Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Facing Old Facts Anew

I miss my dad tonight.
I got out of my car and looked up, and something about the low sliver of the moon, and Venus shining so bright to the left, above it, made me think of him a lot.
He died in the early hours of Dec.13th, 1999, after a lengthy battle with congestive heart failure.
Regarding this devastating disease that claimed my father, I happened across an incredibly lucid explanation of it in a rather unlikely place.
In a novel.
Vikram Seth’s, A Suitable Boy.
This novel has the distinction of being the longest fictional story ever written in the English language, weighing in at a hefty 1,474 pages.
On page 914 there is the following dialogue between the character Pran [who is vey ill] and his doctor…

Dr. Imtiaz says:
“There’s an intimate connection between the heart and the lungs; they share the same cavity, and the right side of the heart supplies stale blood to the lungs for it to freshen, to oxygenate, as we say. So when the lungs don’t do their job properly – for instance because of not getting enough air when the air-tubes to the lungs seize up asthmatically – the heart is affected. It tries to supply more blood to the lungs to make up for the bad oxygen exchange, and this creates its own supplying chamber to fill up with blood, to become congested and distended. Do you understand?”
“Yes. You explain things very well,” Pran said sadly.
“Now because of this congestion and distension, the heart loses its efficiency as a pump, and that is what we like to call ‘congestive cardiac failure’. It’s got nothing to do with what laymen understand by the term ‘heart failure’. To them that means a heart attack. Well, as I said, you are not in danger of that.”
“Then why must I stay in bed for three weeks? It seems a terribly long time. What will happen to my work?”
“Well, you can do a bit of light work in bed,” said Imtiaz. “And later, you can go out for walks. But cricket is out for a while.”

And then, later on down the page, Imtiaz says to Pran:
“If you have congestive heart failure, you will have all the effects of pent-up blood in your system. Your liver will become enlarged, so will your feet, your neck veins will become prominent, you will cough, and you will get very breathless, especially on walking or exertion. And it is possible that your brain might become confused as well.”

I recall my dad exhibiting all of these described symptoms.
The passage in A Suitable Boy concludes with:

When Imtiaz left the room, Pran tried to face these new facts.

Yes.
Sometimes, even now, 7 ½ years later, I still find it difficult to face the facts, as they then applied to my dad.
My Tribute to him.

*********

4 comments:

danielle said...

It must have been really hard reading that passage in A Suitable Boy when it also applied to what your dad had. I don't think you ever get over losing a parent--no matter that it is going to happen to us all eventually.

Stefanie said...

cyber hugs to you Cipriano

cipriano said...

Thank you Stefanie.
And yes Danielle, it was sort of wild to see such a specific passage in A Suitable Boy.
You are right, one day we all must pass through the same.... [no, I don't want to think of it...]

merisi said...

I feel with you, I lost my dad when he was only 61. Always very healthy, strong heart, it was cancer that struck him down. Every now and then I talk to him.
Big hug,