Blogger’s Note: I intended to post a ten part series to introduce the concept. I thought I could do this over the period of a few weeks, but it has taken me more than a few months. I intend this post to be the last in the series I publish on this blog, but I haven’t gotten anywhere near where I imagined in terms of telling the story or developing what got put across. So we’ll see how this goes. As always, your comments and discussion with me are appreciated.
Toward the end of 2019 I felt well enough to try to tackle a long put off visit to the old country. With two stents installed and most of the known arterial blockages in my heart held open, after three and a half years, I was working full time even though I had to use most of my time off being unwell and unable to work. I had worked hard to hide just how debilitating my condition was to my family, so my biggest concern was that they would not accomodate the things I needed to be able to do this trip. But this was a rare window where I felt up to giving my parents the opportunity they never had to really share their mother culture with me.
Our trip to Taiwan went well enough, although I wasn’t able to hide how much I struggled with day-to-day tasks and keeping my head above water. Before the end of the week they made sure I had somewhere comfortable to sleep every night and developed a better understanding of just how much I could tolerate – not just activity, but also noise, vibration, harshness, downtime, etc. My parents have never been good at controlling their own reactions and expressing their frustration in non-toxic ways, but they seemed to feel very guilty about reacting poorly to whenever I did something to frustrate them like inform them that I couldn’t tolerate sitting in the car any longer for a while.
The stress of the trip overall brought up a number of symptoms so I quietly made appointments with my doctors for right when I returned. I soon found myself in the hospital again for another exploratory catheterization. I soon found myself strapped to a cath lab table fully concious while the docs poked around in my heart yet again. The finding was clear, although unexpected. The artery that had become completely blocked during my second heart attack had partially reopened. Two other cardiologists came over to look at me while I tried to lie there very still. While studying the imaging, one of them looked over at my face and we locked eyes.
“Uhh… your patient is conscious.”
“Oh, don’t worry about it.”
After reviewing my previous records, between the three of them, they agreed that in their fifty years of cardiology that they had not seen anything like it and concluded that they’re going to do what cardiologists do. Stent it. So I gained another metal spiral and became that much more machine than man while I repressed the urge to make “Police Academy” like sound effects while they put it into place (this is a 1980s reference). With that, the last of the known arterial blockages in my heart was being held open and after 4 years I had theoretically regained full bloodflow to my heart in time for Christmas.
Cardiac rehab felt very different this time. I ran. I jumped. I lifted weights. I put up frightening numbers rowing. The other patients would ask me how I ended up in cardiac rehab and I would just shake my head and tell them that it was an unbelievably long story. I definitely was not 100% as I carry lasting damage to my heart and in so many other ways (broken hearts don’t heal, they scar), but I didn’t start out as a typical cardiac patient either. I said my goodbyes to the cardiac rehab staff yet again right at the end of February 2020. I felt a lot better. I wanted to start running again. I started to have some hope for a taste of a normal life: going to work, doing chores, hanging out with poeple – all in the same day instead of having to pace it out day after day.
After years of dragging myself along the floor of life, I felt renewed because I felt the possibility that I could reconnect with other people, be a part of their lives, and have them be a part of mine. In March of 2020, I had finally clawed back what was left of my broken heart. It was mine. After years of keeping my distance with other people, I finally felt that I had a chance to get back to being personable – to live among others. To date, to socialize, to be one with everyone else. March of 2020. It was going to be my red-letter day.