Pacifica (autumnwinds) wrote,

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The Bad News

My parents kept this from me until after my defense because they didn't want to upset me at a critical time, but my Dad had a heart attack last week. It was the day after Thanksgiving, when I was on the road back here to Idaho.

He'd been having some pains behind his left shoulderblade for a month, which got increasingly worse that day as he was out running errands, to the point where upon his return home, he had to park the car halfway up the driveway (as he was backing the trailer up) and come in because it was too much. Mom told him to make an appointment with his doctor. Dad made a call and said he had an appointment for Monday, three days away. Mom said "no way," got on the phone, and took Dad up to the clinic at Virginia Mason. They took some blood and did an angiogram in the lab, then Dad went back to the examination room with Mom. The pains got worse all of a sudden and Mom went out to the hall to get help from the doctor, but the doctor had just gotten off the phone from 911. The ambulance came to the clinic and took Dad to Stevens.

It came out that Dad had a blockage in one of his major arteries, though I don't know which one. They immediately called in a special team that basically opened up Dad's groin and ran a plumbing snake up to his heart to get it out. Dad spent two days in ICU, but he's home now. He's not in much pain (at least, not that he would tell me about), but he said his stamina is pretty low. He gets winded just walking around the house.

The hard part about this is twofold. One, this is only the second time either of my parents has had a serious medical deal, and it's hard to face up to that. Second, I feel like I should have known better. Dad had been complaining of this pain for the days up to the heart attack, but I didn't give it much thought because the pain first cropped up around the time he was splitting wood last month, and we all thought it was a muscle injury. When it didn't go away, his doctor decided to briefly take him off his cholesterol medication because that sort of pain can be a side effect, and he wanted to see if it would help. It clearly didn't. It's just that of all the signs of heart attacks that I recognize...chest pain, chest pressure, arm pain, shortness of breath, sweating...I didn't catch this one, and I feel like I should have.

The good side of it is that the outcome was awfully good. There's some scarring on a part of Dad's heart that the doctors said is in the best possible place, and that all evidence from this event should be gone in about two years. The blockage is gone and Dad's going to be fine, although he is overweight and needs to moderate his diet and exercise regimen (no more ice cream before bed, for example).

Anyway, it just shook me up a little, so I've been lying low for a few days.

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