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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

Drummer Boy Delivers Exceptional Gift to Father

Published December 28, 2009 4:19 PM by Valerie Newitt

There has never been a heart attack in my family, at least not within the boundaries of my memory. Family members have succumbed to cancers of various types; for counter balance, a fortunate handful have made it well into old age.

But a couple days before Christmas I learned that my brother-in-law, still "young" (meaning not yet eligible for senior rates at the movies), vital, and in the rush of middle life, had a heart attack.

He had been out shoveling snow - the first of the Northeast winter - the day before. His son Jamie - a rock band drummer on Christmas hiatus  - had come home for the holidays, and noticed his father was having unusual "heartburn" - a kind that wouldn't quit, and wouldn't allow his father to relax in comfort.

Maybe it was a musician's sensitivity to the proper rhythm of life that allowed Jamie to recognize an interruption to the usual cadence and tempo of his father's daily pace. He knew there was a serious discord. He urged his dad to get to a hospital. And without skipping a beat, he did.

That may have meant the difference between life and death. Jamie's father had suffered a mild heart attack, but a serious blockage remained. It was cleared, a stent was put in place, and he was home in time for Christmas dinner.

We all know better, but we all do risky things - like shoveling snow as we maintain some sort of mid-life disbelief that such activities can kill us. We live in denial that arterial blockages could actually have our names on them. We are human, but we sometimes overlook the reality that our own lives are finite.

And we don't always listen to our kids, because we forget that our children are one step farther along the evolutionary trail than we are. But, my brother-in-law broke that pattern. He had the good sense to heed his personal drummer boy. And now he has every reason to expect to be one of that handful living well into the golden years. A very special gift, indeed.

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