This was my view on Wednesday morning:
I’ve never ridden in an ambulance before.
Certainly didn’t plan for the trip when I drove to work Wednesday. If I’d had any inclination I’d end up on a stretcher in an ER, I wouldn’t have worn a dress.
I started feeling heavy pressure on my chest Tuesday. I shrugged it off. But Wednesday morning, it persisted. Because I was struggling to take deep breaths, I walked over to the company clinic just to get checked out.
When your BP is high and you feel like you have an elephant on your chest, campus medical calls an ambulance so you can get your cardiac enzymes tested at the hospital.
Hence my first ambulance ride.
Between 10:30 morning Wednesday morning and Friday, I’ve been a wreck.
First of all, having an unexpected trip to the hospital to make sure you’re not having a heart attack really throws your week for a loop.
Then all the other layers added knots.
I had some terribly painful abdominal cramps a couple of weeks ago that left me doubled over at the office. I ended up at the doctor’s office and improved, but given the timing right before my cycle, then the pain subsiding, the doctor thought it was a small cyst rupture. The ultrasound the next morning was clear so I didn’t worry.
But with the timing of this pain and that event, coupled with an elevated blood clot test result at the hospital, they ran a CT scan to rule out pulmonary embolism and aortic dissection. Those are fun words.
My boss immediately followed the ambulance to the hospital and sat with me until my husband flew over from his work site. He was there to process the test results with me. The results showed healthy cardiac enzymes and a clear CT scan, so they released me to follow up with the cardiologist and my primary doc the next day.
But the chest pressure remained and I felt increasingly nauseous.
Bray took me to pick up my car at work and followed me home. As I listened to the radio, KSBJ played snippets from Billy Graham’s sermons interspersed with music as a tribute to him going home to Jesus that morning. Natalie Grant’s King of the World came on the radio and the tears flowed.
When did I forget that you’ve always been king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world
How could I make you so small
When you’re the one that holds it all
When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world?
I had just written on Tuesday about my false freedom from fear. Heck, I wrote the tips from Fierce Faith I was going to try and implement to keep me from spiraling.
But then, with my health up in the air, I spiraled.
I marshaled the troops. My amazing pastors were praying. My prayer warrior friends were praying. And I stayed the heck off social media and Dr. Google because we all know that can go sideways fast.
Thursday I woke up without any change in the chest pressure and unable to eat because of my stomach. Miraculously, the cardiologist fit me in at 10:30 and my primary doc at noon. Usually, a complete impossibility.
The verdict: costochondritis. An inflammation of my ribcage where it connects to the breastbone. The cardiologist thought the nausea was anxiety. My primary doc thought it was probably a result of overworking my abs with my new workout routine. My abs were very tender to the touch.
What brought on the costochondritis? Probably a perfect storm having the flu earlier, having this weird blood antigen (I’ve battled related issues since high school), and my new high intensity work outs (that will teach you to get healthy!).
Here’s the thing, even with a great verdict (small issue, would resolve, nothing life threatening, etc.), I stayed out of sorts.
I worried something had been missed.
What if the nausea and headache which were probably just stress were actually something else that got overlooked?
Why was my neck stiff?
On and on.
I had JUST written about working myself into knots over my kids, but this time I’d come unglued over my own health.
At the beginning of last year, my cardiac symptoms turned out to be a gallbladder packed full of gallstones. As soon as they took that puppy out, presto: Good as New!
I didn’t have any lingering worries.
But this, it shook me more.
I called my best friend and told her I felt like I was losing my mind. Which symptoms were related to the physical illness and which were being brought on from anxiety?
In that frame of mind, I laid on the floor of my living room while my prayer warrior girlfriend spent an hour in prayer with me over the phone.
During the prayer session, she asked What lies are you believing about God?
I asked Him. What shook me was hearing this in my head: He is distant.
Now if you had asked me any given day, and twice on Sundays, I would NEVER have told you God is distant. I would have quoted all the verses about Him standing with us and fighting for us. But somewhere, after the wear and tear of the past two years, I’d started believing He had stopped paying attention to us, to me.
Then she asked me, What is the truth?
I laid there, asking Him, what’s the truth, and instantly heard these words: I am right here in the middle of it.
I knew it in my head.
But I wasn’t believing it in my heart.
And He kept speaking it over me even though the symptoms didn’t go away.
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday…
I saw on Facebook a friend of mine was attending Radiant Conference. I went on line to see what it was and saw this:
P31 has a daily devotional I sought out on Thursday which spoke this truth:
A college friend of mine who I haven’t talked to in ages felt compelled to send me a blog post about how we are not hopeless when we feel helpless:
I got in the car in the thick of some pretty severe pain and heard this unbelievable new song called Reckless Love (before I spoke a word, you were singing over me…):
As my prayer warrior friend said during our prayer: God, you are not our life raft, you are the ocean.
I’d spent the week feeling like I was drowning. But He’s the ocean. And I’m finding, hour by hour, that if I am right there next to Him, praying and praising and meditating, I can move forward. It’s when I take even two steps away I’m locked back up in fear over what’s next.
He is so good. Not “even” in these hard weeks, but oh so “especially” in these hard weeks.
I’m not physically better yet. My chest feels heavy and my head hurts and I’ve lost my appetite but He’s here and He’s sent an army to walk with me – husband, kids, family, friends, work, church, school…