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God will show up when you need him the most
Heart disease and Gods amazing grace
Little did we know that Larry's overly tired feeling and not being able to catch his breath after just walking a bit was the beginning of a serious heart problem. I took my husband Larry to the emergency room on Feb. 24th with pressure in his chest and not being able to catch his breath. They took his vitals and admitted him right away, his pulse and blood pressure was through the roof. This was so scary to him since my husband at age 73 had never in his life been hospitalized. Giving control over to someone else to care for him was foreign to him.
After only a day and much testing they discovered he had AFIB (Artrial Fibrillation) which is an irregular heart rate. Many people have this heart condition and with medication they are now able to control it pretty well. But he began to have actual chest pain so they wanted to do further testing to check for blockage in the heart arteries and such. So they had to transfer him to another hospital in the area about 30 minutes away by ambulance. He was transferred on the following day.
During his stay there he was on IV of course and oxygen. One of the things that happens when you have AFIB is your heart rate is so irregular that you cannot at times catch your breath and you do not get enough oxygen to your brain. So because of this he also experienced some confusion and memory issues while he was ill. The other thing that he had was pneumonia so he was on antibiotics through his IV. A lot was going on during this time and he was not a happy camper at times. He couldn't get any sleep because every time he did fall asleep they were in there drawing blood, taking his blood pressure or checking his blood sugar. He is also diabetic type 2 so that was another issue that we had to monitor closely.
Time for an angiogram
They wanted to perform an angiogram to see if there was any blockage so they did this procedure where they place a small tube in your groin area and it goes up into the heart to check for any blockage and see the actual heart condition. There were no blockages but they discovered he also had a bad aorta valve. After numerous opinions some cardiologists who saw him wanted him to have it replaced right away, but his cardiologist who he had seen before, wanted to wait and get the AFIB under control and get his heart stronger before jumping into open heart surgery. We agreed with his opinion and followed his plan of action.
Now he was ready to be released from the hospital and was doing pretty good, could walk around without the oxygen, only had a few more days of antibiotics to take and they let him go home. Unfortunately the instructions from the Dr. and nurses were not very clear and Dr. didn't catch certain medications they gave him that were doubled up on regarding his blood pressure. So I took him home and followed their advice which meant I was basically giving him two different kinds of blood pressure medicines, This was causing his blood pressure to become dangerously low. After only a few days we went to see the cardiologist for a follow up, and when he saw the list I had of the medications Larry was taking, he almost fainted. He got so red it was obvious something was terribly wrong. He corrected the situation and took away 4 pills. Larry began to feel much better after that. Thank God that he caught that because his regular Dr. did not. Thank you Jesus!!
During all this I was also thanking God that this had happened to Larry because without this particular test the Drs. would have never known he had a bad valve. God always has a hand in our lives and is always orchestrating events that sometimes seem very hard to understand for a purpose and a reason. I have learned to completely trust in Him.
He took a turn for the worse.....
After a few days, this was on a Sunday, we had family visit. My son and his wife and children came by and Larry had such a great time. He even picked up each of the small grand kids to say good bye. Little did I know that was a big mistake. After they left he began to complain of the shortness of breath and feeling a lot of pressure in his chest. Instantly your mind begins to wonder what is causing this, he is taking the right medicines and has been feeling a little better. Anyway, Larry called our neighbor who was a nurse in the military and is now retired. He explained what was happening and he said we should go to the Dr. right away. So here we go again. We went straight to Skagit Valley Hospital which is where he had been hospitalized before. They saw him right away and began to run an IV. He was dehydrated and his kidneys were not functioning at their best in filtering fluid. He also had congestive heart failure. It was scary before and now even more so.
Larry knew he was going to have to stay there I could see the disappointment in his eyes. But I was glad we brought him back where they could take the best care of him.Seems like hours passed and they finally got him to his room. My heart beating ever so quickly as I stood outside his room with tears in my eyes, a nurse walked by and saw me and just gave me a great big hug. I will always remember that and thank God for sending her at that moment to give me a little comfort. I didn't stay with Larry that night because I had not brought my change of clothes, but I told him I would be back first thing in the morning and bring him his coffee. He drinks decaf now but really enjoys a hot cup each morning. He agreed but he didn't like it.
Round 2 - Drs. wanted to shock his heart back to normal rhythm
This stay was more intense for him because he didn't know what was going on. He knew the medicines had delayed his recovery but we had gotten past that. When the cardiologist came in to see him, he told us he wanted to try and shock his heart back into rhythm. This is a common procedure and at times been very successful. So they began to give him a new medicine by IV called amidarone, which is a very powerful drug for controlling and in some cases has actually been successful in itself to bring the heart back into normal rhythm.
