Friday morning on September 30 was intense. Within 90 minutes of waking up with chest pains, we had ER doctors insisting to me — 41 years old, no history or lineage of heart problems, in good shape — that I was having a heart attack. Rushing to cardiology was next because, as one doctor said, “The cardiogram doesn’t lie.” A nurse said very directly to Wendy, “You need to go in and say goodbye to Chris.” The qualifier “your last” was the obvious omission. Wendy did, and they wheeled me down to cardiology to the Cath Lab where I was to receive a catheter.
The cardiology staff moved on the double. The room was buzzing with action, the crew conscious of every second. The cardiologist had a quick moment during the preparation to talk with me. “How many children do you have?” A most basic opener of casual strangers. “I have 16 children,” I replied, and quickly followed with, “No lie.” The room lit up, about a half-dozen practitioners and others prepping for the catheter. I winked at the doctor, “So, the pressure’s on.”
Near-death experiences tend to make you sit up straight. I could have died that day, leaving my wife to raise our children herself. Sure, we have insurance and everything, but the burden of taking care of so many little ones makes me shiver. By God’s grace, the diagnosis revealed myocardis and I was home the next day, and I’ve been spending the last month-and-a-half recovering.
Two weeks later, we attended the anniversary of health recovery for Jonathan Vander, one of my debate camp students, and his father, Chuck. A year ago October Jonathan was rushed to the ER with exactly the same thing as me. It took him till Christmas to recover. The trouble turned into tragedy when his dad, Chuck, was t-boned on a highway and nearly died. We had recovery a year later to celebrate, but I took the opportunity to ask a dozen questions of Jonathan’s experience with myocarditis.
After posting publicly about this, I received a personal email from a Texas mom who, after returning home from one of our camps, likewise suffered from myocarditis. (Is this something with debate camp? No.) She suffered with weakness for about a year till she was 100%. Now a few years later, she answered quite a few inquisitive emails about how I need to handle my recovery.
I have good news and bad news to share with you. First, the good news: my 6-week prognosis is very good. I had an ultrasound on Friday that showed my heart beating and operating very well. Really, the doctor was somewhat giddy at how well my heart healed. I am thankful to your prayers on that! And mostly thankful to Wendy for insisting I rest, take my meds, and eat well. She’s the best nurse a man can have!
I’m going to save the bad news till tomorrow. Right now I want to enjoy the good news of health and life. I’m weening off the high blood pressure medication now and attempting (ever so delicately) to get back into shape. Three walks to the creek daily this week, heading to the gym next week.
Question: Have you known someone who has gone through something like this? It’s making me sit up straight and count my blessings. I’d love to hear from you. Post below…