(News12 – Brooklyn) – February is National Heart Month and doctors are using the occasion to remind people to get regular checkups, even amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
To talk to Charles and Audre Gaskin is to revel in the presence of a long-married couple that is still deeply in love.
“He told me two weeks after I met him I was going to be his wife,” says Audre. “I said, ‘You’re crazy. I don’t know you and you don’t know me.’ Five years later, I said, ‘Yes.’”
On Jan. 26, after a year in which both survived the virus and lost Charles’s father to the illness, Charles was out on a walk when he felt something was wrong.
“I literally get a tightness in my chest,” Charles says.
He was rushed to Hackensack University Medical Center where doctors found four blocked arteries. They booked him for an emergency quadruple bypass surgery.
The next day, heart problems also hit Audre.
“It feels like the ground is moving,” she recalls.
She drove herself to her cardiologist at Hackensack University Medical Center.
“He put me on the machine and said, ‘You’re under cardiac distress. I have to admit you,’” she says.
The couple was admitted to the hospital together, each on separate floors. Audre says that she was forced to tell her husband a little white lie – that she was at the hospital to be treated for sciatica.
“I didn’t tell him anything. I had spoken to him, but I didn’t want him to know. Because I won’t want him stressed,” Audre says.
Doctors rescued Audre from the brink of heart failure. Charles’s surgery was a success.
Some scientists have argued that modern medicine has nearly done all it can to prevent physical heart disease, and that people need to do better improving emotional factors that can stress the heart — helping the metaphorical heart to improve the physical heart.
As Audre and Charles recovered, the hospital broke COVID protocol and moved them into the same room in side-by-side beds.
“It helped us heal. It was almost a comedy skit because we had fun with all the nurses and the doctors,” says Charles.
The couple is home now and are making full recoveries. They said that they are telling their story so that other people do not ignore the warning signs of heart disease.