Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Valentine.

I posted this last June. I wanted to repost it in time for Valentine's day but I got busy so here it is. My husband is not only the love of my life, my best friend and the best husband ever, but he is also my hero. And here is one of the reasons he will always be a special part of my heart....

What do you get for Father's Day for a husband that saved your father's life?

We are always down at my parents house, Christmas, Thanksgiving, mother's day ,father's day, birthday's and just because. The kids love running around with Grandma and my dad hanging out with George watching sports and talking politics, he's like the son he never had. Last June, when I was about 4 months pregnant with John, as usual we all headed to my parents house to celebrate Father's Day. The weather was beautiful and my dad, instead of cooking up our usual chicken and sausage, decided to throw some nice cuts of steaks on the grill. After cooking them, we all settled down to our dinner in the traditional American way, adults in one room, kids and chicken nuggets in another and everyone in front of the tv, talking, alternating between rooms. My dad had dished his plate and settled down in the back room to watch some tv and dig in. 
While we were still in the kitchen preparing our plates, we look up and my dad is staggering into the kitchen, his face turning a deep purple, holding his throat in the chocking position, muttering words that were barely understandable.
I felt a sense of panic wash over me and I approached him trying to figure out what was going on.
As he got closer, barely unable to walk, let alone speak, I realized he was muttering the word Heimlich.

My heart stopped. I started to panic and shouted, "Someone give him the Heimlich", as I searched for the phone about to call 911.

My dad was choking on a piece of steak.

My dad started turning blue, his wind pipe had become completely blocked. My husband, the resident RN in the family, calmly stood behind him, wrapped his arms around my father's 6'4 stature, took correct placement with his hands in fisted position and in what seemed like hours, firmly, precisely and calmly, administered 3 blows.

The first blow barley dislodging the stubborn piece of meat.
                            The second moving it up his windpipe.
                                             The third expelling the piece of meat.

The color immediately returned to my dad's face and he braced himself against the counter top as he caught his breath, inhaled and oxygen filled his lungs. I'm not sure if it was the hormones, the event that just took place or the reality of the situation, but I started to shake and couldn't stop crying.

My husband had just saved my father's life.

Although this may seem like a regular choke and save situation, it is everything but.

My father suffers from Congestive Heart Failure. Diagnosed about 14 years ago, he has been on a heart transplant list, hospitalized multiple times and just about knocking on death's door. He had already outlived his original "time-lined"diagnosis, his heart rebounding to the stronger of the heart failure levels. But in my father's quick thinking, he knew that if he had passed out and hadn't made it into the room, hadn't tried to sputter the words that ultimately saved his life,that because of his heart condition, we would not have assumed he was choking, we would have assumed it was his heart and called 911.

He wouldn't have made it.

All the years of worry, by my father, my mother and his family, us wondering at times, if our father would make it another day or night and him wondering how he would just gather the energy to speak or attend his daughters sporting events, and be present in our lives. Years of his "roller coaster heart health. And in the last couple years, due in strong part, I believe, because of his optimistic attitude and his propensity to push on and live life, my father's heart had actually improved. And to think his fight for life, his fight to survive heart failure would have been lost against a piece of steak.

After my father caught his breath, and emotionally thanked George for saving his life, he joked about the situation, joking that for saving his life, he would give George his first born, me. Then he went into the other room, sat down and finished his piece of steak.

And my husband, who treated his extraordinary feat like another day at the hospital, a scheduled surgery, sat down and joined him.

My husband who has given me the 3 most beautiful children ever, had also just hand delivered the best gift a husband could ever give a wife, her children and her mother, my father's life.

So, what do you get for Father's Day for a husband that saved your father's life?

I know this much, we won't be eating steak.
                                                        My dad with Sophia, June 2009.


  1. Steak is overrated.
    A good husband? Now that's hard to find.
    I'd say he's a keeper!!

  2. Danielle,
    What a wonderful read! Your father is one tough cookie. I am so happy to hear he is doing so well! And your husband? Well, I hope I get to meet him someday. You chose well.


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