PAIN Part V: The Divine Intercept


I am home and recovering nicely.  I do have to take blood thinners in the morning and at night to prevent the stent from closing.  It’s a small price to pay for pain-free chest and arm pain.  As I look back on the experience from the start of the chest pain to right now, I have so many places where the Lord intercepted and intersected my life to get my attention.

The first intercept happened when I decided to contact a doctor to get my chest checked out.  You see, when I have any pain, I don’t take medication to relieve the pain.  I believe it’s there to get us to slow down and allow the body to heal itself of whatever obstruction that is causing the pain.  In this instance, I was trying to seek out medical help as I knew that this was more than a passing pain.  For me to seek help for this is truly a divine intercept.

I was in Nadine’s shop and was trying to connect with my old doctor when she heard from the next room my conversation and came into the room asking what I was doing.  God knew that this process needed to be speeded up and He made her aware of something she needed to be a part of.  I did say that she was angry because she is my wife but had been left out of the situation, but she quickly shifted into action and got the name of an Internist that I could call.

I called the new doctor to get an appointment.  I assumed that it would take a few weeks, but he had an opening in three days and I got off the phone with an appointment in less than 5 days.  In his office, the doctor did some ordinary tests, asked me several questions, and then stated, “I am really concerned about the symptoms you are having.  We need to get these chest pains checked out immediately.”  He realized  he was dealing with a real problem.  God was divinely intercepting the doctors perspective to give him wisdom as to what possibly could be going on.  The internist realized he needed a speciality doctor to take over and called his friend, the cardiologist who over the phone set up an appointment for the next day.  Unheard of right?  Divine intervention.

Within a week of meeting the cardiologist, I was given an ultrasound, EKG, Nuclear stress test, chemical stress test (because I failed the Nuclear one), had two meetings with the cardiologist, had an angiogram and put in a stent.  All in one week.  From my first doctor visit to the hospital, the time frame was two weeks.  Divine intervention.

While I was having my angiogram, I was awake and my cardiologist close to the end of the procedure said to me, “This was an excellent outcome.  It was more than excellent.”  He is a man of few words, but I gathered from him that he was overwhelmed by the positive outcome of the procedure.  I can only conclude that it was the hand of God working in and through the doctors that caused this response.

Finally, I see where God’s intersection in all of this came from my attitude through this one month plus process which I have detailed in this series.  I was totally calm and at peace, knowing that the Lord was guiding and directing my initial searching out a doctor to the final outcome.  This peace culminated when I was lying on the operating table and was watching the procedure throughout without being queezy or fainting.  There was a lot of blood, but I layed there asking questions of the doctors throughout the process.  That is a miracle.

On this journey, there will be times when it becomes evident that the Lord is right there beside you as you walk along, especially when the road gets tough.  He does care for his own children and those who put their trust in Him.  It’s never too late to turn to the Lord for help and guidance for whatever you are facing.

 

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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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PAIN Part III: Seeking Wise Counsel


Almost immediately, she (Nadine) got on the phone with a trusted friend and asked for a doctoral referral.  Within a matter of minutes she came back from her office and had a name and phone number of an internist.  I called the doctor’s office and got an appointment five days of making the call.  I didn’t know I could get in so quickly, but the Doctor had a cancellation and put me in the slot.

Over the next 5 days, my symptoms continued to become more frequent, so that when we (Nadine and I) went in for the visit, I could tell the doctor what I was experiencing, the frequency of the painful episodes, and the blood pressure at the time of the episodes.  The next two weeks seemed to be a blur.  The doctor became alarmed at what I was saying and immediately called his cardiologist friend about what he was seeing.  We have a house in Flagstaff to get some relief from the hot summers of Phoenix.  He was very stern when he said, “There will be no driving to Flagstaff.”  “There will be no exercise.”  He wanted me to rest and do nothing until I saw the cardiologist.  There just so happened to be a cancellation the next day so I showed up at his office the next morning.

Before I saw the cardiologist, my doctor wanted me to do an EKG test that day.  I was following the advice of the doctor and went right over for the EKG test which was normal.    It gave me some reassurance after the doctor expressed real concern over what was going on.  He also set up an Echo Cardiogram the next day which turned out to be normal.  I did get good news that I had a normal heart with no damage to the heart.  But my chest pain persisted and that was alarming to the cardiologist.

The next day the cardiologist came into the room and began asking a barrage of questions.  He concluded his time with me by wondering if he would just send me to the hospital right then and there to get an angiogram or wait for a few days to schedule a stress test.  After asking a few more questions, he decided on the latter and set up the stress test for three days from there.