So the following day they did the procedure. They first had to make sure there were no clots, this consisted of placing a tube down his throat and viewing the heart and arteries. After they discovered he did not have any clots they went ahead with the shock treatment. Larry's daughter was there with me in the waiting room which was very nice to have company and someone to talk to. When it was over the cardiologist came over and said that it had not been successful. The Dr. was very hopeful though and said that the medicine could do the job and bring him back into rhythm to keep the faith. We just had to pray and believe this to come to pass.
During this stay Larry had a wonderful nurse who happened to be a Christian woman, her name was Devyn. One morning Larry and I sat on his bed early having coffee and Larry began to weep. He held his head down and began to say Jesus you are so clever. He began to tell me how peaceful he felt. He was weeping because he was experiencing God's presence. I began to cry as well and gave him the biggest hug. We talked for a while about how God was going through it all with us. It was the most awesome experience to see my husband have God's peace in him. He had never felt this before and we were both so excited.
Later on that morning when Devyn came in the room to take his vidals and give Larry his medicine we began to share Larry's experience with her. She asked what time it had been and we told her it had happened about 6:00 am. She smiled really big and said that is exactly when I was getting in my car this morning and I began to pray and lift Larry up to the Lord. Wow was the only thing that I could say. She hugged Larry and I and we shared God's word together and felt God's presence ever so greatly. God is good!!
Some great news by the cardiologist
The second stay in the hospital taught us so much and the nurses during our exiting time were amazing. They took their time about explaining everything to us, his medicines, when and how to take them, etc. I took tons of notes and I felt so much more confident that he was going to get better through all this. Since this all began Larry has lost about 25 lbs. which was good because his blood sugar numbers are so much lower and I have lost weight as well. We are eating healthier and smaller portions. We have taken sodium our of our diets completely and use a salt substitute. No more canned foods, although now some of the soups are heart healty so the sodium content is much lower. We eat a lot of salads and stay away from carbs such as white bread, pasta and potatoes. We do have them on occasion but in small portions. Balance is key in loosing weight and staying healthy.
Unfortunately there was one more trip to the emergency room. This time not for anything with his heart but his arm. His arm was painful and was very red around the IV area. We first called his regular Dr. and since it was on a weekend he told us to go into emergency because he worried about blog clots. Here we go again, this was a much shorter visit and they gave him a shot and sent us home with some antibiotics to take for 7 days. That took care of the problem.
Then there was great news after the first follow up appointment to the cardiologist, the Dr. came into the room with a great big grin on his face. We both looked at each other and he told us the good news. Larry's AFIB is gone!!! That was the best news!!! More praise be to God. So he took him off of the strong heart medicine and his heart rate has been normal ever since.
Taking it one day at a time
Now we are just waiting to see the cardiologist in a few days to get the results of his newest heart ultra sound, x-rays and blood work. He has been feeling great, no more shortness of breath and is sleeping much better thank you Jesus. I am too!!
When the day comes for his open heart surgery I am confident that Larry will be stronger physically, mentally and spiritually. He is closer to the Lord because of all this and I am too. The Lord has taught us humility and has shown us his unconditional love and grace. We experienced his peace during our most difficult times, his comforting us, caring for us and sending the right people in our path to take care of our needs. What a wonderful God we serve. There were individuals from our church who brought over meals to us when Larry first got out of the hospital and our Pastor came to visit us as well. The prayer warriors in our church constantly prayed over Larry, what a blessing that was. My family especially my mom who is also a prayer warrior and their constant messages of support and love kept us going during the hardest times. Then there were our dear friends who came to visit him and bring us some smiles at the hospital, we are so very blessed. Facebook was a wonderful source for us to share his progress and updates on.
Larry's sister who he had not been very close to for a while came to visit and things are so much better between them now. The other very thing that I am so grateful for is how much closer we have become, as friends and husband and wife, we are closer then we ever have been.
So as we anxiously await the surgery, in our hearts we both know that God has Larry's back and all will be well. He will feel so much better than he ever has in a very long time - Glory be to God!
God Bless you all and please keep us in your prayers!
Some interesting links for you to check out regarding health
- Foods that Lower High Blood Pressure and Reduce Hypertension: Food List
Natural vasodilators. The nitrates and minerals in certain foods lower blood pressure. The foods that show the most effective results are high in potassium, magnesium, nitrates and calcium. Read for a food list of foods that naturally reduce hyperten
- Blood Pressure High or Low is a Silent Killer - Beware
Any deviation of normal blood pressure is vary dangerous whether low or high. It is a silent killer. The abnormal blood pressure results in kidneys failure or heart stroke before you realize. Beware
- Health Risks of Salt in Your Diet
High consumption of salt in your diet increases your health risks. Risks that increase with sodium intake include high blood pressure and heart disease.
© 2014 Mary Gaines