Tag Archives: Heart damage

Alive

I am alive.

This was the first thought I had on opening my eyes after surgery. I am alive. Considering the trauma done to my body, the possibility of death was ever present. Does it matter that the surgeon has done thousands of these procedures? Does it matter that the technology has advanced exponentially?  Yes. These factors matter. But, what matters more is God’s involvement in life.

We soon celebrate Christmas.  The birth of Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Man. God decided to come in the likeness of man and experience the entire depth and breadth of being human, from conception to death. He did not do this because He did not know. He knows everything right down to the smallest detail. He came because doing so was how He decided to make Himself known to a world and people who had rejected Him. He came for the express intent of living a full life, then dying and being raised from the dead.

A living baby. No doctors. No technology. A young woman riding over 70 miles on a donkey with her new husband. No place to stay except with animals. No royal announcement except angels singing to shepherds. A baby, fully God and fully human the way God intended before sin entered. God’s gift to us.

I am alive and I will celebrate Christmas.

Attitude

It’s Friday morning and we have the results from the angiogram. I’m back in the patient staging area with Darlene and the doctor who did the test. He leans against my bed railing telling us the results. Nearby are three RNs standing around waiting for me to crash. Apparently, I am in critical condition. One of the arteries coming out of my heart is completely blocked. The doctor put in a pump to keep my heart beating.

I’m being moved from one hospital to another. I’m going from Kaiser Roseville to Mercy General, in Sacramento. Mercy General is the place to go for coronary bypass surgery, which is the only thing that will patch up my heart so it can work on its own again. They will be moving me by ambulance as soon as they can get me ready to go. Meanwhile, the three RNs are on alert in case they have to save my life.

I came in for a stress test the day before. Every previous test gave no suggestion of heart problems. But, today is different. If the bypass operation isn’t done soon, the doctors think I will not live. Within two hours I’m in an ambulance being delivered to Mercy General Hospital. Coronary bypass surgery is scheduled for the next morning. I had bumped another patient who apparently wasn’t as critical as I. They were afraid I might have to be bumped up even earlier. If I crashed, they would immediately take me into surgery.

I have never been in an ambulance before. The interior is stark, with cabinets and drawers containing stuff they might need. On one side is a low bench where the EMT and RN sit with me. I’m on a gurney.  There are windows and even lying down I can see where we are. I’ve driven the route enough to know the layout of the land.

There is an attitude that I must have to survive this ordeal. I must relinquish control of my body to the doctors and RNs who are taking care of me. If I fight them I would only make things worse. They will have to do everything for me. Up until surgery there are certain things I can still do for myself, like eat a little. But, at this point I don’t even roll over without help. I have to trust them.

Relinquishing control to someone you trust is not the same as abdicating responsibility and action. I must still decide my attitude remain positive no matter what happens. This does not just happen by an act of the will. A confident and clear attitude is a lifestyle choice and not something which can be switched on and off at will. It is either on or it is not.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11 ESV)

I do not belong to me. I belong to God. He created me for relationship with Him. This means my motivation and attitude have been directed by Him since I relinquished control to Him while continuing to shoulder responsibility for myself. Jesus Christ bought me when He died for me, giving me spiritual life. Not belonging to self is not a popular worldview. I am not interested in popular viewpoints right now. If I cannot be in control of my life, then there must be someone I can trust to be in control. I do trust the doctors. I trust God more.

 

Spending the Night in ICU

I am in the Emergency Department for a complete workup. Where, in the normal doctor’s office, results from medical tests can take days, in the Emergency Department results from tests can take minutes, maybe a couple of hours at the outside. Before I see a Doctor, several RN’s start placing needles in my arms so they can administer medications and draw blood. Before I see a Doctor, they hear the words “chest pain” and work toward that diagnosis. Then the Doctor came in.

He listened to my story. Exercise. Eating. Fires in Yosemite and Northern California. Asthma. Bicycle riding. Chest pain that goes away. He looked at my record. Listened to everything. Ordered blood work and chest x-ray. Then calmly explained why He did not think I had GERD and why I did not have exercise induced asthma. Looking at my previous tests, EKGs, blood work, he calmly told me the problem is my heart. RN’s come in to take blood and he said he would be back in about 90 minutes with the results. I wish I knew what he was seeing that the other Doctors had not seen. Thousands of hours in an Emergency Department gave him insight. He looked at the evidence, ordered more conclusive evidence be gathered, and waited until he had enough information to draw a more accurate conclusion.

I am not trying to hide my intent of using my experiences to understand my relationship with Christ. When Jesus came it was with the express purpose of keeping people from being separated from God. Everything He did was with the objective of showing who He was.  He was raised from the dead which validates everything He did and every word He spoke.

Jesus healed people. However, He did not heal everyone He encountered. We have accounts of Jesus healing lepers of their leprosy, the blind and lame and deaf and mute of their congenital physical disorders, the mentally deranged and demon-possessed of their mental/emotional instability. He raised dead people, giving them life where their bodies were completely dead. He did all of these things in front of crowds. The religious leaders watched Him, could easily verify His actions, and knew for a fact He was doing these things. Many of them did not care where the evidence of His life pointed. They wanted Him to go away so they could continue on as they were without change. They wanted Him dead so that His miracles would stop drawing people away from them and their age-old rituals.

There is too much evidence pointing to who Jesus is. Even when God speaks people hear and describe their experiences.

“Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:28-32 ESV)

Every Doctor and Nurse I met worked with the focused intent of keeping me alive. I expected nothing less from any of them. I cannot express enough gratitude and admiration for their work.

A couple of hours later the ED Doctor returned with test results. “You have heart damage.” There is an enzyme in your heart that is at 3.5. Heart damage happens at .5. We’re going to check you into the hospital (to get you out of the Emergency Department and free up a bed for someone else) and tomorrow morning we will do an angiogram, which will tell us exactly what is wrong. The Doctor never said the phrase “heart attack” though it is implied. While the Doctor was talking to me an RN placed another IV in another appendage with a blood thinner drip.

Okay. I’m spending the night in the hospital.