Long story short, I had the Nuclear Stress test which I failed and was in the hospital the next day getting an angiogram.  All this to say that I needed to seek wise counsel for what I was experiencing.  I couldn’t diagnose this on my own.  I needed those in the field of medicine and in particular the heart doctors to ascertain what was going on and seek to fix the source of my pain.

What kind of symptoms are you having in your life?  Does it involve a challenging teenager that you can’t seem to fix?  Does it involve a spouse whom you are disconnected with and can’t seem to solve your relational problems?  Do you have some addictive behaviors and have minimized the intensity of your problems?  Are you finding yourself reaching out and experiencing a spiritual void that doesn’t seem to be resolving itself?

On this journey, there will be times when we need more than someone to come along and share our burdens with.  We need wise counsel from someone who specializes in the symptoms we are facing.  Seeking out, listening,  and acting on that wise counsel can be the start of a new life.

 

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PAIN Part II: Talking With Someone


Unfortunately, and I hate to admit this, I hadn’t gone to a doctor in 5+ years.  I had tried to get in with my Internist Doctor over the years, but he had moved and I couldn’t find him.  So rather than look for a new doctor, I let the yearly visits to the doctor for a physical slide from one year to the next.  I did remember the doctor’s name, but not the practice and he was no place to be found.  When these painful symptoms began to emerge, I knew I needed some help and decided to try to find my old doctor some way.

I was at Airpark Auto Service, Nadine’s shop, and was calling in the next room when Nadine heard me.  She came around the corner and asked what I was doing.  I spilled the beans of my pain and the symptoms of what I was experiencing.  There were two things that happened immediately.

The first was a tongue lashing by my wife.  “When were you going to tell me?”  How could you be experiencing these symptoms and not tell your own wife?”  She was mad and had legitimate reason for being mad.  She was more than mad.  She was angry and took out her verbal words on me as to why I would keep these things from her.  She was angry because she was hurt I hadn’t shared this with her as well as concerned about my future.  I sat there and took it because I knew that everything she was saying was right on.  I should have told her when I first experienced the pain, but I minimized it and didn’t want to burden her with my problems.  Big mistake.  BIG MISTAKE.  She wanted to know and frankly needed to know what was going on in my life and I had cut her off from my concerns.  I will say again, BIG MISTAKE.

The second thing that happened after the tongue lashing (that I deserved) was relief.  I had been carrying this burden by myself and she immediately came along and began to carry it with me.  Nadine did remind me that she withheld her feelings from me about the accident she had when she was hit by a car while running.  That didn’t feel good to me so I understood what she was feeling.  Carrying our burdens by ourselves and not talking with those we love (and who love us) prevent them from coming alongside and sharing our tribulations.

It’s the same in our relationship with the Lord.  In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus recognized that all of us at times are burdened by life’s challenges and He wanted us to “Come to Me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

On this journey, there will be times of pain that we experience where we need to talk with someone so that we can get a different perspective about what we’re dealing with.  Two minds are better than one.

 

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PAIN Part I: Listening To It


I am a male.  I am a wuss when it comes to pain.  You don’t have to ask my wife because I am a male and all (almost all) males become like babies when pain is involved in their bodies.  I have a theory about the way males deal with pain versus females.  Just think about it.  Females who carry children for nine months are faced with having that child with the head of a bowling size head come out of a few centimeter diameter hole.  That to me as a male is the definition of pain and women do it over and over.  Their tolerance for pain is so much greater than that of a male.  There’s my unscientific perspective of pain tolerances.

Back to my story.  About a month ago Nadine and I were in Flagstaff and we decided to go on our regular 4.6 mile hike going up and down canyons on this journey.  It is a strenuous trek, but one that is very enjoyable as we go through ponderosa pines and walk along a meandering creek.  This one particular morning as we were heading up one side of the first canyon, I noticed a dull pain in my chest with corresponding pain in my left arm.  I hadn’t felt it before and stopped half way to seek to relieve the pain.  It subsided in a matter of a couple of minutes and on we went.  I didn’t tell Nadine about it and truthfully didn’t think anything more about it until the next time this pain surfaced about 2 days later.

I began to become consciously aware of the times and frequency of these painful episodes.  The pain was becoming more frequent, and I needed to listen to the pain.  How many times in life do we get warning signs that we just blow off or minimize.  For me the warning sign was a dull pain in the chest and in my left arm.  I needed to listen to that pain.

What about other warning signs that come across on our journey?  It could be a spouse who says that they’re not being listened to.  They are crying out to get our attention, but we don’t heed the warning sign.  What about a teenager who is doing exactly the opposite of what we want them to do?  Could it be that they know what gets our attention and are trying desperately to get our attention but their warning signs are falling on deaf ears.  The warning sign could come in the form of an emotionally and physically spent body.  We are burned out by doing so many things that we don’t give our bodies time to rest and rejuvenate.  Are we listening to the body give warning signs that it’s time to slow down or gain balance?  A warning sign could come in the form of difficulty in our lives that all of us get.  Could it be that the Lord is trying to get our attention through those difficulties and have us turn our eyes toward Him?

