Tag Archives: Health

A Heartbeat Away

Between almost awake and half asleep, my brain registers discomfort.  Oh no! An earache!  I had so many earaches as a kid and hate ‘em. Just hate ‘em!

The throbbing’s the worst. Each heartbeat bangs on the ear drum.  No matter how you twist or turn, you literally feel, and hear, every beat of the heart.  Like a marching band, the regular beat on the drum creates a disconcerting percussion concert.

It’s fingernails down the blackboard!

I try to go back to sleep, but things on the “to do” list start cluttering the mind.  Too tired to get up, too conscious to sleep, several hours of nothingness tick away in the dark with only my thoughts and the striking of the ear drum with each beat of the heart.

In a way, it’s fascinating.  The never seen heart constantly pumps life in rhythm.  The body, soul and spirit, it rises, and falls, in a life dance with the ever present heartbeat on the ear drum. Continue reading A Heartbeat Away

HEART OF HOPE (2) – My Daughter’s Transplant Story

“Daddy, they called! They have a heart!!”

(Read Part 1 here)

A new heart!  Renewed hope!!  A chance for Shelby to live a full life!!  It’s exactly what we hoped and prayed for!

But wait!  Wait…

For one to live, someone doesn’t.

Somewhere, a family’s tears flow. Someplace, loved ones grieve. Somebody is hurting, mourning a tragic loss.

Their hope, it’s gone.

Yet, in the deepest of deep grief, they share. They share life through their loss.

To someone else, some unknown person to them … to Shelby … they pass along a heart, the very beat of life. Continue reading HEART OF HOPE (2) – My Daughter’s Transplant Story

HEART OF HOPE (1) – My Daughter’s Transplant Story

Phone rings.  3:42 AM.  Never a good call at that time.

I listen, shocked.  Adrenaline rushes.  My fingers tremble on my shirt buttons.

Twelve minutes later in the ER, several people explain that Shelby, my 20 year old daughter, has an enlarged heart that’s only working at 15% capacity.

I can’t get to her.  People everywhere, beside her, in the way. I can’t reach her, and she’s slipping away.

It’s almost ten minutes before I can bend over to see her in the bed, pale.  So pale.  Shallow breathing.  Hands and fingers, blue and cold.

I speak softly, fully understanding I may not ever get to again. “Hey Sweetheart.”

Her eyelids flutter before opening her blue eyes that are there, but slipping.

I see the recognition as she whispers, “Daddy, I don’t want to die.” Continue reading HEART OF HOPE (1) – My Daughter’s Transplant Story

Dad, Does Insurance Cover an Ambulance

I didn’t recognize the number and almost didn’t answer. “Hello.”

It was my third son, Todd, who has an adventurous spirit.  “Hey, Dad. Whatchu up to?”

“Just watching a soccer game on TV”, I said.  “I thought you were in San Antonio playing in the college club soccer tournament this weekend?”

“Yeah, I am.”

“Y’all doing alright?”

“Yes sir. We won the first one, lost the second, and tied right now.”

Todd pressed on. “Hey, does our insurance cover ambulance rides?”

“Yeah. Why do you ask?”

“I was talking to some guys and I didn’t know.”

“Yeah, any time there’s an accident, it’s covered.” I was getting confused. “Where are you?”

“I’m at our game.”

“Are you finished, or about to start?,”

“No, the game’s going on now.”

“Well Todd, why aren’t you playing?”

“I was, but I was making a steal and slid to clear the ball out of bounds.  The guy from the other team fell on me and when he did, there was a loud pop in my neck.”

“Oh man!! Are you hurt?  Need to go to the doctor?”

Todd matter of factly said, “These guys think I do.”

“What guys?”

“The paramedics.” Continue reading Dad, Does Insurance Cover an Ambulance

You Come From Good Stock

Three months ago. Saturday. 8:04 AM. Work rings. Never good. Answer phone.

