Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Toughness and Inspiration

Things were going well. Extremely well. Last week's highlight was a 70 mile ride in which I stayed aero for 95% of the time. Other than some chafing and general buttocks discomfort I felt great. The next day I was running with a friend and I locked my keys in my car. I have never done that before. We returned early so I could call my wife to meet me before she left for work, then we could finish the run. My wife answered and said thank God you called, they ambulance just took your dad to the hospital, he had another heart attack. At the hospital the Dr. told us it may or may not have been a heart attack but we have a serious situation. If it required surgery, well, not an option any longer. Why not? Here is the quick summary:
1. Major heart attack in 1973.
2. Triple bypass surgery in 1982.
3. Quintuple bypass surgery in 1990.
4. Heart attack in November of 2003. Emergency surgery in D.C. after being flown by helicoptor to open an artery that was about to collapse.
5. Heart attack on Christmas Eve of 2003. Told he must have a new heart, can't have one because he is a poor candidate, and he has 6 months to live. Pacemaker and Defribulator put in his chest. New Dr. at U of Penn disputes the 6 months.

I am a mess and my dad is the pillar of strength. As usual. Smiling. We will find a way. My sister convinces him to get to U of Penn where they are not afraid to go experimental. Spent the last week losing my mind thinking he my not come home this time. Yesterday walked around Philly thinking I might have a heart attack waiting for the test results to determine the extent of the damage. The best news possible came back. No surgery, no major damage, but the narrowing is worse, and the heart is only at 25%. Which is not good, but all can be improved with new medications and increases in old. And he has to lose 30 lbs. Wheeeeww! I can breathe again.

Of all my friends I can think of none that are lucky enough to have the relationship I have with my dad. We have always done things together and still do. He goes with me to Boston. He goes to Quakerman with me. He was the 1st one to greet me at my Ironman. Of course he had to be away from everybody so they couldn't see him crying. I couldn't have asked for a greater dad or a man I could truly say is my hero. He is the toughest man alive. Nothing gets him down. Nothing stops him from wanting to live and share his life with others. He regularly makes people cry at church when he gives homilies. At a Catholic church no less! The nurses hugged him when he left this morning. The lady that cleans the rooms told us what a joy he is. How lucky have I been to have 40 years with him.

One thing he has taught me is you can turn a negative into a positive. I will take this situation and use it to fuel me from now to the finish line in September. Things were going great to this point. Now I am on a greater mission. I will go under 12 hours. I ran a marathon for him in 2003. Now I will go 140.6 for him and will use his inspiration to push through barriers that stopped me last time. And most importantly, he will be there again, by himself, in the corner of the track, waiting to be the 1st to congratulate me and tell me he loves me.