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.