Miracles really do happen every day

By  Lisa Petsche
  • May 25, 2007
Nobody likes to wait. Especially for a medical diagnosis and treatment.

That’s what my husband and I were doing this past month.
It started with a routine visit to his family doctor, who didn't like his heart rate. A trip to a hospital emergency room, for a thorough assessment, followed. Signs of heart damage were discovered, suggesting a recent (silent) heart attack. The good news: my husband was in no immediate danger and could go home.

Further medical tests and consultations were booked. Meanwhile, my husband began to experience angina. He was prescribed medication and instructed to curtail his activities.

It was hard to remain patient and positive. We both knew well the insidious damage heart disease could cause and the tragic outcomes that could result. My father-in-law died prematurely from heart disease, as did a friend of mine who suffered a massive heart attack while jogging.

We were consequently relieved last week to learn that a heart catheterization (angiogram)    – the final piece of the diagnostic puzzle  – had been scheduled.

The patient education booklet addressed possible risks, including  €œa 1 in 1,000 chance of having a stroke, heart attack needing emergency open heart surgery, or death. " With angioplasty (insertion of a balloon catheter to widen an artery),   which might also be required, the risk increases to a one in 100 chance. Another worrisome possibility was that my husband might need open heart surgery.

We tried to reassure our children. They knew their grandpa had died of heart surgery complications. And they'd seen their dad make a trip to the emergency room. I encouraged them to pray that the doctor would be able to find and fix whatever was wrong.

Early the next morning my husband and I drove across town to the hospital's Heart Investigation Unit (HIU). We met some patients from out of area and realized just how fortunate we were to have a cardiac care centre in our community.

The nursing staff explained everything that would happen as they prepared my husband for his catheterization. The HIU cardiologist came around to review the risks and obtain written consent. We were reassured to learn he had lots of experience.

After my husband was wheeled away, I relocated to the waiting room, where several grim-faced groups huddled together. The few people who looked to be my age clearly were offspring of patients, providing support to their other parent. I was by far the youngest spouse in the room.

Undaunted, I settled into a window seat overlooking the hospital's main entrance. I watched the comings and goings, listened to music and sipped coffee.

I felt surprisingly, inexplicably calm.

Time passed faster than I expected. Suddenly a familiar face appeared in front of me. It was one of the nurses, advising me that my husband was on his way to the recovery area.

His report:  one coronary artery was found to be narrowed. The doctor was able to correct this through balloon angioplasty and insertion of a stent (a permanent, mesh tube made of metal). My husband could go home the next morning.

Just like that, the crisis was over.

There's a saying that miracles happen every day. When you or a loved one receive a life-saving medical intervention, however routinely it may be performed, you know beyond a doubt that this is true.

The cardiologist later told us that the artery in question had been almost completely blocked. The reality is sobering.

So, too,  is the diagnosis of coronary  artery disease  – a serious condition for which my husband will require medication and monitoring for the rest of his life. Lifestyle changes will also be needed, to help prevent another crisis. But we can deal with that.

I must say I'm amazed at how well I coped during those five uncertain weeks. I can only attribute my relative composure to God's  €œamazing grace, " which saved me from  debilitating fear.

Did I mention that the hospital where my husband received his new lease on life is the one where his dad died? On Father's Day.

I can't thank God enough that Father's Day in our family will be a joyful one this year  – the best ever.

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