Monday, February 26, 2007

Crisis, Action, Care & Love

When a health crisis occurs, we just never know when or where it will strike. Despite the fact that my husband endured that terrible cardio-vascular reaction Thursday night, the truth is, it probably couldn't have happened at a better place or time. I know that sounds a bit strange, so let me explain.

He was surrounded by the right people who could, and did, react with such speed and appropriate action, that I truly believe such swift thinking helped to lessen any damage to his body. The harm that could otherwise have occured, may have even been halted. Thus, the care of him which was done immediately, may have saved his life.

I want to share what happened. Perhaps some of the information may help someone else, someday, if faced with a similar situation.

For privacy purposes, I will just use the first initial of the first names of people who helped us that night.

We had just finished a delicious dinner. The conversations varied from sharing past funny stories and situations, to sharing golf adventures, to discussing D's special plate of food because of allergic reactions to onions!

P and L, from another table at the dinner, were the first to leave. P still had symptoms from a bad cold, so he needed to get home early.

I glanced over at Charlie and noticed that he was yawning quite often. He also was rubbing his eyes. He looked extremely tired. I was thinking to myself that we should probably leave shortly after the dessert and coffee have been served. I was about to say that to my husband, but as I turned towards him, he had his hand on his upper chest and said he was having bad chest pains and trouble breathing. He grimaced in pain. The blood drained from his face and he said he felt faint.

The next thing I knew, D, who was sitting near Charlie got up from his seat and started giving out instructions on what to do for him. Several people complied and within a few seconds, Charlie had eaten two chewable baby aspirins. D sent someone to get seltzer water for Charlie to drink. Since Charlie felt faint and nauseous, D then instructed him to try and bend down so that he could place his head between his knees. Charlie was able to do that, but when he lifted his head up, he couldn't drink the seltzer water that I placed by his lips. He appeared dazed and incoherent. As he attempted to drink it, the rim of the glass only touched the base of his nose. He was sweating profusely and his shirt was very damp. Several of the people who came around us handed me wet napkins to place on his neck and forehead.

In what seemed like less than a minute, the chest pain subsided, so D and C helped him up and brought him over to the sliding glass doors so that he could breathe in the cool night air. It was raining outside. Someone else brought over a chair for him, then a chair for me. What seemed like two minutes after I sat down in that chair, the paramedics arrived! I was so amazed! They got there within 5-10 minutes!

I found out later that a call was sent through the hotel and restaurant for a doctor to come to the ballroom. I'm not sure if he got there before the paramedics or not, but the medics treated him quickly, right there on the spot. His blood pressure was very low and the fact that he had those severe chest pains meant that he needed to get on a gurney and taken by ambulance to the emergency room at the hospital.

I remember remaining calm through all of this. I had been in situations similar to this before with Charlie. But it was a totally different ailment. Just before getting up from the chair to follow my husband and the paramedics to the ambulance, I looked back at all the guests at the tables. Most were standing, looking concerned. It was evident that everyone at every table certainly didn't want to rush over and hover around us. Each table probably sent one person over to see if they could help in some way.

Many of my husband's co-workers were speaking words of concern, care, and encouragement to him all through this episode. He recalls hearing their voices, but doesn't remember exactly what everyone said to him. Later, when I shared how this event unfolded with Charlie, he was amazed and grateful for the excellent and immediate action taken by many friends there.

As I reflect back, I can see the hand of God working through the people during this time of fear and uncertainty. I found out two days later, that D's wife, W, started praying at our table immediately when she saw that my husband's health was in jeopardy! Both the physical care being given to him and the spiritual care of prayer being sent up to the Lord was a powerful combination that I believe, halted the chest pain and made the ailment less severe than it could have been.

Our friends, P and T were so very kind to drive my car over to the hospital for me. D and W drove my husband's truck (we took separate cars because Charlie came from work and I, from home) to their house until we were able to retrieve it three days later. What caring and thoughtful people!! I just love them all...

As I mentioned previously, I started to tear up while traveling in the ambulance over to the hospital. I prayed and my spirit was calmed by doing so. Plus, two minutes later my husband called from the back of the ambulance to tell me that he was alright.

My next thought was that I can trust in the Lord, for He is good and merciful! I realized that this was a wake-up call for both Charlie and I. There would be some drastic changes in diet, exercise, and a reduction of stress in his life! I found myself wishing that he could retire from his job now! But I also knew that such a thought was, quite frankly, an unrealistic dream, at this point.

After two nights and two days at the hospital, Charlie was anxious to get home! It is difficult to sleep there, expecially when they wake you up to take blood at all hours of the night! And, who ever thought up the idea to weigh all the patients at 4:00 a.m.?

But the worst night was Friday night. Charlie got a roommate. The guy was a crusty old man whose vulgar language and meanness towards the nurses were unbelievable. I could tell you stories! Unfortunately, the guy kept Charlie up most of the night. Finally, the old man fell asleep at 3:00 a.m. So did Charlie...then they came in to weigh him at 4:00 a.m.!! Arrgghhh!

Luckily, the roommate left before I got there the next morning. My son and I went to retrieve Charlie's truck at his co-worker's home. We briefly went into their beautiful home, and were immediately met and surrounded by five of their seven dogs!! Then we saw the two additional puppies! And I thought that taking care of my two dogs (and three when we have my friend's beagle with us) was work! They were all beautiful animals and very sweet. Good upbringing!

D and W gave us a pretty vase with gorgeous flowers for Charlie. So sweet of them! In all of my rushing around (haven't shared the half of it!), I didn't think to get any "welcome home" gifts, so this was a very pleasant surprise. I was so grateful for their kindness.

