A Second Chance
Dec 4, 2022 | by The Fellowship
The chain of events that led to the discovery of my potentially fatal condition was nothing short of a miracle and God’s divine intervention in my life! Because of my family history of heart problems, I had been promising my wife for years to see a cardiologist. Being a somewhat fit and healthy 40-year-old guy, it was not high on my priority list. So I kept putting it off.
In August, my nephew’s swim coach dropped dead in her home at 40 years old. As far as anyone knew, she was a healthy, fit person. The doctors suspected that a ruptured aneurysm (outward bulge in a weakened blood vessel) had killed her. This event motivated my twin brother’s wife to make him get a check-up at a primary care doctor, something he had not done in years. He told the PCP about our family’s history of heart problems, and she not only made a referral to a cardiologist, but also took an EKG in her office – which was abnormal, indicating an enlarged left ventricle.
With this news, my sister-in-law called my wife to insist that I see a doctor, too. In fact, since we are identical twin brothers, if he has a heart issue -- then I surely have one also! My wife made an appointment for me with the first available cardiologist she could find in our area.
At that appointment on September 28th, an EKG and echocardiogram were done. I was not expecting to hear any bad news because at a June visit with my primary care physician, my blood pressure, cholesterol, and other vitals were all normal. Also, I was not experiencing any heart issue symptoms like dizziness, shortness of breath, and fainting or falling. Expecting to get a clean bill of health or possibly being told to clean up my diet … to my shock, the cardiologist told me I needed to go to the emergency room!
My response was, “Wait, Doc, you want me to go right now?” I could not process what I was hearing. Basically, my aortic valve is bicuspid, which means there are only two flaps when there should be three. This can create one of three problems: a restriction of blood flow, a leakage of blood flow, or an aneurysm. I had an aneurysm just above the valve, and it was a very dangerous size likely to rupture!
This cardiologist referred me to a specific thoracic surgeon at Methodist Hospital in the Medical Center, one with whom he had a 40-year close working relationship. Little did I know that the thoracic surgeon is one of the world’s best who has operated on Barbra Bush, Mikhail Gorbachev, the Sheik of Iran, the King of Belgium, and other notable figures. In fact, he developed the very procedure that I was going to receive. Only the Lord could have orchestrated the events that led us to this man!
Despite a long waiting list of patients, because of the referral from my Katy cardiologist, he saw me the next morning. The CT scan confirmed the size of my aneurysm, and surgery was scheduled for the following morning.
The lengthy procedure, which involved cracking open my chest, was a success! However, two weeks after the surgery I still had a large amount of fluid around my heart. Another surgery was necessary to drain that fluid. By God’s grace this final surgery was also a success, and I have not had any issues since! All that remains is to regain my physical strength, which will come in time.
Every single step in this journey was God’s plan. He identified and fixed a problem unknown to me. To be completely vulnerable and honest, I have been battling feelings of weakness, cowardice, and unworthiness my whole life. Only recently, in my journey to reconnect with Christ, have I realized that these thoughts or “beliefs” are lies from the enemy. It is taking a lot to unlearn these false beliefs, to develop new ways of thinking about myself that are true. The truth is: I am who God says I am -- and nothing else!
This dramatic, disruptive, intense, and very overwhelming episode where God clearly saved me was for a purpose that will benefit others. God obviously wanted to make it crystal clear that I am important … I matter … I am not weak … I am not a coward … I am not worthless. Though just an ordinary man, I am important enough that God would save my life so that I can fulfill the purpose He has for me. He is the God of second chances, and my deepest desire is to serve Him all the days of my life.
… O great and powerful God, whose name is the Lord Almighty,
great are your purposes and mighty are your deeds…