On this journey there will be warning signs that come in various messages.  For me the warning sign was in the form of pain that I needed to heed.  Today we have the opportunity to turn on our senses to hear the warning signs before it is too late.

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Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!


Decades ago there was a family friendly show called the Andy Griffith Show played out in Mayberry USA.  Andy was the sheriff of the town with his sidekick Barney Fife.  It was a clean show with lots of laughter and sometimes relevant principles that could be carried into life.

There was one character on the show what was portrayed by the car repair guy, Gomer Pile.  In real life he wasn’t dumb, but on the show he always came across as someone who had a couple of screws loose.  One thing he would say when he came across something unusual was, “Surprise, surprise, surprise.”

I bring up that show and specifically Gomer Pile, because I got truly surprised over July 4, 2017.  I mean really surprised.  Blown out of the water.  Socks blown off kind of surprise.  Let me set the stage.  Nadine and I were going up to Flagstaff for the weekend and we were having Victoria, my middle daughter, come up for the weekend because she didn’t have her two boys.  We got up there Thursday night and she came Friday.  Carter couldn’t come for the weekend because of work,  so it was just going to be the three of us.  She got up to Flag around 9:30 p.m. and we had some down time before we all retired.

Around 7 the next morning, Nadine got up and asked if I wanted to get some coffee and sit on our deck.  I love that time with her and so off she went to make the coffee and I followed after about 2 minutes of waking up.  I came around the corner of our bedroom into the dining/kitchen area and saw Carter, Victoria, Nadine, Debi, and her friend Patty all standing in a row in the kitchen.  All of my kids were there in the kitchen standing with Nadine.  Debi and Patty had flown in from Chicago the night before and Carter had driven them up to Flagstaff to be with the family for the 4th of July.  Surprise.  Shock.  Surreal.  I don’t believe I had ever been as surprised as I was that morning.   Never.  Ever.

Needless to say we had a wonderful time of connection, putting a 1000 piece gig-saw puzzle together, going shopping, playing golf, going to the Grand Canyon.  You name it we did it.  It was the best July 4th I have ever had bare-none.

On this journey there will times when you are pleasantly surprised by life and by relationships.  Drink in the experience as surprises come infrequently and take you unaware.

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My Radio Flyer


I wrote an earlier jlog regarding fond memories as I went back to my roots in eastern Colorado.  To refresh your memory for those who read that jlog I will give you the backdrop and for those who didn’t, this information will be new for the first time.  My mother finally decided to sell the home site that I grew up in.  It was a home that my father had built when I was 4 years old.  It was a block away from our old house and she and my Dad lived in it for 65 years.  That’s deep roots.  It’s countless memories.  It’s decades upon decades of birthday parties.  It’s monthly bridge parties with their friends. Countless dishes were washed in this house as well as countless loads of clothes were dried on the outside clothes line and folded to be put away.

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My sister and I moved away from the house when we graduated from high school and never moved back home to be with our parents.  But mom continued to live in the house when my dad died in 1990.  It was only a couple of years ago this coming September when my mother decided it would be best if she were to move into a facility to help her if she ever needed assistance.  Most of the stuff in the house had been evaluated as to what was going to go with her and what needed to be given away.

There was one thing that was sitting in the shed out back that brought back vivid memories.  You can see in the picture the cob webs hanging from the back wheels of the wagon.  You can also see as you look closely that I decided to paint my wagon that had faded over the years.  The tongue of the wagon was made of steel and was crunched by the car one time and bent the curved handle a little bit.  We’re talking about a wagon that withstood 65 years of bumps and bruises and then sat in the corner of the shed for 50+ years not being used.

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And yet when I needed to use it to help clear out stuff in my mother’s house that was going to the trash container, it was up for the task.  I hauled load after load to the dumpster and it never complained one bit.  It did it’s job of getting the trash from the garage to the dumpster over and over and over again.

It reminds me of some of us who after turning 65 are put into the shed of our society where cob webs begin to grow.  It doesn’t matter how old someone or something is.   If we take the time to dust off the cob webs and see the value in that old radio flyer or the person who has chosen to retire, we might just find that the joy we once experienced will again come to life.  There is value no matter how old a wagon is or how old a person is.

On this journey we have the opportunity to open our eyes and look at people as well as old wagons.  Who knows whether or not those individuals can give us a little help along the way if only we take the time to see their value.

 

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