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It's Just a Tremor

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On Saturday, my father had an "acute heart episode." That's doctor-speak for the precursor to a heart attack. If a heart attack is an earthquake, my dad had a tremor.

older man in hospital
The day started off normal. He was mowing the lawn with my youngest brother and felt like he was having a panic attack. It was not a panic attack. They took him to urgent care, where he was later transported by ambulance to the cardiac intensive care unit. I got the call from my mom, and I could tell that bad news was to come. Later on she would tell me that she didn't even remember making the call. My father was going in for an angiogram. They were sending a camera up in to his heart to find out the cause of the pain.

My parents' house is an hour away from ours, but we jumped in the car, loaded the baby and all of his gear as fast as we could, not knowing what news awaited us upon our arrival -- all the while staying calm and focused. We made it in time to see my father off before his procedure. It's a strange feeling seeing your father, someone you've always seen as strong and invincible, in a vulnerable position. He had tubes and enough needles in him to resemble a pincushion. We gave him a kiss and off he went - wheeled down a white corridor to the operating room.

An hour passed as we all waited for the news. Finally, the doctor came in and told us that my father has 60% blockage in one artery and 30% blockage in two minor arteries. My father also has stage two diabetes, something that he has most likely had for a while but had never been properly diagnosed. He was going to be fine, but nothing could be done to reverse the damage of years of unhealthy living. Stents are only placed in the heart if there is 70% blockage or more. So, the pressure is now on him - to loose 50 lbs, to eat better, to exercise, to take his medication, to stop smoking. He can keep the blockage from getting worse by taking these dramatic steps.

Before the doctor left, he made a special effort to remind my brothers' and me that we share half of my dad's genes, making us a high risk for diabetes and heart disease. That phrase repeated in my head, "we are half of my father's genes." I mean, of course I know that but I always think of the good things I get from him -- like my creativity, my Native American heritage, or my love of the History Channel. This has, in turn, made me think of Joe. He's only 7 months old, but I am now realizing that he has a history of heart disease, diabetes and cancer on both sides of the family. And, it's never too early to start a healthy lifestyle.

I have made a promise to myself today, not only to make sure that my family is happy, but also healthy. I realized this weekend that it is just as important as all the other things I do for them. And, I can start with me, by becoming a role model for healthy living. Exercise and a healthy diet will become the norm instead of something we just "try" to do. As for my father, we're all in it with him. We all promised him a way to make healthy food taste good and we better because he promised us, that he's going to be around for a long, long time.

Follow Christina's journey towards a healthy lifestyle.



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1 comments so far | Post a comment now
Mama Montoya March 28, 2009, 3:33 PM

Sometimes we need a kick in the “nalgas” (butt), to realize we need to take charge our health. It’s better not to wait for something so scary to happen.


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