Recovery from Severe Palpitation (Pt2): The Second Crisis
Caution: This is a long read.
“An overload of negative or stressful thoughts can create a general sense of impending doom. But when I choose to state my gratefulness to God instead of focusing on a negative feeling, I often experience the weight begin to lift.” — Brian Russell
Brian further explains that When he enters into the arena of anxiety about a possible issue, it’s as if he is going into battle alone against that issue. However, God's strength and power are available to us as we need it.
After full stability was attained from the first Crisis through the mercies of God, the doctor recommended some Lab investigations (ECG, Xray, and Echocardiogram) because there was suspected heart disease, that He thought may be responsible, so for further treatment, these investigations had to be done.
The thought of heart disease scared me so badly. Just like Brian, I too have seen God provide peace, strength, and help so many times in my life when I needed it. But His Word does not promise strength and help before we need it.
The investigation had to be done and I might be facing the news of a bad diagnosis and all of the health challenges that come along with it, but until I am actually facing it, I do not have His strength and help for this particular issue or crisis.
This means to trust that no matter what happens, He is mighty to save…when I need saving.
I went for the recommended lab investigations but I was able to perform 2 out of 3 (Xray and ECG) but echocardiogram was going to take a while because there was a long wait-list of people already booked for that test.
But in-between the time for all three of the investigation to be completed, Two results where ready. (The Xray and ECG both confirmed an optimal heart condition but with a strong recommendation for the Echocardiogram).
I was so excited because my worst fears where subdued.
I shared the exciting result with the doctor and well-wishers who prayed for me. But the Devils battle drums were rolling.
As medical best practices required, I was to discontinue all the medications for a short while to monitor my performance and I was even more excited. No more drug regiments, so I was going to be back at doing what I love in no time — work.
I got unfit for duty report from the doctor recommending rest and out of the office for a couple of days (The same period I was weaned out of my meds) but something else was written on that unfit for duty slip — you guessed right, the suspected heart disease because lab investigations were incomplete at the moment. That changed my countenance absolutely.
Suspected Heart Disease
Over the days as I evaluate different things that I get anxious or stressed out about, there is one common thread in my response to them — again like Brian, a desire to be in control. It’s as if a potentially negative outcome puts me in the driver’s seat. Nothing is going to happen without me being forewarned and prepared to face it.
The problem, however, is that trust and control do not coexist. You can have control or you can have trust, but you can’t have both.
Just like I didn’t have control over what the outcome of the Echo Test will be, I was still anxious even though I was thankful to God for the victory so far.
My days of rest was winding down and it’s Friday, July 31st, 2020 (just 9days) after the first crisis, I got up to say my morning prayers but it was different from the other days as I kept getting a leading to pray for strength for what is to come which I did in the most fervent way I could.
It was a perfect day and I enjoyed the company of my sister who spent almost the whole day video chatting with me. I shared my testimony with her and sad news of the demise of one of my favorite On-Air personalities from a popular radio station I love and when I checked the cause of death, they were symptoms similar to what I presented from the first crisis. These gave rise to my quest for control again against total trust in God to pilot my affairs.
Control presents a challenge considering that throughout scripture, God’s instruction to us is to trust Him. In fact, we often see that God’s guidance does not include the final picture nor are all the details known.
Scripture tells us that God desires our trust and dependence on Him along the way. Abraham was instructed to leave his country but not given a specific destination ahead of time.
The people of God were told to step into the raging river prior to God parting the waters. Mary and Martha were challenged to trust when Jesus instructed the stone to be removed from their dead brother’s tomb.
The Spirit leading to Pray for strength for what was to come was because I believe God wanted to deal with my control issues once and for all. Winter was coming, strong enough to send me back to the hospital's ER.
After my evening stroll on that same day, I ate dinner, had my bath, and prepped for sleep. I played a message on my phone from Dr. Schambach 1989 Camp meeting titled “ Stop Worrying”.
At 11:30 pm the message had finished playing and I was yet to fall asleep, all I remember is the abdominal discomfort was back again, this time really horrible and then the Palpitations were also back. Ahhhhh what is this again?
