Last month my brother called in order to inform me that my Dad had a heart attack and he was in the hospital.
It completely took me by surprise. My Dad eats healthier than I do and he avoids most red meat altogether, he doesn't have any family history of heart problems, and the guy rides his bike 10 miles a day to and from work.
When I got a hold of my Mom (which took an eternity) she explained that Dad had just experienced some chest pain and the doctors said he just experienced a minor heart attack.
A minor heart attack?! That's like declaring minor bankruptcy or winning a minor Olympic event. My brother and I were absolutely panicked, but Mom assured us that it was OK. The Doctors decided to keep Dad for observation overnight and they scheduled an angiogram for the morning.
Dad's angiogram surprised us all. It showed that Dad had at least seven blocked vessels in his heart. At that point every thing was set in motion for Dad to get a quintuple bipass surgery.
Tygh had planned on going hunting with his buddy Scott, but he dropped everything in order to take our little family down so I could be with my Dad right before his surgery.
Izabella and Spencer asked a lot of questions and they were quite concerned about their Pappi. Izabella wanted to know "who had been mean to Pappi and broke his heart." I often tell the kids that they are breaking my heart when they don't listen or use harsh language. I guess I'm going to need to amend that saying.
Iz also put together that my Dad's name is Claude and his heart was clogged. She and I both thought that was pretty funny.
Spencer was worried that it was junk food that broke Pappi's heart and for a day or so, he cried when ever a doughnut or candy was offered to him. He's just my little sensitive guy.
When I finally saw Dad in the hospital it was all so surreal. Dad didn't look like himself, but he didn't look like someone with a major blockage in several of his main vessels. He still kept his terrible sense of humor about him and he kept the nursing staff amused.
My Dad was one of the "healthier" guys scheduled for an open heart surgery so we went through days of him being scheduled and rescheduled for surgery.
Finally the big day came. For nine hours Dad was in surgery. They stopped his heart and rearranged his veins and arteries. It was absolutely amazing.
Two days after his surgery, Dad was up and walking the hallways of the cardiac intensive care unit. Since all of the patients are asked to walk for rehab and there really isn't much to look at, naturally you can't help but compare patients. I caught my Dad several times muttering under his breath about how slow the other guys were walking and how the pace was "barely above a shuffle." Dad made it his goal to "blow away the competition" each time he did his laps around the unit. The thing that cracked me up was that Dad was at least 20 years younger than the other patients -so I don't think they were very fast striders to begin with.
Dad amazed me with how strong he was at fighting off his pain by being focused on his rehab. My Dad almost fainted when I was born and can't stand the thought of blood, but he did just fine with all of the IVs, tubing, and scars that covered his body. He kept his sense of humor and he was able to keep a positive attitude about his situation.
This Thanksgiving, I am even more thankful than ever for family.
I'm astounded that Tygh was able to watch the kids for several weekends so I could travel down to help with Dad. If you've ever read my older blog entries, you'd see that usually the kids get into major trouble when Tygh is watching them. This time was different, everyone was on their best behavior.
I wasn't able to be around for Halloween, (see the pic on the right to see where Lucie and I were for trick or treating). Tygh braved the ward trunk or treat all on his own and he put together the kids' costumes in my absence. What a great Dad he is.
I'm so grateful that they caught Dad's heart attack early and that we have such amazing medical technology available these days. Dad is now out of the hospital and recovering at home in Vancouver.
I'm grateful that my Mom was so strong and she is just so good for Dad. My brothers were so supportive during this family crisis. It was great to see how well we were all able to rally around my parents and it brought us closer together.
So as I scarfed down my turkey and pumpkin pie yesterday, I thought about how amazing the gift of time with your family is.