Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Nightmare to Calm My Fear?

“Your husband needs a triple bypass.” The cardiologist who’d just done a heart catheterization on my husband, Bob, knelt on one knee in front of me in the waiting room. “Two main arteries are ninety percent blocked, and a third smaller one is totally blocked .”

To say I was shocked is putting it mildly. The husband of the other woman in the waiting room had just been told that her husband would be fine. He’d come in as an emergency. The doctors had worked on him for hours. They’d put stents in his heart.

Bob’s catheterization had been scheduled “as a precaution.” He’d been bumped several hours until the emergency had been taken care of. If they could put a stent in that man, surely they could put a stent in Bob if needed.

He’d had difficulty breathing for months. We didn’t recognize it as a symptom of coronary artery disease. Seven weeks earlier, when my husband, pastor of a small church, nearly passed out while preaching that Easter Sunday morning in 2000, the congregation insisted that he get a complete physical. He hadn't seen a doctor in seven years. Over his protests, I made the appointment for him. The round of tests began.

After the catheterization that Friday afternoon before Memorial Day, his bypass surgery was scheduled for early Tuesday morning. Bob was sent home with instructions to do nothing more strenuous than flipping burgers—no driving, no carrying trash down the three flights of stairs from our third-floor apartment, no carrying groceries up, and no preaching. I too am an ordained minister, so in addition to taking over his chores at home, I had to prepare a sermon to preach that Sunday.

By bedtime Monday evening, I was exhausted. Until then, I’d been too busy to think about the surgery. As I climbed into bed, pure, unadulterated fear assaulted me head-on.

Would my husband survive the surgery? How would I go on living without him if he didn’t?

Would he end up an invalid? Since I suffer with a serious back condition, I worried about how I would be able to take care of him.

Bob in Sound of Life Radio Studio
A bivocational pastor, Bob worked fulltime for The Sound of Life, a network of Christian radio stations in the heart of the Northeast, driving forty miles each way every weekday. Fortunately, he had finally obtained health insurance through that job just six months earlier after being without it for seven years. But would he be able to resume his demanding schedule? If not, how would we survive financially?

Too physically tired and emotionally distraught to pray, I breathed, “Lord, I need a word from You,” and fell asleep.

In a dream I found myself at a women’s retreat. At the back of the meeting room a medium-sized, hairless white animal lay on its side, legs stretched out into the corner. We thought it was dead, but we all eyed it fearfully, skirting cautiously around it.

All of a sudden, it roared to life and flew at my throat. I clutched at its neck with both hands and cried over and over, “I rebuke you in the name of Jesus!”

I awoke trembling, my heart pounding, tears coursing down my cheeks. “That’s not what I meant, Lord!” I sobbed.

To be continued...

Note: Bob is again facing open heart surgery this Tuesday, November 4, to replace his mitral valve. A "resternotomy" carries with it an additional set of possible complications--scar tissue and adhesions from the previous surgery, greater possibility of excessive bleeding, and even stroke. We would greatly appreciate your prayers.


  1. Not sure what happened here, AnnaLee, but the comment I'd left the other day is gone… you and Bob are in my heart and prayers.

  2. Thank you for your prayers, Elaine.