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Posts Tagged ‘stress and heart attacks’

heart_art_200_20071214093616I’ve come to realize that my writing is fueled by passion, not peace, by angst, not serenity. Otherwise, how do I explain the fact that I wrote my last entry here over ten months ago? It is either that, or my need for self-expression is being satisfied by Facebook, which would be really sad. In any case, there is something to be written about now, because it’s just too significant NOT to talk about. I need to process it, and my readers need to think about the implications for their own lives.

On January 18th, I came close to dying. It happened on the heels of an very emotionally difficult time, and there’s no doubt that the stress of it, along with the stress of the past seven or eight years, contributed to it. For now, I’ll concentrate on recent events.

Early in December, my elderly father, already an amputee, had a risky angioplasty to save his remaining leg. Seeing his frailty, my siblings and I began the difficult process of researching assisted-living facilities. We worried over the best way to approach him and get him onside. We agonized over him seeing it as a betrayal.

Shortly before Christmas, my youngest son was injured at a part-time construction job he’s taken while he’s back in school. The phone call came from inside the ambulance. All we knew was that a cross-saw had sliced through his wrist, and it was serious. Later, we learned he’d been lucky.  Though there was significant nerve damage, the saw missed the main artery and surgery could wait. We left the hospital, only to rush back fifteen minutes later when he had a serious allergic reaction to the medications they’d given him. My heart was in my throat. I didn’t even wait for the triage nurse – just pounded on the emergency doors to be let back in. I was terrified he’d go into anaphylactic shock. A swarm of nurses and doctors descended on him right away and within an hour, he was stabilized. By the time we got home, I was emotionally spent.

The rush of Christmas brings its own inherent stresses, but then a few days afterwards, my father fell ill. I was hosting a post-Christmas party and received a phone call from my brother saying the emergency room doctors wanted to know if Dad had a “Do Not Resuscitate Order.” I said yes. I had his POA for health matters, and panicked when I couldn’t find the original form to take to the hospital. My cousin and his wife drove us to the hospital, forty-five minutes away, and stayed with us until the wee hours of the morning.

Less than two weeks later, after positive signs then steps backwards, and many hours spent at his beside, Dad died. We were heartbroken and in many ways, stunned. The decline came so quickly. He’d always bounced back before, and we thought he would live forever.

We lived the next few days in an auto-pilot haze, planning the funeral and spending time with family in the evenings. Everything went smoothly, and we reconnected with many people we hadn’t seen in years. I was sad and I felt numb. I was also tired and weak, but I put that down to stress and lack of sleep. Everyone else felt exactly the same way. Sleep should help, I thought.

And it did. Wednesday and Thursday I did little else. By Friday, I felt much better. While family members were in town, we gathered at our dad’s home to choose sentimental favourites among the dishes our mom left behind. It went well – very few tears and no conflicts. Then we headed out to one sister’s home for a final gathering before others would have to fly home. It would be a “music night,” with lots of instruments and singing. We all needed to let loose and feel alive again. Dad would have approved.

I had no way of knowing that a major roadblock was waiting for me around the next corner.

 

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