- Posted February 4, 2010 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Life after a heart attack
In 1991, my father suffered his first heart attack at the age of 54. After several exams, doctors concluded that bypass surgery was necessary to unblock five (5) coronary arteries clogged by plaque and years of smoking. On May 13, 1991 my father successfully underwent open heart surgery at the Audie L. Murphy Veterans Hospital in San Antonio, Texas leaving him with a deep open cut on his chest and leg where the long vein used to replace his blocked arteries was taken. His doctors strongly advised him to make drastic lifestyle changes to avoid another heart attack or any future blockage. They also warned him that his artery clean-up would only be good for 5-10 years if he was to make the necessary changes. To say the least, my father made several changes that kept him going like maintaining both his stress level and blood pressure low plus taking a daily aspirin and eating as healthy as possible. He made everyday count...turning in his classic business shoes for a pair of black NIKE men’s walking shoes trying to fit in exercise somehow. His health scare had turned him into a better father, friend and supporter. His attitude, sense of humor and love for life were contagious.
However, the one thing that could’ve completely given him a 2nd chance at life would’ve been to quit smoking cold turkey. Unfortunately, his addiction that started at the age of 13 was greater than reason or any change he could’ve made. And as a result, he was sent back to the hospital in 2004 after suffering a “silent heart attack.” At that point, doctors declared my father “inoperable”. His heart was too weak to sustain any intervention. Instead they sent him home and gave him a one-year life sentence. As you can imagine, 2005 turned out to be the greatest year ever.... However, like any story there’s always a turning point.
At the peak of such a blessed year, right before celebrating the New Year, I received the phone call that would change my life forever. It was my father’s doctor telling me to hurry to the hospital. He told me that my father was dying, that he had suffered a massive heart attack and that his time on earth was limited. I drove to Laredo, Texas from San Antonio like a flying bullet. I called my sisters and in less than two hours we were all there. However, we didn’t make it on time. We begged our Lord to spare his life, but God’s plan was different than ours.
On December 27, 2005, I lost the greatest man I’ve ever known. I lost my best friend. I lost part of myself. And on the last day of the year, instead of ringing in the New Year, I buried the man I loved more than life itself. The man that left behind an amazing family of five daughters and 12 nieces/nephews! The man who had worked tirelessly to defend the rights of so many in the courtroom...The man whose green eyes had made a lasting impression for 67 years!
When I received my father’s personal belongings at the hospital, I was reminded why he was no longer with us. His faithful companion for than fifty years fell out of his pocket....a green box of Salem cigarettes!