Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Root of the Heart: Surgery, Parenting, and Riots

I was home in Oregon a couple summers ago to visit when my dad asked me if I'd be able to take him to the hospital the next morning for a routine test.  "Sure," I told him. Then, he told me I had to pick him up at 5am. 

ALWAYS ask for the details first, kids.

I arrived to pick him up the next morning and watched with concern as I realized how much of a toll just walking to the bathroom was taking on him. Out of breath and needing to stop to rest, that didn't seem right.  We got to the hospital for the test... where they had to run a couple tests before they could do the test...

Which he failed.  Actually, he failed so bad that the heart doctor later said to me, "Honestly, I don't know how he was able to walk at ALL." So, they checked him in for further exploration.

Very long story short in which I spare you gnarly details, most of which include "Oh... dear lord, hello Dad's Penis, I'm just going to stare at THAT corner of the ceiling for awhile" -- they found bleeding in his stomach which was in turn caused by a problem with his heart.

The doctors were able to seal up the bleeding in his stomach -- but explained to me that if they didn't eventually fix the problem with his heart, the bleeding would probably come back.

It's been two summers since then. The heart fix is almost on the docket, but not actually done yet, and those same exhaustion issues are starting to come back.  -- Because while the symptoms of the problem had been addressed, the root has still not.

I'm big on fixing roots. We were out with my husband's boss once, chatting over beers, and he was sharing with us a problem he was having with his teenage daughters fighting. His pet solution mostly had to do with forcing them to behave in parental presence, and asked me if I thought that would work.

My answer was a question. "I think that depends on your goal. If your goal is to get them to behave in your presence? Yes, absolutely. If your goal is to help them navigate the how to have a better relationship? Then, no." --  And to me, that was important -- because the fighting -- while exhausting to a parent -- is merely a symptom of the root cause.

It is through that lens that I see the place that we're in right now.  I think it's easy to watch the news and be outraged by what you're seeing. The riots and the looting can seem nonsensical.  It's complicated... and I think that a lot of peaceful protests are probably being co-opted by people who just want to break shit. Even here in my sleepy suburbian area of Seattle, I read a story about looting at my local-ish mall - only to read further to find the police chief talking about intel he'd heard earlier that there was planned gang activity under the cover of the peaceful protests. And I do think there is a LOT of that going on -- whether it be gang-related or just people who are mad at the world and want to break it all.

But, the very peaceful that didn't hurt anyone taking a knee during the national anthem? It was protesting something and no one paid attention. The problem it was alerting us all to got ignored. And just like your body's symptoms get more and more acute as you ignore a problem for longer and longer, the protests get stronger.

It's easy to sit in our homes and scoff at the riots we're seeing now, as we watch what they're turning into and the damage they're causing. It is easy to see them as the bleeding in the stomach and think that the bleeding in the stomach is the only problem.

It is easy to ignore the heart. But when you refuse to address the heart, the bleeding comes back.  Not because the stomach is broken, but because you couldn't be bothered to address the root.

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