Authors: Shelly Hickman
After Kiran’s angiogram the following morning, we learn that he did indeed have a blockage, so the doctor placed a stent in the narrowed artery. I guess that actually makes the procedure an angioplasty.
“Surprisingly, you don’t have any of the risk factors for a heart attack,” the doctor explains in Kiran’s room, with his parents and me listening on. “Your cholesterol is right where it should be. So is your blood pressure. You’re very fit.”
Kiran scowls slightly, as if he’s about to bring up something he doesn’t care to. “I’m not a cardiologist, but my guess is that an entire life of being overweight caught up with me.”
The doctor raises his eyebrows before briefly glancing at the rest of us. “Oh, so you weren’t always a normal weight?”
Kiran hesitates and clears his throat. “Hardly.” For a split second, he meets my eyes before quickly turning his attention back to the doctor.
I have no room to speak about this matter because I don’t know what it’s like to be overweight, but it still takes me off guard when I see him holding onto the shame and hurt from that part of his life, even years after the fact. I understand the hurt. The teasing he endured in school and his history with women most definitely left its mark on him. What I don’t get is why he’s so hard on
over it. It’s like he gives himself no credit for the incredibly difficult transformation he achieved. I can almost hear the internal castigating he’s giving himself over having a heart attack.
“Well, yes then,” the doctor replies. “Most of the time, major weight loss will greatly reduce the risk of coronary disease, but it’s no guarantee of a future free from issues. The good news is that your heart suffered no permanent damage.”
I exhale and rub Kiran’s arm. “That’s great news!” His parents smile with relief.
“However, we are going to put you on some meds, just as a precautionary measure. Blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood thinners.”
“But you just said his cholesterol and blood pressure are fine,” Geena argues. Then she turns to Ahsan and frowns. “Cholesterol medicine! Remember all the side effects I had when I first started taking it? I was miserable.”
This conversation is just depressing. Kiran is only forty-eight!
“Sweetheart,” Ahsan says. “This is all standard protocol.”
“Yes, that’s right.” The doctor offers a tight-lipped smile. I don’t think he appreciates Geena’s interjection. “You will need to start seeing a cardiologist, and he or she can adjust the medications as needed. We’ll keep you here under observation for another day, and then you should take it easy for a week or so. No heavy exertion, no lifting. Between recovering from the episode and adjusting to the medications, you’ll likely feel quite tired. That’s normal.”
Kiran nods. “Will I need to stay on the medication forever?”
“Probably not. That will be up to your doctor, but you can expect to take them for at least a year.” He pauses to write something else on Kiran’s chart. “Well, then. If there are no further questions, I’ll be on my way.” He looks at us for precisely one second, and when no one responds, he makes his way toward the door. “Best of luck to you.”
Sheesh. The guy must have a lot of rounds to make. Not the worst doctor in the world, although a little more bedside manner wouldn’t have killed him.
“No permanent damage,” Ahsan says. “That’s excellent news.”
Since Geena had stayed with Kiran the entire night, and his parents now received the news they had been waiting on, they both rise and start shuffling to leave.
“Such a relief!” Geena gushes and bends to give Kiran a squeeze, her eyes a bit moist. “I love you so much!”
“I love you, too,” Kiran answers with a smile.
“Oh!” She turns to briefly look at Ahsan, and then addresses Kiran again. “Before I forget. Remember when I told you Seth was moving here from Washington?”
I have no idea who Seth is.
“Well, he bought a house,” Geena continues, “but it won’t be ready for him to move in for another month or so.”
Kiran’s father stands behind her, shaking his head. “Kiran doesn’t need to concern himself with this right now.”
“With what?” Kiran asks.
“Well, I had a conversation with Seth before all of this happened.” She touches her throat and looks at her shoes. “And I mentioned to him that you and Anna probably wouldn’t mind letting him stay as a guest until his house is ready.”
Ahsan frowns at Kiran and crosses his arms. “I tried to tell her that with us already staying with you, you don’t need the added stress of another houseguest, especially now. Our remodel has already taken longer than we anticipated.”
“Who’s Seth?” I ask.
