Several days after my walk around the lake, Mike went in for his stress test. Mike worked at a large government contracted plant as a security guard. Every year they required the guards to run a half mile to stay qualified for their jobs. A security guard wasn’t worth his salt if he couldn’t run to help or chase someone down.
Mike never enjoyed running. Instead, he was a member at the local community center where he swam laps every week to stay fit. He’d never had any symptoms of heart issues before. We were convinced the tightness in his chest was something else.
He went in for his stress test on March 25th. His test results looked good. Still, they called him later that day and set up another test for the next day. “This time a doctor will be present,” they said.
“Why wasn’t there one present yesterday?” Mike was getting frustrated about all this.
He did the second stress test on the 26th and went to his appointment with the cardiologist on the 27th. The doctor, sent Mike home with nitro tablets. “You are a heart attack waiting to happen,” he said. There was a glitch in the EKG when under stress that wasn’t there when Mike was at rest. The doctor wanted to do a catheterization. But Mike opted for an isotope test instead on the following Tuesday.
On April 1, we were on our way to the hospital for the isotope test. I turned on the radio. The first song up was, ‘God Will Make A Way.’ I smiled, knowing it was a gift from our Abba God to us to give us faith.
Later, I wrote in my journal, “Lord, it is a constant joy to see how You let me know that You are on task and that I can trust You. Having that particular song play on that particular station, the moment we turn on the radio. People who don’t know You don’t know what they are missing. No one else knows us the way You do. No one else knows what we need to be renewed in our faith and hope. Thank You, Father.”
The isotope test showed problems. The doctor went ahead and scheduled a catheterization for Saturday, April 5th.
On Saturday morning, we were back at the hospital at 5:45. The catheterization started at 8:00 and was over at 8:30. The doctor came out to tell us the results. The test showed 95% blockage in the main artery of Mike’s heart and 60% blockage in another.
The doctor recommended bypass surgery. All the kids were there with me, which I appreciated. My emotions were rolling inside, but I did my best to keep them under wraps.
“This is my healthy husband. He runs, he swims, he doesn’t smoke or drink, and he eats healthy. Why is this happening?” My mind twisted in knots of uncertainty and fear.
Mike stayed at the hospital with a surgery appointment for Monday, April 7. Sarah and I got home at 8:30, exhausted. I wanted to curl up in bed and hide for a while, but there were phone calls to make to many family and friends.
On Sunday, I slipped back into my old church for prayer. I knew Harry would pray for me, and I needed a Holy Spirit download to make it through. It felt strange to be there, but it was good to reconnect with my friends.
Surgery day arrived. I was grateful to our caring family doctor. He ordered a prescription for some tranquilizers. I got the best night sleep I’d had in a month. My friend, Rachel, came to the house and spent the night so she could go with me to the hospital.
We woke up to twenty-degree weather. I threw on my clothes and went out to feed our donkeys and chickens. As I headed back to the house, I started talking to God. “Lord, some men trust in chariots, some in horses, but I trust in Your name, O Lord, my God.” I needed to reestablish my focus on Him.
Mike came through surgery well. I was the first one into see him. Here was my strong husband tethered with wires and tubes and a breathing tube down his throat. My heart ached. I did my best to give him my love without tears and the sense of devastation I was feeling. I was so grateful the surgery was over but knew we still had a long road to walk for recovery.
The next day, my pastors from the Covenant church came to visit him. Ministers from the church Mike attended came and friends from my old church came. It was quite something. Each of them prayed for us and shared love and comfort.
Mike came home on April the 12th. Sarah was starting into the throes of morning sickness. Still, she tried to go to school every morning. Mike was up and moving, but he still was not be able to do much around the farm for a few months. I was the only ‘well’ person, yet I felt ill-qualified to meet their needs or take care of the animals and land by myself. I would have to ask for help.
Five days after Mike came home from the hospital, I woke up in the middle of the night. There was a throbbing pain in my left hand and arm and then clamminess all over. I tried changing positions to relieve it, and my heart started racing. Fear rose up, and I lay there afraid to move. But the symptoms weren’t going away. I prayed and tried changing my breathing pattern. Anything to stop what was happening, but nothing worked.
Finally, I woke Mike up and told him what was happening. He insisted I call 911 and get an ambulance to the hospital.
Long story short, the ambulance came and took me to the hospital. Sarah had to get up and drive Mike in our car since he wasn’t released to drive yet.
They checked me over stem to stern and decided that it wasn’t a heart attack. Anxiety was the doctor’s diagnosis. So, after about eight hours, they sent me home with more meds.
The days and weeks rolled on without pause. I felt overwhelmed most of the time, as if I was treading water but sinking. I was trying to comfort and support Sarah and be Mike’s cheerleader and wife. He was so discouraged by his persistent weakness and pain, and there was little I could do to fix it.
May came and went. Mike started back to work on limited duty. I continued to do the farm work and somewhere in the process twisted my back out of commission.
We were quite the threesome. Sarah was sick every morning and trying to finish out her school year. Mike was frustrated with not being able to do the heavy work he used to do. And I was hobbling around feeling I’d failed to be the help they needed.
That first Monday in June I scribbled in my journal, “Lord, order my days. Help me to accomplish Your will and not my own. Help my will to be Your will. There is so much I believe needs to be done. Lord, show me Your list so I can throw mine away.”
It was at this critical period I grabbed hold of a song by Amy Grant called, “The Lord Has a Will.”
Below is the verse and chorus that ran through my head night and day:
I need You Lord, in all I do
You’re always there to see me through
I can’t get by unless I lean on You, Lord
The Lord has a will
And I have a need
To follow that will, to humbly be still
To rest in it, nest in it
Fully be blessed in it
Following my Father’s will
I was learning to trust Him more, along with learning how to love my family with all my time and energy.
There would be more challenges ahead for this year of 1997. But God was providing all that I needed each day to do what needed to be done. My trust in His faithfulness continued to grow.
~~ How About You? ~~
Are you faced with overwhelming circumstances right now? Does it look like you will never be able to handle what’s been given you? Are you feeling like a failure, even when you are giving your all? Are you past feeling tired and moved into exhaustion? Yes, I’ve been there. What’s more, God was there with me, and He is with you as well.
We aren’t called to figure out how to do life. We are called to trust Him and look to Him for our answers.
Proverbs 3:5-6 is a signpost we all need to use to mark our paths:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
I’d love to hear from you. Your comments are welcome. ❤