Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Frailty of Life

As I grow older, I seem to realize the frailty of life more and more. Family friends start dying and even my own family has started getting into serious scrapes. A year and a half ago my younger brother fell off a grain bin shattering his leg in 50 plus pieces and was told he might never walk again without a severe limp. Fortunately he walks just fine these days but I remember thinking how empty this world would have been without him had he fallen just a foot to either side of where he landed. Then a week ago on a Friday morning, I found myself thinking similar thoughts as I drove the 65 miles to the hospital where my mom was being Life Flighted due to a "heart problem."

All I could think of was that she was having a heart attack and wondering how she of all people could be having one. My parents are two of the healthiest people I know. They eat all the right foods, exercised daily by riding 20 miles on bicycles, walking 4 miles in inclimate weather or riding their bicycled on rollers in the basement during the worst of weather. They have ridden their bicycles across the United States not once but four times. Growing tired of that, they have ridden in large hundreds of mile long loops here and there, including other countries, where they would like to explore. On my mom's side of the family, I have known all my great grandparents because they all lived long, long lives. Not one has died early and definitely no one has had heart problems. So how could someone eighteen years older than myself by having a heart attack?

I arrived first at the hospital emergency room and literally had about thirty seconds to ask my mom how her flight was and tell her I love her before she was whisked off into a room looking pale and very frail on the bed. The doctor told me she was having a heart attack and that they would take good care of her. He also asked if I had any questions but the overwhelming crush of emotions didn't permit me to ask any. I told him to do what he had to do and I would ask questions later. Soon my father and wife would be there with me waiting and the following day my brother. We were all there together waiting to see the keystone of our family whole and healthy once again.

As things turned out, though we wouldn't know until later, the heart attack can only be described as an accident. The interior lining of an artery way down on the bottom side of the heart had ripped and the body had done what it does in just this situation and clots the artery to allow it to heal. In most cases, the area of the heart is so insignificant that doctors don't do anything but since my mom was in so much pain, the ran the balloon up her arteries and cleared her of the clot, which immediately caused the pain to go away. In doing so, they noticed that her arteries were big and completely free of plaque or other deposits and said that she is a specimen of health. They also said that there would be no damage to the muscle tissues of the heart and that she would be able to go home after a 72 hour period of observation. Still it was a long 72 hours.

We all took turns and spent large amounts of time up in the hospital walking the hallways with my mom who just hates being in a hospital room. They only allowed her to walk between elevators F and H so that she wouldn't get out of communication range of the machinery that we had to drag along with and their computers. When you are used to riding 18 miles a night on a bicycle and living out on a farm miles from anyone else, that distance isn't very much so we cheated a bit here and there but never got caught. It was depressing to see my mom among others there shuffling along in the halls, pushing their machinery, looking pale and in much worse shape. So by Monday when my mom was given a clean bill of health and allowed to leave, we had to run to keep up. She wasn't the pale, frail woman on the cart having a heart attack but a picture of health once again. I like it that way.


sage said...

Glad it turned out to be a false alarm and that you have your mom back... It's hard watching parents age as I've been discovering first hand.

geri said...

Glad all is well Ed. It is hard to watch someone you love about to be snatched away from you. My mom had a hard attack some 4 years ago, although she is fine now but I knew she would've been tons better if she didn't have it. Life is indeed frail and fleeting.

Sissy T. said...

I don't know you yet but I will tell you that I will be keeping your blog handy always! I like your writings. Good or bad news very welcome from my fellow life travelers; this way we get to know each other. Thank you. And what a nice list of blogs you follow that I can check into also. Again thank you. Couldn't find an 'about me' here in your blog. Hmmm.

Beau said...

That's great news after a really tough few days- so glad she's doing better. Such an event really does make one think about things.

The Real Mother Hen said...


I've been thinking of writing a bucket list, and I'm going to get to it NOW!

R. Sherman said...

Thank God for modern medicine. I'm glad things turned out well. I hope she and your Dad are preparing a new bike trip.

BTW, I recommend a trip down the Danube from Regensburg, Germany to at least Vienna, Austria. I did it years ago withe the EMBLOS. Very fun.


TC said...

Yikes. Sorry to hear you had to go through that, though I'm obviously relieved that for now it was a false alarm.

I feel so out of the loop sometimes lately as I haven't been around the blogosphere much. Hopefully I'll be able to pick back up my blogging/reading schedule soon and keep up on everyone's lives.

Ed Abbey said...

All - Thanks for your comments. My mom had another setback last night and is back in the hospital but it doesn't appear to be heart related at this time. She should be back on the farm later today or this evening.

Sissy T - A special shout out to you to thank you for stopping by. I don't have an about me section because I wish to remain anonymous or as close to it as possible to allow me the freedom to write what I want without worrying about repercussions.

Murf said...

Good news! One good thing is that I don't have to see my parents grow old. Like Big A says, it's better to burn out than fade away.

Ron said...

When my dad died at 54, it hit me pretty hard. Life is short, got to make the best of every day.

Glad your mom is hanging in there.


fullfreezer said...

Glad your Mom is doing well, I hope she gets to come home soon. If you were at a major hospital in Iowa, my office is just off elevator I.

Ed Abbey said...

Murf - True but I hope I get a lot of time before that happens.

Ron - My mom is currently 54 so I know what you mean.

Judy - The next time I am in, I will be sure to drop by. I hope it won't be for many years to come. :)

Woody said...

I'm so pleased to hear that your mom is alright.

PhilippinesPhil said...

Ya think its bad now? Wait til your my age. People around me are dropping like flies. Sometimes it makes me wish I drank so I wouldn't have to dwell on all this mortality crap.