Friday, July 15, 2016

Test Results

In my last post I had written about the stomach/abdominal pain I was having and the tests that were scheduled. An ultrasound showed I do not have gall stones, but they discovered a mass on my liver. After seeing Dr. Golden, a gastroenterologist, I had an MRI to get that mass checked out. The results of that test showed a hemangioma, approximately 2 cm in size. Dr. Golden said a hemangioma is usually of no concern. Chances are it's been there for a long time. Mayo clinic's definition of hemangioma -  Liver hemangioma (he-man-jee-O-muh) is a noncancerous (benign) mass that occurs in the liver. A liver hemangioma is made up of a tangle of blood vessels.

My next test was a scan to check gall bladder function. That was normal.

I couldn't get in to do the last test, an endoscopy, until July 14. During that time the pain gradually got better until I didn't have it at all anymore. I almost cancelled the test, but the day I was thinking about it I had another bout of pain so I didn't. Nothing showed up on that test. My esophagus, stomach, and duodenum looked fine. He did take a biopsy to check for a certain bacteria that can cause ulcers. I don't have that result.

Sooo... if all the tests are "normal", what was causing the pain? We asked Dr. Golden if stress can cause that kind of pain and he said, "Yes. The muscles in the stomach and intestines sometimes go into spasms". So my conclusion of the matter is that it was probably all related to the extreme stress of the past winter. Possibly I had an ulcer that was healed by the time he did the endoscopy. Very likely. Stress also causes an increase in stomach acids which can cause an ulcer. I was also taking a lot of pain pills for headaches that were likely caused by stress too. Those are also hard on the stomach. Probably a lot of the pain was also muscle spasms. That is MY conclusion. :)

So how should a Christian handle stress? Could I have done something different and just breezed through those difficult times feeling 100% fine? I don't know that answer, but I know the Lord was with me. I picked up a book written by Elisabeth Elliott, Keep a Quiet Heart. In the front she had a poem by Amy Carmichael.

Thou art the Lord Who slept upon the pillow,
Thou art the Lord Who soothed the furious sea,
What matter beating wind and tossing billow
If only we are in the boat with Thee?

Hold us in quiet through the age-long minute
While Thou art silent and the wind is shrill:
Can the boat sink while Thou, dear Lord, art in it?
Can the heart faint that waiteth on Thy will?

The last verse especially blessed me. Can the boat sink while the Lord is in it? There were times I felt I was going down, but with the Lord in "boat" I didn't go down.

Another quote that has blessed me is, "We rightly praise God in the good times, but we learn to know God in the hard times". That is very true. Like Jacob said when he woke from his dream, "Gen 28:16  And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not." I discovered that once while singing "Nearer My God to Thee".  "Then with my waking thoughts Bright with thy praise, Out of my stony griefs Bethel I'll raise..." Bethel is what Jacob named the place where he had the dream. "Surely the Lord is in this place...." I believe God allows hard things in our lives to cause us to draw closer to Him.

When Thou Passest Through

"When thou passest through the waters"
Deep the waves may be and cold,
But Jehovah is our refuge,
And His promise is our hold;
For the Lord Himself hath said it,
He, the faithful God and true:
"When thou comest to the waters
Thou shalt not go down, BUT THROUGH."

Seas of sorrow, seas of trial,
Bitterest anguish, fiercest pain,
Rolling surges of temptation
Sweeping over heart and brain -
They shall never overflow us
For we know His word is true;
All His waves and all His billows
He will lead us safely through.

Threatening breakers of destruction,
Doubts insidious undertow,
Shall not sink us, shall not drag us
Out to ocean depths of woe;
For His promise shall sustain us,
Praise the Lord Whose Word is true!
We shall not go down, or under,
For He saith, "Thou passest THROUGH."
Annie Johnson Flint

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Cleveland Clinic # 1 Heart Hospital in the USA

Where do I start... So much has happened this year! Before I write anything else I need to give a little update.

In February we packed up and moved our family of eleven from Griswold, Iowa to Holmes County, Ohio. Let me just say that that was not an easy feat to accomplish! I am still trying to recover. We temporarily moved into a small house in town until the farm house was empty. We lived in that small house for two months and made many good memories, although we were very glad to stretch out in a bigger place. So, we moved twice in two months. The second move was only two miles and we had unpacked only the bare necessities at the first house, so it was a lot easier. As of now we still have a stack of boxes in the basement that we have been ignoring, mostly because we were too busy to get to them. It almost makes us wonder if we actually need that stuff if we've had it stored for 6 months. We really do need some of it. The garden desperately needs to be sprayed and a lot of the gardening stuff has not been unpacked. Irene wants her flip flops, but has looked in vain... The canning stuff needs to come out soon too.

