Keeping calm and carrying on

Recently, we almost lost my 89-year old dad.  It involved six days of doctor visits, hospitalization, a heart attack and a new pacemaker that was installed just in time.  Six days of me trying to ignore the frantic, scared tone in my mother’s voice so that it wouldn’t amplify my own fears; and reminding myself that dad was still here and breathing.

One night we were all trying to get to the ER as fast as possible and my sister was having trouble as she drove up to the hospital. This is the conversation we had:

Sis: “The ER lot is full, I’ve been driving around and I can’t find a place to park.  What do I do?  Where should I park?”

Me: “I don’t know where you should park because I’m dealing with Dad.  You’ll have to figure this one out yourself.”

I am The Decider in our family.  My nature is to have answers and make decisions. If I would have gotten wrapped up in the state of anxiety we all were experiencing, I might have said something along the lines of “How the hell should I know, I’m trying to hold it together here in the ER with Dad’s heart rate falling by the minute! You’re a grown woman, figure it out!”

At times like these, it’s so easy to get carried away by heightened emotions. But if you can take a step back, breathe deeply—even in the midst of a crisis, and center yourself it is possible to keep lines of communication clear, concise and respectful.  The bonus is you don’t have to clean up the emotional mess you’d have made had you given into the stress of the moment.

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