The Pressure’s On

"I have 16 kids," I replied. "No lie."

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…

About Chris Jeub

Chris is the father of 16 children, busily running the family businesses and learning the depths of love along the way.

  • Anonymous

    yes my dad expereienced the same thing.  but he didn’t make it

  • Jolene O’Dell

    Oh, Chris, I am praying for you, Wendy and the children.  I was 26 when I had a series of ministrokes that were caused by clotting disorder I didn’t know I had.  It, also, was the cause of my two dozen or so miscarriages…Blood thinners allowed me to have my miracle child and I have also regained my most of health.  The last 40lbs to lose are coming off ever so slowly and hopefully we will be blessed with many more blessings in the years to come.  It took me years to fully recover from those strokes though.  

  • justme

    Prayers to you for recovery and good health!

  • ninabi

    I’m so happy that you are recovering fully from such a serious illness.   Lost two relatives to heart failure this year so it is wonderful to know you are doing better.  You have a fine family, every single one and I enjoy reading your blog.

  • Pawsaw12

    Praying for you !

  • Jennifer Mull

    I actually do know one person who had acute myocarditis… an18yo homeschooled girl… she had to go on a machine …sort of an artificial heart pump that she pushed around with her (like a suitcase on wheels.) She had the machine for over a year, attending college classes with it as well as church, etc. Her mom or dad had to attend all her classes with her and she couldn’t drive. Eventually she got a heart transplant and is doing great now…. I am so glad you are recovering so well.

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  • hailey

    My best friend had the same thing happen to her. She didn’t make it and I didn’t even get to say good bye.

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  • Anonymous

    My father-in-law had myocarditis last year.  His symptoms started somewhat light (he had a really hard time breathing) and the Academy diagnosed it as bronchitis.  He spent 3 days going to and from the Academy because he was having so much trouble but it wasn’t until he ended up at Memorial that he got a correct diagnosis.  Whether it was because it took so long for treatment or other factors he started having problems 6 months later and it turned out the sac around his heart had hardened not allowing his heart to beat properly.  He had the sac removed and is doing o.k.  He will never be in the physical condition he once was but he is able to do what he wants (hunting, traveling, working) and learned an important lesson that the Academy is much better prepared to handle the medical needs of a young adult instead of a 60 year old man.

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