Health wise I feel like I have been on an emotional roller coaster. The week before we moved I started with pretty bad pain in my stomach. My Iowa doctor thought possibly a stomach ulcer from stress. Stress? Yes! Stress! Hmmm... Anyway, she gave me Prilosec and in a few days I was feeling much better. Since I was also haveing a lot of headaches (stress?!) she gave me something for that too. Sometime after we moved I started having pain again. This time it was more on my right side sometimes and I began to wonder if it's gall stones. I recently had an ultrasound that showed I do not have any gallstones so we're still puzzled about that pain. I have two more tests coming up. Another gall bladder one and an endoscopy to check for stomach ulcer. Part of my roller coaster experience happened because of that ultrasound. A nurse called out to schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist because they discovered a mass on my liver. He thinks it is possibly a hemangioma, which is just a mass of blood vessels and usually of no concern. My liver counts were all very good, and he said if the mass were a tumor they probably would not be good. Yesterday I went for an MRI to check that out some more. I don't have the results yet.

Switching doctors when moving is a real headache. Insurance told us they can fill one time with the Iowa doctor then we have to have one from Ohio. Well, since we were new patients, we couldn't get in for three to four months! What were we supposed to do?! Finally we heard of this doctor who works with the Amish. We contacted him and he told us to come to his house on such and such a day and he will help us out. That was so nice! He took a keen interest in my health history. He was not impressed with just taking pain medicine for my headaches. Since I had a coronary dissection he encouraged me to get a brain scan to make sure I don't have an aneurysm.

I have finally gotten in with Cleveland Clinic, and now that I'm in the system, things are moving along. On Wednesday I saw my new cardiologist for the first time. Dr Kim specializes in SCAD. We had to go to Cleveland for that visit. Cleveland is a good 1 1/2 hour drive. We got up at 4:30 and left a little before 5:00. Because of some tests I couldn't eat or drink. We got there on time at 6:45. No one was at the desk where we thought we were supposed to go, so we went back to the main entrance and asked the lady there. She told us that yes, we were at the right desk, but lab doesn't open until 7:00, so we went over and sat down to wait. Lab was a very busy place that morning and we didn't get out of there for almost an hour. From there we went to radiology where I was scheduled to have a CT scan of the vessels in my neck and head. Since we knew this might take awhile and Edward couldn't be with me anyway, he went for some breakfast.  After signing in and waiting a bit in the sub waiting area I was called in. The lady put an IV in my arm and then I was sent out to wait again. Soon I was called in for the scan. I could stay dressed this time, but I had to take everything out of my hair. The scan actually didn't take long at all. The IV was for the contrast dye - unpleasant stuff! All of a sudden this warm feeling goes through you and you get a metallic taste in your mouth. After a few moments it's gone again. They told me to be sure to drink a lot to flush it out of my body.

Now that the lab work and CT scan were done, I could eat. We had about 45 minutes until the next appointment. The first thing I wanted was a large cup of coffee! I had not slept well and gotten up early, and wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything. We went down to the cafeteria for that. Ah! Now I felt much better. :)

