Sunday, July 29, 2012

At the Speed of Life

“Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it”.
 - Ferris Bueller

Just three days ago we were traveling from Hagerman, ID where we celebrated Rob's parent's 50th wedding anniversary.  We flew from Boise, ID to Minneapolis, MN and ended our flight in Columbus, OH.  Less than 48 hours later we've made a return trip to Columbus that we never could have anticipated.

One of our projects for this year is raising turkeys.  We are working to develop a farm that focuses on heritage breeds.  (If you are interested in what that means this is a great web site to check out.) As a result, we bought 12 Bourbon Red turkeys.  Five of those twelve are still with us.  Upon our return from Idaho, Rob was turning the open side of our carriage house into a turkey pen.  On Friday, he got the front wall framed and was feeling immensely proud of the job when he began to feel pressure in his chest and pain down his left arm.  Rather than telling me about it, he rested a while and it went away.  Later in the evening, he moved a generator, rather heavy and not really a one man job.  The pressure and pain returned at a level that he felt he needed to confess.  We climbed in the car and headed for the emergency room.

Upon arrival in the emergency room Rob was given a cubicle immediately and tests were begun.  As he explained what brought him to the hospital he gave a text-book description of a heart attach.  The hospital followed procedure that assumed there had been a heart event until it was proven differently.  Test after test showed that everything was fine.  His EKG was normal.  His blood pressure was only a little high but not alarming.  His enzyme levels were barely above the cut off that had been assigned.  Just to be safe, the doctors decided to keep him over night and do a heart catheterization on Saturday morning.

Being the mother of four, I had a full Saturday planned.  K15 had a wedding to attend and needed a strapless bra for the new dress she'd bought.  H13 needed to stock up on library books after a week away from her library.  I planned to go to the farmer's market and make more delicious zucchini recipes.  With Rob's hospital stay, the farmer's market and zucchini went out the window but the bra and library were still priorities.  I finally arrived at the hospital shortly after they'd taken Rob to the Cath Lab for his procedure.

Often in life, I find myself in situations where people assume I know more than I do.  Or maybe they assume I'm smarter than I am.  Either way, talking with the first nurse at the Cath Lab made me feel like that.  It was obvious that the findings of Rob's procedure had surprised her.  She spoke to me as if I already knew all about it even though I'd just arrived.  As she said things like heart surgery and crack his chest, my head felt fuzzy.  After listening in silence and praying while she talked I came to realize that the team of medical professionals had been expecting to find little blockage in Rob's heart.  At the very most they were expecting to put in a stint and call it a day.  The reality of the situation was that Rob had severe blockage in three of the main vessels of his heart.  None of us were expecting that news.  They were as shocked and upset as I was to learn that a seemingly healthy 44 year old man wasn't. 

The doctor and three of the nurses reassured me that Rob was in the best possible position to deal with the news. The all had stories of loved ones that were fine after heart surgery.  They all wanted him to be fine and they wanted me to be certain that he would be fine.  Because he hadn't had a heart attack his heart suffered no damage.  He was strong, healthy and able to cope with the surgery.  What we had been framing as our wake-up call snapped us to attention and required that we make decisions fairly quickly.  Where to have the surgery?  Who to call? What help did we need?  What about the children? 

In less than an hour, Rob was on the way to Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, OH and I was on my way home to take care of the children and pack.  Initially Rob wanted to be transferred to a hospital closer to home.  He wanted it all to be convenient for me.  I was determined that for such a crucial choice we would choose based on expertise not convenience.  The hospital was further but the peace of mind I experienced was worth the drive.  Open heart surgery involving a triple by-pass as a result of heart disease and hardened arteries requires all the peace of mind that can be scraped together.  Rob wants me to be very clear that his heart problems are genetic in nature and are not a result of smoking.  We are both very clear that he is, from yesterday on, a non-smoker.

The children were quickly sorted out.  Friends from church were anxious to spend the day with them.  My sister had started driving the eight hours from her house to mine shortly after she heard the results of Rob's test.  Each and every person that I told offered themselves to me in any way I needed.

As I drove to Columbus, I reflected on the blessings.  We returned safely from Idaho before any difficulty began.  We went to the emergency room without incident.  Rob didn't leave the hospital when he got fed up with monitors and waiting.  The doctors followed through without any real indication that there was a problem.  There was no damage to Rob's heart.  Rob vowed to stop smoking.  A multitude of friends and family were praying.  So, so many people offered to provide whatever I needed.

Life does move fast and as we are given a few days to wait for Rob's surgery I intend to stop, look around and thank God for each and every gift that we've been given.  I thank God even for this time and pray that I am able to adequately express to others the grace that God has given Rob and me and our family.  I don't intend to miss any of it.  Above all I know that God is in control of this situation and is raining down blessings.  As I told H13, "You can worry or you can pray but you can't do both at the same time.  Only one brings results.  Which do you think is the better choice?"

When S10 asked me if there was any chance that Rob could die, I asked him if he wanted me to talk to him about the truth or if he just wanted me to make him feel better.  He told me he wanted the truth so I gave him the kid's version of any surgery comes with risk and as I spoke with the children I prayed that God would give me the words and God did.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose. 
-Romans 8:28


  1. Wow, Robin...what an amazing testimony you have! Working in the cardiac field, I can fully understand what was done and it appears you have had wise doctors. Obviously, God lined up everything in advance and you can sense His presence. I didn't know Rob was a smoker, but am glad that he now says he is a nonsmoker! I can't tell you how many of our CICU patients REFUSE to give up the very thing that put them there and/or continues to endanger their lives. Quitting smoking is a huge step, especially with a family history of cardiac issues. It more than doubles the risk of heart attack, CHF, and other heart disease. Besides, think of all the things your family can do with the extra money! I will continue to be praying for you and am grateful you were able to write this blog to keep everyone up-to-date so we can know how to pray. Remember - God is good...ALL the time!


  2. Hi Robin. I'm nor sure if you will remember me, but I used to work with Rob @ Hexion. Also, my cousin is Lucy Lane. Lucy and I were jsut chatting about Rob, you and your family at our mini-family reunion this past Satruday. She shared the news of Rob heart condition this morning.

    Please know we are keeping Rob and your and your beautiful children in our prayers. Your blog is a wonderful way to keep us aware of Rob's progress. Thank you for doing this.

    Yours sincerely, Julie Meiman