“God is still on the throne and prayer changes things.”–Virginia Brandt Berg, The Promises of God Are Streams That Never Run Dry
On Friday morning of April 10, 2015, I went to my doctor at a local GP clinic because I was experiencing some chest pains. I had had them for a few days but because I have recurrent gastric reflux, and had experienced this sort of thing before, I was not too worried. However, I had some pain on my left side, which was new, so I thought, to be safe, I should get myself in there to get checked out. (In fact, I had planned another meeting a few hours after my visit to the GP clinic, and was not expecting anything out of the ordinary.)
The doctor sent me down to their nurse, who did an ECG scan. I expected this as routine for someone presenting with chest pains. Then I went back to and waited at the doctor’s door. When he was ready he called me in and he said that I have had a heart attack. He said the ECG scan shows that I have had a Myocardial Infarction (heart attack) in the past. It could have been just recently, and I should get down to an ER hospital as soon as possible.
He called an ambulance and as they drove me down to the local hospital the paramedic was monitoring me, with an attitude that my life was in danger. That did not make me feel too at ease. Hence my blood pressure read very high also…. 180/90. That didn’t help.
My life flashed before my eyes. I thought have I done all I can for the Lord’s work. What if I died, was everything in order? Many questions and thoughts shot through my mind. I had been to hospital before with symptoms that appeared like Ischemia, which is a restriction in blood supply to heart tissues causing chest pains. On the last occasion, in 2010, though they did ECG scans and nothing untoward was seen, I was given an angiogram, which showed there were blockages in some very small cardiac blood vessels, yet I was cleared.
On arrival at the ER I was rushed through and hooked up to the usual cardiac monitor and put on a drip with blood thinning and vessel dilating drugs. I arrived by noon and spent the rest of Friday until 8 pm in the ER. My blood pressure was very high when I first arrived, which added to my anxiety. Which probably added to my blood pressure!
I asked several times while in the ER what my ECG scans looked like and how they compared to the one done at the GP clinic but I only got answers like “They are changing” or “We don’t understand them”. Yet they used words around me like “acute cardiac arrest” etc. What was I to think?
My thoughts raced as my life again swept through my mind. I called my wife on my cell phone and told her I had had a heart attack, and that she should not worry, that I was in good hands. I informed my boss at the university and a few friends, especially the one with whom I had made an appointment. Friends came to visit me in the ER, with concern, but also encouragement that there was still a lot of living to do. I certainly thought about how I might improve my health etc should I get out of there.
Before being moved to the cardiac care unit upstairs, that evening, the cardiac doctor from the ER, came to me and said my ECG scans are “fluctuating” and I had probably done some damage to my heart. He said that they were having trouble isolating it, and I might be someone with only blockages in the small radiating blood vessels. He listened to my heart with his stethoscope and said he could hear a heart murmur. He explained this occurs when a valve was not working properly. That only increased my anxiety.
They moved me to the cardiac ward and had me on several drugs, blood thinning heparin and blood vessel dilating glyceryl trinitrate (GTN) by infusion, overnight with continuous heart monitoring.
I prayed to God, early in that morning, that whatever damage was done to my heart that He undoes it. I was very specific because God is not limited and can do anything. He healed the blind man, raised Lazarus, He could heal me. And people were praying for me.
Now here is the amazing part of my story. The next morning, the consultant cardiologist came to see me. He is a cardiac professor at my university and had many questions but then showed me the ECG charts. The one recorded in the GP clinic clearly showed evidence of a heart attack but all the three scans recorded after, taken in the ER, showed nothing, only a normal heart. The professor said he was fairly certain the nurse in the GP clinic had the wiring the wrong way round when she attached two of the ECG scanner leads to my chest and legs. I was stunned …but relieved.
So, I suggested that they do the same experiment. They swapped the leads on me right then and on swapping one on my chest with one on a leg the resulting scan looked exactly like the ECG scan from the GP clinic.
The professor thanked me for the suggestion, and said that he would use this incident and these scan in his teaching young doctors.
Those scans are constructed using a technique involving the matrix inversion of vectors so the inverted result makes sense. The original scan was technically wrong but of course this highlights a problem of not definitively being able to know that (we can’t go back in time and see for sure) so the consultant ordered a few more tests, just to be sure.
