Capitals fan Sheila Bouchard was experiencing heart attack symptoms at her home last Thursday, but the 82-year-old Springfield, Va., resident didn’t want paramedics to take her to the hospital for fear that she would miss Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals. That’s how Bouchard’s daughter, Megan Ramirez, remembers things anyway.
“She wanted to stay home and said she was going to miss all the games because they wouldn’t have them on TV,” Ramirez, who lives two houses away from her mother, told The Post.
Bouchard has a slightly different recollection of the events that preceded her arrival at Fairfax Hospital.
“I was kind of upset, but I knew I had to go,” she said.
Ramirez was at home on Thursday when she received a call from her daughter, Mary Claire Hollinger, who is staying with her grandmother while home from college and serving as a de facto night nurse. Bouchard — ‘Yaya’ to her grandchildren — enjoyed relatively good health up until this year, but had undergone four recent surgeries, and on Thursday night, she wasn’t feeling well. Ramirez called her brother’s friend, Ron Kuley, a captain for the Fairfax County Fire Department, and asked him to stop by. When Kuley and his fellow paramedics arrived, they gave Bouchard an electrocardiogram and decided to take her to the hospital.
Within minutes of Bouchard being admitted, Fairfax Hospital’s cardiac team went to work on her. You wouldn’t have known Bouchard was having a heart attack from listening to her, as she was telling anyone who would listen that she lost an earring en route.
Ramirez called her sister, Kelly, and two brothers, Mike and Jerry, and urged them to get to the hospital when they could, while doctors inserted a stent in Bouchard and moved her to her own room.
On Friday and Saturday, Bouchard’s family visited her in the hospital. They draped a custom “Bouchard” Capitals jersey over her. Mary Claire brought balloons. Kelly painted her nails red, white and blue. Ramirez also contacted the hospital engineer to ask if Game 3, which was scheduled for Saturday on NBC Sports Network, would be available in her mother’s room. Bouchard told her daughter not to worry about it; she’d seen promos for the game on NBC and assured her it would be on. Skeptical, Ramirez and her sister headed back to Springfield to watch the game at home.
“We weren’t here five minutes before the phone rang,” Ramirez said. “She was crying and she said they didn’t have the game on.”
While Kelly hustled back to the hospital with her laptop in tow to watch the rest of the game, the head nurse lent Bouchard her phone to stream the first period. By Sunday, Bouchard was stable enough to be discharged. Ramirez told her she could watch Monday’s Game 4, so long as she put her feet up to prevent swelling.
Bouchard fell in love with Capitals hockey going to games at Capital Centre during the 1970s, thanks to her late husband, Joe, a former Metro editor and reporter at The Post. (Joe’s second cousin, Pierre Bouchard, was a former defenseman for the Canadiens and Capitals.)
“He took me to my first game and I wondered what are they doing jumping on and off the bench,” Bouchard said of her husband. “It’s a hard game to follow if you don’t have someone explaining it to you.”
Bouchard is something of a hockey expert now, and she approved of Monday’s result, a 6-2 Capitals win that moved the team within one win of the franchise’s first Stanley Cup title.
“It’s amazing the way that this team has uplifted the feel of the whole area, which is a good thing,” said Bouchard, who plans to watch Game 5 at home, surrounded by family. “It’s amazing. You looked at all those people outside the — I call it the Cap Centre, but whatever it’s called now. A few years ago, people would say, ‘Oh, you’re a Caps fan. Well, enjoy.’ Now, everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon, but let them jump. The more the merrier.”
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