Thursday, August 23, 2007

Health - There's no end to it until The End...

My heart attack in January produced it's first "scare" the other day. I had just arrived in the parking lot of the Heart Center for my exercise class when I felt a slight pain in my chest. I didn't think too much of it but as I walked to the gym the pain grew in intensity from a 1 to a 4, and it didn't seem to want to slow down.

I went ahead and had them do the routine blood pressure check and it was fine. I told them I didn't feel that great and was going to pass on the exercise. They asked what kind of pain and I told them the chest.

Seconds later they had me hooked to a heart monitor and oxygen tank. They the nurse gave me two squirts of Nitroglycerin. All of this helped and within five minutes the pain was gone. Meanwhile they called my doctor who happened to be at the nearby hospital emergency room. He said to drive over and he would check me out.

A couple of hours later he said it wasn't a heart attack but he wanted to see what caused it and scheduled a heart cath for the following morning. I stayed there overnight.

The heart cath went well and he found nothing wrong with the stents he installed in January. So after all that he concluded that it was probably due to stress brought on by my mother's recent death and two brothers who also suffer from serious illnesses.

So the end result is that "stress" does manifest itself in harmful ways. Therefore, it goes without saying that avoiding stress is good for you. Certainly is for me.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Death In My Family

My 85 year old Mother passed away this week. Heart attack with too much damage to repair. We got to see and talk to her before she passed on.

Although I'm sad, I'm also joyful that she lived a long time. I'm also pleased that she avoided the two things she dreaded most: slowly dying of cancer and slowly dying in a nursing home. She is surely Up There looking down saying she won on those two points.

Her last three years were difficult but she didn't complain. And she was clear-headed enough to repeatedly express her wishes to be cremated and her ashes distributed by my father's grave, her parent's graves and her aunt's grave (the person who raised her from birth after her mother died).

There was a gathering of relatives and friends at her beloved Catholic Church in Jonesville. We laughed and cried together, all expressing a loss that can never be replaced. The Priest held Mass and spoke of her as if he had known her all his life, even though it was a few fleeting moments when he took Communion to her at home. All of this was followed by the traditional meal for all those attending the services. People far and wide brought food and flowers and photos and memories to be shared by all.

I saw people I had grown up with but had not seen for thirty or more years. We all talked like nothing had changed knowing full well that our accumulated ailments and wrinkles alone presented a more truthful expression of our unstoppable aging process. It was fun talking to them and in many ways it reflected their belief that I'm just temporarily away from home.

I had the good fortune to have my Judy by my side the entire time. She was my strength when I needed it the most.

And so ends another chapter in my life.