I was exhibiting those symptoms AGAIN and soon I called my sister to pray with me that the symptoms where resurfacing, she did and told me to just sleep-it-off and I knew the chances for sleep with pain is not attainable so I started calling on God for renewed strength again. But guess what? the devil kept reminding me of the sad news I stumbled upon. Remember the cause of death and symptoms? Yeah... Here you are again..
At 12:30 am, I was on the ground gasping breathlessly again but this time the palpitations where so painful and my guess is that it was 4x the intensity of the first crisis, the abdominal discomfort worsened. I felt like someone used a suction pump to drain all the air in my house so I went outside at 1 am to get air. The air outside seemed to have disappeared too.
It felt like someone push my self- destruct button as I was experiencing a total system malfunction from all sides. From head to toe was hurting at varying levels. I was drinking so much water because I was dehydrating so fast as a marathon runner again. I had no energy left to move. I was back to the floor in my sitting room helpless as it seemed. My phone now weighed over a 100kg ironically as I couldn’t even lift it to make a distress call.
At 2:30 am, I was able to send a distress text for prayers not to my mum but to my Pastor. He replied within minutes “God Has Taken Over your Battle. May He Perfect His Will Concerning your Life in Jesus Name, Amen”. — Three things stood out;
- Taken over- Control
- Will- Control
- Life- Control
That text reminded me that my quest for control was still within and quickly I yielded to God for total control. I didn’t want control anymore, — Jesus Take the Wheel.
My Second ER Journey:
Now it's about 3: 20 am, I was still in so much pain but I was able to lift my phone this time, so I put a call through to the hospital helpline, to my surprise, they answered immediately like they were expecting my call but sadly they had no available means to get to me at that moment, so at the same time I called my Next Door neighbor Ayo, and she pickup immediately too and came to my house only to find me on the ground, shivering in pain and cold.
She reached out quickly to other neighbors who had vehicles and they transported me to the hospital. On arrival just like the first crisis, my vitals were not so good (Blood pressure was hitting the roof, Pulse was over 160b/min) but something was different, I won’t be requiring oxygen as my SPO2 level was good regardless of how breathless I felt - That was God supplying all the Oxygen I needed to stay alive through all those hours. Oh, and my praying doctor wasn’t on duty too.
I was taken to the ER again and the same regiment was performed only that it took longer this time. It took 24hours to gain stability. That meant the pain lingered throughout this period and of course no sleeping for me.
Reflect: Evaluate your heart and motives today. How much of your stressing and worrying is an attempt to be in control? Make an attempt today to put your trust in God again.
Acts of Kindness:
Look, I leave in a country that has been portrayed to the world as an awful place. Just take a look at some of the recent stories about Nigeria and all you’ll see on the mainstream media is about violence and a broken system.
Again, it’s nice to be reminded that there are good people in this country and there are still kind people who will go any length to care for people they have no mutual relationship with.
How well do you know your neighbors? Only Enough to say hello in the morning as you hurry off to work? To come together and fix a common electricity problem? Perhaps you wouldn’t recognize them at all beyond the surface.
Most of us live surrounded by other people but still feel lonely.
What if we felt closer to those we live nearest to? If we were ready to help each other — and could spot when someone needs support? What if we all simply decided to be better neighbors? What would that look like?
Well, I’m guilty as charged. I keep to myself a lot and didn’t even know my neighbors by their names or what they do for a living. Trapped indoors all day working and attending meetings is what my neighbors knew of me too sadly.
But the act of kindness I received throughout my recovery days in/out of the hospital was so much that I found an extended family in them. Beyond taking me to the hospital they visited regularly with food and all the supplies I required. Ayo, to date, still goes door to door to check on everyone in the neighborhood. She is absolutely amazing.
The nurses in the hospital were not trained in Nigeria I thought to myself as the kindness they showed was not like I have ever known. How did the hospital carefully hire the finest quality of nurses who made sure my stay was compared to that of a hotel guest. It was strange and I was astonished about how they handled my situation. I say this because I’ve seen terrible things from the past that may have birthed my situation assessment.
My office colleagues were twice as nice, God used them in ways I couldn’t even imagine; from calls from my GM, line manager, colleagues to visitations and taking up the bills made me feel cared for and absolutely helped my family who were in different cities worry less about how I fared. But Ultimately God made all this to teach me, that when I surrender my will to him, he takes control and routes all the support I’ll ever need much more than I could have done by myself.
