The Heart of the Matter

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Well, I always wait awhile before I write about any of my recent experiences whether it be onstage or at home. This post is about both, and the impact of my life changing experience that occurred on September 5th, 2014. I’m pretty sure everyone in my immediate family and circle of friends already know the specifics of what happened that day, but needless to say it is always good to talk and/or write about it.

I had just completed my run of “A Room With A View” at the 5th Avenue Theater in mid-May, and fifteen hours later had been offered a small role in the new musical “Bright Star” at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego. After a week of thinking about whether to accept or not; I agreed and prepared to begin rehearsals at the beginning of August. I only knew two cast members, and none of the creative staff, but after the first week, I loved my cast, the creatives, and really loved the score.

We had moved into the theater to begin technical rehearsals, and as usual I took the long walk from the actor housing to the theater. Everyone else had rented bicycles for the run, but an inner voice told me to NOT do that, and to just walk until, in a couple of weeks, the shuttle would begin taking the actors back and forth for all performances.

We were in our third day of tech, and had just completed the first half of the “picnic” dance. The choreographer was fixing some spacing, and I was upstage left looking at a lantern on a bench thinking how pretty it would look when the lanterns would be lit for the waltz section.  Then… lights went out! 

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I don’t remember a thing except that when I had regained a little bit of consciousness, I was very embarrassed to have brought so much attention to myself. Here I was planning on staying “below the radar” for this production, and now everyone was aware of me, and that made me very unhappy. Then I began to be very, very sick, and quickly realized that it was my heart, and that whatever was wrong was life threatening. I remember being placed into an ambulance, awaking in the ER with a whole lot of doctors and nurses swarming around me, tubes and wires and needles all over my body, and trying to stay calm as everything began to focus into clarity. Where is my husband? Am I going to die? Hope I can talk to my sister and two brothers, and let them know I love them. There goes my career. What about my cats, my home and my future?

The inner voices continued, and not a darn thing could be done about anything accept beg for the damn girdle, garters, stockings, slip, wig, microphone, show shoes, and bloodied costume (I had a very bad cut on my chin from the stage fall) be taken off my body as soon as possible. I had my priorities damn it!

Finally the moment arrived when a physician (with that solemn look they always have on their face) explained to me that I was suffering from a very slow heart rate, and would need a permanent pacemaker, and until that procedure could be scheduled, I would have a temporary wire inserted into my jugular vein (a dangerous procedure done under a local anesthetic) in order to have (if necessary; which it was) a temporary pacemaker connected until my permanent one could be “installed”! Needless to say it was a bit overwhelming. So….after five days and two hospitals, I was the proud recipient of a Medtronic Dual Chambered Pacemaker. Then, after a week and a half of recovery (thank you to my amazing husband) I was able to get back onstage (with some adjustments) open the show, finish the run with my amazing and supportive cast and crew, and get back home to my real life.

The heart of the matter is….life is indeed precious, and as many times as people tell you to “enjoy each and every minute you are given on this earth” I am here to say, that truer words have never been spoken!

Blessed Holidays to everyone, and a very Happy New Year!



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  1. Paul Greene  November 11, 2014

    Ms. Cohenour,

    Love and prayers to you!! You are an inspiration!!

    Kind regards,
    Paul Greene


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