Can I just say that my timing has always been….ironic? No less than three hours after I posted my last entry on worrying about my father's health and the general nuttiness that consumes my mind, my phone rang.
“Your father’s [thallium stress] test went badly. The artery they stented in August is 100% blocked again and he’s being admitted,” my mother said.
Cue pit falling in stomach and tears welling in eyes. Not again.
Thus began several days of waiting, waiting to see if he would need a triple bypass surgery or if they could re-stent his major artery and leave the other four blockages alone for now. Either way, he’d need the dreaded dye for the catheterization, and his one little kidney still hadn’t recovered from August’s trauma.
Are you freakin’ kidding me? First of all, the man had done everything right: his cholesterol was the lowest it had ever been, he exercised regularly, faithfully took all his meds and statins, even dropped down to a four-day work week since the August scare. All that, and we were told that 95% of the time, stents lasted a lifetime. Of course the man with one kidney and a billion other medical problems was in the 5% of patients whose stents failed within months.
Secondly, what are the chances that the very day I write a post that talks about his health and my tendency to be a little overbearing and obsessive about it he gets this news?
In high school, after eight months of rehab from ankle surgery I made the JV basketball team (and yes, there were in fact cuts!). The day before my first game, I caught the ball awkwardly and because my bones are like twigs, I broke my hand. End of season. In grad school, shortly after I finally recovered from the one-two punch of whooping cough and viral pneumonia, my adrenal system failed. All this happened just as I was settling into the weekend job I adored at the Devon Nicole House at Children’s Hospital—and these are just the first instances to pop into my head.
My father’s timing is even more ridiculous. I could write pages about it, so I’ll just focus on recent events. In August, he got chest pains just after the ferry departed from Hyannis to Martha’s Vineyard, making for a long, harrowing ride. Last week, he felt short of breath and tired again, just as he was about to get on a plane and fly to DC and then Florida for conferences he’d looked forward to all year, events he was leading and presentations he’d labored over. Instead of going to the airport, he went to his doctor.
But there is a first time for everything, and my father’s catheterization Tuesday went better than best case scenario. I can’t even believe I just wrote that in conjunction with him. Better. Than. Best. Case. Scenario. They didn’t need to do the triple bypass, and they used so little dye during the cath itself they could re-stent it then and there, something no one thought they’d be able to do.
Feels too good to be true, but as each day goes by, we’re believing it more and more and we’re inspired by it.
During the long days in the hospital this week, I thought a lot about what I’d write here. I kept coming back to my last post and how my worries and actual events collided like that. It was tempting to bemoan our collective timing yet again, but something stopped me. My father was alive, and a lot of steps went into that process.
He was a ticking time bomb for months, walking around with a major artery 100% blocked and not realizing his stent failed. He was about to fly all over the country. What if he’d had another heart attack and this time it was on the plane? Or in a hospital far away where no one understood his beyond complex medical history? What if he hadn’t called his doctor exactly when he did and hadn’t been able to squeeze in the stress test?
His timing was pitch-perfect.
The more I think about all the near-misses, the plans gone awry and the events missed at the last second, I realize just how much timing impacts my life, our lives. Illness is never convenient and disappointments are frequent, but we’ve made it this far. I wouldn’t change our timing by one second.