Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Heart Attack Incident: Another Caffeine Story

As I sit here, drinking my (not-very-caffeinated) Sprite and reading my last post, I realize two things:

1) This damn Sprite is not gonna cut it.
2) At least I'm not as bad as my father.

You know how doctors are supposed to be about health and stuff? They make you feel all bad for pumping your body with carcinogens and lard, but then after work you see them puffing on a cig or eating a whole box of donuts, and you suddenly realize: DOCTORS ARE JUST AS BAD AS REGULAR FOLKS. OR WORSE.

The MD is not a doctorate in common sense.

In the days of my youth (i.e. 9th grade maybe?) Dr. Dad was diligently in the throes of preparing for a super huge important major big presentation. Dr. Dad gives lots of lectures and presentations, as one of his job titles is "Overlord of the Residents" or something similar. I had even written skits for some of these presentations, usually involving some boring policy change and my costar (little watz) facing a miserable fate. But this presentation was A BIG DEAL. He commandeered the formal dining room as a full workspace (not like we have formal dinners anyways). He constantly asked me questions about basic powerpoint functions (to create a new slide, you need to click "insert slide." No, no, next tab. SLIDE. Insert. Slide.). I think he even offered me 50 cents to practice his presentation in front of an audience.

Of course I have no recollection of what this presentation was about. I thiiiiink it was about the new HIPPA regulations (Like I said, boring policy stuff) and it was to like, a bunch of higher ups and his resident underlings. Or something.

I know Dr. Dad gave a presentation about HIPPA at some point, because I went to the dentist a couple months later and he began explaining the new privacy rules to my mom - and I interrupted him, saying "yeah, yeah, we know all about HIPPA, but you should clarify XYZ because it's confusing to laypeople." I am now used to that startled and slightly suspicious look from medical professionals.

Anyway, the night before the presentation arrived. We didn't bother my dad as he sat in his presentation bunker. I tried to answer Dr. Dad's technology questions with minimal amounts of snideness. I talked him out of using ridiculous animations for making the text appear and crazy slide transitions. I advised him to not wear a stupid tie. Then I went to bed.

I woke up, startled, sometime in the middle of the night. There was no light under my door - we always left the hall lamp on. I decided to venture out and get a glass of water, maybe say hello to Dr. Dad if he was still working -


Opening my door (I'm on the second floor, with a cut-away balcony that hangs over our living room) spilled light downstairs, on a strange figure ON OUR COUCH, covered by some sort of a coat?

This clearly wasn't Lady Mother, as her moving to the couch in case of Dr. Dad's snoring involves
1) her facing the other end of the couch
2) a pile of 3 or 4 blankets

This ... person was not one of my parents. But what sort of murderer/rapist walks into a house and falls asleep? Were my parents alive? Gripping one of my BETA club awards as possible protection / defensive projectile, I determined to slip across the balcony to wake up my brother. He tends to be more rational in these situations. I began to creep -

The creature shuffled and turned on the lamp. I bit back a scream and clutched my trophy for dear life. Ready to strike.

The person shuffled out from her windbreaker and groggily identified herself as our neighbor. A bit more light proved this to be true, and I slightly loosened my grip on my projectile. Only slightly.

"Why are you here? Where are my parents? I'm waking up my brother." I tried to mask my fear with being angry. Didn't work well.
"Oh, don't worry," she groggily said, pulling her windbreaker back over her. "Your mom had to drive your dad to the hospital because he was having bad chest pains. She'll be back in the morning. Go back to sleep."


This woman casually informed me that my father showed major signs of a HEART ATTACK serious enough to warrant a trip to the hospital AS A PATIENT and I only found out by accident because my parents DIDN'T BOTHER TELLING US.


I went back to my room, turned every light on (because clearly this makes matters better) and pulled out my middle-school diary. I'd updated it once a week, sometimes monthly, usually yammering about my crush-of-the-day or how much I hated my parents. I turned to an entry from a couple months ago, with an angry black scrawl five-lines high: I HATE MY DAD SO MUCH I HOPE HE DIES. I crossed it out. One, two, three lines through it.

"Please don't let my dad die," I wrote next to it.

I paced my room. I tried to read. I decided not to wake my younger brother up, but to let him enjoy his last few hours thinking he had a dad. What was the last thing I'd said to him? He'd said "goodnight, I love you," and I'd said something along the lines of "you're stupid, don't wear a dumb tie." Worst daughter in the world.

I finally conked out and woke up again around 6am, and this time saw mom was downstairs. I ran to wake up my brother, with some jumbled freak out yelling at both him and my exhausted mom:

"Is dad okay / why didn't you tell me / heart attack / stupid tie / almost threw my BETA Club award at the neighbor / didn't get to say goodbye / what the hell is going on?"

"Did he... have a heart attack?" Little Watz asked slowly, getting to the point.

Lady Mother explained that Dr. Dad had woken her up around midnight with chest pains, tightness in his chest, a bit of tingling, fluttery heart palpitations - all classic heart attack signs. Add to a history of high blood pressure / cholesterol,  a slight beer gut, and a doctor's instincts, and he needed to go get checked out. Immediately.

Lady Mother, in classic deal-with-shit mode, talked him into going to the hospital, called a neighbor, called the hospital, drove him, dealt with the emergency room folks (which probably meant prying Dr. Dad away from 20 different conversations. He is kind of popular at the hospital.), got him into tests and whatnot, and came back home in time to drive us to school. Wonderwoman.

She told it that it wasn't a heart attack, but it could still be something serious so they were running more tests.

And yes, this was the morning of his VERY BIG DEAL presentation.

Cut to that evening. Dr. Dad blasted through every stress test and the like with flying colors. Midway through the day he tried to use his sly bedside manner to get out of being a patient and go give his presentation. No dice. The people in charge (Overlords of the Overlord of Residents?) were so shocked/amazed that Dr. Dad was actually sick, that they of course moved everything and rescheduled. People kept visiting to make sure he was alive, and to also see the mighty Dr. Dad as a patient. This must be what celebrity rehab is like.

Dr. Dad has been sick maybe four times in my life. However, every time has warranted a trip to the emergency room.

After wowing everyone in cardiac-utopia with his amazing physical prowess (though hopefully not too many hot young nurses, heh heh) and getting results saying there was a 95% chance of him NOT having a heart attack in the next five years, they came upon a solution.


It is possible to overdose on caffeine! In preparation for this REALLY BIG DEAL talk, the day before he had drank three or four cup of coffee, multiple sodas, and a cup of black tea.

Dr. Dad blames the tea.

The insane amount of caffeine in his body, as a usual one-cup-of-joe-a-day guy, added to the perfectionism stress, made his body freak out. I mean, really. HEART PALPITATIONS. Who gets heart palpitations?

I told him he was stupid and hoped he wouldn't wear and ugly tie when he finally gave his presentation.

When a brief wave of guilt sweeps over me at my third soda of the day, I think to myself: "At least I've never been to the emergency room for it. Now that's a caffeine problem."

1 comment:

Martina said...

My dad and my hubbys dad were both doctors, and i can ell you - they are really bad ;)