Sunday, June 16, 2013
It's Father's Day, and I'm going to spend the evening with my folks. I'm glad. The Dude just lost his stepdad, and he's not close with his natural father. I am grateful that I have a dad in my life, and grateful that I can still celebrate father's day with him.
He had a heart transplant in 2009. It's miraculous. He had his first heart attack when I was 12. He was 34. He was a heavy smoker back then, and worked at a high-stress job. Heart disease runs in the family. Since 1982, he's had three heart bypass surgeries (two triples, one quad), multiple stents implanted. His condition steadily declined through the years. He had a defibrillator implanted. In 2008, his defibrillator went off. He had had another heart attack. After he was released from the hospital that time, the defibrillator went off again...and again, and again. 240 times in one day. You know how, on tv, when the ER staff yells "Clear!" and they zap the guy with the paddles and the whole body jumps? It's just like that with an implant. The force of it would knock him across the room and was excruciatingly painful.
After that, he was diagnosed with terminal congestive heart failure. When the end was near, in the hospital once again, he was airlifted to the city and given a ventricular assist device. He was hooked up to this awful machine while being placed on the transplant list. On Veteran's Day, 2009, a donor became available. After the transplant (and a three-month stay in intensive care), my old dad was back. He works. He golfs. The guy is more active than me. All they would tell us about the donor was that he was a 28 year old man who was killed in a motorcycle accident.
There was a while there where it was almost certain that he wouldn't make it to the next holiday or birthday. Now it's been almost four years and I still have my dad. I am more grateful than I can actually express in words. Happy father's day, dad.