SATURDAY MARCH 16 UPDATE:
Last night was horrible. That’s just the truth. Chest pain/discomfort all night, and low BP, and the uncertainty of this condition I find myself in, looming over me. But symptoms constantly reminding me how fragile my life is.
Last night was incredible and beautiful. That’s just the truth. In my uncertainty, I was certain. Peace resting over the heaviness, and knowing I am okay; there is nothing to fear.
I prayed, again, a prayer I find escaping my lips these days when my heart is unstable. “God, You hold my life in your hands, and I trust You”… and I go on to tell Him that with all I have seen and know in this fallen world, the ‘forever peace’ of the other side is inviting. It draws me. I’m not gonna lie. But then I tell Him that for the love of my life – Tim, my children, grandchild, family, friends-who-are-family, and all my friends, not to mention supporting survivors of abuse, I would really like to live for quite a long while yet. And I prayed for a good friend and his family who have gone through a brutal health crisis in the past week, and has seen God do miraculous things.
Something like that is what I pray, over and over again, in the uncertainty that settled over me in January as symptoms progressed. Unbelievable fatigue, low-grade fevers, followed by crazy and unusual-to-me joint pain, irregular heartbeats (PVCs, for the medically inclined), and spikes in super high blood pressure. These eventually led to my heart racing the days leading to the dissection (SCAD) and mild heart attack. Those symptoms are not benign.
Now here we are, post ‘event’. This phase of adjusting meds while the dissection heals is especially volatile and uncertain, from a medical perspective. (The nurse’s parting words were, “I don’t want to scare you, but…” and then told of a woman who did well in hospital with SCAD and returned days later after a massive heart attack. Good to know. Being informed saves lives). And knowing my body with medications I expect some bumps. It does not like meds, and I do not adjust easily.
The whole experience is physically and emotionally exhausting, at moments, as I find myself contemplating the cost to family while I am not able to do much. (And, again, not gonna lie… I contemplate the cost of worst case scenario, and the thought of leaving is a bit overwhelming. Which is about the time I pray that prayer).
Yet, at no point have I been in fear. For this I am thankful. Growing up in violence and abuse, and always fearing for my life left me fearing death for many years. And then I had the first heart attack in 2006 on the eve of my 37th birthday. That day I learned that nothing but death can kill me, and there is absolutely nothing to be afraid of. By the time death comes, I’ll be on the other side and then I will be more alive than ever I have been before here. That terror never returned. For twelve years I’ve lived with knowing my heart is high risk, by all human and medical standards, yet it has not limited me but rather propelled me further. I anticipate this round will do the same.
In the past few years I’ve been cursed with death wishes, and received messages that certain conservative communities held pow-wows to silence me and curse my life. A stranger wrote that she heard groups were “sending curses to you and doing witchcraft“, to which I responded “Believe it or not, this actually kind of excites me. It means that we are penetrating something in the spiritual realm that is far bigger and deeper than we could possibly imagine.” I feel that thrill no less today as I recover than I did then.
(One friend mentioned that there would be those who would throw a celebration at the news of my death. Ah well… Put that party on hold and blow out the candles. I’m still here and doing a happy dance. I didn’t mean to get your hopes up).
When I first realized my heart was in trouble in the past few weeks, and went through numerous doctor visits, ER visits and testing, I thought of the curses spoken. I wasn’t worried that they hold power, but it did occur to me that they who spoke them might claim having such power. (And that includes those who spoke these things in relation to me exposing things that needed to be exposed).
So it is no secret that there are those who would celebrate my end, but this is of no concern to me. I walk in strength. The hand of God rests gently on me, always. He is near and holds my life in His hands, firmly, kindly, and graciously. No curse or darkness spoken has any authority or power in my life; I put no weight or stock in it. And this event won’t silence me. It will enlarge my territory. That’s what it will do. And allow me to touch the hearts of more wounded. Therefore, I praise God for it.
In the middle of the physical pain yesterday, I found Psalm 71… This is my response to both the curses spoken (death wishes), and the events of this past week (and those leading up to it).
Maybe I’m not quite ‘old and grayheaded’, but I did become a grandma (or Nana) almost three weeks ago, and I have seen ‘great and severe troubles’, so it fits. In any case, I love David’s candid conversations with God. He doesn’t much sugar-coat the harshness of people wanting him dead, and asking God to protect him to the shame of those who wish him evil. David shows us how to be honest, to say it as it is, and still walk away with a dance and praise. I like it.
SUNDAY MARCH 17 UPDATE:
So far today I’m feeling better than I have since before the episode. I’m still incredibly fatigued. My right arm still aches from the procedure. And my heart is still skipping to its own rhythm. (How appropriate!) The sudden ‘zapping’ and piercing pains (milliseconds long) are still sporadically there. But the feeling of my entire heart and surrounding chest area are spasming and tense is all but gone. And that is a gift.
Whatever that was, and whatever caused it, I am very glad to have it behind me. It was this squeezing (but not same as heart attack pressure) inside my chest, wearing me out. Deep breaths, sighs and yawns… nothing made it better. So I would rest — as in sit/lie back, because how do you take a break from doing nothing?
In the middle of that but not knowing these details, a friend from PA sent this message, “All I know is that the Strong Hand of God is on you. Soon after you told us that you were hospitalized a heavy, heavy something fell on me and I literally went down on the floor and I entered into a deep intercession like I haven’t experienced in a couple years. […] I had such a sense and a picture of the Strong Hand of the Lord holding you in a strong grip, you are covered from head to toe by His hand so that no weapon formed against you can prosper and even when His grip feels tight and weighty, remember that it’s protection, it’s safety, it’s wine pressing and it’s life giving.”
Now, a day later, feeling no ‘heavy grip of death’ around my heart, I am encouraged and amazed by the kindness of God. The words in Psalm 72, the message from a friend, the awareness of curses spoken (again, they hold no power), and God’s faithfulness in the middle of it all. And peace. How grateful I am, that in every moment – from the first awareness that ‘here we go again’, to the doctor’s “you are aware that during the procedure there is a risk of stroke, heart attack and even death?” – I felt the peace and presence of God. Nonetheless, I’m particularly happy to be alive today.
First thing I did this morning, upon waking, was prop myself up and tell Tim that I have no pain today. None. That felt good. Throughout the day there have been small episodes, but nothing too concerning or alarming. Some of this is expected post event/procedure. As with yesterday, as the day progresses so do symptoms, and I find I need to rest more. (Since I don’t get up until noon, that means I last about 4 hours before symptoms start again).
Friends set up a meal train locally, and friends from out of country blessed us with a meal from a local restaurant. I didn’t expect this kindness. It never occurred to me to receive such a thing, but when offered and I was so exhausted, I said yes for Monday to Friday for one week. (And they booked two!) We are so grateful!
Tomorrow I see my family doctor, and we discuss what next and where to from here. We really don’t know what to anticipate. And, if there was a link to the meds I was on, they have been discontinued and the Lupus-like-symptoms should disappear. With that, I anticipate the risks will also disappear.
If that was not the cause, then we wait it out and ride the waves and watch the sunset. Because life is too short to waste the beauty found in either one.
~ T ~