It began with my husband’s heart disease. I had been watching my husband’s health deteriorate for many years. When he developed diabetes, I felt concerned but didn’t feel that there was much I could do about it. Wasn’t it all just a matter of genetics? His father had diabetes before him, and his sister had also developed diabetes. Surely it was beyond my control.
When our family doctor confronted me–saying that if I didn’t do something drastic to help my husband, he wouldn’t last for more than a few more years–I felt terrible. But, after all, what could I do? I was already choosing leaner cuts of meat to feed my family. What more could I do?
Within a year of receiving that urgent counsel from our family doctor, my husband suffered a cardiac event. He came home from work feeling as if he couldn’t catch his breath. I insisted that he call the doctor immediately, and set up an appointment as soon as possible. He called and they schedule him to come in the next morning. He went in for a full work-up the next day.
The doctor was concerned, but needed to see the results from some labs before making any decisions. Throughout the day my husband continued to feel the same shortness of breath, and a sensation of tightness in his chest. It was frightening, but since it wasn’t painful he wasn’t certain that it was really dangerous. Around dinnertime, the doctor’s office called. They told my husband that his blood test results showed that he was experiencing a heart attack. “Go to the hospital, now,” they advised.
We left right away, and checked him into the emergency ward. There the doctors scheduled him for an angiogram, and assigned a cardiologist to his case. The cardiologist scheduled an angiogram for the following morning, and had my husband checked into a room in the cardiac wing. The angiogram showed that my husband’s cardiac arteries were badly compromised by heart disease. Most of the vessels were affected, but one vessel was ninety percent constricted. The cardiologist then performed a procedure to install a stint into my husband’s artery. The was crisis averted, but my fear lingered on.
Our family doctor’s words were proving to be prescient. As loath as I was to admit it, maybe I had better think more seriously about what I could do to help.