Thursday, November 5, 2015

Mended Heart

Ever since my husband Bob had triple bypass surgery on his heart in the spring of 2000, he has suffered with varying degrees of congestive heart failure and possible sudden death syndrome due to ventricular fibrillation. The VA has determined that his heart condition, along with diabetes, is a result of exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam.

In 2008, his body swelled up. I had to buy him bigger clothes. Huge water blisters erupted on his legs as fluid oozed out. He couldn't breathe lying in bed, so he had to sit up in a recliner to sleep.

His cardiologist tried to correct the problem with medication, but after several months, he was no better. When I awoke each morning, I wondered if he would still be with me.

One night as I crawled into an empty bed, I simply prayed, "Lord, please heal my husband."

During the next few weeks, the swelling began to recede and the water blisters dried up. Even so, his cardiologist decided that he needed to have a cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) implanted, which would require a one-hour surgery. The day of the surgery, I sat in the waiting room long after all the others had been called back to their loved ones' bedsides. After four hours, Bob's doctor finally appeared.

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)
"We've been trying all this time but were unable to get the 'third' wire into place," the arrhythmia specialist said. "Despite his size [Bob's 6'4" tall], his veins are small. Let's see how he does. If he needs the 'third' lead, we can send him to New York City, where they can insert it between his ribs and wrap it around his heart."

Bob recovered quickly, and for quite a while his congestive heart failure was well controlled with the "first" lead (he only needed the first and third leads for his condition). It was a comfort to us for him to have his own personal EMT on board in case of potentially fatal arrhythmias.

Then at his heart checkup in 2014, his cardiologist recommended that he have another open-heart surgery to replace his mitral valve. At that time, the surgeon planned to wrap the "third" wire around his heart, but he found too much scar tissue so he couldn't do it. Bob came through that seven-hour surgery well and surprised the medical staff at how quickly he recovered.

But as the months passed, he didn't feel was well as he had expected. On our road trip to Washington State this summer, he had so much trouble breathing, especially in the mountains and high plains, that he told everyone this would be our last trip west.

This fall, his doctors decided that it was time to replace his defibrillator. "We'll try again to get that 'third' lead in. Technology's better now," they said.

October 7th, 2015, Bob was wheeled into the OR for the one-hour procedure. In the waiting room I counted down the hour then another hour and another. I knew they were having trouble inserting that 'third' wire.

The Three Leads
As I was praying more fervently, a verse from Isaiah suddenly popped into my mind that God would "make the crooked paths straight." I claimed that promise for the vein into Bob's heart.

After nearly four hours, Bob's doctor appeared in the doorway. "We knew from the last time that we might have trouble with that "third" wire," he said.

Oh, no, I thought, afraid he was going to give me bad news.

"There are three veins available," he continued. "We couldn't get it into the first two and were just about to give up on the third one when all of a sudden it surprised us and popped in."

"I was praying," I told him.

It's been four weeks, and Bob is back to his daily hour-long walk and has been telling me over and over how much better he feels. "I'm even thinking about another trip out West next summer," he says.

I'd love to hear about a time God has sent his Word and touched you in a special way.

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