That morning the enzyme levels indicating new heart damage elevated. My wife was not stable anymore and emergency bypass surgery would need to happen that morning. The girls had a brief visit with mommy and she held our son for a bit. I asked the nurse if I had time to walk my family out to the car before my wife would be wheeled in for surgery and she said yes.
Coming back into the hospital from the parking garage, my name was being paged over the loudspeaker to come immediately to the CICU unit.
I arrived back at the unit to a very upset wife and some equally perturbed nurses and doctors. My wife was telling them in no uncertain terms that she was not going into that operating room without seeing me first, and that they had told me I had time to see my family out of the hospital before the bypass. The surgeon was perturbed that he had a lady who wouldn't go into surgery when it was an emergency situation and time was of the essence. The nurses were just generally perturbed at the whole scene.
Later on the nurses said that her anger at that time released adrenaline into her system which had actually served to positively stimulate her heart and increase blood flow, almost prepping it for the surgery. God works all things together for good.
The bypass took hours. Friends and various family members came and went from the waiting room. People prayed and spoke in low voices. And I waited. A nurse came in at one point and gave an update.
Eventually they came and announced the surgery was done and they were getting her "settled" in her room. After a bit I was allowed to see her.
What I saw were tubes, wires and other medical looking things poking into or out of my my wife's body everywhere. She had a breathing tube down her throat, was still unconscious and had skin that looked like pasty plastic. There was a red heart shaped pillow sitting in her bed with her.
And this was a successful surgery.
I understood the word successful but my eyes were in conflict with what I heard.
I don't do hospitals. I mean, I almost get sick just entering a hospital. The general hospital smell makes me light headed. But God is gracious and allowed me to be with my wife over the days following the surgery. Amazingly they never needed to pick me up unconscious off the floor even though I actually observed most of the in room procedures they performed. My wife did tell me to turn my head when they were taking out the "pre-wiring" for a pace maker they had sewn into her just in case it might be needed.
Throughout that time there were wonderful friends and family who came in and completely took care of our children with little to no input from me.
Over the next few days I lived by the digital stat machine that existed over my wife's bed. It registered her heart rate, blood oxygen levels and other stuff that meant nothing to me. As the days went she graduated to fewer tubes, less wires and forced walking. They removed the catheter for the most part to make her have to get out of bed and walk over to the bathroom.
Eventually she was able to come home. She had to sleep in a lazy boy type recliner for several weeks because her healing sternum couldn't handle being fully prone.
My mom and my sister-in-law both came for consecutive weeks to provide daily care for her and our children. Ladies from our home school group came and cleaned our house for two and a half months. Other friends came and mowed our yard. What a blessing they all were at that time.
When the time came for cardiac rehabilitation, we found out that our insurance wouldn't cover that. We were just talking about the cost, and how I thought she ought to do it, but we just didn't have the finances at the time. I went out to the mail box, and a lady from church had written a note and a check saying that she felt the God had blessed them with a little extra that month and she felt it should go to us. The check was for just $5 less then the total cost of the cardiac rehab. We felt we could afford cardiac rehab for $5.
Months later we had one of our regular followup visits with the cardiac doctor after having regular EKG's, echo cardiograms and finally a nuclear medicine test. They said, you are completely well. The EKG indicates a completely normal heart, the nuclear medicine test indicated a heart ejection fraction of about 55 which is bulls eye for normal heart function. The doctor said you can come back in ten years for a check up if you like. If that seems too long for you come back in five, but your heart is completely normal. There is no activity that your heart should preclude you from engaging in, including future pregnancies, labor and delivery.
God is so good:
God had provided a cardiac nurse living straight across the street to help immediately when she had a heart attack.
He had provided a storm in the midst of a drought to provide an immediate phone to call for help.
He filled up all the CICU beds in the regular hospital our insurance used, "forcing" her to be sent to the premier heart hospital in our region of the country.
He allowed her to stabilize long enough for a complete MRI and surgery plan to be made.
He cause her to unstabilize soon enough after so that she was operated on by the doctors at the heart hospital and not transferred to the insurances hospital as they wanted.
He provided friends and family to selflessly provide care and basic needs when the needs were there.
He completely healed her heart.
He has added two more children into our home after the heart attack.
Psalm 73:26 (NIV)
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.