I asked him about what the young ER cardiac doctor had said saying he had heard a heart murmur. The consultant said, “They are the most junior cardiac doctors,” meaning in the ER.
God certainly answered my prayer. I had been told by several doctors (at least 3) I had had a heart attack but God changed all that! Was it a miracle? Or just a mistake? God can undo anything. He can engineer circumstances to His glory regardless of the agents. Nevertheless I take it as an answer to prayer.
The cardiac unit kept me on blood thinning and blood vessel dilating drugs over the weekend. They did several blood tests and found no evidence of troponins, indicating no heart attack. And my blood pressure returned to normal.
Finally, on Monday, before being released, I did a cardiac stress test and they scanned my heart using nuclear medicine (metastable Technetium, 99mTc, sestamibi scan) finding it was not damaged. That test is 95% definitive.
That was not my number one plan for that weekend. But I thank God I am still here, I have a healthy heart and I can continue to serve Him, my family, colleagues and friends. Hallelujah! Thank you Jesus!
Matthew 19:26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
19th April 2015 update: I spent some time with my GP doctor this morning. He is a top doctor and he said that he does not believe the nurse at his clinic made a mistake with my first ECG scan (that started all this). She is extremely experienced he said. He was not there that day though. He had them do new ECG scans today and they showed an irregular heart beat, but nothing like the original scan. Occasionally my heart beats too soon. So he has ordered a heart monitor that I will wear for 24 hours and then have it analysed by a cardiac specialist. To be safe he has me on a blood thinning drug, that I need to take until it is sorted out what is wrong with me. Keep praying for me.
20th April 2015 update: Now back from another night in the ER. They found I have Supraventricular Bigeminy, which apparently is not uncommon, and poses no risk. They said the Technetium (99mTc) sestamibi scan they did of my heart last Monday showed no evidence of damage to my heart muscle, yet, as I wrote above, my GP doctor said the nurse did not make a mistake on the first ECG scan, therefore this is looking more and more like a miracle. God is keeping me in His hand. Praise Him! TYJ!
24 April 2015 update: Wednesday 22nd April I went back to the ER because of chest pains, cold sweats, nausea etc but it had passed by the time I got in there. Nevertheless they held me in overnight. They told me they are interested in my case and that they are starting to look further afield for the cause of my symptoms. I seem to be having these on an almost daily basis now. But I was released the next day with follow-up of an echo-cardiogram and an outpatient visit with the cardiologist I saw in hospital. That is in a few weeks.
One young doctor, an intern, hence the youngest on the team cardiology team in the hospital, suggested to me that my symptoms are ‘textbook’ for pheochromocytoma, which affects the adrenal system in the body. It is very rare but they are testing for that too. But they recognise now that I do have an ectopic heatbeat, but said I should not be concerned about it. So the plot thickens and yet I believe this all may lead to a diagnosis. The young doctor who suggested this pheochromocytoma said if it does turn out to be that, it would make his career, as he would write a paper about it and he thanked me for presenting there. Ha! Daily I have to battle against annoying symptoms now like nausea and dizziness. I keep claiming God’s promises and telling myself that He is keeping me in His hands.
1 May 2015 update: This week I had a CT scan for tumors on my kidneys, looking for evidence of pheochromocytoma, which was my hope, as it is operable and I could be fixed. But the news is the scans showed no tumors. Also we got the results of the 24-hour heart monitor that I wore a week or so back. That showed 4 instances of tachycardia but not too elevated. These were are times I felt unwell during that day, so it proves a connection, but the cause is still unknown. In another 10 days I will have an echocardiogram looking at the structure of the walls in my heart. The search continues. But I am still alive and thank God for each day, day by day.
13 May 2015 update: Two days ago I had a echo-cardiogram (ultrasound of my heart) and today I visited a cardiologist who told me that it showed only that my heart was healthy and functioning normally. All other tests have failed to detect anything. I am happy about that. But I imagined that this might be the outcome. So….from here out, I must walk by faith, not trusting in the arm of the flesh but in the Living God.