My father turned 85 years old today. This past weekend I went to Miami to see how he was doing just days after his being released from the hospital for another “tune up.” He was having trouble breathing for weeks. It sounded like fluid overload and heart failure. Finally he gave in and when he really couldn’t breathe he ended up in emergency for admission.
Milton has had a “heart condition” for the last 35 years. I remember when he had his first by-pass, and the doctors told us he didn’t have many years left. And it was about 10 years later when he received one of the first implantable defibrillators–and again we were given a guarded prognosis. At least four time since then, three in the past year, that defibrillator has saved his life.
Then there were more grafts and some stents, when, I cannot recall. “His heart is failing,” I was told 10 years ago. I have lost track of the number of times he was rushed to the Aventura hospital for his heart. Every time we worry; every time he has walked out on his own two feet.
When I saw him this past Saturday morning I was unprepared for this now thin again grey haired man who walked without difficulty. Could that really be so much energy in his step? He told me they took really good care of him in the hospital. He loved the doctors. He loved the hospital. He obviously loves being well again.
We ate lunch, shopped for some birthday clothing, and went out to dinner (that is my younger brother on the left). Next morning we went food shopping to replenish his fridge with “heart friendly” food. It had slipped him mind that he was to be on a low sodium diet. The low sugar diet had taken over all his attention, so this time the salt got him. It’s not so easy keeping track when you are 85.
And the hospital discharge papers were no help to me, and even less to him. Over 10 pages of information that was frankly irrelevant. I couldn’t figure out why he was on which medications, e.g. he had an antibiotic, but had no infection, he was on reflux medications but no reflux symptoms or risk factors. He had 4 pages devoted to anti-coagulation and stroke, neither of which pertained to him. And the checklist of his “discharge education” didn’t jive with what he knew about what had happened and what he had to do to make sure it didn’t happen again. Too much information, too little communication.
I spoke to his primary doctor today. He will see him tomorrow and get him back on track…..and maybe some dietary counseling, too.
But in the end, he is here at 85, still enjoying his life and dealing with his health. Never thought we would see this day, but awfully glad that we did. Happy Birthday, Milton!
Photo: Larry Brodsky, Milton Brodsky and Linda Brodsky June 29, 2013