When the Heart Fails

Our family is no stranger to health challenges. For a barely three-year-old married couple, our health bouts can rival that of an old couple. From a complex pregnancy to our baby’s operation to his asthma attacks to my pneumonia confinement, these health hurdles had been nothing but a testament to God’s faithfulness and deliverance. By now, we should’ve figured out how God works. Then again, nothing can prepare you for what life throws at you.

Family love :)

Family love 🙂

A month ago, I experienced terrible chest pains. Being a patient with a high threshold for pain, I endured it for more than a week without saying a word. God was gracious to heal me but was also firm in convicting me to confess this to my husband Omar. One night, I told him everything and apologized for not telling it to him sooner. My husband felt sad and terrified because I could’ve had a heart attack during my silence. I felt worse because that was a stupid decision not to tell my husband what I was experiencing.

We then decided to see a cardiologist. We were given requests for an ECG and a chest x-ray. By then, the chest pains were gone. I saw my rheumatologist for a check up and was given an A for my good health. We were rejoicing and praising God for this news because it meant that my Lupus is inactive and being steroid-free is working for me!

A couple of weeks after, I started to notice the frequency of my shortness of breath. My palpitations were becoming more evident and small activities wore me down easily. We decided to have lab tests done—C3 to check Lupus activity, CBC, ECG, and chest x-ray. We had these done on a Monday. It’s important that I relate how that week unfolded for us.

On Wednesday, I had work and a presentation to deliver. During my presentation, I found myself catching my breath between sentences. Thankfully, I was able to finish it smoothly but I was so tired after. I was still at work when my husband sent me a text message saying that the results were out already. I checked it online and texted it to my Lupus doctor. She replied saying that it was okay no need to bring back the steroids but she added that I should see a cardio for the “septal wall ischemia” result of my ECG.

Being Google-dependent, I searched for the meaning of that phrase and found out that it meant that my heart was not getting enough oxygen. The next day, we went to the cardio my mom and sister recommended. He told us that it was not only “septal wall ischemia” but “anteroseptal wall ischemia,” meaning it was not only a wall but my entire heart is not getting enough oxygen. Simply put, it was bad news. He added that it was a precursor to a heart attack and I was given an emergency medicine to take if ever I experienced severe chest pain.

I was not given any medicine until I had undergone a battery of tests, which were all ordered to be done immediately. We had the 2D Echo done on Friday and the treadmill stress test on Saturday. I was scheduled to see my cardio again by Monday. With simply the emergency medicine in my wallet, I was like a walking time bomb. My husband couldn’t leave my side. When he had to go to the clinic to have my name listed, he had to lend the spare keys of our house to our neighbor in case I had a heart attack or extreme chest pain and I needed to be brought to the ER while he was away.

My boys :)

My boys 🙂

In our minds my heart was failing by the minute. Spiritually, our hearts were close to failing, too. It was a gruelling week full of unanswered questions and anxious waiting. One afternoon, my husband and I had a heart-to-heart talk (literally and figuratively) and we poured out all our fears. It broke my heart to hear how difficult it would be for the two of them if I’m gone. How hard it would be to explain to a two-year-old why mommy can’t be there when he cries out for her. How hard it would be for my husband to raise a toddler alone.

We surrendered all our fears and worries to the God whose heart never fails. One of the most important things we’ve learned from our past experiences is that our God has a steady loving heart that never falters. If there is one thing constant about God, it is HIS LOVE. His love for us moved Him to heal and deliver our family time and time again. This new ordeal is no different. We knew in our frail and failing hearts that we can only count on Him who loves us unconditionally.

My little angel :)

My little angel 🙂

We embraced the situation knowing that God already had the answers and He is in full control of our lives. I had peace knowing that our God is unchanging. The same God who has sustained me for 15 years with Lupus is the same God who will sustain me with this lifetime Ischemia. If 15 years is not enough as proof of His faithfulness then I don’t know what is. We went to the doctor confident in the fact that our God has already prepared the way before us.

Upon seeing my cardio, we were given the best news we could ever ask for. My 2D Echo was normal indicating no sign of Lupus activity in the heart. My stress test was normal, too! Yes, I still have Ischemia. It is a heart injury that does not heal. But God in His grace and mercy made it a non-threatening one. I was given maintenance medicine to address my palpitations and shortness of breath. This medicine will open the blood vessels in my heart and allow more oxygen to flow. The blocks are still there but they are manageable.

CrossHeart1

We let out the most audible sigh of relief upon hearing the results. We rejoiced and thanked God for His goodness and faithfulness. We knew that although we were concerned with my physical heart, God was more concerned with our spiritual hearts. He held our fragile hearts and enveloped it with his peace, assuring us all the time that He is sovereign. God did not allow our hearts to fail, He strengthened it even more. We are still in awe at how God delivered us from this ordeal.

I am grateful to God whose love knows no bounds. 🙂 I am grateful to my husband who supported me all throughout this trial. Being married to him is a daily expression of God’s grace and unfailing love. This experience brought us closer together and it made me fall in love with him even more. 🙂 I am grateful to my little boy who makes me laugh in the midst of pain. I am grateful to our family and friends who partnered with us in prayer. Above all, I am grateful to be alive. In those moments of waiting, God made me realize that He truly holds our lives in His hand and it is the best place to be in. 🙂

God'shand

That week, God comforted me through His Word in Psalm 16:

Psalm 16

Keep me safe, my God,
for in you I take refuge.

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing.”
I say of the holy people who are in the land,
“They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods
or take up their names on my lips.

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

ALL GLORY AND PRAISE TO OUR GOD WHOSE LOVE FOR US NEVER FAILS AND WHOSE MERCIES ARE INDEED NEW EVERY MORNING. 🙂