Monday, May 14, 2012
"Pain is a Reliable Signal"
(I am stealing this title from a high school classmate of mine who put out a very good album with the same name. You can listen here.)
We were lucky. My mom got him to the hospital quickly (though we learned that the thing to do is call 911 because the EMTs can begin treatment immediately en route) and he was able to get a stent placed immediately. It took a bit of testing to determine that he had suffered a heart attack; his initial EKGs revealed little at first and left my dad apologizing for the trouble he was causing the same hospital workers who, fearing he would not survive, were asking him about a living will.
My mom called me when I was on the road taking Andrew to school. The kids were listening to my side of the conversation. "Who is in the hospital?" Andrew demanded, and then added passionately, "It better not be Papa!"
Dad looked really bad when we got to the hospital to see him and the staff was predicting he would not be discharged until Wednesday. We even saw him eat a banana, which was truly alarming. He wondered at first what the heck kind of hamburger it could possibly be. On Saturday evening, Brigham and Agustin gave him a blessing. The next morning the doctor felt he had made huge improvement and could go home Monday. He looked perfect today, back at home, and he says he feels just as he did before the heart attack. He will undergo bypass surgery in a couple of weeks.
When we were in the hospital, (the boys donned their marine corp costumes from Halloween to rally him: "He will say, 'Oh, I am proud of myself, I am a marine!'" predicted Andrew happily as he got ready. It was totally their idea) I noticed the Wong-Baker Pain Scale.
Papa is such a huge part of our lives. He loves his grandkids so much and would do anything for them--and basically does, the only exception being that he will not deviate from his daily 10:30 am brunch appointment at McDonalds, but he will invite any grandkid along and pay for their hot grease meal. (Post heart attack he is open to trying out Arby's or Wendy's; he suggested getting hotdogs at Costco on the way home from the hospital today. This is actually a positive evolution in the man who thought butter had protein (2001--we had to get out the nutritional label to convince him otherwise) and that rice was a vegetable (Andrew set him straight).) Even when the kids are causing me to register at a 10 on the Wong Baker scale, they somehow never seem to bother him (probably because any tendency to be annoyed is overpowered by a satisfaction and amusement in knowing that he can just look on while his daughters have to deal with it.)
From the reading of depressing poetry about bunnies caught forever in traps and men who will never recover from WWI to the ever-willingness to jump on the trampoline, go on walks, fail to rub in hugely excessive amounts of sunscreen slathered on your face, obsession with hamburgers and television and Civil War maneuvers and conservative politics, life would just not be the same without Dad.