Friday, February 08, 2013

How to fix a broken Heart - Part 3

This is the third in a series describing my journey through the process of discovering that I (literally)  have "a broken heart" and beginning the process of getting it fixed.

In this series I've been putting in a plug for the (Canadian)  Heart and Stroke Foundation   which provides  funds for research and  supports  people who are dealing with heart disease and strokes.

Since, in Canada, February is Heart Month  and I am about to benefit from their work, I'd encourage you to consider contributing to this work. 

In the first part  titled "How to fix a broken heart"  I told the story of how I came to find out that I had  severe aortic valve stenosis.  (Step 1 - Diagnosis)

The second part described Step 2:Talk to a cardiac surgeon

I've been playing a catch -up game describing  "what happened in the past" -this post brings us up to date.
Step 3 - Preparing for surgery

Last time,  when I left off we were home waiting for a call from the hospital.

Enjoying life: On  Friday (February 1), the day after our trip to see the surgeon, our daughter arrived home for the weekend. She had made the plan to come  shortly after we knew that the "echo"  was scheduled for the 19th and she thought it would be good to be here to help us pass the time while we were waiting to get the results on  February 5. 

Little did we know that God had other plans and  not only did we have a firm diagnosis but we also already had completed  the surgical consult. However, her idea of helping us with waiting was still a good one -- just that we were waiting for a different thing. 

It was  a great time - see "Snow time to post". 

Facing reality: I was sorry (even though it was out of my control) to see the distress in her eyes trying to deal with the fact that her "invincible father"  was in fact very "vincible" (Yes Virginia that's a word - I looked it up!!).

(And her brother's have shown the same thing as we have talked and Skyped with them)

(As an aside  - I am so proud of the adults my children have become -- I am acutely aware of my many failings as a parent - I was too often too occupied with other things and not "there in the moment" with them when I should have been but as the saying goes "I must have done something right".

I continue to pray that I can, by the power of His Spirit,  become a better husband, father and grand-father as I continue my walk with God through this world.)

It was a time for lots of conversation, some serious,  some painful, but mostly about daily routine  and "the business of life".  A few tears  and lots of laughter. 

15-2, 15-4 and there ain't no more: We played a few games of  cribbage -  something I enjoyed doing with my Dad -- and Melissa  had the idea that  there must be an online version. Sure enough there is. 

Monday morning we gave her mother a good laugh - Melissa was sitting at the desk using the laptop and I was sitting on the bed using my kindle and we were playing cribbage on-line while talking back and forth -- your play, 15-2, etc., etc. So we are all geared up to play a few games while I'm recuperating.

The waiting game: After we put her on the plane Monday afternoon we began waiting in earnest.

 Linda began packing and organizing for an extended stay away from home. We had been planning for her to stay at her niece's place - She is in the nursing program at Laurentian University and lives a couple of kilometers (mile or so) from the hospital.

Much of Tuesday was occupied with being "out and about"  doing a few errands.

Linda's uncle called to tell us about  the Travelway Inn  which is "next door" to the hospital.

 For 2-3 days following the surgery I'll be in the ICU (cardiac intensive care)  which has restricted visiting hours (30 minutes every 2 hours) so it would be difficult to  stay at the Hospital all day and equally difficult and time consuming to be running back & forth to Hilary's place.  Since it's a few minutes to walk from/to the Travelway it seems like a good idea for her to stay there at least until I'm out of ICU.

Once I've moved to a "regular" surgical recovery unit the visiting hours are more generous (11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.)  and Linda  can move to Hilary's and mke 1 trip to hospital and stay for the  entire period.

I began working seriously on "preparing for the worst" - although I'll confess there was a lot of procrastination - after all it wouldn't do to get it all done and then have to sit around "twiddling my thumbs". 

The reality is that I was (self diagnosis) mildly depressed -finding it hard to focus on anything and spent (wasted) a lot of time playing free cell on my kindle and trying to clean up a large backlog of "C"-file email. 

 I also  was spending lots of time on Facebook, on some discussion groups and using email  to communicate with family and friends. And thee was of course my desire to keep writing in this blog.

On top of that (or maybe as part of it) I found I was tiring easily. That had been happening all fall but I wrote it off to the workload of teaching 3 courses - equivalent to a full time job and something I hadn't done for a long time. 

I guess it wasn't the workload after all!!! (which I should have known because it was unusual for me to get that tired that easily).

So the days went by without much being accomplished or so it seemed -- although looking back perhaps I was using the wrong measure -- that I was doing more "living in the moment" and doing "last day" things in relationships - perhaps -- or perhaps I'm just rationalizing  -- it is what it was. 
I was just reminded in this recalling of the last few days of this excerpt from the   Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”

So  we move on 

What's really important?  
Throughout this waiting we continued to "pray without" ceasing.

I was also doing the most important thing.  I wanted to  spend as much time as I could being close to and talking with my beautiful "Irish eyes". She was having a difficult time - hovering a bit -- and being anxious about  every little thing I did because of the severity of the stenosis and the increased risk of sudden death.   

It is  a test of our faith - repeating many times "Lord I trust you and help me in my lack of trust"  and "not my will but yours but I really want it to be my will" --  I want to live - I choose life"  -- not because of the fear of death but because my job here isn't finished and I don't want Linda to be left here without me.  (Interesting conversation with our son the psychologist on the question he asks "Is there any part of you that wants to die?") 

I am mindful of what Paul wrote in Phillipians 1: 18b-26  "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." but I'll admit that unlike him   "My desire is to NOT  depart and be with Christ"    although I share his commitment to life because . 24  to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your (their) account.

We talk again about our constant prayer that when it's time "please God take us together" but we'll never do anything to help Him with that request -- and whatever comes we know that - if one of us is left here without the other -- we will find the good (cf. Rom 8:28) somewhere sometime after the "valley"  has been walked.

Another ending: I am, along with my older sister, an executor for my Dad's estate. 

Wednesday I managed to complete a job that had been hanging around since September when I committed to doing the most of the financial "wrapup".

I completed my Dad's "final" income tax and a "balance sheet" for his estate so it could be wrapped up. 

And the wait is (almost) over: This brings us to yesterday (Thursday) when the phone rang at 8:30 a.m. It was the hospital calling to say my surgery was scheduled for  the upcoming Wednesday (13th). They said I needed pre-op and asked did I want to do it "tomorrow" (Friday) or Monday. Given the  7 hour round trip it seemed "prudent" to say "Monday" and just plan to stay there for the extra day so Monday pre-op and Wednesday surgery. 

I was ecstatic - the wait was over - well almost anyway. Wednesday will  be less than 2 weeks from when the surgeon said 3 to 6 weeks  and only a week later than when I was originally supposed to be learning the results of the echocardiogram.   

Thank you my Father. I could almost hear the Hallelujah chorus. Of course, at the same time, my anxiety about the procedure increased - I'm not looking forward to the pain and tubes and all that major surgery entails and at the same time there is a wonderful anticipation of being able to DO things again!

Just as I had finished notifying family  the phone rang again - your surgery has been moved up to Tuesday -  That's even better  Double Hallelujah!

Well - now we are up to date.  Final preparations - do all those things I've been procrastinating on and get on the road on Sunday.

More to come  - hope to describe the final days of getting  "Ready for Surgery"
in a post on Monday night.

God Bless

1 comment:

John Dobbs said...

Praying ... and looking forward to communicating with you after the surgery as you recover with strength and faith. Love you all.