Anatomy of a Heart Attack

Here’s another fine mess God has brought me through.

Beginning last Thursday night, unknown to me, I was having a life-threatening heart attack. I was sure it was a GERD attack and denied pleas of friends and family to go to the hospital. Pain gradually increased and by Friday evening I finally asked for an ambulance.

Endured the E.R. “waiting” room as pain level went up to eight, then nine and finally 10 out of 10. They could not give me even an aspirin. Their protocols demand one be hooked up to a heart monitor before any intervention. None was available for three hours.

What is a pain level of ten like? For me it was, “God please let me die because I can’t bear this. “ But I did bear it and survived…again. “Dodged another bullet” as one sister put it. “Gave up another of your nine lives,” my daughter Amy said.

Here’s the Miracle: That bullet came so close to taking me out, permanently. After the 2 ½ hour heart catheterization procedure, I was given a before and after photograph of my the arteries that supplied that valiant muscle with the oxygen and nutrients it needed to do its hard work.  I gasped in unbelief at what I saw–a real-life miracle. Fifteen years ago, I had bypass surgery–one of six bypass grafts was totally clogged. Not a drop of blood was circulating to a significant part of my heart.

You see, I had the heart attack Thursday evening. The surgery wasn’t until 36 hours later. So I was somehow kept alive even though my heart was deprived of the life it needed to keep pumping. Yet pump it did.

Another “Fine Mess”: But that’s not all. Even more amazing, I was told by my doctor that he had to remove a blood clot right where the blockage was. It didn’t occur to me at the time, but later I realized, if that artery had not been clogged the clot would have gone right to my lungs or brain, which would have surely killed me or worse. .

I was awake the whole time and could tell Dr. Lee, my surgeon, was having difficulty. It took an hour longer than anticipated. But he prevailed by God’s mercy.

So now I am a cancer and heart attack survivor. Which support group should I attend?

The arithmetic of loving friendships: they divide sorrows and multiply joys. I felt so loved as neighbors and church family visited me in the hospital and my far-flung family visited by phone calls. Through it all my wife, Charlene has been wonderful!

All the many prayers are being answered. I understand our Sunday a.m. class set up a prayer vigil via texting. Thank you all for your love, support and petitions.

Now for the third or fourth time in my life, I’m faced with learning to live in a body with decreased capacity. I understand fully that God has a purpose through it all. “Whatever doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger. “ And I do feel stronger and ready to face this new challenge.

I’m grateful for his amazing love and grace.

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