Thursday, April 16, 2009

Who Can Understand the Hand of God?

For some of you, this is a bit of a review. Humor me. There really is a point to boring you by repeating the story... :)

So, two weeks ago, we started down this lovely cardiac journey. I have this harrowing experience at the gym, I undergo every cardiac test in the book except a heart cath, and then the good doc sends me home two days later with no explanation as to why it happened. Five days later, it happens all over asthma attack causes me to cough really hard, I get dizzy and almost pass out, have classic signs of a heart attack, and my oxygen saturation is low enough that I should be unconscious. But this time, on my tour of statewide ER's, I am told I am having a panic attack. Really. Only this time I am totally fed up and I actually tell the ER doctor that he is wrong and that I am so not taking his anxiety medication. Btw, this really is not the way to make friends with your ER doctor. So, he simply discharges me and allows me to walk out of his ER with no assistance, and holding the wall with one hand because I am still dizzy.

So, the pulmonologist actually puts the picture together and realizss that the hole in my heart is the issue. He gives me "industrial strength" asthma medication and sends me to the head of cardiothoracic surgery at the local hospital. Only, this guy is not available, so he makes an appointment with his associate because he doesn't want me to wait any longer than necessary. The associate is new and no one knows anything about him.

In the meantime, while waiting for this appointment, I call Shirley, a lovely woman in my church who works in the cardiac clinic at MCV. She chats with a doctor who says, "You don't want to do this in Fredericksburg." Miraculously (this is where it gets good...) they have four cancellations the next morning. This apparently never happens... Shirley tells me this as she is making me an appointment for the next day, and says, "This is a God thing. This never happens!"

So, the next morning we meet Dr. Hess. What a riot! He actually reads through all the information, then walks in and says, "Tell me what happened." I give him the story, including what the doctors said, and his chin falls open and he shakes his head, and says, "Would someone find this woman a doctor?" Ah, I like this guy! Not only does the man have a sense of humor, but he is an amazing diagnostician. Oh, and he reads the chart! And listens to his patient! They just don't make 'em like this anymore!

So, as we chat, he sets me up with a new echo (they didn't measure the pulmonary pressures in your echo in the hospital???), and he schedules me for a heart cath on Monday. ("They did everything BUT the heart cath, which would have been the test you really needed!") This way, when we meet Dr Kasirajan on Wednesday, all of the tests will be complete and Dr Kasirajan can perform his magic...

Btw, Dr Kasirajan is the top artificial heart transplant doctor in the country. He was at Cleveland Heart Institute for ten years...which btw, is the top heart hospital in the country! He is the top heart surgeon in the state of Virginia.

So why is this all so cool? Well, let's review. First, I have a full set of cardiac tests, but no diagnosis. After a second event, I have a wrong diagnosis, but a confirmation of the symptoms. I have new asthma meds that might actually control my uncontrolled asthma. And the coolest part of all? If any of the other doctors had made the diagnosis, I might not be meeting the best surgeon in the state of Virginia. Someone else might have already done this surgery. But the coolest part of all? There is a non-invasive surgery that actually repairs the heart without a device...they actually sew the hole shut...without open heart surgery. And guess who can perform this surgery? Yep, Dr Kasirajan!

Dr. Hess was concerned about putting in the clamshell device because of my running. He was concerned that the long-term studies don't reveal its efficacy when under that kind of pressure. So, the only other option I would have had is open heart surgery. By the non-diagnosis and the wrong diagnosis and then four miraculous cancellations, I met with an amazing cardiologist who will have everything done for Dr Kasirajan, and I end up with the top cardiac surgeon performing the better surgery with the least recovery time. Now tell me. Is this a God thing or what?

Over the last two years, our family has really been hard hit. The medical issues alone have been staggering. While I truly believe in God's sovereignty, I was really beginning to wonder what in the world He was thinking. So, in this instance, while I was totally frustrated with the doctors and wondering when the next episode was going to hit, the Lord was paving the way for me to have a much better physician for the repair. If this had been diagnosed at the other hospitals, the likelihood is that the surgery would have been performed already...and it wouldn't have been the surgery that would have been best. Isn't that amazing? It must be a "God thing." :)

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