.

Suzanne soon arrived, along with Sharon, who lives on the other side of the rain garden. Suzanne helped get me ready for the EMT, while Sharon went out into the alley to tell the ambulance where to come. I’d asked them to turn off the siren and the lights. They turned off the siren, but not the lights, so the flashing lights went all over the complex.

As they were putting me into the ambulance, I could see Bob from upstairs out the open door. He was blowing me kisses. I gave him the finger.

Suzanne and Sharon followed me to the ER, so when I was unloaded, they were there. It took a long time for them to find me a room. They scheduled all sorts of tests for my heart, a pulmonary embolism, etc.

All the medics kept asking, “How do you feel?”

I didn’t feel afraid. I felt supported.

—Essie Sappenfield, Germantown Cohousing, Nashville

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