My dad is 67. Back in the late 80's he was going through some pretty stressful family issues, gave up drinking, and one day with no prior exercise started running excessively. It triggered a massive heart attack and left him with a portion of his heart no longer working. I hear the term cornary artery, or something but I'm not sure if that is what is or is not working. Over the years since then he has had another heart attack and a few close calls in which he was hospitalized for symptoms. He also has sugar diabetis, and takes two insulin shots every day.
My dad is a very stubborn person and won't listen to his doctors tell him to regularly test his blood sugar levels, or to change his diet. He's got a slew of medication he has to take, plavix being among them and I'm not sure what else for his heart.
In the past few years I've really seen him in a decline. He complains of shortness of breath. On at few occasions it was so serious that he was unable to get enough energy to get out of bed. In those instances an ambulance took him to the ER, giving him oxygen on the ride in and for a few hours afterwards. He would receive a number of tests, conclude that he's breathing okay, and then be released to go home. We had to argue with the insurance company because they didn't want to pay for the ambulance ride once because it happened so early in the morning that he was released the same day. Apparently they only pay for ambulances if one is retained overnight for observation!
Anyway, he gets oxygen for a couple of hours and *then* they do all these tests. They decide he is in fact getting enough oxygen into his bloodstream. Well duh, they just gave him increased levels of oxygen for a few hours so it doesn't seem that hard to believe why he would be feeling so much better.
We asked if it would be possible to get a small oxygen tank that he could have at home just in case he has another episode like this. The doctors say he can't get a prescription for such because the insurance company won't pay for it unless he gets bad reading on some test thingy that cilps to his finger, but the only time he's been given this test is after he has had the oxygen and recovered from the incident.
These episodes are few and far between, fortunately. Most of the time my dad is rather active. He will for example keep himself occupied by gathering firewood. Do we need firewood? Well no, we could afford propane instead. But, when we suggest this we can tell he feels really hurt. I think he feels as though he needs something to do to feel worth staying among the living. It's pretty sad actually, but I fear if he doesn't have something to do to remain active his will to live, and overall health will diminish significantly. We struggle to try to supervise him so that he doesn't try to over exert himself. He has all of the "toys" to make what he insists on occupying himself with as easy as possible, such as a log splitter. So, it's not like he's trying to chop wood by hand.
However, just simply wheeling in a small cart of wood I can tell is becomming more of a strain on him. His breathing is a bit heavier than it was before, even on his best of days. He now is on occasion making mention of complaints that he finds difficulty sleeping because he is breathing a bit heavier than normal even while laying in bed. I've seen these sorts of symptoms build up before his couple of trips to the ER over the past few years. Then somehow the symptoms go away and he is back to his normal self even though the doctors really haven't changed anything in his treatment, other than to give him oxygen and rest for a few days.
I'm concerned because I can see him gradually get worse in these symptoms with each pass through this cycle which seems to repeat every several months. Perhaps it is tied to the seasons. I know he dislikes these cold Michigan winters, and I can tell he is less active during the winter so when he does do something it appears more difficult or strenous for him than the same sort of activity in the summer. I've encouraged him to consider moving further south, but he doesn't want to because this is his home, and he built this place with his bear hands back in the day.
I am wandering if anything can be done. I don't really know the extent of what his cardiologist has done, but I did pick up on noticing that the doctors and my dad don't see eye to eye on some issues. They give recommendations as to eating less greasy foods, or taking it easier and doing less strenuous activities, and he gets upset and complains profusely behind their back, ignoring their guidelines.
Perhaps we could help more, as a family. But, I'm not sure what to do. He likes to eat out -- fried fish dinners, and greasy burgers at resturants way too frequently. I'm not sure how we can ween him off of that, but if he were to pass on, I am not sure how I could take the feelings of regret if I didn't do more to help encourage his health while he is still around. What can I do?