Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Clear for take off...

Wednesday February 6th has come and gone!

What a title heading - clear for take off?! Sometimes navigating life is like embarking on a journey to an unknown destination. The past 8 months have been such a journey. Sitting like a passenger in the economy section of a boeing 747 taxiing down the runway, not knowing if bad weather or turbulence would be part of the flight. Buckling up glaring out of the window, wondering if the storms of life would pass me by or slam into me head on. That would summarize a part of this extra ordinary trip I have experienced.

We arrived on time at UCSD-Hillcrest to check in for my RF Catheter Ablation. I sat between Nancy and Tammy, watching the clock, waiting for 7:00am so we could go to the pre-op lab. A few thoughts crossed my mind, wondering to myself if this was going to be the turning point in the health debacle that has impacted us as a family. The nurse handed me a plastic bag containing a gown, pants and socks, so I changed and sat down while she ran my vitals. Next she started an IV. One of the Surgeons came over and sat with us as a family and began explaining the procedure in detail informing us of the possible risks that might be encountered. Stroke, Heart Attack, Open heart surgery - stuck in my mind for a moment. Could this really be happening? Would I suffer one of the above ailments and face a life of impending hardship? After hearing this narrative description I signed the consent to proceed form and chatted for a few moments with Nancy and Tammy. I felt dreadful - this was the day 21 years ago that Tammy came into the world, it was her birthday, and here I was preparing for surgery...

As soon as the nurse indicated that the Anesthesiologist would be talking to me in a few moments, I bode farewell to Nancy and Tammy hugging them both as if I were indeed going on some far away journey! They left, and I felt sad. When the Anesthesiologist arrived he explained what his role was going to be and what I was to expect. They were going to begin the procedure with me sedated and awake. Reason for this they said would be to ensure that my heart was in a state of arrhythmia so they could locate the problem. Well, if anyone knows what my heart was doing it would be me - I confirmed that I didn't want to be present or awake for anything and that my heart was in a constant state of Ventricular tachycardia. They took a listen and concurred! First I felt a slight warm sensation in my right arm...then I was told to breath deeply into this mask they put on me. I felt the gas entering my lungs...my eyes began watering, I tasted it briefly and ..... poof ... into dreamland I drifted.

What felt like 30 seconds turned out to be 5 hours. I was awake. I wasn't in the OR anymore, I was being moved from the gurney onto the bed in my ward. It came to me instantly - "I have just come out of the OR...how am I doing?". I felt my heart racing. "Oh no", I thought "...it didn't work. Hold on...the racing feels bad but I don't feel the arrhythmia..." IT WORKED!!! They nailed it!! In my semi-comatose state I reached for my pulse and felt the beats - REGULAR, strong, hard and fast. Thank You Jesus...

I lay there for what seemed a moment, and out of the corner of my eye I saw two familiar faces. Frank and Linda Thomas had arrived to visit. How incredible was their timing. Seeing them brought such a joy to my heart, knowing that there were folk praying and here they were taking time out of their day to visit with me to find out how I was doing. Linda left a booklet with me "Quantim Faith". I began reading it when they left and was encouraged because the Lord sometimes requires us to believe and trust in those things not seen, the things not yet revealed as if they were immediately present. I couldn't see my heart, but I knew it had a problem. I had to express faith, quantim faith...in the Lord to trust Him and believe Him to make good the thing that was bad. He needed me at that moment to read that booklet to enhance and solidify His promise to me to bring healing in His wings. How gracious is the Lord...?

Nancy will tell you if there is one thing I struggle with it is sleeping in a strange place! I tossed and turned all night long in my bed. They gave me something to help me sleep, but me thinks it had the opposite effect. I must have slept for only 2 hours at the most. What compounded the issue is that they didn't use Angio-seal this time, and I had to lay still for 6 hours! Across the room in the other bed, lay Tony Whiteaglson, a 76 year old man, from Bolivia. He had escaped from that country during it's oppression, and found his way to Southern Africa, and lived in a small Sovereign nation called Lesotho. We shared our African stories for hours. Funny how a common item of interest can spark an instant friendship. I lay there wondering how I could help this man in his pain, discomfort and illness. Pray for him, that is all that kept going through my mind and heart, pray for him. Of course that is the answer, I obviously could do nothing for him...but the one who saved me and fixed me could do it all...if only someone asked., so I prayed.

After breakfast the Surgeon came to visit. He walked in with a big smile on his face. I knew he was the bearer of good news. He told me that the procedure was difficult. The faulty electrical pathway was difficult to access because veins and arteries were in the way. He had called Nancy and Tammy and told them this during the surgery, not very comforting but he assured them they would have success. He said they were able to use Radio Frequency to ablate or scar the pathway thereby destroying its' ability to generate electrical faults. He said that through out the night they monitored my heart rate and not a single PVC, irregular beat or palpitation surfaced. This procedure has been successful were his words. I knew it to be true because I knew exactly how I felt prior, and how I was now feeling. The contrast is huge. You have to have been there, got the t-shirt and felt the experience to understand the discomfort an irregular heartbeat causes. A follow up consultation is scheduled for March 3 and March 11 with both Surgeons who performed the procedure. Of course this is just a brief synopsis of the events of February 6th and 7th but being able to share with you all that my heart has not skipped a beat since then is just too marvelous for words, my heart, my inner being is over joyed.

Robert Ludolph and Nancy came to fetch me at 11:00am, I was excited to see them, knowing that I was going home to begin the recovery process. Getting dressed I looked over at Tony. His journey is not yet over, he has some turbulence going on right now - I walked over to him, took him by the hand and told him I will be praying or him. The look in his eyes flawed me. I saw his vulnerability, his fragility...it touched me.

If only we stepped back a few yards, and looked at the bigger picture. We might see that sometimes circumstances arise, situations affect us, our lives are touched, could it be for our purpose only? Somehow I don't think so. Sure I was in pain, I had 'stuff' going on in my life, but that shouldn't stop me from being able to, in any situation, "shine" for the Lord who lives and indwells my life. If it were to catch my attention only it might be in vain.

I am six days clear of the surgery - my heart feels awesomely good. The after effects are still bugging me a little, but that is to be expected. To God be the Glory...He truly knows my heart!

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