Saturday, October 22, 2011

The heart of the matter

WOW! It's been a wild time around here. Even for us.  As I told SK this afternoon, I'll go to ridiculously great lengths to get my kids home.

To wit: Thursday evening, when Beve got back from visiting his dad I told him my upper back between my shoulder blades was very painful.  He responded typically--a bit sympathetic, a bit uninterested.  He's been down this road of my various aches and pains before, of course.  Most signifying nothing. We went to bed.  By two am, I was not only awakened, but sick to my stomach by the pain which was banding my upper chest area.  I couldn't think of what could possibly be causing such profound pain.  By five, when Beve woke up, I was sitting on a stool by the toilet, the pain making me that nauseous.  "Should I take you to the emergency room?" he asked.  "I don't know, " I told him.
Later, that indecision would be the most haunting of his day.

But he went to work and I huddled in bed until Beve finally convinced me to call the doctor who said, "Do not pass go, go directly to the hospital!" 

...where before I could get my name out, I was in a wheelchair, then taken back to a room and hooked up to a heart moniter.  Given an IV, oxygen, an EKG and aspirin.  Then the ER doc came in and told me that my EKG showed a blockage in an artery in my heart.  She showed me the EKG, which I am familiar with because of a now-fixed heart condition.  I know what my EKG should look like.  This did NOT look right. NOT even close.  There were very steep long lines in a jagged cluster descending from the middle.  The consulting cardiologist was called and I was given a nitroglycerin pill to put under my tongue to help with the pain.  And I have to tell you those tiny pills are like magic.  They may make a person lightheaded, but as they dissolve, so does the pain. 

The cardiologist came in with the EKG in hand and told me there were several smoking guns. That was the phrase he used. Smoking guns. The first, my pain, which indicates heart problems in women. The second, my history of cholesterol problems and sedentary lifestyle (due to my nerve problems--though I made no excuses). The third, my blood pressure which had jumped almost 100 points from its normal place of hovering at 100/70. And the fourth and most significant smoking gun, the one that made the decision for him, was that EKG. That dead wrong EKG.  I hadn't had a heart attack, he told me, but it was only a matter of time. Even hours.
Apparently there was no time to waste. I needed surgery and I needed it NOW.

The plan was to put a catheter into my heart, find the clogged artery put a stint in it to keep it open.  But if they couldn't get to that artery, they'd talk to Beve and me before any more extensive surgery was done.  Within about ten minutes after that conversation--after a couple of hours of sitting around--I was rushed up to the Cath Lab for the angioplasty. Along with what seemed like two dozen nurses, was the doctor and a specialist from Ottawa who helped develop a technique of threading heart catheters up through the wrist rather than the groin. Both of these doctors had seen my EKGs, and the French-Canadian knew precisely where the blockage was.  Because I wasn't asleep I could hear their conversation...well, as much as I understood. I did drift off, of course.

So here's where it gets interesting or baffling or curious or...POWERFUL.
That catheter got threaded up into my heart--my heart where God Himself says He dwells--and I clearly heard the accented voice say, "No, you over-shot it, back up a little. "  Then there was a silence. A "Be still and know that I am God," stillness, if you were with it enough to recognize it (though I was absolutely NOT at the time!). And then there were these words: "Wow, those arteries are beautiful!"  Unexpectedly, miraculously, ridiculously beautiful.  They could make no sense of it.  So they did another EKG, and guess what? My third EKG of the day was perfect. Completely, normally perfect. Or perfectly normal.

Last night, as Beve, our kids and I sat in the hospital, we couldn't make any more sense of this than the doctors.  I kept asking, "What about the pain?" and Beve was worried that he'd be bringing me back a few hours later because nothing had actually been solved.  We were so focused on the symptoms that we didn't look at it except through our very human, very rational, worried eyes.  Besides, how often have you experienced a real miracle like that?  Really.  Never in my life.  I'm telling you the truth, it honestly didn't even cross my mind that God had intervened, that HE had done that artery clean out all by Himself. Not last night. We were all tired, and it had been a rather worrisome day.
I had, after all, actually had a heart procedure, so I wasn't able to see clearly, and I had the equivalent of a wood clamp around my wrist keeping my blood inside the artery. "You wouldn't want to bleed out," I was told. I didn't mention that I have more than a passing acquaintance with arterial bleeds.  They have NO idea how close a relationship.

But this morning, when the only pain I feel is in my right wrist and my head (narcotics, which I was given in the Cath Lab, always give me headaches!), it was like God was using a megaphone to get my attention.  To get the attention of whoever will listen.  My sister, RE, said this morning, "I think maybe He wanted all of us to pray for you!"
I think maybe she's right.
Because there are reasons. Just Thursday, Beve and I made a decision without asking God about it.  Just added up the pros and cons and decided we didn't have a choice, and it's the right thing to do, after all, no matter how hard. But as good an idea as it might have been, it isn't what He wants.  That much was very clear by last night--to all it concerned.

The other thing -- this scare--and His amazing presence in the heart of the matter--is simply a wake-up call to the wonderful profound truth of God.  He is here and He is as far from silent as there can be. He loves me.  THIS MUCH.  So much that He reached right into my heart and opened up an artery ahead of those surgeons. This God who created me in the first place can absolutely clean out a clogged artery just in the nick of time, without any help from a plain old human, no matter what kind of fancy specialist he is!

We must--we ABSOLUTELY MUST--allow Him to be at the heart of the matter -- whatever those matters are. As much as He loves me, and did this for me, He loves you. HE LOVES YOU.  He cares about your heart and your health and your every little thing. From arteries to anxieties to whatever hurts you.
I have always believed that He uses miracles as signs of His presence, as ways to bring His gospel to the world.  To get us to speak as we might not speak, to be more fearless. As I just said yesterday, "We can't help speaking of what we have seen and heard."

This is my testimony.  

1 comment:

Elle said...

Take care Aunt C!