My last test was an echo cardiogram, and from there we went to see the doctor. That was very interesting! The doctors in Omaha didn't know much about SCAD. She specializes in it. She had received all my records and showed us the pictures of the catheterization they did when I was having my heart attack. With all the SCAD patients she has seen, my cath pictures were the first where she actually saw the artery dissecting right in front of her eyes. She showed all that to us. At the beginning she said, "Here is the LAD artery. Here is the catheter. Here is an abnormality and then all of a sudden the artery just simply disappeared. That was when it dissected further and was completely blocked - no blood flow going through, which is why we couldn't see it. She said if you would not have been in the cath lab when that happened the out come would have been very different. Then she showed that here they come with a wire to open it and here they are placing the stents. Very, very interesting. She said several times she is very impressed with those doctors. They did a very good job. Placing stents at the top of the LAD is hard. I remember when he was doing it I thought the doctor seems very impatient or in a bad mood because he was yelling. Now I realize he was probably scared and working really hard and fast to save my life. Thank you to that doctor, and I don't even know who he is. I assume he was on duty in the cath lab that day. I don't know if he ever came to my room to see me. We are so thankful to God for the wisdom he has given these men. Afterward, she showed us the pictures of the CT scan I had that morning. No aneurysms showed up, but my left carotid artery has an extra loop. That is not normal, but should probably not cause any problems. It is a marker indicating abnormalities in my arteries. She doesn't think I have FMD because nothing else showed up. She gave me a complete physical examination looking for other markers. So I found out I am extra flexible and my skin is extra soft. I never knew that! The lining of the arteries is connective tissue. So if my joints are extra flexible and my skin extra soft, it indicates the lining of my arteries might also be so. Anyway, that's how I understood her. I had stopped taking my cholesterol medication because I simply do not like having to take it. Well, my LDL (bad) cholesterol is too high, so she put me back on a different one and also switched me from Prilosec to ?? don't remember the name. The rest of the meds she kept the same. So I thought I should tell Dr. Holmberg he was doing it right. He used to tell me he really doesn't know how he should be treating it, since there is so little information out about SCAD. My only restrictions are no lifting heavier than about 50 lb and no sudden jerky movements like roller coasters.

It was almost 12:00 when we were done. We went up to the main entrance and handed our ticket to the valet service. Cleveland Clinic is such a huge place and we didn't know where to park. Since valet service was only a couple dollars more than other parking we took advantage of that. From there we went to an Italian restaurant for lunch. And then we drove around looking for Starbucks so that we can make it home without falling asleep! :) After all, I had to drink a lot that day to flush the dye out... On The way home we stopped at Lowe's and Walmart in Wooster. It was 5:00 by the time we came home. My bed felt sooo good that night.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Is Thy God Able?

Daniel 6:20 And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?

Recently I have been feeling very overwhelmed with the busyness of a large family. September is always a difficult month for me. We have come through most of the busy canning/preserving season. There are still things to finish. And then we start school. This year we have five children in school (home school), from 1st. grade to high school. On top of that we've had dentist, eye doctor, orthodontist, and doctor appointments to go to. Today I have to take four year old Rhoda to the dentist because her filling fell out. Michael (2) woke us early and a thunderstorm went through at 5:30, and we are getting ready to leave for a trip to Ohio tomorrow. I got up feeling like this busy day has gotten off to a bad start. I prayed that God would allow my Bible to open somewhere that would be encouraging to me. It opened at Daniel 6. I almost didn't read it, wishing it would have opened somewhere in the gospels. But God had allowed it to open there for a reason. The king asked Daniel if his God is able to deliver him from the lions. Is God able to deliver me from my lions of fears, anxieties, cares or whatever... Is He able to keep me from going over the edge?

Today I will say with Daniel...

Daniel 6:22 My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.

I will have to take one thing at a time and if I start feeling stressed out I have to remind myself that my God is able to deliver me.

What are the lions you are facing?

  1. How gentle God’s commands,
    How kind His precepts are!
    Come, cast your burdens on the Lord,
    And trust His constant care.
  2. Beneath His watchful eye
    His saints securely dwell;
    That hand which bears all nature up
    Shall guide His children well.
  3. Why should this anxious load
    Press down your weary mind?
    Haste to your heav’nly Father’s throne,
    And sweet refreshment find.
  4. His goodness stands approved,
    Unchanged from day to day;
    I’ll drop my burden at His feet,
    And bear a song away.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Patient in Tribulation

Saturday night we were just falling asleep when our door creaked open and Marian, age 10, was standing there. "Do you want something?" we asked groggily.

"I vomited", she answered.

My heart sank way down as all the possibilities of what this could mean raced through my mind. Most of the time when she starts throwing up it's every 10 to 20 minutes and doesn't stop until we end up in the ER for zofran administered by IV. I helped her get settled again with a bucket on the chair beside her bed. I gave her a zofran tablet to dissolve under her tongue, but that didn't stay down. She is very good about always hitting the bucket, so I went back to bed and tried to get some sleep. Later in the night she came over again and said she would like to have some ice chips. I went downstairs, switched on the light and filled a cup with ice. Since the other zofran had not helped anything I was getting another one when Irene came around the corner. "Are you alright?" she asked. Here she was sick too. I put the zofran back in the cabinet. If it was a stomach virus, that was not what Marian needed. I went back to bed, but didn't sleep well. I was planning a trip to PA with the two little girls. What if we all came down with the stomach flu???