Charlie was discharged from the hospital about 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. He was so happy to be home! We don't have any more answers (yet) as to what specifically was the cause of the condition. He will have to take more tests as an out-patient. Two weeks rest and no stress was also recommended. I better be on my best behavior!

The cardiologist who treated Charlie at the hospital was so wonderful! Charlie will be meeting with him for additional tests. We hope to find out the cause, but even more importantly, want the medications to work so that this never happens again!

Thursday night was tough for me. I didn't want to leave him alone at the hospital. I arrived home at 12:30, but didn't get to sleep until 3:30 p.m. The house was totally empty and quiet. No husband, no kids, no dogs...just me. I missed them all terribly! Even the dogs! They were at my friend's home for two nights.

In the past, I would sometimes complain about the work of caring for two dogs. Not anymore. They are comforting companions and part of our family! I love it when our entire family is together. It's the best part of living life!

Again, I want to thank all of the commenters and those who emailed me with concern, care, love and prayers! Thank you for the Scripture references. They comforted me immensely!

I have often found that when a tragedy, trial, crisis, or fear enters into my life, the grace of God always provides perspective.

It is no coincidence that on Saturday morning, my bookmark in the Captured by Grace book rested on page 136. The Scripture reading there was 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

2Cr 4:17
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,

2Cr 4:18
while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Within this chapter, I read the following paragraphs. It was as if God was pointing His finger at those pages in the book, preparing my heart for what I needed to heed!

The author wrote:

Let's consider the remarkable ways God nurtures us through our struggles, according to this passage of Scripture.

1. Afflictions help us to anticipate glory. Reigning with Christ requires suffering with Him - no cross, no crown. But holding the hand of Christ through the darkness gives us a glimpse of the glorious nature of deliverance that is to come

2. Light things help us appreciate heavy things. Paul calls it "light affliction," and frankly, that's what most of our sufferings are. These are like smaller models of the "higher" suffering called death, and the higher glory of eternal life. God teaches powerful truth through lesser mediums.

3. Temporary things help us appropriate eternal things. "For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:18). The hope of wearing Olympic gold drives athletes to persevere through, and even to value, the pain of dedication. Comparing the value of temporary pleasures with potential glory, they press on. Gold medals are of fleeting value. Some even turn up in pawn shops to be exchanged for a different metal. The goal before us also requires rigorous perseverance through pain. Unlike the hopeful competitor, we can have confidence that every trial, every struggle, has a particular purpose to produce in us some eternal value.

[Note: I have an awesome sermon to share in a future post on "what is of eternal value" and how it determines rewards in heaven for the's so exciting!]

4. Outward pain helps us accelerate inward progress. "Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day" (2 Corinthians 4:16). Isn't it exciting that modern-day science is only now beginning to affirm what the Bible has said all along? There is a close relationship between body, mind, and soul. This is why you've met people with physical challenges who have extra layers of wisdom that few others have attained. [Note: Joni Erickson Tada comes to mind!] Bodily suffering drives us deeper. We find God at the broken places, teaching and encouraging.

John Newton wrote, "We will look back upon the experiences through which the Lord led us and be overwhelmed by adoration and love for Him! We will then see and acknowledge that mercy and goodness directed every step. We shall see that what we once mistakenly called afflictions and misfortune were in reality blessings without which we would not have grown in faith."

We can't wish away our problems, and we're unlikely to put on a fake smile and pretend we're enjoying them. What we can do is meet them squarely and soberly, refusing to view them as random shots from an unkind world. Instead, we know they are necessary challenges for the positive growth we're intent on experiencing. Who wants to remain a child forever? We know we need a good workout. We know it's necessary to build our spiritual muscles. There are no muscles of any kind that strengthen without resistance.

When you're at the gym, sometimes you can get through a grueling cycle on some machine by thinking about the muscles that the machine is helping. I suggest you do that very thing during times of struggle. Where can you "feel the burn"? What part of your character is going to be that much more godly tomorrow? My friend, perspective will completely change the way you approach challenges.

In one of his books, my friend Ron Mehl wrote these words: "Storms always leave us with a list of things to clean up and fix. They are times when God restores to us the things we lose through negligence, ignorance, rebellion, or sin. For the Christian, storms are a no-lose proposition. They help me to see and acknowledge the loose shutters, missing shingles, and rotten fence posts in my life while turning me back to the only One who can make the necessary repairs."


Anna said...

Hi Christine -

So glad Charlie is doing better. I chuckled at your description of hospital life. Seems like the West Coast is no better than the East Coast in that department.

We'll continue to keep you guys in prayer. Wish I was closer and could give you a hand.


Jaded said...

My prayers remain with all of you. I'm glad Charlie is home, finally getting some sleep!

God is certainly good, huh?

ebsfwan said...

I'm glad to hear things are looking better. :)

Susan Smith said...

Thank you for the update. You and Charlie and the kids are prayed for across the ocean.

God bless you this day, Christine. Much love to my "little" sister on the West Coast. (ss)

limpy99 said...

Glad things are looking up. I've read more than one source say that people with any sort of heart concerns should keep aspirin nearby.

Christinewjc said...

Thanks so much Anna, Jaded, Andrew, Susan and Mark!

I'm sure you can relate, Anna!

Thanks for checking back and being so concerned.

Charlie was getting so stir crazy, I finally took him out of the house today for an hour or so! We are watching a lot of DVD movies and look forward to American Idol tonight.

Susan, thanks for your marvelous prayer by email. Everything you said was so true! The Holy Spirit is working through you, my 'big' sis!

Love to all...