Finally I have the time and energy to sit down and blog a bit about what's been happening in my life since the end of May. It is said that we are often "busy making plans while God has other plans" for our lives. That was certainly proven to be true this past week!
A week ago Saturday, May 31st, John came up to Hobbs to help me finish packing. We stayed there overnight and on Sunday he loaded the truck, fitting in boxes like a jigsaw puzzle, in the 110 degree heat while I cleaned and scrubbed the apartment. When we finally got to Odessa we were exhausted from the effort so we decided to leave everything in the truck, since there is a locking bed cover, planning to unload it in a day or two. Little did we know that a week would pass before that would actually happen.
I started my new job the following day and it really went very well, not nearly as scary or intimidating as I expected. There are 13 phone lines so it is BUSY, but other staff do pick up the phone if many calls are coming in at once, so I didn't feel overwhelmed and quickly began learning, names, faces, extensions, etc. My new supervisor and I see things very much alike and communicate on a good level, which makes it so much easier. She sits at a desk behind me in our large office and an A/P clerk sits at the long counter beside me. We are enclosed with glass windows and everything is shiny clean.
Tuesday I had been at work for just a short while when I received a call from John... You may remember me mentioning a bad shoulder injury he sustained while we were painting ceilings at the new house a couple months ago. The pain under his left shoulder blade had been so severe that he ended sitting up in a chair to sleep for nearly a week, but finally it improved. Shortly after that the index finger of his left hand became very cold (I mean like dead cold) and stayed that way for a couple weeks. It was eerie. He thought perhaps it might be arthritis cutting down the blood supply. Then the coldness left that finger and moved two fingers down, and finally into just his pinkie finger. A week ago Friday he noticed a little discoloration at the end of his pinkie and also that it wasn't filling up with blood properly, taking too long. So finally he agreed to make a doctor appointment.
He went to the appointment on Tuesday morning, dressed for work and expecting to head there shortly. Instead, the doctor looked at his finger, called a pulmonary specialist, and sent him straight to the hospital to be admitted for testing. He called me to tell me that he was being admitted and I was as shocked as he was. That afternoon they did an EKG and a echo cardiogram. The doctor finally came into his room at 11 PM and told him that the EKG was abnormal and indicated that he had suffered a heart attack!! They scheduled a CT Scan and an angiogram for the next day to check for blocked arteries.
I called my new boss on Wednesday morning to tell her about the EKG results and notify her that I would be absent from work, since I needed to be with John at the hospital. She couldn't have been nicer or more understanding.
John's daughter here in Odessa took off work and his daughter that lives in Plainview drove down fast, arriving in his room (running actually) just as they were loading him onto the gurney for the angiogram. The nurse told us the procedure would take about30 minutes if there were no blockages, and about an hour if they found a blockage and needed to insert a stent. An hour and a half later we started getting restless, and by the time two hours passed we were worried.
Finally, he was brought out to recovery, alert and doing ok. We learned that the doctor had found one main artery to be 99.1% blocked! He worked for all that time to get the catheter thru that tiny remaining opening, about the size of a straight pin, so they could insert stents and not have to do a bypass. They got it! John said the nurse and doctor actually laughed with relief when they finally got thru the blockage and were able to place two stents end to end and get the artery fully open. Praise God!!
John came home on Friday afternoon and is doing well, though the catheter insertion site in his groin is still quite sore and he tires easily. He is limited to lifting no more than ten pounds for two weeks and can return to work on Thursday. My boss was amazing and let me take off the rest of last week to be at the hospital with him. That is so unusual considering I had only worked there two days when this happened!
As it turns out, the shoulder pain John was feeling two months ago, that he thought was an injury or a pinched nerve, was actually a heart attack! At the time he had been painting ceilings overhead, and this position puts the greatest strain on the heart. He never felt any chest pain, shortness of breath, or any of the classic heart attack symptoms. In fact he would not have gone to the doctor at all if it hadn't been for the cold finger, which they say is most likely caused by a blood clot that broke off from the damaged heart. Had this blood clot gone instead to his brain, it would have caused a stroke, had it gone to his heart, it would have killed him. We are praising God for the miracle of his life, and that he was present to celebrate his 55th birthday on Saturday! The story could have so easily ended much differently!
The pinkie finger will be ok, other blood vessels will take over more of the blood supply to it. John will be ok, though will need to observe the low salt/low fat diet that is heart healthy, and good for me as well. I knew that heart disease runs in John's family. Both his mother and his grandfather died at the age of 64. We have no idea how long his artery has been blocked, or in the process of becoming blocked. When we think about all the strenuous, heavy lifting he's done, and in extreme heat, in the past two months it was very emotionally overwhelming. It so easily could have been his last activity. But, Praise God, it wasn't! Thankfully, one other artery is only 30% blocked and not of concern to the cardiac surgeon, and the other two are clean.
So, everything went onto the back burner last week, and the many unpacked boxes remain stacked in the house. Last night I finally got around to unloading the truck. Laundry is piled high, and a good house cleaning is in order. Do I care? NO! I feel, and John feels, amazingly blessed. We have each other, and the future still looks bright! We will take it slow and easy.
Some people were concerned that I moved so quickly to Odessa and into John's life after meeting him. We believe that God wanted me to be here for him, and I am grateful that I could be. I knew I loved him deeply, but I didn't realize just how deeply until I realized how easily I could have lost him. Everyday our love grows. We share what we think, feel, believe, and hope for. It continues to be the kind of relationship I never dreamed was possible and I am blessed!
Also out of this difficult experience came another blessing. As you know, John's oldest daughter was none too happy about my presence in her father's life. She and I got to spend a lot of time together at the hospital this week, talking and sharing, and she also witnessed how much John and I love each other and care for each other. By the time she left we had reached a very comfortable level of communication and understanding, and I am so thankful for that.
One more short note before I close and we head out to the store for a few groceries. Emily, our adopted cat, is AWESOME! From the first day I picked her up, she has been nothing but sweet, gentle, social, and totally in love with John! I will post pictures of her soon - she is soft and beautiful! We couldn't be happier with her and apparently she feels the same way.
Oh, and I used the VISA gift card I received toward the purchase of a laptop, something I have wanted for a long time! Now John and I sit happily side by side on the reclining sofa, watching TV and playing on our respective laptops with email and such. Life is good, life is VERY GOOD!
Once again comes the reminder to never take one day of your life or relationships for granted. We never know from one moment to the next how long we will have each other. If you love someone, tell them... show them... now!