One of my closest friends is someone I met on the Internet in a Christian chat room. In 2004, about the same time I started blogging, Joanna opened her home to me for a week and gave me the grand tour of Washington, DC. It was one of the best vacations I've ever had. My only regret has been that Cliff didn't get to see all the monuments and famous places with me, because he would have loved it. I'm seriously thinking about saving my pennies and getting enough cash in reserve for me and Cliff to take one of those chartered bus trips to Washington, DC, next spring. But I digress.
In April, I believe, of 2006, Joanna came here for a visit. Here we are back at the cabin (which has been moved and made into a chicken house now).
It was during that visit I mentioned to her Cliff was having indigestion every time we went for our walk. Joanna told me her brother-in-law once had such symptoms, and when he finally went to the doctor they had him go straight to the hospital because he was having heart pains, not indigestion. She urged me to get Cliff to the doctor, so I made an appointment the day after she left for home.
Our family doctor checked him out and made him an appointment with a cardiologist, just to be safe. A nuclear stress test showed that there was a problem; Dr. Nager insisted Cliff go straight to the hospital from his office (in an ambulance because he said, "I don't think you should be driving").
Keep in mind we had been running here, there, and everywhere on our pretty blue Honda Gold Wing. What if he'd had a heart attack while we were on the motorcycle? Just one of many close calls we never know about until after the fact.
Cliff had never been in a hospital in his life, and here he was about to have major surgery.
Cliff would have gone home on the third day, but after having a collapsed lung his stay was extended one more day.
I've blogged about all this before, but it's on my mind today and I am reminded how fortunate it was that Joanna came to visit that April.
Cliff has had some wheezing and chest congestion off and on for over a year. We went to the family doctor about this last winter; the wheezing got better, but never went away entirely. He's due for a visit to the cardiologist anyhow, and when I mentioned the congestion to the nurse there, she said he definitely needs to be seen. So he has an appointment for December 5. I recall when Dr. Nager released him after surgery, he made the statement, "You'll probably need some repair work eight or ten years from now."
Well, it's been ten years. The doctor will no doubt mention his weight gain, but honestly, the man has tried every way to find some form of exercise he can do without pain, and there's nothing. He tried the exercise bike, which makes his knees hurt. He recently started going for a daily walk in the pasture again, taking it pretty easy and staying off the hills, but after a few days his knee was popping and hurting so badly he was lucky to be able to walk to the shop for awhile; my husband is not a baby when it comes to pain, so if he says it hurts, believe me it does. The truth is, he could use a knee replacement AND a hip replacement, but so far he doesn't feel it's worth the risk.
We'll see how this all turns out. I'm not worried. Cliff doesn't seem too worried. Who knows, the congestion may not have anything to do with his heart: He may have COPD.
This all started as a tribute to my friend Joanna but all I've done is go down memory lane about my husband's surgery ten years ago. Joanna, I love you and am so glad to have you for a friend. God brought us together in that chat room, then used our friendship to diagnose Cliff's problem and has kept us friends ever since. I know you don't take a lot of credit for his recovery. He was taking his life in his hands every day, because when we'd walk up the steepest hill in the pasture, he was having chest pain. He could have dropped dead from a heart attack at any moment. God uses friends for things like this all the time, if we just listen to them with our hearts as well as our ears.
I want to close this entry with a link that explains the various symptoms of congestive heart failure. This isn't the same list I showed Cliff yesterday: After looking at that list, he said, "I have all but two of those symptoms." I couldn't find that link again, but this one will do.