Tuesday, April 01, 2008


Facing Mortality

Last November I caught a cold which led to the worst, hardest cough I think I've ever had. One result of this was my entire chest ached. After the cold was over my chest continued to ache but slowly felt better.

But at the end of December I still felt an ache in my chest. Having worried about this for weeks, I decided to visit the emergency room over the New Year's holiday. After an ekg and x-rays, no problems were detected but the doctor suggested a stress test.

Procrastinating for two months, I finally made arrangements. I flunked the initial stress test due to an arrhythmia. I've known for many years that I have a slight arrhythmia but was told it was no reason for concern. But a Myoview stress test was scheduled.

I flunked it too and the doctor recommended an angiogram. We scheduled one for a few days later. I fretted over this and worried tremendously about my expected life span. Would I live long enough to see my 11 year old daughter graduate from high school? How many of my youngest son's football exploits would I be there to cheer? Would I see any of them marry and have children of their own or get to watch their careers develop?

Angiograms do have some dangers of reaction to the dye used or bleeding afterwards with a remote chance of death. I was reminded of the old values clarification exercise of "If you had X amount of time to live, what would you do?"

I quickly realized that I had pretty much done enough for personal pleasure, adventure, excitement, etc. to satisfy myself. The one thing I wanted was to be with my kids. Especially my two minor children who I strongly feel need me to be there for them until they grow up. I must admit that on more than one moment my eyes watered with sadness.

The process of the angiogram turned out to be painless and, thanks to the medications, even pleasant. The two nurses that cared for me happened to be mothers of friends of my youngest son. Friends every where, one of the happy conditions of small town life. After the angiogram was finished and I was barely emerging from the "relaxation" of the medication, I heard the doctor say, "Your heart is fine. You have the heart of a 10 year old." I managed a smile and a slight thanks.

Yesterday, I had the follow-up visit. Again, the doctor stated my heart was fine and he hoped his arteries were in as good as shape as mine. Nothing further needed.

I'm thankful for the wonderful doctors, nurses, medical facilities and treatments available to us in this day and this country. Most of all, I'm thankful that, barring unforeseen circumstances, I'll get to watch my children play basketball and football, graduate from high school and college, start careers and have families.

Thank you, Dear Lord.

I'm so glad that you are OK! Sometimes we all need a reality check like that, just not too many of them.

Good point about the reality check. It's awful easy to lose track of what really matters.
Yeah, nothing like that kind of reality check to get the perspective back in the right place. Glad everything is OK.
Thanks, marbel. It's also nice knowing there are people out there who care.
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