I’ve been thinking a little bit this week about when your time runs out, or what it must feel like to know that your end isn’t far away.
My dad’s grandfather, on his dad’s side, lived in times when medicine wasn’t what it is today; when a problem would be diagnosed more as a means to peace of mind than with a view of solving it. When he was beginning to have chest pains, and they diagnosed a chronic cholesterol problem, it wasn’t with a view to helping him get any better. He died, of a heart attack, at 54.
I’ll never forget the day his son, my grandad, had his first heart attack. We were sitting at home, on an average midweek evening, when Dad got a phone call, listened silently, hung up and promptly, silently, bolted from the house. My grandad was 61 at the time. A year to the day later, I bolted similarly from my bed, excited at a school tour – and not even reading too much into the fact that Dad was already absent from the house, and that the TV was turned off. “Noelie’s not well” was all I was offered. That was fair enough. It was only when I got home, and Mum came up to me in my room to break the news, that I knew it immediately. A year to the day exactly afterward. He’d gotten up, as normal, and my gran had been rooting around a medicine cabinet in their bedroom only to turn around and find him collapsed upon his bed.
It’s probably fair to say, so, that there’s a history of heart disease in my Dad’s side of the family.
Well, Dad (as an aside) has had problems with infections in his fingernails for a couple of years; every time he goes to a doctor, he gets a course of antibiotics and it clears them up, but they’re not about coming back. So recently, when going for another course, his doctor asked him to do a blood test, to make sure there wasn’t an underlying problem stopping a recovery being permanent.
Without divulging too much detail, something’s come up that makes you wonder about it all.
I don’t know how I feel about it. Maybe I’m not meant to react at all. All I know is that the next time I smell a bacon butty I’m going to be thinking long and hard, and end up remembering that evening when I sat on my bed, absorbing the news that I’d never see my grandad again.