My Dad Had a Heart Attack That Almost Ended With a Watery Grave

My Dad had a heart attack and survived. He beat the odds. His Doctors told him he only had a 20% chance of surviving. His main artery where they installed an emergency stint was 100% blocked. They told him if he wasn’t so old he probably wouldn’t have made it. At 71 his heart had time to adapt to the clogged artery and compensated for it by increasing blood flow through his other ones.

71 is still way too young to die of a heart attack!

My dad was lucky. Your Dad, your brother or even you or me might not be so fortunate. That’s why you can’t ever take the Russian roulette chances my Dad did with his life. Ever!

My Dad is extremely active for his age. He starts each day stretching for 15 minutes followed by a series of push ups and sits ups. He golfs multiple times a week and walks his dogs regularly. His height and weight are in line where all the charts tell him it should be. He looks good and for the most part feels great! Except, that is, for the annoying periodic chest pain that he described as “being stabbed by a butter knife” that cropped up a few times in the months proceeding his heart attack.

He ignored the warning signs writing them off as a “bad muscle strain or something.”

Until that is, he had his heart attack. As fate would almost have it he was snorkeling 100 yards offshore free diving and taking pictures of Florida’s beautiful fish and coral 20′ below the surface. The exertion and atmospheric pressure triggered his heart attack.

That could have been it for my pop’s. He could have dove down one last time only to have never surfaced again. All because he was too stubborn, ignorant or proud to have taken seriously the unexplained pain that periodically cropped up in his chest and was gone a few uncomfortable minutes later.

He was able to make it back to shore and across the street to a convenience store to get some aspirin “to help with the pain and thin his blood just in case it was a heat attack.” He didn’t even have enough strength to get the safety packaging open. The clerk had to help him. I wish the clerk hadn’t and instead called 911!  The story doesn’t end there though. That’s because my Dad didn’t want to go to a hospital “three hours from home.”

ARGH!!!

A three-hour drive later after being curled up in pain in his backseat, his grandson at the wheel, he was wheeled into emergency surgery at his local hospital.

He beat the odds in getting there. The surgery saved his life. He returned home three days later, immediately packed his RV and drove 2 hours east to a friend’s house to escape another potential tragedy, Hurricane Matthew.
My Dad was beyond lucky. I don’t want anyone I know to be forced to dodge the bullet our family just did. There’s nothing worth risking your life for. Not “feeling silly” like my Dad said he would have if he went to the hospital only to find out it was a pulled muscle. Not going right to the hospital when you’re not “close to home” and because you don’t want to be “inconvenienced.”

Being 6′ under will end any inconvenience forever!

…for you that is.

His wife will gladly take the inconvenience of nursing him back to health over standing over his casket. My Dad has escaped the grave and subsequently has some valuable lessons to share with all of us.

First, don’t be a knucklehead. Your health is nothing to gamble with. Ever! Nothing should take precedent over heeding any signs of potential trouble and checking them out immediately!

Second, what you look like on the outside may have nothing to do with what’s going on on the inside. My Dad’s exercise routine and seemingly good shape couldn’t overcome a hereditary disposition to plaque in his arteries.
Third, good muscle tone and low body fat doesn’t equal cardiovascular health. Stretching, push ups, sit ups and even walking don’t elevate the heart rate the way strenuous cardiovascular exercise does. My Dad didn’t run because his knees couldn’t take it and his heart atrophied accordingly.

Today my Dad is planning his comeback. I have no doubt his disciplined routine will now include daily cardiovascular exercise. Always with a heart rate monitor though as his main muscle is now permanently damaged.

Everyone should be as lucky as my father. Nobody should have to go through what he did to find out how lucky they are. And no family should have to experience what ours almost did if not for him being so lucky and beating the odds.

They say you never really grow up until you lose a parent. I’m going to gladly enjoy being a kid for hopefully many more years to come!

For everyone who loves their Dad, their brother or themselves please pass this along. Someone might get another shot at life because you do!

Carpe Diem