Many times there will be gentle reminders of what life is all about. The smile of a child. A Springtime thunderstorm after a long winter. A good meal like Becky makes. Then there are the days that life just smacks you in the head with a full grown Yellowfin tuna and screams into your brain just how important it is to get up and do whatever it is that you want to do. Monday the 21st of March was such a day for me, when I got a phone call from my sister saying that my Dad had a heart attack. I spent the next hour pretty convinced that he had died, as every report I got was bad. As a paramedic, I know the odds of getting somebody back from where he was. Pulseless V-fib, we call it. Full blockage of the Widowmaker artery, the one that supplies blood to most of the heart. Shocks were administered, eight right on scene before they even loaded him in the ambulance. Drugs were administered, epinephrine and Amioderone meant to get his heart beating normally again. Nothing was working.
Dad was supposed to have been on a road trip with his brothers. Headed to San Fransisco for some family business and bonding time. But the business had been called off at literally the last minute, and Dad had gone to his “gym” that day instead. His gym just happened to be the cardiac rehab gym in a facility that also had Mom’s dialysis and a medical clinic. Remarkably, that day at the clinic, an ER doc and a cardiac nurse just happened to be filling in. He ran the code and had made a call to the hospital ER where Dad was headed to give them a report. He told that doctor not to expect much, as nothing was working. The medics worked on Dad all the way to the hospital, with a couple more shocks and more meds. They wheeled him into the ER still doing CPR and gave him another shock and even more meds. That ER doctor consulted with everybody, and they all agreed that they would give Dad one more shock, his twelfth. If that didn’t work, they would stop the code because they were just not going to get him back.
Well, that last shock worked. By some miracle, it worked. And over the past two weeks Dad went from being intubated, cooled to 91 degrees, balloon angioplasty to squeegee out the crap in the Widowmaker, and doped to the gills with drugs that helped him heal but also caused horrific nightmares, to sitting in his big blue chair in his house, flying my little toy helicopter, talking of nothing and everything, and recovering from his death.
This of course has done nothing for my “sit around and procrastinate” self. That’s the guy sitting in my head with several others, including the panicky “HOLY CRAP GET IT DONE NOW WHO CARES ABOUT THE QUALITY IT HAS TO BE FINISHED! GO! GO! GO!” guy. I try to ignore him. But there is also the “Time to Chase Those Dreams” guy, and the “Hey, call your friends and family and tell them you love them” guy. And of course, the “Hey man, life is good” guy. Lately he has been speaking loudly.
“Life is Good” he says. “Beautiful, loving wife. Amazingly stunning kids that you couldn’t love more. Roof over head, food on table, family and friends that make every day so very sweet. You’ve got a brain and some talent so go use it and have fun. Enjoy this time, man. It is fleeting and wonderful. Oh, and let the dogs out to run more.”
So I listen to him. I remember to see the world like my kids see it. Full of amazing things in simple pleasures. Dragonflies and seed sprouts and the flutter in my stomach that happens every time I see the beautiful smile of my wife. And sitting with my father in his living room, flying my little toy helicopter, talking of nothing and everything, and recovering from his death.
And it is right that we are here. In the living room. Living. And my God how lucky I am to still have my father to spend time with. To hear his wisdom and his wisecracks. To hear his voice say “Hey bud.” When for one hour on that Monday I thought he was gone, and now want nothing more than to spend time enjoying my time with him.
Life is too short to "what if" yourself in a negative way. What if I can't do it? What if I suck? What if I fail? My project for this week is doing a good "What if" every day. Today I thought to myself "Self... What if you accept that challenge to take a self portrait picture every day and actually do it and post it when you're done?" So I did. What the heck. My friend Wendy over at Wendelonia challenged, and life is too short not to accept a good challenge. And I'm challenging my Dad, too. And my other friends. And what the heck, I challenge YOU, too. Dad got a second chance at life. I'm not waiting for a second chance anymore, I'm going to use the first chance.
Oh, and I'm going to let the dogs out to run more, too.