Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Fighting Irish

The routine heart cath that Dad went in for yesterday morning ended up being anything but routine. One triple-bypass surgery on three blocked arteries (one at 100%, one at 90% and the other at 80%), two aneurisms, and one severely blocked carotid artery later, they had Dad stabilized and very heavily sedated in the SICU. Did I mention that the anesthesiologist told Dad pre-surgery that he’d had a heart attack at some point in the near past? They kept asking him if he’d had any episodes in the last year or so that would’ve possibly left him dizzy or weak? He said no, not that he could recall, and that he really had felt just fine until he had been slung up into the emergency room in B’ham during his yearly physical (to keep his volunteer DAV van driver clearance) about a month ago for a racing heart rate-his heart was clocked at about 130, when it is usually at a lawful 56). He was a little peeved at all this fussing, because it was keeping him away from his grandson.

All of this happening to the toughest, but kindest man I’ve ever known. As a child, he held the record for running away the most times from the orphanage in which he was placed. He was briefly jailed in Lisbon, Portugal while serving in the US Navy for throwing a man through a plate-glass window while defending the honor of a woman. Rescued countless individuals on and off the road while making a living as a truck driver (one bridge-jumping suicide attempt, numerous car wrecks). Saved a child from choking at the local YMCA by performing the Heimlich manuver. Drove non-stop out to Denver four days after 9-11 to retrieve my sister and her then boyfriend (now husband) who had been stranded with me on their late-summer vacation by the horrific events and then drove them back to Alabama. Came out to Denver again a couple of years later to retrieve his other daughter (me) and bring her back to Alabama after her nine-year marriage was over; again, almost a non-stop trip, but one that instead of being emotionally draining, ended up being one of the best and most memorable trips that he and I have ever had together. He has volunteered to drive countless disaster collection trucks to the ravaged areas where they needed to go. He’s given a handful of family vehicles and odd jobs to folks who were down on their luck. He even decided to allow the thief who hijacked his eighteen wheeler, stole all of his stuff and then showed up in court wearing his boots to keep said boots because he felt the man needed them more that he did…in my opinion, he shouldn’t’ve been diagnosed with a heart that had blocked arteries, it should’ve been an enlarged heart because it’s so fucking big.

So, here we are, very happy to still have this extraordinary man with us. He looks a little different right now, a little frail, but he’s doing very well considering what he went through yesterday. He’s a scrappy Irishman from the Appalachian Mountains, the hardest kind of man to keep down.

Thank you all for your continued calls and prayers. This has only begun, and I expect some really difficult times for him ahead. But you know that with the bad, there’s always some good, and I’m certain that there will be some very hilarious moments too (there already have been, and I will share those soon). Keep thinking about us!

Listening to: Charlie Parker (he's always there when I need him). Reading: Andrew Weil's Eight Weeks To Optimum Health

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