I learned over the weekend that my Dad has to have a defibrillator implant procedure on Monday. Naturally, that’s a bit of disturbing news to hear. He is the ultimate Energizer bunny at age 76, but with his history of heart disease, he’s also a medical miracle to still be alive. His bio includes: a father who passed away of a heart attack, a personal quadruple bypass surgery over 30 years ago, a heart attack on the operating table, and congestive heart failure a few of years ago. Heart issues aside, there’s also beating the battle of prostate cancer, having early stage skin cancers removed, and managing diabetes over the last several years. Yet, he still goes skiing every winter and his social life makes mine look beyond boring.
I just wrote an article about stress, but it’s such a big topic that I had to delete many things, including what induces stress in our lives. Specifically, what causes stress living as expats. One of those factors for many of us is being so very far away from family — perhaps aging relatives and subsequent health issues. Now I wish I’d included it as I can vouch first-hand that this is extremely stressful for me right now being thousands of miles away.
My Dad is ridiculously upbeat about this and any other health issue for his “kids” and would never show an ounce of worry so as to spare us any. Basically, that means I never get the full truth about the risks he faces. I think defibrillators and pacemakers are relatively routine procedures anymore, but considering his history and the fact that he was told a few years ago that he could not survive another major surgery, I have reason to worry.
So, I do what I can do. I Google a lot for information (sometimes not such a good thing). I pray. And I do something that Dad and I have mastered over the years: “We don’t like to think about things we don’t like to think about.” It’s gotten me through many a worry over the years. I also realize that I’m one of thousands of expats here in Beijing that goes through this same type of stress – being away from home when you desperately want to be there. It’s something we all share, whether it’s because of a health need in your family or another equally important reason. We can be here to support one another, listen, and empathize like no other.
Dad says that he’ll have to take it easy for a couple of weeks after the implant, but then he plans to ski over Christmas. I shake my head and smile. That’s my Dad.