If you don’t ‘do’ Facebook, you might not yet have caught up with the story of the last week, so I’ll try and precis it!
Last Thursday late afternoon and evening (21 August) I felt a little bit odd – dizzy, like I was going to collapse too, even after just 4 or 5 steps. Tried to pretend’ I was ok, so sat at my desk and didn’t walk anywhere (!). Being pretty nocturnal, I was up late: at 2.30 Friday morning, I got a sudden, unbelievable pain in the centre of my chest, and the feeling that I’d got 50 tons on my chest, too. I didn’t want to panic, and think ‘heart attack’, so I sat here saying, ‘I’m not having a heart attack, I’m not having a heart attack’ quite a few times…
Being a true Brit male, I tried to pretend that THIS wasn’t happening, either! Thinking I could sleep it off, I staggered to bed: of course, didn’t sleep all night, and could barely breathe – which, when you live alone, is perhaps a little more scary than if someone else is with you….by about 7 am, I decided to text my mate, Alan, to see if he was up, my plan was to get him round to pray for me. He rang back as soon as the text arrived, a refused to come and pray until after I’d called 999… as it turned out, great wisdom on his part! Emergency had an ambulance here in about 3-4 minutes, arriving with Alan.
The paramedics ruled out a heart attack, as there weren’t enough ‘contributory’ symptoms. So, what was it…? For the first time in my life, I was in an ambulance, feeling an utter fraud in the ‘physician heal thyself’ stakes! I’m absolutely hopeless at praying for myself, still – I’d prefer to see other people healed and let friends around the world pray for me! Seems like the passion, and – the gift? – God’s given me is for others’ benefit! I’ve been blown away by the response on Facebook, emails, and … I don’t know where else, actually! – form all over the world…. when you know that thousands are praying for you in churches in places like Cali, the enemy must regret having made a move last Friday….
So, some 6-7 hours in resuscitation: endless needles, xrays, scans, people prodding, telling the same story to countless different people – interesting when you can still hardly breathe! – and I was admitted to the Ulster Hospital. The doctor who initially came to see me told me ‘You’re a very lucky man to still be alive’…. I’m not quite sure that luck had a hand, and seeing as it’s the fifth time I SHOULD have died in my little life, I’ve got a feeling that God’s been in it to a pretty great extent!
Not much sleep, still a lot of pain, but gradually as the rat poison (warfarin!) began to do its work along with some ok but very ‘stinging’ needles into my gut (Clexane) it was a pleasurable experience to be able to take a deep breath about 2 days after the previous one! I don’t think I’ve ever really thought about being ‘overly’ grateful for breathing, but I am now – so thank you, Father, for breath, full lungs (of air this time!!).
Having not been in hospital for around 40 years, it was an ‘education’ for me in so many ways – it’s amazing how much of a sense of ‘community’ builds in a little ‘bay’ of a main ward, with 5 other guys, for me the problem wasn’t relationships, it was understanding some of the accents!! At one point, too, there were only 4 of us in the 6-bed bay, and two were called John, and two Paul: I wondered about phoning up a bookie to see what the odds are of that happening!
The care was fantastic by the hospital staff: for all the ‘jibes’ about the NHS, I’d have to say that EVERYONE who saw me, from the paramedics in my home, to the lady teaching me how to stick syringes into my stomach (!) were all fantastic, AND the food was really good….It might even have had a negative effect on my weight-loss! (now 7½ stone, 47 kgs, 105 pounds 🙂 )
Though nothing showed up in lots tests (a 60 year MOT!!) in Mexico, in February, one doctor seemed to think that it was 30 years of long-haul flying. If I’m honest, I don’t think so, especially as another doctor – first up – felt my calves – as Deep Vein Thrombosis as a result of flights generally begins there, and makes them hard as a rock. He was ‘suprised’ mine were in pretty good nick! Linked in with the (possible) TIA in Colombia last month, I’m seeing it as a strategy of the enemy to try and put fear into me, coming, as I do, from a family with a pretty considerable and established history of DVT. In fact, what I had last week – pulmonary embolisms – was what killed my dad 49 years ago in September… Well, if it IS an ‘enemy’ thing, then I’m afraid he’s failed, as I see God preserving my life, for the fifth time that I’m aware of – as a chance, after some rest and – at the moment – daily visits to my GP surgery to get the warfarin balance right – to go up through the gears, and move to a few more levels in the things of the Kingdom…. that’s what God has done after all the previous attempts by the enemy to ‘take me out’…. a new lease of life, truly….
And for me, another little victory, in that when I was a child, if I had to go to hospital for a blood test, or whatever, I’d be unconscious on the floor at the sight of the needle, let alone the injection…. and here I am, gaily sticking syringes in my own stomach each evening! This is the guy who not only fainted, but was very conveniently ‘off sick’ from school (!!!) the day the nurses arrived to administer the TB jabs. It was only about 39 years later, in Mozmabique to be exact, holding babies and praying for, and hugging people WITH TB that I suddenly thought it might be a good idea (my greatest gift – hindsight!!) to HAVE my TB injection. When my then doctor did the skin test, I didn’t need, I was fully immune – he reckoned because I’d been with so much of it, I’d acquired immunity….
At the end of it all, hank you, Father, for life…for protecting mine once again, and causing me to come out of my ‘corner’ fighting….