I’m Being As Serious As A Heart Attack!
Wow! Here we are in 2018 and I know I haven’t written in a while, but a lot has happened since my last post. It has been a roller coaster of events, but I have seen God in every twist, turn, and upside-down loop. I’m still processing everything that has happened, but the one thing I can tell you, I am a walking miracle. For anyone who doubts that God performs miracles today, I am about to blow your mind with God’s goodness.
My parents had planned on coming to visit us for Christmas. However, my dad called the Wednesday before to say they were not going to be able to come. My mom had been admitted to the hospital. She hadn’t been feeling well, and we had talked back and forth during the week about whether she was going to be up for the trip. With Mom admitted to the hospital, I told Dad it was no problem, and we would pack up and bring Christmas to them.
I called Hubs to tell him of the latest change in plans and that we would be heading to New York. We finished our conversation, and I went on about my day. I finished up some errands, including getting a pedicure. A girl does have her priorities. Besides, I couldn’t pack our car until it was there to pack, so the pedicure was a welcome distraction for the time being.
After my pedicure, I came home to begin sorting the packages under the tree. As I was sorting out the gifts, I became light-headed and sat down on the couch for a few minutes, and it seemed to pass. However, when I stood up again the light-headedness returned and I felt funny. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I knew something was wrong. I felt like I couldn’t take a deep breath. To be honest, I thought I was having an anxiety attack. After all, a lot was going on, and I am an internal processor who tends to hold a lot inside when something significant is going on.
The next thing I knew, all of my teeth began aching at the same time. It felt like I was clenching my jaw, but I wasn’t. It was the weirdest experience. I began praying and talking out loud wondering if I was having a stroke. Of course, as any reasonable person would do I went and started googling for stroke and possible heart attack. Neither of which I thought I was having, but just in case I wanted to make sure my symptoms didn’t match. I went to the medicine cabinet to look for an aspirin, but I couldn’t find any. Looking back at that moment, God was there because chances are I would have taken the aspirin and if the symptoms went away I would have said it was a fluke of some kind and done nothing.
The next moment, I heard a voice that said, “Get to the ER.” I stood for a few seconds wondering what was happening and again I heard the voice say, “Get to the ER.” I called my husband and told him I was driving up to the ER because I didn’t feel right. He asked me if I was capable of driving myself and I told him yes, and he could stay on the phone with me until I got there. I live less than five minutes from the emergency room. The first miracle was I had a car to drive. I had borrowed Ali’s car that day to do some errands. Otherwise, I would not have been able to drive there. People have asked me why I didn’t call 9-1-1 and I don’t know why other than the voice kept telling me to get to the ER, so I did. I always imagined when you had a heart attack you would have crushing pain, and wouldn’t be able to drive anywhere. My pain was annoying, but not severe. I drove to the Emergency Room, parked my car, walked in and explained my symptoms. A nurse named Gus took me immediately back to triage.
I explained to Gus as we were walking about my mom being admitted to the hospital and I wondered if I was having an anxiety attack. I found myself rambling on about the fact I had never had an anxiety attack before and thought for sure this is what it must be. I shared with Gus my need to drive to New York to be with my mom. Gus stopped turned around and said with his finger pointed (in a loving way) ‘Sheila if you don’t take care of yourself you are not going to be any good to your mom”. All of the sudden there was this surge of peace that flooded over me, and I felt myself in complete surrender.
Gus placed me in a room, gave me the most beautiful hospital gown (I’m kidding) and asked me to take off my blouse so he could hook up the EKG machine. Almost instantly, I knew something was up when he ran out of the room. The doctor was in my room within seconds telling me I had a very concerning EKG. She proceeded to tell me I was having what they call STEMI or a full-blown heart attack and time was crucial. They had called down to the Shady Grove Adventist Hospital where I would be taken by ambulance or as I lovingly refer to it, my chariot of fire with lights and sirens blaring. I was going directly to the heart catheterization lab. There wasn’t much time to process what was happening, and to be honest I’m glad there wasn’t. I prayed on the way for Dave and Alicia who would hear this news from complete strangers. I never felt like I was going to die, but I just wanted to tell them how much I loved them.
Once I arrived at the hospital, I was wheeled directly to the heart cath lab. As soon as I entered the heart lab a group of incredible nurses immediately went into care mode and started explaining the procedure they were going to perform. I asked them if I could please call my daughter and husband to reassure them I was okay and tell them I love them because they didn’t make it in time to see me before I went into the heart lab. They gave me my phone, and I was able to talk to them and tell them I love them. It was all I needed. I knew I would be able to endure anything after hearing their voices.
The nurses asked me if I had anything to eat or drink in the past four hours, and I had which meant I could not have any pain medicine. I know they tried to be as gentle as they could and apologized profusely, but I’m not going to lie when someone sticks a needle in your groin and is heading for your heart with no pain medicine it hurts. I could see and hear everything. It seemed so surreal almost like an out of body experience as I watched my heart beating on a screen.
As I lay there, Dr. Fischer came up and asked me if I had ever had a heart attack before. I told him not that I was aware of. He said there were no current blockages, but apparently I had a heart attack a long time ago, possibly even when I was a child. The blockage was so old the doctor could not open it. I was his first patient ever where he was unable to open up the blockage. The cool thing was he wasn’t worried about it, because the arteries in my heart had reconfigured themselves to work around the obstruction. He said it wasn’t normal, but it works! He then showed me where the blockage was and how my heart rewired itself. I lay there in astonishment with tears rolling out of the corners of my eyes because all I could see is a cross in my heart. It was God who had rewired my heart. It was then I heard the same voice that told me to get to the ER say, “What the Devil thought was your dead end is your new beginning.” God created the cross within my heart. Dr. Fisher shared they wouldn’t do surgery because it could cause more damage trying to fix it than to leave it alone.
Now that I have had time to process that moment, I cry every time I think about it. Growing up I wondered if God even loved me and now I know exactly how much He loves me. God loved me enough to save my life twice and put a cross in my heart to mark me as His own. For every time I thought God had abandoned me, He has ALWAYS been with me.
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to continue to share my journey because this is God’s story and He deserves the honor and glory. None of us know from hour to hour how life can change. Life can be snatched from us in seconds. What I do know is each of us is created for a purpose and a plan. We may not always understand the meaning behind everything, but God does have a plan.
Trust me, God has a plan for you! I’m being as serious as a heart attack when I tell you that there are NO DEAD ENDS with God, only NEW BEGINNINGS!
I can’t thank you enough for all of your prayers, texts, and Facebook messages. Thank You for being my Jesus Glitter! You truly sparkle!