I love the game “I Never.” I always scored big when I pulled out my trifecta of secret weapons. I’ve never had a broken bone. I’ve never had a cavity. I’ve never spent the night in a hospital. I lost the cavity card a few years back, and now the only hand that’s left for me is the broken bones.
You guessed it. I have now spent a night in the hospital.
I believe everything happens for a reason. Often, we never know what that reason is. I will probably never know why I ended up in the hospital a few days ago.
Overnight in the Cardiac Hilton
If I had any illusions that you can rest in a hospital, I don’t anymore. With three IVs hooked into my arms and a heavy monitor dangling from my side, I felt strapped to my marshmallow mattress.
Meanwhile, a huge thunderstorm slammed rain and branches against my window and a double shift of nurses laughed and partied at their station across from me. I never knew that in a bad storm, the nursing staff has to stay overnight to insure they’ll make it back for the next day’s shift. Obviously, they were bored.
I prayed frequently for the other cardiac patients on my floor. Next door to me, a big man with a bigger voice yelled for a nurse at least three times during the night shift. Alarms sounded and nurses ran with equipment to respond to two Code Blues, made especially chilling when one nurse (hopefully a student nurse) screamed, “What do I do?”
An Undivided Metaphorical Heart
In the midst of the noise and lack of sleep, I read and prayed. I wanted to prepare my heart for the next day’s catheterization and potential stents. I read in Matthew 22 about the foremost commandment. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. The second? Love your neighbor as yourself.
All your heart.
Do I love him with all my heart?
I had to mull this over. And I had time to do it. You may want to ask yourself these same questions.
Do I even know what it means to love God? Do I love him more than anything else? Are there obstacles that need to be removed?
Is my heart growing cold and hard, like a stone? Like a Code Blue, does my heart need reviving?
Is my heart divided? What else clamors for my affection?
And can I even begin to love my neighbor, to truly love others, until my heart is whole?
I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 11:19
Obstacles get in the way of loving with a warm and vital heart. Distractions cling and keep my heart from operating at full capacity, fully alive. They need to be taken out. Or at least ignored.
An Unobstructed Physical Heart
The hospital pamphlet told me that with a stent, the physical obstructions would remain but the path for blood to carry oxygen to my heart would be opened up. The good stuff would get where it needs to go much easier.
The chain reaction that brought me to the hospital started with stress, which elevated my blood pressure to a dangerous stage, which prompted a visit to my doctor. I thought she’d increase my dosage and I’d be back at work by 9:00, but to be cautious, she ran an EKG, compared it to my baseline one, and sent me straight away to a cardiologist.
My highly medical analysis: The squiggles above the line on the EKG had flipped, mirror-image, to below the line. The cardiologist said this is not good and sent me straight away to the hospital to be monitored before the next day’s heart catheterization, expecting a stent or two.
The next day was our Sweet Sixteenth wedding anniversary. Six years earlier, on our 10th anniversary, Steve had the same procedure done, resulting in four stents. (The timing made me laugh in the doctor’s office, which he called a good sign.)
My procedure revealed that I have a strong and healthy heart. My arteries are “pristine.” All good news. Great news, in fact.
An Unanswered Mystery
But baffling news. The mystery remains. My doctor said tests are never foolproof. I guess I fooled the test, symbolically on April Fool’s Eve.
Did someone pull the EKG out of the printer upside down? Or put someone else’s baseline reading in my file? No, because all the other markers proved both are mine.
Or did God answer the prayers of my friends and heal my heart?
He certainly has done it before. I guess I’ll never know what happened or why.
All that matters is that he holds my heart, and he’ll hold it forever. Now it’s up to me to clear out some of those obstacles so I can love him fully.