What to do when your world turns upside down

My father recently went through a serious health scare. It was a really challenging time for my family. I am sharing the details in a series of blog posts hoping that it might help others.

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Life changes quickly when your world turns upside down.

As both of you know by now, this week has been a tough one. It turned out much differently than originally planned.

It started on Saturday while I was visiting your grandparents.

Normally I spend time with them on Monday night, not on the weekend.

This weekend was different. I received some surprising news on Friday night, so I decided to visit Oma and Opa as a distraction from my current situation.

It turned out that my timing could not have been better. I was there, and their world was about to turn upside down.

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I do not believe in coincidence — pay attention to timing

It seemed like any other Saturday afternoon

Opa and I were smoking cigars, catching up, and watching television. It is what we do when I visit.

Everything was normal until suddenly something changed.

I looked over at Opa and he was trembling. His head went back and he passed out. It did not last long, but he did not look good at all afterward.

I went over to check him out. I asked Opa if something like that had happened before. He said no. Opa wanted a wet towel, so I got him one.

While he was cooling down I tried to analyze the situation. It was hard to tell exactly what had happened.

It is okay to call for help when you need it

Normally I am reluctant to ask for help unless I really need it.

My military training and leadership experience make me capable of handling most situations. It is rare that I feel like I am in over my head.

This one was different. Something had happened. It seemed serious to me.

I am not a doctor, so I decided to call for help. I dialed 911 and requested paramedics. It was not long before I heard sirens in the distance.

The first thing to keep in mind when your world turns upside down is to call for help if you need it. Don’t hesitate. It may be the best decision you make.

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It is okay to hit the help button when you need it.

Try to figure out what is actually going on

Once the paramedics arrived they quickly noticed that Opa’s heartbeat was abnormally low. They loaded Opa into the ambulance and whisked him away to Reston hospital. I arrived shortly after in the emergency room.

The ER can be chaotic. There is usually a lot going on there.

Opa answered many questions so that the doctors could determine what was wrong. Opa is old. He has many health challenges these days.

The key in this situation was to pinpoint the exact problem.

It is important you solve the most serious problem first.

It was his heart. It was beating way too slow. They gave him some medicine and away we went to the intensive care unit (ICU).

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The hospital emergency room can be chaotic.

Waiting can be a big challenge

After Opa arrived in the ICU the doctors started to analyze the problem.

The reality was that Opa’s heartbeat was way too low. The medicine they gave him was working, but it was not a viable long-term solution.

He would need a pacemaker. The doctor who would install the pacemaker was not available until Monday, so we would have to wait until then.

I am not good at waiting, but there was nothing I could do. In some situations, you will have to wait no matter how anxious you may be to solve the problem.

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Watching the clock can be mind-numbing.

Hope for the best but prepare yourself for the worst

I called Uncle Perry to let him know what was happening.

He spoke with Oma so that she was aware.

Uncle Perry asked me what I expected.

I let him know that we should hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. It seemed like the best thing to do after our world turned upside down.

We were in for a long road. Much longer than any of us knew.

I am going to stop the story there. It has been a long week, and there is much more to tell.


I write a blog for my sons called Doug Keating Letter to Sons. I am sharing relevant content from my blog here. I hope you enjoyed it. All feedback is welcome. Thanks for reading it.

Originally published at www.lettertosons.com on March 5, 2018.

Leader and learner. Father of two young men. Novice blogger, www.lettertosons.com, Founder of All The Way Leadership! http://www.allthewayleadership.com/

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