Monday, May 12, 2014
Aortic dissection has subtle warning signs, no cure, and a 90% mortality rate. Dad had his first one in 1982. I guess you'd call it a near-miss, because they were able to operate and place a Dacron graft, a procedure that was pretty damn new at the time. Fast-forward 32 years and we're still talking about a 90% mortality rate, because when that sucker springs a leak, you better have put your affairs in order.
That graft lasted 25 years, and I wonder if it could have lasted longer if he'd lived just a pinch cleaner. I don't say that to be mean; it's just fact that the man was a meat-and-potatoes, butter with a side of butter guy and it certainly contributed to the artery blockages that put stress on the graft. But the real thing that killed him was old medicine; in 1982, when they placed grafts, they were still oversewing the aneurysm, and that meant taking away space, however microscopic, in vital arteries leading to and from the heart. Dad's carotid became 100% blocked, which meant his jugular was doing the work of two, which meant there was no way they could operate to repair the problem without serious risk of him stroking on the table. Since Dad never wanted to linger (he'd watched his own father vegetate from a debilitating stroke, and never wanted that for himself), it wasn't discussed.
Enough time has passed where I don't place blame or rant and rave over the injustice of losing him so young. The ache is no longer a daily occurrence. But today, May 12th, will always be bittersweet and a time of reflection. He wasn't an easy man to know, but I'm forever grateful for my life and my time with him. I miss him dearly, and hope he's proud of me.