Shock of a lifetime.

Yesterday, I received a call out of the blue from my mother.  I thought she was just checking up on her new granddaughter, but I was wrong.

“Your father’s in the hospital,” she began.  “He’s had a heart attack.”

I just sat there, stunned, the phone tucked under my ear and my daughter in my arms.  “What?” I said.

“He had a heart attack, but he’s okay,” my mother answered.

How can he be okay? I thought, my mind racing.  He had a fucking heart attack!  That’s the very god damned definition of “not okay!”

Yesterday afternoon my father was suddenly struck with incredible chest pain.  My mother demonstrated incredibly quick thinking in that she immediately gave him an aspirin and then rushed him to the hospital, where my parents found out that one of my father’s arteries was nearly fully occluded, requiring hospital staff to rush him into surgery and insert a stent in order to repair the damage.  He’s resting comfortably now and will be in the hospital for several days for observation and recovery, but it’s going to be several weeks until he can return to any semblance of his old level of activity.

Truth be told, my father isn’t exactly a spring chicken; he’ll turn 64 this October.  Still, no one saw this coming, simply because my father is one of the most physically fit people I know.  Slim and tall, with most of his hair still untouched by grey save for his beard and mustache, he looks closer to 55 than 65, and he spends the majority of his time outside installing and maintaining lawn sprinklers for a living.  I saw him just a few days ago and he seemed completely fine.

Why do people always say that?  “I just saw him!”  As if coming into close personal contact with someone inoculates them from harm for a few months or something.  It says more about ourselves than anything else: our close proximity with potential tragedy lifts the scales from our eyes and we see all too clearly how fragile life can be sometimes.  In my father’s case, we seem to have been lucky; between my mother dosing him with aspirin in a timely manner and the relatively low severity of the heart attack itself, my father’s prognosis is very good.  He’s going to have to re-evaluate his levels of physical activity – maybe he shouldn’t be working six days a week for nine months out of the year any more.  For someone previously so active, a shift this fundamental is more than likely going to be a difficult one for him, but I’d rather he be here in order to make the change than not at all.

Still, getting that phone call was an absolutely harrowing experience.  They say you become an adult the moment you’re confronted with the nearly unavoidable fact that there’s a very, very good chance you’re going to outlive your parents; I have to disagree.  I’d never felt more like a lost, frightened child than I have in my entire life.

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7 thoughts on “Shock of a lifetime.

  1. Oh Dave 😦 *Hugs* for your family. I’m wishing your father a quick recovery, and high-fiving your mom through the ether for thinking so quick on her feet. Love to you and yours ❤

  2. First of all I am glad he is ok and I wish him all the best. Second of all your mom should go and see a cardiologist as well. I became an adult three years ago. My dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer he wound up failing the stress test they gave him and the next day did an emergency triple bypass. Just to add to my new found adulthood my mom three months later was rushed to the hospital where her heart stopped and we lost her for a few minutes but because she was in the er they were able to bring her back with the paddles. Next day mom had a triple bypass now both are doing fine dad at 78 and mom at 75. The moral of my story is? Well I am not sure but I am glad your dad is doing better. I am not sure what power is out there but he or she or it likes to send us some reminders that they get to push some crazy buttons sometimes. I am still on the island if there is anything I can do just let me know. Hang in there all will be ok.

    • Thank you, Roy. It’s comforting to know that other people have gone through similar experiences. I’m definitely talking to my mother about her own cardio health, too.

  3. Modern medicine has come a long way when it comes to heart attacks. What so easily killed my mothers father when I was five or so, is today a fairly routine emergency that rarely leads to death unless too far from medical treatment. I have no doubt your mom made a big difference because its those first moments that can make all the difference.

    Like you say, it might slow him down a bit, and he will need to look at changing some habits. But overall, he should be around to play with his granddaughter for many years to come.

    Stay strong bro! The beck family is here if you need us!

  4. Thanks, All , for your concern. My hubby of almost 40 years is doing nicely, thanks to modern medicine and yes, to that aspirin I gave him. And yes as well, rest assured that I will be paying more attention to my own health as well! After all, both of us want to see our darling granddaughter grow into a lovely young lady!

    And one bit of advice if I may: it is never too soon to take care of one’s health. To quote Guster on Psych, ” The cheese and the meat– they don’t touch.” Amusing yes, especially as he was defining kosher–in a figurative sense– given the dire straights in which he finds himself on the show.

    On a serious note, however, his point is well taken: meat and cheese are not exactly heart healthy, nor is heavily salted foods, etc. In fact, most processed foods are laden with salt, preservatives, sugar and stuff that is just not in real food. Plus, there is just too much food around which we as a nation consume with little regard to what it is doing to our bodies; so please– don’t wait till you’re altacockas like us especially since the damage to a poor diet is cumulative. Plus, som folks have a natural disposition to high cholesterol, etc., like my husband who actually, as noted above, is otherwise quite fit with a commendable diet. So preserve your hearts NOW. It is never to early to eat right — and go for check-ups.

    Ok getting off soapbox now. Promise.
    🙂

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