PAIN Part IV: The Number 99


I was to report to the hospital at 9:30 a.m. to get checked in and was there right on time.  We walked into the hospital entrance and were ushered to the admission desk.  As with all new medical experiences, there were reams and reams of paperwork.  I almost asked Nadine to massage my left hand after filling out all the paperwork, but there was no time as the lady came, called my name and off we went to the surgery center.

When getting ready for an angiogram, all clothing needed to be taken off and replaced by a green with blue leaves fits all gown.  I hate green clothes for myself.  Blue leaves?  You’ve got to be kidding.  There were no choices to pick from.  It was one fits all and on it went.  Once I got into the bed trying to cover my back side, the next step was painful.

The male nurse looked at both my arms and decided to use my right arm to insert an IV.  He wrapped a blue rubber band around my upper arm to pop out my veins.  Stick one.  He missed and apologized.  Stick two.  He missed and apologized again.  Stick three.  He missed.  Lets pause for one minute.  I hate needles and can faint with the sight of blood.  I was getting a little woozy when my nurse called another nurse to come over to help put in an IV.  I asked the second nurse if he was good at finding veins and he said he was.  Success, but my arm hurt from all the pokes.

Just about the time that the IV was inserted, I was carted away to the surgical room, after saying goodbye to Nadine.  I was wheeled into a room with hundreds of very complex machines.  I was transferred to the operating table where 5 different surgical nurses began prepping me for the angiogram I was to experience.  I realized at that time that I wouldn’t be out, but could watch the procedure.  I made sure to tell my doctor that I needed to feel no pain and he reassured me that no pain would be felt.

The catheter was inserted into my right femoral artery and within a matter of 3-5 minutes I could see my heart with all the arteries running outside the heart.  There it was.  The LAD (Left Anterior Descending) artery that was blocked.  There was the culprit that caused my chest and arm pain when I moved.  What shocked me the most was when the doctor said that it was 99% blocked.  99%.  The doctor said, “You were only a hairline away from having a massive heart attack.  Let me say again 99% blockage.

The doctor placed a stint where the blockage was and they closed up the hole in my right leg.  It was done.  It was finished.  I was wheeled back to the room where the recovery process started.  It was surreal and might I add still is even as I write this jlog.  I was on the precipice of having a massive heart attack.  I was facing potential death.  I didn’t realize the seriousness of what I was experiencing over the last month.  My life as I knew it was about to dramatically change, had I not sought out help.

For me, my physical life was threatened by a blocked artery.  There are other kinds of threats.  Marital threats.  Childhood threats.  Teenager threats.  Job threats.  Relational threats.  Spiritual threats.  There are warning signs for all of these threats, but we need to open our senses to hear the threats and seek the necessary help in order for the threats not to turn in to reality.

On this journey, we sometimes never know how close we come to having threats around us turn in to realities.  Being sensitized to the warning signs can cause us to take the necessary steps to avoid roads that lead to devastating consequences.

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About James Gorton

I am happily married to Nadine, a person I've known for 20+ years. She and her late husband owned Airpark Auto Service where I took my car for years. Four years after my wife died we began dating and the rest is history. We have a blended family of 6 children between us and love visiting them across this country. We recently had our third grandchild between us. We love to hike, bike and ski. I am a psychologist and do relational life coaching for marriages and families primarily. I love what I do and never get tired of seeing marriages and families move to more healthy places in their lives. Five years ago my oldest daughter Deborah encouraged me to begin writing my thought into a blog I call my Jlog (Jim's log). I have become more and more passionate in connecting everyday experiences to spiritual truths. I hope that as you read my Jlog, you will gain insight into your personal life and experience true growth in your personal and relational life.
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