Matters of the heart

I just got a call from my mom. Yes, at midnight on the east coast. You can imagine how my hello sounded as it tried to escape around my heart in my throat.

She had just gotten a call from dad’s lead physician, an unflappable man named Dr. Lin. For Dr. Lin to be calling from dad’s room at 11:45 p.m. something had to be drastically wrong.

Well, dad’s heart has slowed so much the good doctor needed to move him to ICU for constant monitoring.  This after my dad’s scary heart news not 12 hours earlier.

See, I stopped by for a few hours today to visit with dad before I had to go home. I had spent the last few days dogsitting and cleaning at my parents’ house, so I hadn’t seen dad.

The moment I walked through the door to his room, I could tell something was wrong. Mom and dad both looked stricken — not hard for the woman who had spent the last two nights sleeping on a hard couch that moonlights as a foam mattress, but pretty impressive for the guy who has been through four surgeries in the last month.

They debated briefly about who should tell me, but they got it out. Dad was in Afib. That’s atrial fibrillation for all you non-House fans. I turned to my dad, smiled and congratulated him for still sitting in his hospital bed. He chuckled and said “seriously.”

Just after that, I think the news hit dad. He looked at me wide-eyed as I stood by his bed. I asked him whether he was panicking a little bit, and he nodded. We did some breathing exercises to help calm him, but in the end he needed some medicine to do the trick.

So now, it’s midnight. Dad’s heartbeat has gone from rapid to barely there in half a day. He’s not the only one panicking. I know he is a fighter, and I know he’s tired. I just pray he can dig down into that giant heart of his and find the drive to keep fighting.

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