Life Interrupted. Part 3.

At this point, the team of specialists was suspicious of two possibilities for what was causing Andy’s heart to continue racing. One was a somewhat rare genetic disease called ARVC, which would involve all kinds of genetic testing, not just for Andy, but for each of our kids as well. Of course this sounded scary and awful, especially the idea of our kids possibly facing these same problems. The second was a disease called sarcoidosis. This is an inflammatory disease which can affect other organs, most commonly the lungs, eyes, lymph nodes, and skin. Cardiac sarcoidosis (sarcoid of the heart) is more rare, but seems to respond well to treatment.

It was determined that a biopsy of the heart would be the best way to confirm a diagnosis. The trouble was, it was now Saturday morning, which meant that the biopsy wouldn’t be happening until Monday. So our weekend was spent full of visitors, phone calls, and doctors checking in. The flood of support was overwhelming. People we hadn’t seen in years came to visit Andy; he has that special something. He was upbeat and positive, trusting in the Lord for his future. Over and over, the hospital staff asked, “Who is your husband? How does he know so many people? How many people have come to visit him?”

Later in the evenings Andy was exhausted; between all the conversations and the off and on episodes of v-tach, he was worn out. I was tired from all of it. Andy would fall asleep, I’d turn on Christmas music, sit down, and write. I tried to send out updates, respond to texts, and do some online Christmas shopping because oh-my-word it’s Christmas time and I hadn’t done a thing. When my eyes wouldn’t stay open another minute, I’d lie down and my mind would worry. I’d think about our kids and wonder how they were really doing with all of this. I knew they were well taken care of by family and friends, but how were they really feeling? And sometimes I’d let my mind go to places it shouldn’t; the dark places where hope has no home. Sometimes Andy’s heart alarm would start beeping and I’d sit up watching it like a hawk, while the nurse would come in to check on him. He’d usually sleep peacefully through it all. And at perfect times, someone would text; sending prayers and love, or the perfect scripture for the moment, reminding me of hope. …

Life Interrupted. Part 2.

I had checked in with Andy early in the morning and he said that he slept okay. After getting the kids to school I hurried off to the hospital. I was only there for about twenty minutes before things started getting a little scarier. Andy’s heart rate continued to go up and he was no longer feeling okay. Doctors and nurses came in and out, assessing, giving medications, ordering labs and tests. Andy handled it all with such grace and calm. Family began texting and calling, some of them coming to the hospital. I just wanted answers so we could fix this problem.

This was day one of our journey. Journeys take us to all sorts of places; some places we want to go and some places that make us want to run the other direction. Sometimes you can choose your journey, but other times it’s chosen for you. As Andy and I settled into ours, we talked about accepting it (like we really had a choice). The calls and texts came in and so did the prayers.

The angiogram showed no blockage in any veins or arteries, which was good news. The echocardiogram showed an area in the left ventricle of his heart that was misfiring. A cardiac MRI was done and we were waiting on the results of that. In the meantime, the doctor decided that an ablation procedure would be appropriate to take care of that area.

The night before the scheduled ablation, Dr. Wilkinson, the one who would be doing the procedure, came into Andy’s room. He showed us the echocardiogram again and explained the procedure, but after he explained these things he paused, crossed his arms, put his hand on his chin and said, “Listen, I have a feeling that there’s more going on here. I’m concerned that it’s not just this one area that is causing your problems. I want to be straightforward with you. You won’t be going home in the next couple of days. We have got to figure out what’s causing this and why and properly treat you before sending you home. Your MRI is being read at UW Medical Center by the experts and they will send me their findings in the morning. I will take a close look at that before we do the ablation.” …

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