When we got up in the morning Irene was sleeping. She felt good when she woke up. Marian was still vomiting. I made some tea for her and gave her a zofran to dissolve under her tongue. She lay down on the couch and fell asleep. I got my cup of coffee and my Bible and settled down for my devotions. I opened my Bible. It fell open at Job 2:10 "What, Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?" I checked the cross references...

Job 1:21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.

Lamentations 3:38-41 Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good? Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins? Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD. Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens.

John 18:11 Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?

Romans 12:12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

Hebrews 12:9-12 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;

That was a good meditation. I had often pondered the whys. Why, when we pray and pray for Marian to stop vomiting we still end up going to the hospital for IV??? Don't we have enough faith or ???? I guess if God would just instantly give us all the things we ask for we would never learn how to be patient in tribulation. We would never have a cup of trials to drink. Another reason I have struggled with that question is because of some people who have indicated it's a lack of faith to go to a doctor. We should trust God instead. Which reminds me of the first time we took Marian for IV when she was dehydrated. Dr. Schmadeke said he wonders how many lives could be saved all over the world if people would have access to IV. Then he said natural remedies are alright, but sometimes a doctor's help might be the way God is answering our prayers. He related the story of a man who was stranded on a raft out at sea. The man was praying that God would rescue him. After a while a helicopter came and dangled a rope to pull him up. The man waved it off and said God will rescue him. The helicopter was God's way of answering his prayer and he rejected it!

After giving Marian her pill, she fell asleep. When she woke up she was feeling fine! Praise the Lord! No one else got sick and we are busy getting ready for our trip to PA. I did go to the dentist this morning. I am having quite a bit of pain where the one wisdom tooth came out. The root had gone into the sinus and it hasn't closed up completely yet. He gave antibiotics for infection. If it's still not closed when we come back next week I'll have to go back to the oral surgeon for another procedure. :(

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Miscellaneous Tidbits


One day soon after I came home from the hospital I was resting on the couch. The CD player was playing softly. A group of young people were singing heartily, "All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give". The words grabbed my attention. ALL. FREELY GIVE. I wonder if they really realize what they are saying? Sure, what Christian wouldn't say that? That is the right thing to say. How often did I sing that song, but didn't realize the depth of the words I was singing? The attitude of my heart was right at the time, but I didn't understand the depth of the words. Now Jesus was asking for my health, and I did not want to surrender it.

Chest Pains

After several weeks I started having some definite discomfort in my chest area. It wasn't bad enough that I could call it pain, just some discomfort sometimes. It scared me pretty bad. What is going on? I talked to the cardiac rehab nurses about it. Peggy wondered if it's worse when I exercise. "No", I said, "that doesn't seem to make it worse. Actually it doesn't seem to bother me as much then as when I am resting." She didn't think it sounded like a heart problem and suggested I take Tums and see if if that helps. It did, so she said I should take Prilosec, which is an antacid that I would have to take only once a day. I had a visit with Dr. Wilcox to get a prescription for Prilosec. She said so many people take it, it's almost like handing out candy! My discomfort/heartburn/acid reflux (or whatever) was likely a result of all my medications. Anxiety probably contributed to the problem too. I talked with her about my anxiety and fears. She said she could give me something to help me. I told her I would rather not at this time. I was already feeling somewhat better. I knew if I could take my thoughts captive, with the Lord's help, I would be able to overcome the anxiety. Her caring kindness helped too. After several months I was able to get off the Prilosec again.

To this day I still get pretty scared whenever I feel discomfort, muscle twitches, or anything in my chest area. I told my husband I never know anymore if what I am feeling is heartburn or not. I cannot feel the difference.

