In this third installment, Tom Howard recounts his thoughts and emotions the day before his cardiogram.
So here I am one day before I go under and let a doctor poke around my heart. Funny how I don’t really think of it much more than going to the dentist really. Actually I don’t think it is much different than what I do. Go in, look for damage. Check for extension and clean it up. Ok maybe a little different. After all, I have always said the F.D. doesn’t stand for fire department, it stands for free destruction. I hope the doctor has a little different technique than I do.
I have to admit my biggest struggle with all of this is admitting what happened. Logically, I know chest pain is caused from a lack of oxygen secondary to a lack of blood flow. My imagination still says it couldn’t, didn’t, happen. I still want to sort out in my head how it could have been muscular, or maybe I should have had more water during the day, that would have kept me from being dehydrated and causing that “feeling” in my chest.
To really name it and call it chest pain says that I had a heart attack, though I can assure you that didn’t happen, right? After all I’m only 49. To admit I had a heart attack is to admit I am weak. Each time I shared what happened, it pained me to admit it.
A couple times I even said out loud that I was broken. I have this image of Scar from Lion King in my head. I don’t remember the exact exchange, however I do recall when he is downplaying something he has done and in a very regretful tone, Scar laments being born in the shallow end of the gene pool.
That’s where my head goes. I wonder, have I been born in the shallow end? Am I too weak and broken? I often joke with guys when any of us get hurt about being weak stock, and we all laugh. I’m not laughing now though, after all I’m a fireman, I am invincible. I am not like Scar from the shallow end, I am Clint Eastwood, always on top, indestructible, always winning in the end. (Except of course for Gran Torino where he dies in the end.)
I know that my other big struggle that I know is ahead of me is humility. You see, I have always been the go to guy—If it’s broke I fix it, whatever it may be. Not only can I not help others right now, but I also need to admit I need help. Even further, I need to stop and allow others around me to help me.
The fact is that most of my struggles with this event, from its inception to the surgery, to recovery, is all a pride issue. Proverbs tells us that, with pride comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. I need to understand and admit that while the Lord made me in his image I am also human. I love the quote from Terentius. (159 BC, an old dead guy) “I am human, I consider nothing human alien to me.”
You see the fact is that while I want to be indestructible like Clint Eastwood, I am actually more like Scar in that I am merely a human. I am broken from the start and can only find fullness in my faith, in striving to be like Christ even if I act or try to often to be like Clint. I would just ask the Lord to not have me like Clint in Gran Torino.