Pow-wows, death curses and a happy dance

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).

Screen Shot 2019-03-16 at 1.44.24 PM

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.

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

hearts, 911 calls, and ambulance rides…

Just over seventy-seven hours ago I looked at our youngest and said, “I don’t feel well.” And then I called 911.

*****

March 7 I posted some updates on health testing I’ve been going through. In spite of all tests coming back indicating there are no problems — EKG, heart stress echo, blood work etc — I knew something was wrong…. a matter of time. At least I was quite sure of it…

Sunday morning I woke up feeling very tired. If that had not become my new normal, since changing my meds a few months ago, this would have concerned me. A nondescript feeling of un-wellness niggled, so I told Tim I was going to stay in bed… My chest and my arm and shoulder were achy. He had to slip out — though I don’t recall him saying good bye, though he did — so I slept until sometime around 1:30 to 2:00. The pain persisted, and I wondered if I had slept funny… and was that hunger pains? I ate a bit, but rather than improving, the pain got worse, and I felt worse. I tried to focus but found myself constantly distracted by the pain. And then came that moment of awareness that something was very wrong…

That’s when I told our youngest I wasn’t feeling well, and asked him to get my BP cuff. It was 183/130… up from a normal reading before falling asleep. I called Tim, told him I wasn’t ok, and then called 911. At their order, I chewed my Aspirins, and waited. The first responder arrived within minutes, attached the heart leads and took my BP again. 206/140… The ambulance arrived moments later, and so began this next phase of my medical journey.

In 2006 a massive heart attack left me with a dead spot, and my cardiologist told me I may not feel the next one, if it comes. If I do, it may not feel the same. I never really worried about it. On Sunday, when it happened, I was both sure and unsure at the same time. I’ve had ‘episodes’ numerous times over the past 4 years. Always questioning, never certain. (In hindsight we are quite certain I’ve had numerous SCADs). The only thing that made me somewhat sure this time that it progressed to heart attack was the pain in my left arm, which by that time started radiating into my jaw, and at moments my back. And then there was that restless feeling of knowing something wasn’t right.

In hospital I was admitted, after some debate, for high blood pressure rather than heart attack symptoms since the pain had cleared up quickly when they brought my BP down. Within hours the cocktail of meds began, with adjustments over the next few days, including anti-coagulants to prep for investigating. Last night they did an angiogram and discovered I had a mild heart attack, due to a dissection (SCAD) toward the lower portion of my posterior descending artery. There is no sign of coronary artery disease, the doc said, all arteries – including the one that collapsed twelve years ago, and the stent they put in — are in excellent condition.

It is complex, to say the least. There is no specific known cause, though a highly stressful event could trigger it. If I had been through stress, that would make sense. There are also markers — a particular unusual blood vessel in the kidney — which he checked for with angiogram, and I don’t have. At the end of they day, the doc said he doesn’t know for sure what caused it. It is possible I may have an underlying condition contributing to these events, or maybe the symptoms coinciding with changing meds mean there is a link there. In any case, this is something that may never happen again, or could happen again, any time, anywhere in my body.

Just to keep it interesting, I nearly passed out after the procedure, as my BP dropped and the pain in my arm set in. Swelling at the site indicates potential bleeding below the skin, versus bleeding out, so the nurse had to put pressure on it. “Would you like to lie back?” she asked. “No. It’s okay, I’m fi… … I’m not fine,” I said as my world started spinning. And then came the visual disturbance with squiggly vision and partial blindspots, leaving me with tunnel vision. You realize in a moment like that how vulnerable life is, and what a gift health is, and how incredibly fascinating our bodies are.

Medications will be adjusted to manage the premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) that I have – which are more pronounced on certain meds, but always ‘present’ — and keep my heart from working too hard, as well as keeping my BP low to reduce as much stress on my heart as possible. And I will continue to do what I started some years ago, and be constantly be mindful of what stresses I can handle, and what I cannot…. but be even more strict about it.

After recovery — which they don’t anticipate taking too long — I plan to continue with my PhD and ministry, and live life to the fullest. In the meantime, I am grateful for the people who are rising up and stepping in to help survivors of trauma locally, as well as many in PA and across USA.

I trust God with the many broken hearts of those devastated by abuse. He will come to you, and heal you. He cares for you. I care for you. Many of us care deeply. You are not alone.

And I trust Him with my life. I am at peace. I have no fear. The purpose He spoke over my life when I was not yet conceived in my mother’s womb rests over me today with the same authority as it did then. And that cannot be taken away or altered. His Word goes through eternity, unchanged by life’s curve balls.

Until that is fulfilled, ya’ll are stuck with me.

Jeremiah 1:5

***

Tonight I am back home, thankful to God for His kindness and grace in my life. I am most thankful for the excellent care offered by the paramedics, and St Mary’s hospital (Kitchener) cardiology team — nurses, doctors and support staff. And with special appreciation for staff who were there the first time — especially NP Vera — for the blend of compassion and humour. (I promise, we were only snuggling and trying to nap…. not even kissing.)

As always…
Love,
~ T ~

Ps. Familiarize yourself with heart attack symptoms so you can help yourself or those you love. Familiarize yourself with abuse symptoms for the same reason.

© Trudy Metzger 2019