By: Michael Nicastle
It is 2007, and Colorado is getting hit by feet of cold, wet snow. My mom, dad, and I are trapped inside our home in the country, but it is nice being inside by the fire watching the snow whirl around. It is not too long, however, when my dad decides to try his hand at shoveling one of the four foot drifts blocking our garage. He is out there for a half hour before he comes stumbling into the house and walks into his room shouting for my mom. The next thing I see is my mom race into the kitchen, fling the medicine cabinet open, and frantically search. I see the panic on her face as she doesn’t find what she is looking for.
She turns to me and tells me to run to the neighbors to find some aspirin. She then runs to the phone and calls 911 telling the dispatcher my dad is having a heart attack. The snow is up to my waist at times and some drifts, I have to crawl over. We only have one neighbor so I am hoping they answer the door. Luckily, they are home and give me the aspirin. I run it back to my mom and watch as my dad painstakingly takes a few pills.It seemed to take an eternity for the ambulance to make it to our house. It took a road grader to bust through the snow to let the ambulance with chains on all four tires to make it through. In the end it took five hours for my dad to get the help he needed. It is 2012 now and my dad has faced quite a few changes as a result of the heart attack. The doctors told him that because of how long it took to get help, about 1/3 of his heart is dead. And I can see how much of a struggle it is at times for him to do some of the basic things he loves.
He has to be careful and take things slow when we go camping in the high altitude ashe can quickly lose his breath just moving some firewood around. Five years later and now I am in medical school. We have just finished anatomy and dissection of the heart, and so, I cannot help but trace the arteries of the heart without thinking over that day. Being an osteopathic student, I understand the necessity of holistic care and the importance of integrating preventative medicine into that holistic ideal. And so, I begin to wonder how much my dad could have done or should not have done before his heart attack to keep his heart healthy. My dad’s heart attack has affected everyone in our family. Financially, there is a lot of money that goes into all the pills he must take every day. But, more importantly his family is concerned that he won’t be around as long as he could have been if he did not have a heart attack. A person can only live so long with just part of a heart.