Taking care of Michael

Michael was 12 days old when I went to the hospital. All of a sudden his care fell on others. That was hard for me to accept. I love the newborn stage. Most days they brought him along to the hospital. Even though I wasn't able to do much with him, I enjoyed having him there. At night Irene and Annetta took care of him. He was a very good baby. We were so thankful for that. Our last three babies were very fussy. It seemed so strange to go to bed early and let the girls put the baby to sleep. It didn't feel right at all, but at the same time I really didn't care. Like I wrote before, I had lost those motherly feelings. It was almost as if he were someone else's baby. My body had gone through a shock and was in survival mode. I had to make a conscious effort to regain those "motherly feelings". I didn't want him to bond with someone else, so I tried to be the one to give his bottle and change his diapers etc. After a week and a half I felt able to take care of him again at night. It made me pretty nervous. I wasn't used to giving formula and had to figure out all that. We were boiling all the water. At first we warmed his bottles. How do you do that? Microwaving isn't recommended. It takes a long time to warm if you set it in hot water, which is what the girls were doing at night. To make it easier we decided to put warm water in a thermos, then I could mix the formula when he woke up. So we moved his crib back to our room. I fed him and rocked him to sleep that evening. We made sure we had all the supplies we would need during the night, then went to bed. Do you think I could sleep? NO! I tried to, but I was aware of every little stir that he made and thinking about how to get his bottle ready etc etc. He slept pretty good, but I did not. Finally at 3:00 I took him over to the girls and told them, "I am sorry, but I need to get some sleep too, and I simply cannot sleep with him in the room." We made a little nest for him on the floor of their room. I don't remember, but he probably didn't wake up the rest of the night for them. We kept his crib in our room and eventually I learned to sleep again. Dr. Wilcox told us a lot of people do not warm up the formula bottles. It did not seem right, but we soon stopped warming up his milk and gave it at room temperature. It didn't seem to bother him and when he was older he didn't like it warmed up.

And by the way, he did bond with me, and definitely knows who his mother is! :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A Tribute to Other Mothers

A couple weeks after my heart attack I was talking with my sister. She asked if I heard of the young mother that just died. No, I had not heard. So she told me about the mother in MO that had died the day before. She had had a baby born by C-section and was still in the hospital when a blood clot passed through her lungs. All attempts to revive her failed and she died. She was only 35 years old and the mother of seven children. Why was I still alive and she was not? Why did she die and I didn't? It could have been me. It could be my husband that was a widower and my children motherless. God reminded me again that He makes no mistake. Even though we don't understand why one passes on and another is healed, we trust that this was God's plan.!/Obituary

Two and a half years before my heart attack Dorcas Wenger died from a spontaneous coronary artery dissection - the same as I had. She too had a newborn baby.

Recently I heard of two Amish mothers who passed away. One of them had a three day old baby and died of an aneurysm. The other one was killed in an accident. My heart goes out to the sorrowing families. I feel humbled that God spared our family that grief.

Several months after my SCAD I got a phone call from Viola Martin in OH. My aunt had given her my number. Viola had also had SCAD. It was so interesting to talk to someone who had gone through the same thing. She too had a two week old baby when it happened. Hers was worse than mine, with three arteries dissecting. She had six bare metal stents put in. Later she needed to have bypass surgery because they had clogged with scar tissue. After talking with her I felt like I had not gone through much!

Then I also got a call from Mr. Bowman in Ontario. His wife had just come home from the hospital after having SCAD. She did not need stents or surgery. As far as I know she has recovered well. I should call or write to her again. She also had a two week old baby.

God is Good - His Mercy Endures Forever

July 14. A day that has a flood of memories. The anniversary of my SCAD event. As I was thinking over the hills and valleys of the past two years I thought, "God is good - His mercy endures forever". He carried me through the low times and was with me through the good times. This morning I read some of the verses that had been such a blessing to me while I was in the hospital and the future looked scary. "Thou wilt perfect that which concerneth me". I felt like God was answering the cry in my heart and telling me, "Everything will be alright". Now two years later I can say that everything is alright. I experienced a complete recovery exactly as the doctors predicted. Life has returned to normal. Some things will never be the same again. I will always have those stents in my LAD artery. Will they cause complications in the future? I don't know, but I know who holds the future. I will not feel anything in my chest without some apprehension. But by the grace of God I will rejoice in the Lord, knowing that He makes no mistakes.
I Know Who Holds Tomorrow

I don't know about tomorrow;
I just live from day to day.
I don't borrow from its sunshine
For its skies may turn to grey.

I don't worry o'er the future,
For I know what Jesus said.
And today I'll walk beside Him,
For He knows what is ahead.

Many things about tomorrow
I don't seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.

Every step is getting brighter
As the golden stairs I climb;
Every burden's getting lighter,
Every cloud is silver-lined.

There the sun is always shining,
There no tear will dim the eye;
At the ending of the rainbow
Where the mountains touch the sky.

Many things about tomorrow
I don't seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.

I don't know about tomorrow;
It may bring me poverty.
But the one who feeds the sparrow,
Is the one who stands by me.

And the path that is my portion
May be through the flame or flood;
But His presence goes before me
And I'm covered with His blood.

Many things about tomorrow
I don't seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.
Ira Stanphill