On 23 December 2022, I had a heart event. I did not have a heart attack. I did not have myocarditis. I had and have pericarditis. Now, the cardiologists tell me that in their field this is not uncommon to see. I suppose that piece of information was intended to make me feel better. You know … a case of bad news, good news. The good news is you don’t have this really really bad thing (Heart Attack). The bad news is you have this kind of bad thing (pericarditis). And one has to admit there is good news found in not having the really really bad thing.
However, this kind of bad thing is bad thing enough by itself but when combined with a heart condition they reckon I was born with (aortic stenosis) it can begin to get disconcerting. Not to worry though because they also tell me that this is not that uncommon for Cardiologists to see as far as weird things being present in a human being.
On top of that one gets the random cardiologist who thinks that everything that has gone wrong with you means everything will go wrong with you and begins to tell you of the prevalence of aortic aneurysms with this condition as well the glories of open heart surgery and how easy the recovery from open heart surgery can be. My eyes were glazed over after that consultation.
It’s been quite a recovery ride and I suspect it may well continue to be quite a ride. They pretty consistently tell me that it will take at least 3 months to recover from this pericarditis. Some have even said 6 months. As I look back over the last month I would say that there is undeniable improvement from day one but I am impatient. I keep trying to push myself to do more than I should be, in order to prove to myself that I am getting better. (At least I have the excuse of one Cardiologist telling me to push through my exercise limits — a piece advice we learned later that is not shared by all Cardiologists.) As such, the last couple days finds me dialing my walking routine back from the 4.50 miles I was doing up to that point.
I have learned all over again about Doctors and Doctors offices and PA’s and NP’s and hospitals and how the WOKE agenda is affecting all that to the point of making me contemplate whether it is worse to deal with all the WOKENESS in the medical field or whether it is worse to have pericarditis. I can salute the cardiologists at the hospital as they refused the temptation to stick a needle in my chest to drain off the water from the heart that arises from pericarditis. They raised that as an option but counseled against it, believing that the water would subside on its own. I’d throw back a shot of whiskey in your honor guys except that pericarditis doesn’t like whiskey.
All of this, of course, has brought me to the place of being very intimate with my own mortality. When this condition was at high tide I was definitely beginning to contemplate my end. Now, I’ve had a couple close calls with death in my life and I’ve spent my share of time in hospitals in years past but not as from anything that was quite like this. This one brought me up short and shook me good — and I’m not easily shake-able.
The only way that I have been able to navigate the embrace of my own looming death (whether next week or in 20 years yet) has been to remind myself that my times are in God’s hands.
Psalm 31:15 My times are in Your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me. 16Make Your face shine on Your servant; save me by Your loving devotion.
I have had to remind myself constantly that;
That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (who of nothing made heaven and earth, with all that is in them;1 who likewise upholds and governs the same by His eternal counsel and providence)2 is for the sake of Christ His Son, my God and my Father; on whom I rely so entirely, that I have no doubt but He will provide me with all things necessary for soul and body;3 and further, that He will make whatever evils He sends upon me, in this valley of tears, turn out to my advantage;4 for He is able to do it, being Almighty God,5 and willing, being a faithful Father.6
I have also learned that it is acceptable to be sad about and so mourn these kinds of events. Of course, very few people — even saints — want to die. Most people desire to continue on with kith and kin. Some people want more life even if only to continue to being a thorn in the side of the enemies of Jesus Christ. As such, being sad at the possibility or likelihood of death is not necessarily sinful;
“It is not sinful to be sad . Blessed be God for that! Jesus wept. Tears have often been the food and drink of God’s people day and night. Sorrow is natural to men. It may become sinful, but it is not necessarily sinful. In fact, it is often a blessing, and does more good than gladness itself. Hear the wise man: “Sorrow is better than laughter; for by the sadness of the countenance, the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.” The day of desperate sorrow seems to be reserved to the wicked (Isa. 17: 11). To saints, no night is without its morning. Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Blessed is he who has the hope of salvation to cheer him along!
But at the end of it all I return to the Scriptures and the faithful exposition of my catechism;
Question 1: What is thy only comfort in life and death?
Answer: That I with body and soul, both in life and death,1 am not my own,2 but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ;3 who, with His precious blood,4 hath fully satisfied for all my sins,5 and delivered me from all the power of the devil;6 and so preserves me7 that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head;8 yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation,9 and therefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life,10 and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto Him.11
I want to live to be a Joshua/Caleb type of old man. However, there are a good number of things in life I have wanted that, in retrospect, would have been disastrous for me to have gained. Long life could be another one of those things. I don’t know. However, the Lord Christ knows, and whatever He gives to me as my Captain and Redeemer — as my great Liege Lord and great High Priest, whether long life or abbreviated, faith requires me to say;
“It is well with my soul.”
I would ask for prayers for Jane, who is on this ride with me. And of course I would ask for prayers for recovery. I am thankful to God for the leadership at the Church I serve as well as God’s faithfulness in providing Rev. Sam Perry in filling the pulpit here while I have been out. My heart could not take being out of the pulpit if I knew some typical hack clergy was in the pulpit mucking up the thinking of God’s people here. Rev. Perry has been a godsend and all of us here thank God upon every remembrance of him.
The Lord Christ has been faithful and for that I praise God.