Lessons Don’t Change the Heart

The last year has been very tough & I’ve learned some hard lessons. I feel I’ve learned how to trust God with my life, & that HE will care for my husband & family if I die; His timing is perfect; I need to see things from other’s views (life’s not all about me); I am mortal, I will die & leave friends & family some day; I am thankful for the family I was born into, the greatest husband out there, and have my church family & friends.

But… I learned this week that just because I went through a trauma, I still struggle with the same heart issues. I am impatient, lack faith in my perfect God, feel sorry for myself because my body has been through so much & has more to come – I have done all the right things, ran marathons, never drink or smoke (how are other people eating fried & processed foods, going to the tanning bed, drink or smoke, not exercising daily & they are healthy???).

Somehow, I still sin with these heart issues. Yes, I still have a sin nature & need God in my life daily!

Surprise! You’re having a stomach tap & cath!

We (Joel, me, Chloe, AND Jack) decided to ALL go to a heart checkup in Atlanta yesterday. The kids added a lot of laughter & took away some of the worry in the day, but definitely took a lot of energy from Joel all day.  We knew I was retaining water & I have eaten very little all month, lost muscle mass – we were expecting med changes, lab work, maybe an echocardiogram.  We arrived 1/2 hour early- for the first time EVER. Got in pretty quickly to see the nurse practitioner & current fellow ( I have trained about 6 of them, with a little help from Dr. B.). Dr. Book didn’t like my June report, loss of muscle mass – said that bone loss would be next).  She said we needed to do a cath TODAY & she would see how to make it happen. Now, if you know anything about Dr. B., she can make it happen. 

She was concerned that my spleen is enlarged, liver hurt, kidney function has been strong, then damaged; every week it changes. One liver enzyme was elevated. And I have a lot of fluid building up & the heart meds & diuretics have quit working.  That was at noon. By 12:30, Joel took the kids to lunch, I sneaked about 3-4 oz of water from the bathroom sink, before they transported me to the transplant center where Dr. Ford was waiting to tap my stomach. About a 5 minute procedure to take out 4 vials of fluid, checking for an infection anywhere in the stomach cavity or liver, spleen, or kidneys.  He asked me if was not that bad, I replied, “well, I didn’t swear; so you did a good job.” He & the nurse laughed & said they did not hear any profanity. By 5:00, the fluid showed a severe infection in the stomach cavity, not in any organs. It was aggravated by inflamed blood vessels. He put me on 10 days of antibiotics, scheduling me for a return visit someday next week where he is tapping in to remove what thought looked like at least 4 liters of fluid. So now I know what to say to everyone who asks me when I am expecting 🙂

Meanwhile, I had now time to worry, bc. by 2:15 I was on the cath lab table, adjusting to the 40 degree temperature. I had a heated bed, heated blankets, & not strapped down this time! The nurse asked me what kind of music I liked, I said Johnny Cash & they played Pandora’s Johnny Cash the whole time. I was extremely nervous, fighting PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder),even when I had 3 rounds of meds. I stayed awake the whole time, listening to the Man in Black & reciting Psalm 23.

The best news of the day – Dr. B. said my heart is strong, ready to start walking & some easy minutes of running again. The surgery worked! She is slowly going to get me off my heart meds, one started today – the most toxic one to my liver.  She was able to rule out the heart & say we are not looking for a heart transplant for quite a while.

The bad news of the day – stomach is likely to be infected until they can develop a treatment program for the blood vessels. Until then (sounds like it will be a 3-6 month study), I will be on antibiotics maybe once a month, and get tapped every 2-4 weeks.  Hopefully if I get 4 liters drained & get over my infection, I’ll feel better for a while & can eat well, exercise, etc.

Thanks to a very, very good friend, Roxie, I read & re-read Psalm 6. Praying that God has His mercy & stedfast love upon me, while I am in physical & spiritual agony.