13 days ago my husband had a heart attack.
My 45-year-old-mostly-healthy husband had a heart attack. (For the record I’m 40 ~ no reason for you to think I’m quite 45 yet, right?)
My heart still hurts.
He’d had some chest pain about six months ago and had done a stress test to make sure everything was okay. The stress test came back negative, and we assumed everything was fine and went on about our lives.
On Wednesday almost two weeks ago, he started having pain in his arm while driving all over Ohio for work. He called home around 3 and said he really wasn’t feeling well, then finally made it in at 5 that night.
Because I’m a horrible (read – awful, terrible, pitiful) not-ever-meant-to-be-a-nurse-wife, I told him I didn’t know what he should do, but if his chest hurt he should go to the ER. (Honestly, I wasn’t all that compassionate about it ~ we had 3 kids going 3 directions and I had no time for this craziness. Like I said, I’m an awful, terrible, pitiful wife!)
A few minutes later though I looked at him the way I should have looked at him the minute he came home, and realized he looked awful. He headed to the ER, and I headed out for evening carpool duty.
An hour later he called and told me that while his EKG was fine, his blood work came back with some issues and they were transporting him to a nearby hospital for testing the next morning. Remember we’d just moved here two years ago, so while we definitely have a few people we could call on in a pinch, our kids weren’t all that comfortable with folks they didn’t know so well (my oldest is 16). I left the kids at home around 7:30 PM and headed to the ER to see what was next.
I don’t know anything medically, but by the time I got there the second EKG had changed, and the ER doctor seemed pretty concerned. He let us know that a cardiologist would meet us immediately at the hospital, and when the ambulance came to transport James (they said he wasn’t stable enough for me to drive him even though he looked pretty good), I ran home to get a few things and then planned to meet him in the hospital.
It didn’t happen like that.
I arrived at the larger hospital’s Emergency Room and was immediately taken past dozens of people in the waiting room to a small waiting room with a night chaplain. She wasn’t allowed to tell me anything, just sat with me as I waited. (I couldn’t figure what on earth had happened ~ just a few minutes ago we’d been laughing together in the original ER?)
About 20 minutes went by, and the cardiologist came out to tell me that my husband (yes, the 45 year old seemingly healthy one), had a mild heart attack. He had 100% blockage in one artery (thankfully only 20-30% blockage in other arteries), and they’d put in a stent to fix the blockage. He was doing well, but his life would change.
He wasn’t kidding.
Thankfully, because he was basically healthy his heart had used “collateral arteries” to repair the problem as much as they could on their own (which masked the heart issues in his initial stress test.) We found out a few days later that despite everything he had absolutely no heart muscle damage, and I’m guessing it’s partly due to those collateral arteries taking on the extra load.
(Isn’t it crazy that God makes your body to DO things like that?)
I was allowed to see James who honestly looked great considering everything he’d gone through. I think we were both just in shock ~ and totally unaware of what this meant for our life. (Two weeks later, we’re still pretty unaware.)
Around 1:30 in the morning I left him in the ICU to come be with our kids and try to sleep, and his sister (she’s a doctor and was completely a lifesaver through this!) headed up to be with us just to get us through the first through days. (His other sister also came up for the weekend ~ I can’t even begin to tell you what a gift they were to me those first few days!)
Us out on a short hike last week while playing hooky
So here I sit, almost two weeks later, still just in a small state of shock over all this. James wasn’t allowed to work last week, so we kind of played hooky all week. We visited every plant nursery in a 30 mile radius, ate meals at fancy restaurants (he’s supposed to eat salmon and I haven’t yet learned to cook it), and even went to see a movie at 10 o-clock in the morning just because we could. (We were the only people there besides an older couple in their 70’s. I’ve never ever seen a movie at 10 o’clock in the morning!)
You know what though? I’m still kind of terrified.
I’m afraid of how I’d do life without him.
I’m afraid of what we would do if our finances really changed because of an illness. (We are so so blessed financially thanks to years of penny pinching, but fear of the unknown still scares the crud of me.)
I’m afraid of my kids not having grandparents for *their* kids. (Y’all, I am seriously jumping the gun on this worry thing. I know. I’m nuts.)
I’m afraid of what my life would look like if he wasn’t right here next to me.
He’s always been my one.
I don’t know that I believe that people have just one person out there made just for them, but, for me, he’s been my one.
He’s the one I just feel safe and cozy with. The one who likes me even though I’m a mess. And more than anything he’s the one who completely cheers me on each and every day.
The thought of something happening to him terrifies me beyond what I can even express.
And honestly, the thought that’s filling my head right now is that something could happen to him, and in just a few short years my cute kids will be gone. And this awful crushing fear of just being without them kind of terrifies me.
But as I was muddling through all that in my head today, I remembered that long before I was James’s wife, I was chosen by Him.
And way before I ever dreamed of being Jackson & Caroline & Reagan’s momma . . . I was His child.
And I was reminded that the same God who has held me through so many difficult things along the way, loves me enough to hold me through this not-so-easy time too.
Whatever may come.
Whatever it takes.
Now, don’t get me wrong, right now things look good for my sweet husband. (Thank. heavens.) He’s doing an amazing job working to change his diet, is on a mountain of medication to keep this from happening again, and is already heading to physical therapy. His prognosis really is good (in fact, his heart is working perfectly), but my fear still is there.
But just this experience has rocked my not-as-firm-as-I-want-it-to-be foundation, so I needed to be reminded that ultimately the One who loved me first holds me no matter what comes my way.
I have no idea what mountain is in your world right now. I don’t know if your world has maybe been shattered by something so crazy-ridiculous-you-feel-like-you-can’t-even-breathe too.
But I do know that the same God who’s holding me? He’s holding you right next to me too.
He loves each of us, and desires peace for us, no matter what comes our way.
Know that I’m praying for you today. And I’d so love your prayers too as our hearts adjust to this new season too. God’s plan is bigger and better than ours ever is, and I’m so crazy-ridiculously-overwhelmingly thankful for peace that comes when we choose to find rest in Him today.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9