In May of 2017 my life took an unexpected turn – one that in hindsight I would not trade for anything, despite the physical pain and uncertainty. At age 54 I had a heart attack – a totally unexpected event that took me and everyone around me by total surprise.
Through this heart journey, I have been drawn close to God’s heart, especially when it comes to certain insights about myself and my role in the kingdom. You can read about the amazing vision God gave me near the beginning of my journey in a previous post.
One of the most profound lessons I learned during this time was how perfect God’s TIMING really is.
It started even before I was hospitalized. I had what I shall call an ‘episode’ at my workplace. I teach secondary school and right in between classes I suddenly got a strange and intense burning in my chest and upper arms. I thought it would pass but it didn’t. Fortunately, I had a very astute educational assistant who took matters into her hands and called the principal and the emergency medical person on staff. She also arranged for my next class to be taken care of without any fuss, and I was taken to the hospital. Despite sky-rocketing blood pressure, there was no sign of a heart attack. I was told to take it easy, monitor my blood pressure and come back in one week for some different tests.
Being the kind of person who hates to bother others (not to mention I dislike hospitals) I took this in stride and went about my business for five more days – even though I had four more ‘episodes’. I figured there was no point going back to emergency each time since I was told it wasn’t a heart attack’
However, I had one particularly painful occurrence at about midnight on the Sunday which actually woke me up. I finally decided to go back to the clinic. This is where God’s perfect timing comes in. I had another episode right there in the doctor’s office and the second round of blood work confirmed a heart attack. If I hadn’t had the pain and shortness of breath right there in front of the doctor’s eyes, I might have been sent home again.
I was taken by ambulance to Dawson Creek, about an hour away, since our small town does not have the facilities to deal with overnight patients. As soon as a bed could be secured for me in Vancouver, I would sent for an angiogram to see exactly what kind of damage had been done and what the treatment would be.
Except… getting a bed in Vancouver is not as easy as it sounds. Naturally, priorities have to be made. A man was brought in right next to me who was having THE BIG ONE! I got bumped as they took him straight to Vancouver on the next flight. In the end this was a good thing since it meant my condition was no where near as dire as his.
In the end, I was in the Dawson Creek emergency ward for eight days waiting for a bed in Vancouver, even though I was experiencing chest pain every day and couldn’t move around much. I had little else to do but read, write in my journal, and rest. God was teaching me patience- and lots of it – and also giving me much needed time to reflect on Him. During this time I began to have many dreams and visions which continued through the summer and my recovery. God was taking the time to speak to me – or perhaps more accurately, I was taking the time to listen since I had no other choice!
The long weekend was approaching and the staff was certain that I would be flying out soon. There was no guarantee that my husband could accompany me on the ‘medivac’ flight so he decided to drive to Vancouver ahead of me, (It is a fourteen hour drive.) As it turned out, I didn’t leave until the Monday so my husband had the entire long weekend to himself in Vancouver – alone. He wasn’t happy about it at first, but God knew that he needed time to relax and recharge his batteries before the stress of what was to come. He did lots of sightseeing and nature hikes.
This is another testament to God’s timing. My husband had lost his job only a few months earlier, and although he was collecting Employment Insurance, it was a stressful thing for him. However, God knew that he was going to be needed to care for me after my surgery. Even in this, God had a plan and had everything worked out perfectly.
Once I got to Vancouver, I had an angiogram (and some very interesting revelations which I already shared). To my surprise, I needed bypass surgery. I had the angiogram on a Tuesday and apparently my surgery was scheduled for the following Tuesday.
Except… after going outside to the rooftop garden (my husband took me out in a wheelchair) I started having another ‘episode’. He managed to wheel me back into my room and who should be there right at that very moment but the surgeon. He had come to my room to tell me about the scheduled date for my surgery, but he took one look at me and said, “I’m bumping you up to first thing tomorrow!” If he hadn’t been there at that exact moment and I hadn’t been having an episode at that moment, I never would have had surgery so quickly. Again, God’s timing was amazing and absolutely perfect!
There is so much more. I could talk about the presence of my daughter, a trained doula, who just ‘happened’ to be in the Vancouver area on vacation. Her calming presence in the recovery room was a God send, especially when I woke up from surgery, disoriented and unable to breath.
Or, I could talk about God’s timing on the trip home. I got released from the hospital after only four days post surgery, but then was denied getting on the airplane. Again, God knew I probably wouldn’t have managed the flight or the time at home alone while I waited for my husband to drive back from Vancouver. Instead we together at a very slow pace. (A fourteen hour drive took us four days.) Along the way, we stopped and bought a recliner. I remembered my brother telling me that he slept in a recliner for about a month after his surgery and so we bought one. I am so glad we did! I did, indeed, sleep in it for about a month and I’m not sure what I would have done otherwise since it is almost impossible for heart surgery patients to lie down or sit up again for quite awhile after surgery. That chair was another God send!
Some of these details might seem insignificant. but believe me, each and every one was like a direct message from God, letting me know that He had EVERYTHING – and I mean EVERYTHING – under control!
Next time I plan to talk about another vision I had once I got home.