Debra: When Steve passed out, he fell forward onto the ladder. I attribute that instinct to his firefighter training. If he’d fallen backward, this would be an entirely different story. I was holding him onto the ladder and screaming for the neighbors to come help me get him down. They wouldn’t let me ride in the ambulance with him because they had someone training that day, so I had to drive over with my sister-in-law, Sandra, terrified every minute of the way. As soon as we got to the hospital they took him in for a CT scan and we learned he had a bleed in his brain. I told them I wanted him transferred to Northwell Health’s North Shore University Hospital. I was frantic. Did he have hours, minutes, seconds?
We met Dr. David Chalif, chief of the division of neurosurgery, who told us that Steve had a brain aneurysm that had ruptured. He would need brain surgery—a craniotomy. They showed me the scans, but I couldn’t focus. “I have no idea what you’re showing me. Just do what you need to do to bring him back to me,” was all I could say. Steve was crying over and over that his head hurt. It was terrifying.
His surgery was the longest seven hours of my life. I must have paced the whole length of that hospital. Finally, Dr. Chalif came out and said that everything had gone perfectly. I can’t believe how close we came to losing him. I felt like someone must have been watching out for us. We lost our older daughter, Loren, a few years ago, and I truly believe she was the angel on his shoulder all the way from the ladder and throughout the operation.