Between my sister’s family and mine, we’ve racked up 25 trips to local emergency rooms. Admittedly, most were a result of raising 14 adventurous children, but we adults have to take credit for some of them. Yesterday it was my turn.
One week ago a searing pain took over my left side so powerfully I couldn’t move to reach my phone or get enough breath to yell for Birgitta in the next room. It raged for nearly an hour before subsiding but eventually went away completely.
Later that day I told Louisa and Birgitta about it but asked them to keep it quiet. Although they honored my request, they pressured me to tell my sister Mary, our family nurse. I knew if I did, she’d insist I take immediate medical action, so I decided instead to just wait-and-see.
As the week progressed, other curious symptoms popped up: two sharp pains in the upper back, occasional dizziness, achy feelings in my chest, extra fatigue. Were these warnings about an approaching heart event? I didn’t want to risk damage by waiting, but didn’t want to over-react either. So I did what I always do when I don’t know what to do.
I asked God, then decided to just wait-and-see.
A short while later, I was catching up on emails and among them was a friend’s description of an adult daughter’s new heart problem. She also shared about her husband’s unexpected heart procedure at age 70. All I could think was, “Lord, you’ve answered my prayer, and now I know what to do.”
I told Mary.
Although I wasn’t in severe pain, within 90 minutes I was packed and driving from Michigan to Chicago where the two of us walked into the E.R. at Rush Medical Center. Approaching the check-in desk I casually said, “I’m having mild chest pain and…”
In seconds I was tucked into a wheelchair and whisked toward multiple blood tests, a chest x-ray, a rolling EKG, an IV line, and hospital admittance. I didn’t even have time to notify my children. My medical adventure culminated in this morning’s treadmill stress test, monitored by a doctor, a nurse, and a tech.
The upshot of the whole episode? I’m 100% heart-healthy with less than a 1% chance of ever having a heart attack.
So what was that all about? Maybe it was to prompt gratitude for the days I’m not in an ER. It could have been to get educated about heart-health, which we did. Maybe it was to newly appreciate my sister’s love and concern. Possibly it was a dress rehearsal for what’s coming, or a test of whether or not I really trust God when trouble hits. I guess I’ll just wait-and-see.
The whole thing leaves me with several questions, but I may never get the answers. Though ER docs suggested I follow-up with my regular internist this week, I think I’ll just…
“Keep watch over me and keep me out of trouble; don’t let me down when I run to you.” (Psalm 25:20, The Message)