Saturday, January 9, 2016


Recently I was shocked, shaken to the core, when I learned that my eldest son was diagnosed with major coronary heart disease.He had 3 major blockages of his arteries leading to the heart.Cardiac testing, including the gold standard, ,an angiogram,( a picture of his coronary arteries)clearly revealed he was not a candidate for  angioplasty. a relativity simple procedure to unplug the artery, but instead must undergo the more invasive and life threatening open heart surgery. 
How do you process an event  you have always thought was targeted for you and not your child.I grew up in a family where my father had 7 heart attacks, before finally succumbing to a massive stroke at 56 years of age. I cannot remember a single historical event of the Twentieth Century when I was not visiting my father in hospital. 
My father's heart disease was without doubt, the most dominating force in my life and played a large influence on my career and my personal life. In an earlier blog I have written extensively of my personal battle with heart disease , how  I have dramatically modified  my lifestyle, including adhering to a rigid and regimented exercise and diet routine. I am totally convinced at the ripe old age of 70, I would not be alive today if I didn't adhere to this lifestyle.
 Professionally I have been involved with the Cardiac Rehabilitation Unit of the Heart Institute, University of Ottawa since it's inception.I consider one of my most important professional accomplishment's was to have successfully lobbied to have a psychologist become an active member of the Rehab. team.
 Despite my efforts , genetics seemed to have played a major factor in this insidious disease attacking a member of the next generation of my family. 
Fortunately, my son was scheduled to visit Ottawa, soon after his diagnoses. That visit, served to re-assure me he was not in immediate danger,as for the most part he was able to carry on with his daily activities. As a result of that visit my son left me a treasured gift, a copy of his recent angiogram.  
Feeling helpless and paralyzed by the news of my son's heart disease I struggled with what I could do to help.Following a workout, where I do my best thinking, I came up with a viable plan.
 I phoned my contacts at the University of Ottawa's Heart Institute and was able to speak with a very able administrator who helped me access a Dr. familiar with Jason's condition. 
Upon receipt of Jason's angiogram,duly scanned and sent to him, recognizing a father's angst,he was soon in telephone contact with me.He proceeded to review Jason' situation and clearly and concisely outlined the steps necessary to rectify Jason's condition.He also provided detailed Questions for Jason to ask his cardiac surgeon that would prove invaluable.
 Suddenly I had a little more control of the situation thanks to this very caring, compassionate and humanitarian physician who somehow  emphasized and understood my concerns as a father. I will forever be thankful to him and that very able administrator who co-ordinated these events. We, the Ottawa community are very fortunate to have these soulful people as leaders of our health institutes. 
Having provided Jason with the necessary questions to ask his cardiac surgeon, it was now painfully clear that he needed the surgery.He was immediately placed on a waiting list where he was deemed to be non-essential.A very long ,anxious time followed.
 Finally, aided by Jason's persistence and charming social skills he was moved to the head of the line.His day had arrived. 
Based on a previous discussion Jason did not want me to be in attendance at the time of the surgery.I found myself,alone in Ottawa, awaiting the results of his surgery in Vancouver.
 4 Pm-Eastern Standard Time- 1PmPacific Standard Time
 After contacting Greg, my second oldest son,who was in the waiting room of the Vancouver General Hospital, I learned that Jason was still in surgery,much longer than anticipated.Time seemed to stand still. I was alone with my own thoughts and emotions.
 I thought of his birth some 45 years ago which seemed like yesterday, I thought of how I got sick,only to recover in time to be present at his birth 2 days later.This was different. I was alone with my fears and anxieties.I felt helpless to protect my son,to somehow make it right. I prayed and thanked those who had been praying for Jason.Time passed one grain at a time.I never thought I would live this long to see a child go through this. 
Finally I received a call from Nicole, my daughter in law, who informed me Jason has successfully passed through the surgery-6 by passes which took 6 hours to repair. He made it! 
During the next few days Jason was moved to a special intensive care cardiac surgery room where he received one to one care around the clock.Despite the intense pain and extreme fatigue Jason was mobilized and began his recovery. 
The next day, at Jason's suggestion,the kids took a picture of him tethered to his IV and oxygen and E-mailed it to me. He looked just like Jason. RE-assured by the post operative picture I begin to relax a little and started to breathe normally. Latter Jason would tell me he looked a lot better than how he felt. 
After a few days Jason was moved to a regular room.Soon after, upon the advice of a friend, a male nurse,he decides to leave the hospital early so as to avoid an infection.He arrives home, 5 days after his surgery, to a hero's welcome.
 As previously scheduled, I arrive in Vancouver 6 days after his surgery. I immediately find my way to his home where I am reassured by his physical presence. He looks great! We go for a walk around the block,albeit at a 90 year old pace, yet he is moving.
 Over the next month Jason progresses nicely, gradually extending his physical efforts despite the  pain which is a constant reminder of the operation he survived.
 He is well on his way to a full recover. Jason knows what a lucky man he is , and that he needs to modify his lifestyle.He is smart,he will quickly learn how to cope with his heart disease, for which he now has become the leading man in the Nozick clan.