Thursday, May 31, 2001

My Champion

Editor's Note: This entry is backdated from my old website I had back in 2001.

"The leader of the band is tired and his eyes are growing old, but his blood runs through my instrument and his song is in my soul. My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man. I'm just the living legacy to the leader of the band." -- Dan Fogelberg

On May 17 I received a phone call from my brother that made my heart miss a beat. My father has had a condition called arrhythmia for a while. It's an irregular heart beat rhythm. On that Thursday, he went to the hospital to do a stress test. They attempt to create the conditions of a heart attack and then place an x-ray contrast dye in the blood stream to see how the heart is functioning.

Well, Daddy got on the treadmill and just after he finished, collapsed with no heart beat. It took them three or four tries with the paddles to bring him back. When I heard this, I told my brother that I'd be on a flight out the next day. After I hung up with him, I promptly fell apart.

My dad is probably the most important person to me, in my life. I'm not sure if he really realizes the impact he's had on my life. I love all of my family, but I always strove to be daddy's little girl... even when I wasn't a girl.

After I came out to my family, it was rough going. It was hard for them accept, hard to assimilate this data into what they knew about me. And it took time and love to bridge the gap. When I told them, I knew I had to be "ready to lose them" .. but that was the last thing I wanted. I've always gained strength from my family, especially my parents.

Nowadays, my dad is my champion. No one says shit about me around him and gets away with it. I would do anything for him and hence, the very next day, I was on a plane. Why not THAT day? Because I still had some bases to cover at work... and I knew Dad would be upset if I just dropped everything and left. No Ramsey leaves their friends, family, or co-workers in a lurch.

By the time I had gotten there, they had moved him out of the ICU and into the CCU (Coronary Care Unit). It was so good to see him. They had planned a catheterization lab for the upcoming Monday, to see what was going on inside his ticker. I stayed with Mom, which was good for her I'm sure. Being alone in the house where you've lived with your husband of 40+ years can be very lonely and scary.

As the days went by, I spent a lot of it with Dad and some with the rest of the family. It had been a while since they last saw me and so they wanted to spend some time with me too. I've already planned another trip home with Rob under better circumstances. On Sunday, Mom asked me to play the piano for her. So, I sat down and started playing some hymns and other tunes. Then I switched to some of the quartet music my mom had left on the piano.

My parents and my two brothers Dick and Dave used to sing in a quartet at church... and they were quite good. I played piano for them when I was old enough. While I was playing one particular tune, I heard my dad's voice in my head so strong and clear... and I just started crying again. I know I will hear him sing again... but it just made me weep.

On Monday, they did the cath-lab and found that one artery had been completely blocked. That artery fed a section of the heart that had moderate to severe damage to it. Apparently he had had a heart attack at sometime in the past and didn't even know it. That's a particular Ramsey trait tho... high tolerance to pain. Sometimes good... sometimes (as in this one) bad. The other arteries were fine so they did not see the need to do a stent. However, the doctor did eventually decide to install a defibrillator.

A pacemaker is used to slow or weak heartbeats. It helps the heart keep up. However, in my dad's case, it was going too fast at times. The defibrillator monitors the heart's rhythm. If it gets out of control, it delivers a 500 volt shock to the heart to get it back into rhythm. Other patients have said that this feels like a "kick in the chest." I'm sure my dad will describe it the first time he experiences it. When they tested it in surgery, it kicked his heart right back into a regular rhythm again where it stayed.

My family and I can't begin to be thankful enough for all that happened. The fact that this happened at the hospital instead of while he was out working in the yard, the fact that the doctors were so quick to respond and found the problems, and also how it pulled the entire family together again. I personally thanked the doctor for saving my dad's life. I have no idea how to repay someone for a life saved, but if there's a way to do it, I will.

I also send my thanks to all those who prayed for him and for us during this time. Prayer cover works and God's presence and calming assurance was definitely felt.

Daddy, my personal note to you is this. I love you more than I can possibly write, say, or show. You are a part of me and always will be even after you pass on (which hopefully wont be for a long while yet). The last verse of the song I quoted at the beginning of this tribute says it best I think:

I thank you for the music, and your stories of the road. I thank you for the freedom when it came my time to go. I thank you for your kindness and the times when you got tough. And poppa I don't think I said, "I love you," near enough.

I love you!!

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