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Thursday, June 11, 2009

911 and Dirty Carpet

Yesterday was an interesting day, and I'm thankful to say that's all it was. It had the potential to be devastating, so I'll take interesting anytime.

I got a call from an unfamiliar phone yesterday at 8:50 AM. It was my dad. Recognizing his voice, but not the number, triggered what I think is an understandable inquiry:

"where are you?"

I wasn't even remotely prepared for his answer.

"I'm in Methodist Hospital."

It took a couple of seconds of suspended animation for me to absorb those words into my brain. My heart intercepted the message and immediately sent a tsunami of emotions throughout the maze of muscles, bone, veins, ligaments, organs and anything else encased by my skin. Then the message finally reached my brain for processing.

About 1:30 AM Wednesday morning, he woke up with chest pains. Like a true former Marine and retired San Francisco cop, he chose to power through it for 90 minutes. It was only at 3:00 AM, when he felt his left arm growing eerily weak, and when he felt very light headed, that his will broke down and he called 911.

Within minutes, paramedics arrived at his door. They had been pulled from the scene of a fire to tend to my dad. Three medics came in to his house. Here's my dad, 3 AM, chest pains for an hour and a half, and he has the presence of mind to notice that one of the three paramedics is tracking soot from the fire scene onto his carpet. He wasn't rude about it. It's his way of diminishing the severity of the moment.

Dad is the Grand Poobah of the "I Hate Attention" society. So when the ambulance pulled up to his house, with the siren blaring and lights announcing to the entire neighborhood that there's something going down at his house...at 3 AM, he was very embarrassed.

Now back to the 8:50 AM phone call. He wasn't calling to let me know so I could come down and visit him. He was calling because he had no other way to take care of some very important personal business.

He had an appointment for the next morning with the barber that he was going to have to cancel. He didn't have his phone number, so I had to go to his house and get the number for him.

That's why he called!

Anyone who doesn't truly know my dad might be offended by that. Anyone who does know my dad is probably laughing. As I wrote about last year on his birthday, my dad is a man's man. Independent. Tough. An emotional rock. Bullet proof. But 73 years of a clean, well-lived life can get even the very best of us. We are all having to come to terms with the absurd fact that he, in fact, is not bullet proof. Now he needs to realize that despite the loss of my mom, there is still a number of people who love him dearly and want need to know when he's ailing. I think he understands that better today than he did yesterday.

As I've been writing this, I've gotten two phone calls from him. In the first, he said it didn't look like he was going to be released today. He sounded dejected. The second call, just 10 minutes later was after his doctor came to see him. It looks like he will be released today, after all. He was very happy about that.

One last observation before I wrap up this post for the day. I think this will give you some insight into the discipline and character of this amazing man. After he called 911 and he knew that he was going to be taken from the house and not returning to bed, with an accelerated heartbeat of over 130 beats per minute, a weakening left arm, light headedness...the man made his bed. If the Queen of England were coming to my house, I'm not sure I'd make my bed.

Just got a third phone call. He has been in bed for pretty much 30 hours straight with a terminal case of bed head. He wants me to bring him a hat for when he's discharged.

Such a diva.

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