“He’s Kiran’s older cousin,” Geena says. “My sister’s son. And he is such a delight. Kiran always looked up to him when he was younger.”
look pleased, and something makes me wonder if there’s more to his disapproval of this idea than meets the eye.
“I certainly don’t mean to give you additional headaches,” Geena adds, “but I wanted to at least let you know. Do whatever you think is best. I know that he would love to see you and spend some time with you.”
Kiran finally has the opportunity to respond. “Of course I would love to see him. It’s been over ten years.” He massages the back of his head, still appearing quite worn. “But I’d like to discuss it with Anna.”
“Yes.” Ahsan gently takes Geena by the arm. “Let’s let them discuss it.” As he passes he leans into me, touches my shoulder, and murmurs, “It’s okay to say no.”
I smile as they leave the room and Kiran gives me a questioning gaze.
“I missed that. What did he say?” he asks once they’ve gone.
I glance back at the door as I take a seat in the chair next him. “He said it was all right for me to say no. Why does your dad seem so irritated? I mean, it is a little clueless of your mom to put pressure on you if you don’t want him to stay…”
Kiran lets out a groan, and yet he seems somewhat amused. “My father has never really cared for Seth.”
“Why? Your mother certainly seems to adore him.”
“Seth has always been very…” He wears a bit of a grimace. “Full of life, should I say? He’s charming, he likes to have fun—”
“What’s wrong with having fun?”
“He likes to have fun… with the ladies.”
I lift my chin and nod. “Ah. I see. You mean he’s a man whore.”
He laughs out loud. “That’s probably not the term my father would use, but… you know how he is. He finds Seth irresponsible. Thinks he never really grew up.”
Kiran’s nurse, a tiny Asian woman I would guess in her fifties, enters and sets his lunch tray on the rolling table at the foot of his bed. “How are you doing? Can I get you anything?”
“I’m good, thank you.”
She checks on his IV and then his blood pressure cuff which has been taking readings automatically. “Okay, handsome. Buzz me if you need anything.”
I push the table to one side of his bed and lift the lid from the plate. Having a look at the spaghetti underneath, I scrunch my nose. “This doesn’t look very appetizing, but you should try to eat.”
Kiran sighs. “How about I eat the roll?”
“Hospital food is always disgusting. Do you want me to go out and pick up something for you?”
He drops the roll back onto his plate and pushes the table away. “I’m not very hungry.” Sliding over in the bed, he pats the space next to him. “Come sit with me. We haven’t had a second alone since I got here.”
I lie on the narrow bed beside him, and he drapes an arm around me. Resting my head on his chest, I listen to the thump, thump of his heart. “Oh,” I sigh. “I never thought I’d be so grateful to hear that amazing sound.”
He runs his fingers through my hair. “I’m sorry I scared you, but I thought for sure I was just having heartburn. I had some jalapenos on my salad earlier that day, and spicy food doesn’t agree with me the way it used to.”
“C’mon! What kind of Indian can’t handle his spicy food?”
I lift my face and he brings his lips to mine. It seems like it’s been ages since I’ve kissed his warm, delicious mouth. I can’t imagine what I’d do if anything ever happened to him. “We need to get you home so I can take care of you,” I say, tightening my arms around him.
He kisses the top of my head. “This isn’t exactly how I planned to start our engagement. Instead of romance, your life is now about heart attacks and old geezerness.”
I sit up and smile. “Geezerness? Is that an actual word?”
“It is now, beautiful,” he teases. “I’m officially an old geezer.”
old geezer. A pretty hot one, at that. I can’t even nag you about taking better care of yourself because you already do. I must say I feel a little cheated.”
“Sorry about that. I’ll be sure to start shoving Big Macs in my face more regularly. Will that work?”
“Maybe. Besides, if you’re an old geezer, that makes me one, too. Since we’re the same age.”
“Yes, but you haven’t had a heart attack. That gives me seniority.”
“Not so fast there, buddy.” I narrow my eyes. “I’ll have you know, I’m inching into menopause with the hot flashes fast on my heels.” I lie back on his chest. “So… what do you want to do about your cousin? Would you like him to stay with us while he waits on his house?”
“I’m fine with it. I just wanted to make sure you were. I promise I have no intention of taking in every one of my family members in the future.” There’s a smile in his voice.
