I was surprised. I should not have been sweating over such a small job, but I ignored the warning signs.
The next day was a busy Sunday. I worked hard and thought that was the reason I was tired. But Monday exposed the real problem.
Monday about 8:30 p.m. (I remember the day and the hour well) I began to experience pain in my back under my left shoulder blade. My jaw on the left side began to go numb; my left arm began to lose feeling.
My wife called 911. The emergency team showed up within five minutes. I was sitting on the steps waiting for them. They gave me a bunch of pills, told me I was having a heart attack and we took a ride in the ambulance.
At this point I experienced a real disappointment. I have taken two rides in ambulances in my life and I have on both occasions wanted to experience the speed, the siren, the red lights and going through busy intersections. I remember nothing about either ride. I guess we can’t have everything.
We got to the emergency room. They again explained I was having a heart attack and added that I had a plugged artery in one of the worst places possible.
In fact, they said, “We call this the Widow Maker. If you had come in even an hour later you would have been in really bad trouble.”
They put in a stent and I spent five days in ICU. Thankfully, I have fully recovered.
While I was recovering, and when doctors were explaining what I would have to do to ensure this did not happen again, I began to understand more fully what the Bible means when it says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23).
There is a powerful correlation between the physical heart and our spiritual “heart.”
I was reminded how powerful attitude is. After my heart attack, professionals reminded me that I now had the wonderful opportunity to exercise harder and more often than before; that I had the opportunity to eat more vegetables and more lettuce; that I had the opportunity to give up pop and candy and red meat; that I had the opportunity to see a doctor more often. Wow, what a life!
Likewise, right attitudes powerfully affect my spiritual life. The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy, and I have the opportunity to love God, to love my family and practice forgiveness.
I was reminded how necessary self-discipline is. Sugar and fat and ice cream taste great, but, in the long run, they make the body more sluggish and they fill the arteries with fat cells. So, now I get to practice healthy living.
Likewise, anger and asserting personal rights and getting even with those we think have mistreated us are temporarily satisfying, but they turn us into damaged, hateful people.
I was reminded how wonderful life is. My wife and most of my kids showed up at the emergency room. One of them led a prayer. It was a moment to remember and appreciate. But better yet was what happened afterward while I was waiting, and before my surgery.
One of the nurses in emergency came to my room and told me she had noticed that the whole atmosphere earlier was different than what she normally experienced.
She said, “I think it was a God thing.”
Life is wonderful, not just because of family and friends, but because God is present to hold us in the good times and the bad. That makes for wonderful living.