Here are a couple of tips Brian shared in his devotional on “ From Anxiety to Peace” that has been helping me get-by:
1. Acknowledge your struggle to Him (God) and declare that you want to trust Him.
2. Stop negative thoughts within 30 seconds of them entering your mind and replace them with healthy thoughts.
Meet my Villain Doctor:
While I was still in the ER, I was scheduled for the Echocardiogram to be performed and I was nervous as this was the deciding test to reveal if the Xray and ECG may have missed vital aspects of the investigation. But before then, I had been introduced to a new doctor who wasn’t quite new but she was taking over my case management.
We had met sometime in May, but due to the pandemic, we didn’t get much time to establish a bond beyond prescriptions.
So, when I was reintroduced to her, I felt kinda sad. Frankly, because I already thought she’s all about prescribing drugs and has no time to connect with her patients.
Rather than being open-minded with her I already wore her the best enemy Medal: Even those who want to destroy the universe know the importance of a signature outfit. In fact, villains often take the title of best-dressed and so was Dr. Kelly’s evil signature smile in my mind. She has no time to bond with her patients beyound prescriptions I thought and at one instance, she cautioned a nurse right before me- why? because she (the nurse) said sorry to me while administering an injection. Ahhh!! This one is upside down evil I thought to myself. She told the nurse “you cannot be sorry for doing your job, saying sorry could mean you intentionally hurt the patient and you can sued for that”.-
Oh wow, now I felt worse at this particular nervous moment of my echo test this kind of doctor was assigned my case.
But soon when we got talking and the mask dropped, she was a far more comfortable and receptive person.
She has a mixed personality, a professional hitman, and a loving friend who makes everything look absolutely fine regardless of how you feel. A fantastic blend I must say. She gives optimistic assurances as though she spoke to God in person and got confirmation, that everything was going to be alright and if it’s not, she’s going to be here to help.
Well, not the Praying Doctor this time, but one with so much positive energy, just enough to jump-start your Faith. — Pinecrest is blessed to have a variety of different healthcare professionals with amazing personalities.
Yes, I may have been so quick to label her among the many doctors whose egos are so inflated with the command of their diagnosis and treatment recommendations that they fail to listen to their patients and fail to provide a collaborative environment. This is actually the direct opposite of the healthcare providers at Pinecrest. In all honesty, they go all out to ensure a participatory treatment plan as in my case.
Dr. Kelly went above and beyond to provide routine remote support
and personalized care daily for me upon my discharge and hasn’t missed a single day to date. So, what informed my first villain impression of her ? — “it was the standard operating procedure for a private hospital, due to the pandemic, the less time you spend with patients the safer for you both ” she said.
Even though that is true and I was wrong about her disposition on our first meeting, many others who may have had first impressions like mine may have gone home saddened and infuriated at least. I guess the pandemic is to blame after all. Regardless of our experiences during this pandemic with healthcare workers, I believe we can focus more on the hard work, dedication, genuine concern, and risk they take to provide healthcare during this difficult phase COVID-19 posed to us all.
Fast forward to the D-day and now, It was time for the Echocardiogram and I’m at the Lab with my friend who came to support me.
Shortly before my turn, I got a text from Dr. kelly- “Stay optimistic, it’s going to be ok, and this is your doctor's order” — right before I got ushered in for the test. I felt some kind of relief as I was distracted from my worst-case scenario thoughts. She is now such a close friend. I even Nicknamed her Dr. Bloom- from the New Amsterdam Series because she works round the clock and loves being in the hospital more than her home.
The echo test was performed and God came through again — no heart disease identified.
It was Joy unspeakable.
Many scientists believe that we can create new neural pathways by changing our thoughts because it changes negative thought patterns.
The apostle Paul talked about taking thoughts captive in 2Corinthians 10: 5. Ironically, one of the first steps in releasing control of your life may be gaining control of your thoughts.
Since there was NO heart disease discovered as suspected, then what could be the cause of the Crisis?
To be continued….
(Journey to Recovery: No Heart Disease, then what?)