“It’s temporary, and we have plenty of space. But what about your dad?”
“Who knows? Maybe Seth has settled down some and will surprise him.”
“How’s my little peanut?” I squat down to get a hug from Claire.
“Hi, Nana,” she says, looking somewhere past me before returning my embrace. Despite my attempts for a lengthier cuddle, she’s already disentangling herself and seeking out her iPad.
“See what I’m talking about?” Carly asks, wrinkling her brow.
“Nooooo…” We walk to the dining table and she pours me a glass of iced tea. “You’re gonna have to fill me in a little more than that.”
She sighs, her shoulders sagging. “She hardly even looked at you. And then she couldn’t escape your hug fast enough.”
I fold my arms across my chest. “Gee, thanks. I feel so good about myself now.” I take a sip of my tea. “Of course an iPad is going to be more interesting to her than Nana.”
She sits down beside me and twists a piece of her hair. “I don’t know. She’s like that all the time, though. For as affectionate as our family is, Claire’s just not very…” She trails off, as if finishing the sentence makes her uncomfortable.
“Sweetie, I honestly don’t know what you’re talking about. So she’s not very touchy-feely. Is that supposed to mean something?”
Carly’s gaze lingers on Claire, who is sitting on the couch in the living room playing with some kind of music app. “You probably don’t notice because you’re not with her all the time, but something’s wrong. Jason and I are beginning to wonder if she’s a little autistic.”
“Claire?” I frown and turn to watch my granddaughter. All I see is a perfectly typical two-year-old, but Carly’s right. I’m not her mother, and I don’t want to minimize her concerns. My first impulse is to point out how extremely bright Claire is, but then I remember that autism isn’t necessarily associated with a low IQ.
“What do your dad and Richard think? Since you all live in the same house, have they noticed anything?” Luke has never mentioned having concerns about Claire to me.
“I’ve not said anything to Richard. Dad acknowledges her behavior, but thinks we might be jumping the gun a little.”
“Have you brought up your worries to her doctor?”
“Sort of, but he doesn’t seem too disturbed. He says each child develops differently.”
I reach across the table to place my hand on hers. “Well, there you have it. Maybe you’re just being a worrywart first-time mom. I’m sure she’s fine.”
Carly responds with a weak smile and nods, but I can tell she’s not convinced. “How’s Kiran feeling?” She leaves her seat to get a dish rag and wipes the crumbs from lunch off the table.
“He says he feels good. No chest pain or anything. Just super tired, like the doctor warned.”
She sits back down and rests her chin on her hand. “So have you guys set a date? And will I get to be your maid of honor?” she asks, flashing her eyebrows.
Leaning back in my chair, I grin. “Of course you’re going to be my maid of honor. But no, we haven’t set a date. With all that’s happened, we haven’t discussed the details yet. And it looks like we’ll be having another houseguest soon.”
“Adagio,” Claire repeats a female voice on the iPad. “Andante…”
I look at Claire, then back to Carly to see if she notices, and she shrugs as if she hears that kind of thing all the time.
“Huh.” I chuckle. “She is a trip!”
Luke and Richard come through the front door, hauling bags of groceries.
“There’s the soon-to-be-married gal,” says Richard as they set the bags on the dining table. “I hear congratulations are in order!”
“Thank you, Sir Richard.” I stand to accept his hug.
“Well, don’t hold back. Let’s see it!”
I hold out my left hand for him to inspect the ring.
He turns my hand in his so he can scan it from all angles. “Gorgeous! The man has excellent taste, but we already knew that because he chose you.”
The four of us start unloading the groceries from the bags. “Why Richard,” I begin in a lame, Scarlett O’Hara accent, “you do make me blush!”
“How’s Kiran holding up?” Luke asks.
“Mom was just about to tell me about their new houseguest.” Carly takes a jar of pickles to the refrigerator.
“You guys got a bed and breakfast going over there?” Luke says before popping a Cheeto into his mouth.
“You know, you might be onto something there.” I pause to ponder the idea. “But it’s just going to be a cousin of Kiran’s for about a month while he waits on a new home here. I haven’t met him yet, but from what I understand, he’s quite the character.”