Friday, April 8, 2011

Matters of the heart

I just realized why I'm having such a difficult time studying for my ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support). Because every time I start to think about the heart, I think about my dad. I know it seems silly but it's true.
I was very good at the heart and it's functions in school. It was one of my favorite subjects to study and while looking through my stuff (getting ready for a garage sale tomorrow) I found my old college notes. I got really excited and thought how nicely they would assist in my study for this certification. I didn't think I'd have any difficulty preparing for this test as it all made so much sense and I enjoyed it so much. Now it's just a few days away (Monday with exam Tuesday) and I have yet to crack a book at all, despite my initial excitement.

I just now realized as I sat down this afternoon at 5:15pm, to force myself to do and couldn't. I vaguely caught a glimpse of my subconscious running through what must have been going on in my dad's heart over the past few years, months, days, and minutes of his life. Tracing possible electrical malfunctions and functions. What alternate paths it may have tried to take. How MANY possible paths it must have tried to take in order to have kept such a large man alive for so long! --It's interesting, the hospital had my dad's height listed as 5'8". I remember my dad as six feet tall, with some slight alteration over time. I did remember getting to hug him in the hospital just a few days before he passed and thinking how small he felt. I was looking him in the eyes and my arms were around his shoulders, not his waist.)--

I follow the anatomy and think of him and would I have known to shock him or when to shock him (all this information will be on the test). And how many times his pacemaker had done so until he no longer came back.
(this is a diagram of my dad's heart the doctor gave us. the purple sections are places with electrical activity; the other colors have lessened, varying degrees of activity. the grey areas have no activity, or amounts too small to measure. like I said, it's amazing it worked at all, for any length of time. sheer will to live my friends. sheer will to live.)
I remember just a few weeks ago when I had a patient stop breathing. When I felt the absent pulse I knew I hadn't made a mistake and that it was real, everything said so. Without questioning, I confirmed to the doctor, "she doesn't have a pulse". Without details, we did get her back (my last day of work a patient's family member actually commented to me that she remembered how well I did, and that I had done, "better than the doctor. You were so sweet and calm to her. You helped bring her back." ) I think of the nurses and doctors do their best to feel for a pulse they were already sure wasn't there. I think of the algorithms that may have run through their heads. The same ones I'm trying to remember now.

Either way, the truth is when I go to study the heart I get flooded with this barely audible information in my head. Cheesy or not, I realize that this is reason I've had such a hard time forcing myself to crack the books. Every time I think about it would get a solemn, unmotivated, and a bit depressed. I've put the pieces together now I think. And now that I can make a little bit of sense out of them, and hopefully bring them to the surface where I can deal with them, instead of just chasing glimpses of them around my brain, I can try to solidify all of the necessary information into my brain...

It's a process. And although, my dad's death was inevitable, it still hurts. I find that I do have a lot of questions. Questions who's answers won't change anything...and yet, they get to me. Mostly at night, after I've wasted the day. I don't even realize it's in there until just before I fall asleep, and then I'm awake. And hurting.

Now that I know the connection, perhaps the studying of this test will be beneficial. I can study the heart and use it as a time to remember my dad as well. I can deal with two items that both need to be addressed and hopefully come out with a better understanding of both.

One reoccurring thought I keep having, that is somewhat related to all of this, is what I will tell my kids about him. I think the main thing is: my dad did the best he could at being a dad, but that his real genius was in being a grandpa. I'll tell them that they have the best grandpa that there ever was.

1 comment:

Lois Draper said...

I hear ya! I actually just posted a blog about how my subconscious is trying to avoid going through the process of accepting things. It sounds that we are having similar experiences.
And you were ABSOLUTELY right, he is the best grandpa EVER!