You know when you have to do something but you’re dreading it? You think you know what’s going to happen and where it’s leading. That was me. I knew when the cardiologist said that I had two issues show up on my stress test and needed a cardiac catheterization that it would lead to a second open heart surgery. I was so sure that I prepared my heart and my soul for it. I even packed my suitcase and C-Pap machine. When stressed, controlling what I can becomes my coping mechanism. So I paid the bills, clean the house, did the laundry and made sure there was food in the house for Thad and dog food for Liesl. I shared my worst fears with friends and family and they shared their prayers for a simple solution. But you know what they say about making plans, right? God smiles and says “My child, I’ve got this.”
And guess what? I had the cardiac catheterization and it showed nothing wrong. Yup, nothing except that my arteries were working flawlessly and my previous 2 bypass pass grafts were still wide open even after 12 years! Furthermore, the procedure went so smoothly, so free from pain that I was home by 1 pm that very same day. No overnights, no open heart, and no Easter spent in the hospital again. Yippeeee!
I felt like a miracle had occurred and knew it was because I was blessed by all those that lifted me in pray.
Once home, though, I realized I was no further along in solving the mystery of my medical mayhem: shortness of breath, exhaustion, high blood pressure, low pulse rate.
For a brief moment I felt sorry for myself. More tests? More doctors? And then there was the thought that this might be something I might have to live with. For a “Type A” personality, living with a constant state of tiredness was not something I was willing to accept. I went to bed that night thinking “Now What, Lord? What is your plan for me?”
Have you been there? Are you there now? Do you feel like going to bed and pulling the covers over your head or pigging out on brownies and ice-cream while binge watching Hallmark Movies Now? Or maybe it’s Chex Mix and the Die Hard Movies. Pity Party Platter for one, please.
However, with the new dawn though came a new attitude. I counted my blessings at having slept in my own bed without a second zipper in my chest. My surviving medical mayhem strategies kicked in and I made a list of new questions for my cardiologist. If my arteries are running smoothly what other heart issues are those that don’t show up with a stress test and cardiac catheterization? Could the current blood pressure medicines be causing some of my symptoms and would a Holter Monitor show what was happening to me in real time? These questions would need to be addressed at my follow up visit to educate me and empower towards the answers I would need to get well. And then there was the suggestion of it being a pulmonary problem. So I called the cardiologist’s head nurse and got a name of a pulmonologist and made myself an appointment. That produced more medicines to rule out COPD vs Asthma and an order for a CAT Scan. I have accepted the fact there will be more tests, more doctors, more time maintaining and healing my body than playing and having fun. Taking care of myself has become a full time job. I had to accept that sometimes there is no quick fix.
Here are some other thoughts for those of us going through medical mayhem:
In this life you may lose some things – body parts, hair, firm body, and memory power. But it’s important to hold onto your humor. I recently got a message on my 10 year Cpap machine (for my sleep apnea) telling me that its motor has surpassed its life expectancy. I started to laugh. Perhaps my problem is that my body has outlived its life expectancy as well. Wish I could order a new body as easily as I did my machine. Find the funny and hold on tight to it.
If we don’t take care of the body God has given us then we cannot enjoy the wonderful world He created. I want to ride my bike again, take long walks with my dog, play catch with my grandsons, and have Easter Sunday dinner at our home without feeling too tired to host.
We live in a time where there are so many medical tests, medicines, inventions, interventions that medical care is so much better than 50 years ago. Heck better than 12 years ago. 12 years ago after my cardiac catheterization I had to remain prone for 4 hours and struggled to hold my urinary output for that long. It was an agonizing four hours and the thought of having to do that again, a a bladder that was 12 years older felt impossible. When I explained my concern to the nurse she told me they would use an external catheter. https://smile.amazon.com/PureWick-PureWickTM-Female-External-Catheter/dp/B07ZFXCTRS/ref=sr_1_8?crid=1PCAFLWID7WI6&keywords=external+catheter+for+women&qid=1650294681&sprefix=external+catheter%2Caps%2C139&sr=8-8 What? I was sure that it wouldn’t work and at the first try I would have a wet hospital bed. But it was amazing! It was the easiest pain-free, infection-free, worry-free, dry free experience I ever had. Can I have those “To GO, please?”
The medicines alone allow us more time with those we love. We are blessed to be living in an era where options for better health are literally at our fingertips.
But the main takeaway from this is that God’s got this. Whatever may come my way, God will use for good. There is a purpose for where I am right now. Perhaps it’s for redirection, for learning, or for patience – I always have to work on patience. Perhaps it is to share my faith to help others sort through their plethora of pain, to turn troubles into trust, grief into growth and show the victory which is empowered by His strength and His courage.
God doesn’t promise a life without problems but he does promise us a future; not to harm us but to help us. Jeremiah 29:11. The darkness in our lives, our tribulations and death are a passageway into eternity with God. Our physical bodies are perishable but our spiritual bodies are promised eternity. And it is this promise that gives me hope. There is confidence we have in approaching God; that if we ask anything according to his will, He hears us. 1 John 5:14.
His plan has a wide lens view – a bigger picture than my little postage size view of the world. So as I venture down the path of medical mayhem I must keep my focus on God and not on my current troubles. Faith changes how we face life and death. God promises peace if we fill our minds with faith, search to understand the other side of this moment, and replace the fear with submission, trust and love. “Ýou will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26.3 NIV.
Rather than relying on myself to control everything because frankly I am too tired; I am turning to God’s word for help. And when I take the time there is a calmness of spirit that settles within me. It’s a choice I am making minute by minute, hour by hour and day by day. In Luke chapter 2:1 he tells me “It came to pass”. I ask God to help me remember that good times come to pass but so do bad times. However, God’s love and care is constant and lasts forever.
So what path am I walking post cardiac cath? To follow the path set before me by asking the question of my health professionals, seek answers, don’t give up because the path is sometimes strewn with rocks and holes and not always smooth as freshly paved. It is a path that is unknown to me but not to the God who made me and loves me. I need not walk in fear for I do not walk alone. I choose to walk on a path that is ultimately designed by the Lord, God, Immanuel (God with us), and Yaweh Rapha (healer).
Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart And do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way]. Proverbs 3:5-6 Amplified Version
Thank you for reading my post. If you have found it encouraging please consider liking, commenting or sharing it. Feel free to even re-blog – may these words take flight!
I have additional insights I’d love to share with you found in the pages of my debut book: Surviving Medical Mayhem – Laughing When It Hurts. To order a copy or learn more go to my website at www.lorettaschoen.com
Blessings for Health & Wellness.