Monday, May 9, 2016

Dad's Heart Attack

About 2 weeks ago my dad called me and said he was mowing his yard but kept having to stop because he would get short of breath and sick feeling. I told him not to mow it anymore and I would find someone to mow it for him from now on. Then he called me one evening the next week and said he had been having some chest pains almost daily for a few days and wanted to know if I could help get him a doctor's appointment somewhere. I told him I would try to get him into my doctor's office as soon as possible but to let me know if it got worse and I would take him to the ER. He said he would. I called the next morning and my doctor said they couldn't see him until next week because he was a new patient. I called Dad and told him and he said "I really don't think I should wait that long". That is when I knew it was more serious than he was letting on. Luckily, I was able to get him in the next day with my doctor once I further explained the situation. So, that day he stayed home and rested, and then decided to come to Noah's t-ball game that night. He said he had chest pains that day, but felt better while we were at the game.

His appointment was at 3:45 Thursday May 5th. 6 months ago I had bought our family tickets to Frozen on Ice in Little Rock, so we were planning on leaving for that at 4:30. I told him to call me as soon as he got out and let me know what they said (I was hoping for indigestion or some scheduled tests - wishful thinking, I know). We were on the way to Little Rock and he called me. I could tell from his voice it wasn't good. He said "they want me to go to the hospital right now. They said I could have a heart attack at any time". I immediately told him I was turning around and he said "No, no, no you go on and just call when you get done". (My brother Eli was in Little Rock at the doctor and had 2 ballgames to coach that night so he wasn't able to be there.) I kept insisting to Dad that I come with him, he kept insisting I didn't. So, I hung up the phone and told Nathan to call his mom and tell her she can have my ticket because I needed to be with dad. He had no one else to be there with him and I know his medical history. So, I quickly drove back home and jumped in Nathan's truck and took off to the hospital. My dad does not have a cell phone so the whole drive to the hospital I was looking for him to make sure he hadn't wrecked or something. I am not going to lie - I was scared and upset. I let myself cry until I was about 15 minutes out from the hospital and then had to get it together so he wouldn't know. I could tell he was scared on  the phone and I didn't want to make it worse by being a mess when I got there. He was just getting checked into the ER when I got there.

After a few hours in the ER with blood work, chest X-ray, and lots of doctors coming and going it was determined from his enzyme levels that he had experienced another heart attack and we would need to do a heart cath as soon as possible to decide what the damage was and what to do next. His cardiologist wanted to start him on a blood thinner immediately, but we had a problem. When dad had a heart attack 10 years ago, he was allergic to the blood thinner they put him on and he ended up in ICU for a week from the reaction he had to it. Unfortunately, neither of us could remember what medicine that was. The doctor stressed to me that I needed to find out immediately what that was or he was going to start him on Plavix and hope that wasn't it. I knew Plavix sounded familiar and did not want him to give it to him, so for the next hour I spent on the phone trying to get in touch with the hospital he was in for the allergic reaction and have them look in the files from 10 years ago and have them let the hospital know what he was allergic to - that is not the easiest task at 9:00 p.m.! Thank God I found a very helpful person and we got the information! While this is all happening, my phone was dying and I didn't want to miss a call about his allergies so I had to go to the store and buy a wall phone charger so I could be with dad and have access to the phone. They said it would be awhile before they could do the cath so I ran to the store to get a charger. When I got back he wasn't in the ER room anymore  - apparently 5 minutes after I left they decided to go ahead and do the heart cath!

So, I sat in the waiting room for about an hour and a half and prayed, cried a little, then prayed some more. Then they came and got me and took me to the cath room. To do the heart cath they went in through his right wrist with a cath and over to his heart. The doctor said the main artery on the front of his heart was 95% blocked and another artery on the side was 60% blocked. He was able to get 2 stents into the artery that was 95% blocked but wanted to wait on the one that was 60% blocked and do a stress test in a month and see how it is functioning and decide a plan from there. We got him in his regular room and about midnight I headed home to try to rest. I went back up the next day and visited with him until I had to go get the kids. Then he was able to come home the next day!

He was never in any pain in the hospital (other than some bad blood draws) and was walking around with no trouble. Once he was released he insisted he could drive himself home! So, I followed him to the pharmacy to get the prescriptions filled and made sure he understood how to take each of them and then he insisted I not follow him home - but made him promise to call me when he got there. He made it home fine and said he has been taking him medicines and had some visitors and phone calls and is taking it easy.

It may have been 10 years ago since dad called me about his last heart attack, but when dad called me all those same scared emotions came back. It was easier this time in that he wasn't actively having a heart attack and wasn't in any pain. As silly as it sounds, a harder part was feeling like I needed to be in 2 places at one time. I had to choose between my kids wanting me and my dad needing me - and it was obvious where I needed to be - but it made it no less easy when they looked at me all sad and had to hurry and tell me bye and wonder why I was upset. I didn't have kids 10 years ago, so that part was easier. Another difference was social media. I didn't have Facebook 10 years ago, but was able to ask for prayers and even let friends and family know what was going on without having to make a bunch of phone calls. I loved reading through everyone's comments while I was sitting in the waiting room. You know you have lots of friends and family - but seeing them all offer to help and check on you just reminds you how lucky you are! Now, we are hoping his mew medications work well and the stress test goes good in a month and he is around for a long time!  Thanks to everyone for the prayers, phone calls, messages, and texts. They definitely made this whole ordeal easier!

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