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3 sizes too small? Mack Daddy gets a triple bypass

Editor’s note: Mack Daddy is off the oxygen and has been moved to a private room! They have a sitter with him during the night. They’re afraid he will get up on his own!

So I started to write about patience and children. I have a sweet friend struggling with teaching her 2-year-old to wait a gosh-darned minute, but instead, my thoughts keep turning to patients. One patient in particular.

Houston, We’ve Had a Problem

I learned Monday that my dad’s bazillionth stent procedure was now escalating into a shave him down like a newborn and crack him open like a walnut triple bypass surgery.

He suffered some pretty traumatic injuries to his heart due to the kickback of constant machine gun fire during Vietnam. All these years later, about half of his heart muscle no longer works. And we learned this week that three of his major arteries are shot, and the rest are blocked between 60 and 80 percent. So a specialist in Houston will harvest three veins from his legs and chest, then clean out and stent the rest.

“The doctor said he will have me feeling like a million bucks!” Mack Daddy was in high spirits that night on the phone, seemingly unconcerned. I squeaked out a complete, “I love you, Pops.”

“I love you, too, Melanie. I would love you more if you brought me a steak though.”

I Came in Peace

After his last “cardiac event” a few years ago, we went fishing. I didn’t want to fish, I wanted to talk. He didn’t want to talk, he wanted to fish.

“I have lived more than most men ever get to. I’ve done every thing I ever wanted to and then some. Every day I’m alive is gravy. Don’t worry, let’s fish!”

So I am doubly glad the kids and I got to fish with him last month. But there are so many things we still haven’t talked about. Maybe things just in my own head. As mentioned before, we are neither sensitive nor sentimental he and I. But there are still books I think we need to write and stories I want to hear. A little dog we need to hijack… .

We Need More Power

I am trying to remain upbeat and optimistic but I did cry once this week. Puff. I hate to cry. Almost as much as I hate to feel scared. But my dad has always been larger than life to me, and thinking of him cut open and stuck in a hospital bed with only half a heart is just too awful to contemplate. His long stick legs dangling off the end of the bed. His plaid lounge pants and “Jesus boots” flip-flops tucked into some Ikea-esque hospital closet. He will be helpless, which he will hate, and he’ll be hard to be around, Y’all say a prayer for Meemaw and the staff there please.

But so far, so good. Mack Daddy’s surgery went pretty well. His oldest stents were removed, he got some new ones, and the three new veins were weaved into his heart. He had a little trouble getting off the ventilator and breathing on his own Wednesday night. I know it sounds cliché, but the whole situation has me thinking a lot about my own mortality, the mortality of the ones I love the most. Even more so, it has me thinking about my own gravy. I haven’t ever really paid much attention to what I want in this life. Will I be able to look back in 40 years and say I did every thing I wanted to do?

By Thursday morning, Mack Daddy was stable and sitting in the ICU room’s recliner. Anyone that knows my dad, knows he loves a recliner. So I took this as a good sign, a sign of more gravy and more fishing trips to come. And as a sign that I start coming up with my own recipe for the life I want to live.

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