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2010 November 25
by Bill

This has been an interesting month for us. A little history first.

Twenty-four years ago this month (Nov, 1986) I was on a business trip to Texas when I began to experience breathing difficulties. As a trained firefighter/paramedic, and an instructor to boot, I knew what I was facing. What to do? Practice denial of course. I was, after all, “bullet-proof.”

So, off I went from San Antonio to Houston for another meeting and then home to Washington, DC. I walked into my house, told my wife that I didn’t feel well and was going to the hospital. No, she didn’t need to take me, I’d be OK and call her when I found out what it was. Forty-five minutes later I was in cardiac ICU. Note to self; don’t do that.

A week later I moved up on the waiting list for an angioplasty. They found a 90%> block and “ballooned” it. I was told to change my life style and that the procedure would last me for about 8-10 years.

On November 10th, 2010, I was experiencing some familiar breath shortage issues and went to my Cardiologist for a check up. My symptoms moved them to make an appointment for a heart catheter the next day, especially when they found that the last one had been 24 years earlier! My sense was that I had a block and that they could place a stint and let me go back to work. It is a much simpler procedure now and hospitals have entire wings dedicated to it, not like 1986 when it was a rapidly emerging technology.

The heart catheter procedure lets you remain awake while the catheter is inserted into your femoral artery and a camera lets you see the progress. You feel nothing and looking at your insides can be very entertaining…unless there is a problem, which we found ten minutes into the operation. It seems that the original angioplasty worked well, and gave me much more that the suggested 8-10 years, but nothing is forever. I now needed a minimum of seven stints! (Small metal spring-like devices that press against the offending junk and open up your blood vessels. The old balloons were just that, a balloon on the tip of the catheter that, when expanded, did the same thing. )

That is too much metal in your chest so my only option was to have a CABG (Coronary Artery Bypass Graft), and it ended up that I needed five! (I guess they would call that a pentuple?)

Without the details I can tell you that having your chest opened for five hours leaves a mark. When they are done you have more tubes and wires emanating from your body that you can imagine. (The monitors are behind you so you never get the full appreciation of the level of technology in play.) So, of course, they get you out of bed within 24 hours of the operation! Each day got better and each day I got, and get, stronger.

The body is an amazing creation. It is beautifully and wondrously made in the Image and Likeness of our Creator. Given the right foods it will even heal itself! Sadly, very few of us are consistent with the right food and the food that we now have available to us has been so adulterated with hormones and radiation that the healthy parts are mostly rendered impotent. Nineteen years of this input messed my ticker up. Why only nineteen? Because, five years ago I married Karen and she has been changing my diet to a more healthy one. I firmly believe that this bought me some additional time.

And prayer. I have been over whelmed with the prayers and concerns of so many people I just can’t get my head around it. When I entered the operating room I had no concerns whatsoever. I knew that I knew that all was well and that other than a lengthy recovery I was completely and totally covered, protected and loved. I have never felt that level of peace.

And now it is surgery plus five weeks which included Thansgiving. To try and express what I feel would not be possible. I am grateful beyond words and thankful to be alive, surrounded by my family and friends and on my way to 20-30 more years of what ever God has in store for me.

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