God sees. God knows. God hears.
A saying that my dear friend Brenda has reminded me of time and time again. Six words filled with such promise, love, and comfort. Six words that felt we were hanging on by a thread to, when we thought things could not get worse.
It was about 11:00pm on Thursday, November 2, and I had just blown another A-line, which was a large IV inserted into an artery. The nurse was busy during the ultrasound to find a good artery, when two PAs walked in. I quickly said “good news, right?” Their somber faces should’ve been a clue.
“No Kristin, this is not good news.”
My broken heart, sunk. Again. I could not take one more blow. I could not take one more test. Please tell me it was just something minor. It was far from that.
My life was now on the line.
A recent test had proved that my heart was not getting blood to my vital organs like my kidneys and liver, which could cause permanent damage, if not taken care of in the next few hours. Those words flew right by my ears. It was too surreal. I thought my situation was already critical. God, why?
They were going to increase a medication in hopes of seeing improvement, but for the past 6 hours, there was no improvement. If in the next 2 hours, the numbers did not rise, they were going to have to open up my chest and insert a bypass pump around the valve and then have me sedated with my chest cavity open until my heart stabilized. When my heart was healthy enough, then they would perform the open heart surgery.
I didn’t know how to ask this question because I’ve never had to – but I finally got the words out: “Is this a life and death situation?” They said no, I would be fine if this procedure was done, but if something wasn’t done, yes it would turn into that type of a situation.
You just never imagine it being YOU. You never imagine having this conversation with someone. The PAs were so gracious and so willing to answer any and every question I had. They said I should call Dan and at that moment, I knew it was very serious. How do I tell Dan? I asked the PAs if they would be willing to talk to Dan instead after he came. It was already a long night so Dan had just headed to bed when I called him. I told him that he should come to my room immediately because something happened. Thankfully he was just at the Med Inn, which was the hotel on the hospital campus, so he was there within minutes. He arrived and I told him to go find James, the PA we had been working with. After he came back, we just wept. Our tears just couldn’t stop. How much more God? How much more could we take?
Dan, knowing himself, knew he could not see me with that bypass and sedated for days on end. How was he to look at his wife, lifeless? For days? I told him that if this is what was to happen, to please not come and see me. I wouldn’t know the difference and he needed to protect his mind and heart. I knew he loved me, but we had finally reached our boundary. Again, how could things get any worse?
Dan texted a few of our Minnesota friends who we knew would still be up, thanks to the one hour time difference and a few Michigan friends as well, asking them to pray. Tears fell non-stop as Dan and I fervently prayed for God to take this burden from us and heal my heart.
Pastor Steve from Minnesota had told us to read Psalm 77:1-15 from the Message. Talk about getting hit right between the eyes. These verses were an extension of our heart and gave us immense comfort:
Psalm 77:1-15 The Message (MSG)
1 I yell out to my God, I yell with all my might,
I yell at the top of my lungs. He listens.
2-6 I found myself in trouble and went looking for my Lord;
my life was an open wound that wouldn’t heal.
When friends said, “Everything will turn out all right,”
I didn’t believe a word they said.
I remember God—and shake my head.
I bow my head—then wring my hands.
I’m awake all night—not a wink of sleep;
I can’t even say what’s bothering me.
I go over the days one by one,
I ponder the years gone by.
I strum my lute all through the night,
wondering how to get my life together.
7-10 Will the Lord walk off and leave us for good?
Will he never smile again?
Is his love worn threadbare?
Has his salvation promise burned out?
Has God forgotten his manners?
Has he angrily stalked off and left us?
“Just my luck,” I said. “The High God goes out of business
just the moment I need him.”
11-12 Once again I’ll go over what God has done,
lay out on the table the ancient wonders;
I’ll ponder all the things you’ve accomplished,
and give a long, loving look at your acts.
13-15 O God! Your way is holy!
No god is great like God!
You’re the God who makes things happen;
you showed everyone what you can do—
You pulled your people out of the worst kind of trouble,
rescued the children of Jacob and Joseph.
Well, the meds started working in the 1st half hour which got our hopes up, but then slowed down after that. We knew that the lower numbers from the tests, meant they would have to go ahead with the procedure to insert this bypass pump. We knew it was inevitable. Within hours, I would be going under the knife to be opened up and have this bypass pump put in. I kept looking at Dan, thinking just a few more hours and our lives would once again, never be the same.
After those two hours went by, every footstep we heard in the hallway, we felt for sure it was the doctor coming in to prep Kristin for the bypass pump. Though, we were still filled with a peace that passes all understanding. We knew that we had to do whatever it took for her to get better.
Well, 3 hours later the doctor finally came in and said they were comfortable with where things were at and decided not to open her up, but may have to revisit that option in the morning. Dan told the doctor that we believed in a sovereign God who was in control, and for them to do what they had to do.
We both slept so incredibly well those next few hours, knowing those hours were such a gift!
That morning, I was in and out of sleep due to vitals and nurse visits, but the one that was the most crucial in my mind, was the PA that came in and told me I could eat and drink. I had not had anything to drink or eat since Tuesday morning and it was now Friday morning. I could swab my mouth with water, but that was it. After not eating or drinking for that long, weakness starts to set in, but on top of all the gruesome tests, being told I could swallow water and eat, made it feel like I won a trip to Disney World. Okay, maybe the Caribbean.
Dan woke up that morning, took a quick shower and power walked from his hotel room in the hospital to my room in the Cardiovascular ICU, not knowing what he would find. He walked in, saw me sitting up in bed eating breakfast, and noticed it was solid food. Instantly, he realized that solid food meant there was not surgery planned in the near future. Dan knelt by my bedside and wept. We just wept. So many emotions built up over the past few hours and days. We FINALLY reached the point where things were looking up.
The next few days were spent resting and getting strong enough for surgery. You’d think it would be boring, but you’d be surprised at how busy you are in the hospital! Needless to say, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday flew by. On Saturday, Dan was able to go to the Minnesota vs. Michigan football game at the Big House. One of our former youth group kids, who now lives in Grand Rapids, had an extra ticket and asked Dan if he wanted to go. He did not even have to finish his sentence before I said GO! I was stable and Dan needed to get out! We were finally at a point where there weren’t multiple tests each day and I felt okay being “alone” in the sense that nothing serious was going to happen. Of course I was under the care of the nurses and doctors, but I felt days before, with all of the setbacks, I didn’t want to be alone. But it was THE perfect timing. I would have been upset if he didn’t go! Dan actually ran back home to grab rain gear and some other things we needed because the forecast was rain. The game was delayed 1 hour, but thankfully it didn’t rain much at all after the delay!
We could rest in peace. God’s got this and we can do this!
Open heart surgery #2!
Mazy’s face just makes me laugh every time I see this picture! Hanging out with her cousins that weekend.