“Dee’s mom called. His wife is a nurse and woke up and heard him gurgling. She called 9-1-1 and started CPR. They don’t know how long he was without oxygen. He’s at the ER now, but non-responsive.”

My heart sunk. We’d worked together 23 years. Dee’s a quality guy. I knew then I’d never see him again, not the same.  At minimal, brain damage from oxygen deprivation would forever change him.

~~Something awakened Dee’s wife, Alanda, at 6:15 AM.  She heard Dee gurgling from fluid filling his lungs. She flipped on the light, called 9-1-1 and started CPR.

Alanda saved Dee’s life. He’d crossed death’s doorway, but at the threshold, Alanda grabbed the tip of his little toe toenail and began pulling him back.

Five minutes later paramedics arrived. They took over CPR and used an AED.

One electrical shock to the heart. Two. Continue reading You Come From Good Stock

Life Changes

One of the most consistent things in life is that it changes.

Change constantly swirls around the atmosphere of life in the spiritual, emotional and physical spheres.

Change allows sunshine, and rain, to fall below.

It’s not all bad, not all good.

It is, however, inevitable.

Yet change, maybe just for me, is usually difficult and often seems unkind, unremitting. Continue reading Life Changes

Brahm’s Lullaby

In college I worked one summer at a funeral home.  Morbid? Maybe, but I wanted to be around the death process to understand, not fear it.

Sometimes though things, places, events — they change you, change the way you think, change the way you see and feel life.   That summer changed me, one night in particular.

I had two jobs that college summer.  As soon as I finished my maintenance job, I’d shower, put on my suit and rush to the 2nd job at the funeral home.

It was a visitation that night, just one body, with few visitors expected.  The funeral home owner told me he and his family were leaving town for a short trip, threw me the keys and told me to lock up after everyone left that night.

No one was there, so I went into the state room and was shocked to see the tiny casket.  Inside was a beautiful, eight month old baby girl.  Continue reading Brahm’s Lullaby

Swinging Pendulum

There is something beautiful about clocks, but they seem to move so fast.

It’s true time speeds up with age, or maybe, we just speed up busyness and slow down awareness.  I don’t know.

An early childhood memory is sitting still watching a wall clock and realizing that if you stare straight, stare straight and concentrate, you can see the minute hand move each second in the tiniest of tiny movements.

Not intentionally, I sit now staring at a clock deep in thought.  Slowly an awareness of time dawns. Continue reading Swinging Pendulum

Just For Crumbs

He hobbled slowly to a stone wall to lean on it, caught his breath to gather strength.  A few meters away, he half fell, half sat in a shady spot on the dusty ground.

His threadbare clothes were so tattered and thin that most people wouldn’t even use them for rags.

He carefully placed a beat-up cup within reach right in front of him.  He’d learned that given half a chance, other beggars more agile than he would snatch his few coins and run.  He was barely able to move across the street now, much less give chase.  He tried in vain not to close his eyes. 

There was just something about closing his eyes though that eased his pain.  Every joint in his body seemed to ache, right down to his bone marrow.  He wasn’t sure why, but sometimes sharp pains in his side doubled him over, causing him to curl up in a tight ball until the pain subsided.  Continue reading Just For Crumbs

Push, Push!

“Breath! Breath deep!”, the nurse said.  “Good! Control your breaths. Control. Breath deep. Control!”

The deep breaths continue until the pain momentarily subsides.  No class, no education, no preparation can adequately prepare someone for the pain.  Sure, it wouldn’t be forever, but right then, in that moment, it feels like it will never end.

Sharp, awful waves migrate from the back and end in the private area of the body.  It’s so intense that all appearances, inhibitions and concern for dignity flies straight out the window.  Nothing short of hope and relief from the excruciating pain can bring comfort.

The nurse, a seasoned veteran, has seen it all, yet she never consistently predicts the responses beforehand.  A sonogram gives the approximate size, length and weight beforehand, but everyone’s different, so there’s no way to know up front how long or what the response may be. Continue reading Push, Push!