Grateful, thankful, indebted…
When I grabbed my purse and my keys and walked out the door of my house ten days ago, I had no idea that it would be nine days before I returned home.
The fact that I have indeed returned home is a point of overwhelming gratitude.
I had no warning whatsoever about the drastic turns my life was about to take. And I’m not going to give you the detailed story/timeline here for two reasons:
1. I am zealously guarding my energy output, and
2. I am still piecing it together myself.
But I can at least sum it up for now, knowing that even that much will be incomplete, but the only way you can rejoice with me about God’s goodness in this is to have an idea of what He’s taken me through.
I left home that morning on August 29th because I’d had an odd pain in my abdomen since the prior morning that wasn’t resolving, and it was the advice of my primary care physician to go to the ER where they’d be able to run tests she wouldn’t be able to run in her office. I was uncomfortable but otherwise pretty healthy and strong, so I simply drove myself there. From there on these are some of the things that went down, in no particular order, and as best as I remember them at this point.
1 Emergency Room, 3 Intensive Care Units, 2 regular hospital rooms, 2 ambulance transfer rides (complete with lights and sirens), 1 CT scan, 2 ultrasounds, 3 code blues, 4 cardioversions (that’s where they shock you with the paddles), 2 sets of chest compressions (but 0 broken ribs, yay!), bunch of bags of lidocaine dripped into my veins, 1 heart catheterization, 1 MRI of my heart, countless tubes of blood taken, countless ECGs, countless needle pokes, 1 picc line, 1 extensive ablation (a procedure where they cauterize bits of the heart gone rogue that are throwing off its groove in a rather deadly way), 1 ICD (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator permanently under the skin on the front side of my left shoulder), a ton of medical professionals scratching their heads and saying “this makes no sense; God must really want her in Brazil!”, a fair number of merciful doses of valium, a bunch of bruises, the talk of the local cardiology world for the weirdness of the case, more people than I’ll ever know petitioning heaven on my behalf, and 1 husband who set aside his life to be with me, guard me, pray over me, comfort me, and generally attend to every need he possibly could.
What does any of that have to do with a pain in my abdomen? Nothing. The pain in my abdomen is from a gallbladder being naughty. I “just happened” to be in a hospital room when my heart went into a deadly rhythm and decided to quit. In fact, I “just happened” to be in a hospital room every time it happened. And no, it had never happened before, and there were no warning signs that it ever might. It is possible, although it would be difficult to prove it, that this was all kicked off by a dose of Zofran given with some pain medication for my abdominal pain, since it is listed as a rare side effect. But we’ll really never know. The cardiologist who took on my case at the third hospital specializes in the electrical part of the heart, and he said that in his 17 years of practice, I was only the third case of this he’d ever seen. It’s really, really rare, and rarer still that anyone survives it.
I don’t know what God is up to in this, but it is so plain that He’s in it that the medical professionals would frequently make mention of how only God can orchestrate a story like this. They all knew I was less than a month from my date to leave for my ministry trip to Brazil, and so often when they’d leave me they’d say something like “have an amazing time in Brazil!” or “you’re going to have a great trip to Brazil!”. Normally, that would be a strange thing to say to someone in a bed in ICU. But it was as if everyone knew something deep in their knower when I was too tired, too strung out, or too medicated to keep it in the front of mine.
The ablation procedure has brought my heart rhythms back to a much more normal activity, and as it heals it continues to normalize even more. The ICD, which is a personal defibrillator implanted under the skin of my chest, is a safety net in case something ever goes wonky…it will detect the wonkiness and try to correct it nicely, and if that doesn’t work it will shock the wonkiness right outta me…which completely resets me to a normal rhythm. I hope I never need it, frankly, but that’s something I have to trust God with. He’s been so faithful and He’s shown Himself more than trustworthy.
For now I am resting, healing, and regaining strength. I am keeping the eyes and ears of my heart open for every new thing God wants to teach me in this season and through this crazy ride of a story.
And I’m expanding my vocabulary with words that all mean thankful.