Let’s see. Where shall I begin. It has been awhile so I’ll just cut to the chase of the matter. No, for any of you out there who might be wondering, I am not dead. I walked pretty close to that edge but I’m far removed from death at this time. For those of you who may not know or those few of you who don’t know and don’t care, just to let you know, I had open heart surgery August 26 of this year. Exactly sixteen days ago my chest was cracked open, veins were harvested from my left leg and chest wall and three major blockages were bypassed and blood flow was restored to my heart. The blockages were monumental at 95%, 90%, and 50%. After the cardiac catheterization the Surgeon told me that he did not want me to attempt to walk across the hall and that he wasn’t crazy about me walking to the bathroom 5 feet away. That’s how bad it was.
However, God is faithful. As I went to get into the car on August 23 at 5:45 p.m. to go to the emergency room with chest pain, I asked God to allow me to see my family and home again. I got no immediate response but I claimed healing in the faith. God did let me see home and family again. But I had to learn a lot about trusting God to do the great and awesome things that only God can do.
May 3 of this year I had a total knee replacement on the right knee. Had I not had that procedure done I would not have been out walking to rehab the knee. If I had not been out walking to rehab the knee I would not have experienced what I soon came to understand to be the infantile beginnings of chest pain, angina, or the aching heart that was about to break. At no time prior to the first week of August did I have any indication that there was a heart problem. I did not know that there was a heart problem. None of my doctors knew of any heart problem either.
Now here’s the kicker. I had an EKG in April to clear me for knee replacement surgery on May 3. A review of that EKG showed no problem. Yet every EKG since August 15 indicates significant heart problems and changes in the severity of those problems. I believe that there were six or seven EKG’s done in the hospital that I know of. Blood work was coming back normal which meant that there was no heart attack or myocardial infarct as yet. Now being a nurse I know the wisdom of man tells me that blockages of 95%, 90%, and 50% don’t occur over a span of three months’ time.
Here’s what do I know. I have had Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting surgery with three bypasses. I have the zipper length scar in the center of my chest and two large chest tube scars in the epigastric area to prove it. I know that 3 ½ months ago I had a total knee replacement done on the right knee. I know that if I hadn’t been walking to rehab that knee that I would not have been made aware that there was a heart problem. I very easily could have gone out for a walk and keeled over dead. But I didn’t. Go figure.
So, what’s going on now? Well I’ve rested the last two weeks. I walk. I rest. I walk some more and then I rest some more. I’m told that I do not have a heart problem anymore. That problem supposedly has been fixed. What I have is a breast bone (sternum) that has been split in two and wired back together that needs to heal. That means that I don’t lift, push, or pull on anything that weighs more than a gallon of milk. I don’t drive. When I do ride in a car I have this big cushy pillow between my chest and the seat belt. I’ve quit smoking. For all practical intents and purposes, I figure that I’ve quit eating too. I’m not barbequing pork and beef every weekend. I’m not cooking any gumbo or fine Cajun dishes. I’m on a low salt, low carb, low calorie, itty bitty portion diet. That means I can drink water and eat three handfuls of something that tastes like cardboard each day. That’s okay. I’m alive. Pass the Mrs. Dash please. It makes cardboard taste better. Oh yeah, I’ve lost 11 pounds in sixteen days.
Other than some soreness, I feel GOOD! I get up in the morning and I have energy. At least it seems to be equivalent to what I remember energy feeling like. I feel like getting up. Getting a cup of black coffee and going out onto my back deck and meeting God. I feel like going for walks with my wife, children, and grandchildren. I feel like doing something, anything. However, my wife and family remind me of the physical restrictions of Doctor’s orders.
My pastor and wife got me a couple Labrador Retriever puppies and a kennel. I remember hunting ducks in Louisiana and I miss it. I enjoy working with the pups and giving them feed and water. I call it working with the dogs but I suspect it’s more like spoiling them. They are puppies and I’m an old fat man with a chest mending. The real work and fun will come soon enough. At some point in time a duck will fly by my blind and feel the steel flung from the barrel of a shotgun and one of these trusty little retrievers will fetch it for me. Life is good. I can dream again.
The funny thing about all this, and some might say that there is nothing funny about having triple bypass surgery, is that I have been spending time with God since February. A lot of time. God has drawn me closer to Him. I have learned to set my “prayer list” and my “requests” aside and just seek to be in God’s presence. Over and over God took me to Matthew 6:33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (NASB 95)
Then, again and again, God would take me to Proverbs 4:23 “Watch over your heart with all DILIGENCE, For from it FLOW THE SPRINGS OF LIFE.” (NASB 95)
Then, without fail, I would wind up in Ephesians 6 where it talks about family relationships and putting on the Whole Armor of God.
I seek God first, daily. I guard my heart daily. And, I put on the whole armor of God, daily. Those three things prepared me not only for the heart surgery but for the knee surgery as well. I sought God, I guarded my heart, and I put on the whole armor of God….daily.
You see God knew my heart was in trouble physically. Yet, he could see in the condition of my heart a desire and a willingness to spend time with Him every day. I do not read books, watch television shows or movies, or listen to music that can have an effect on my thoughts, words or actions. I put on the whole armor of God and I am on the alert to crush any thought, silence any word, or negate any action that would not honor God or cause detriment to His kingdom in the eyes of others. In short, I strive to not give the enemy any opportunity to enter my household. The devil is a liar and a thief. He comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Satan cannot stand the fact that I seek God first. It causes him grief that I guard my heart. He gathers his cabinet to seek out ways and develop strategies to penetrate God’s armor. Satan, dude, you live a defeated life and I will not walk in defeat with you in life or in death. I fight from a victorious stance and position.
In conclusion, I cannot help but wonder if God allowed the right knee to fail so that I would walk to rehab the joint and discover the physical danger that my heart and ultimately my earthly life was in. God could have just healed it supernaturally. I’ve seen it happen. As it were, I realize that God’s plan was to allow me to go through these surgeries and healings so that I can know that God is with me always. It was His plan not mine. I give God all the praise, all the glory, and all the honor for the fact that I still walk this earth. I am healed. I rejoice that I am alive and more acutely tuned into my calling. I have been given additional time to enjoy my family, enjoy life, and to serve others. I am thankful for I am truly blessed.
When was your last check up? I don’t necessarily mean when was your last physical checkup either. When was your last spiritual checkup? I was literally twenty steps away from having a full blown heart attack. This heart thing, physically, can happen to you. It happened to me. It happened in the blink of an eye. I propose that the strength of the spiritual heart has some bearing over how the physical heart responds to healing whether it be physical or emotional. I know it is so. What is the condition of your heart physically and spiritually? See your doctor for the yearly physical. Open your Bible daily for the spiritual checkup. God Bless!
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