Sunday, August 5, 2012

A New Heart

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you;
I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 
 -Ezek 36:26

It seems so crazy, as I sit in my family room this morning watching the Olympics, to think that this time last week we were waiting and wondering what was going to happen with Rob's heart.  We were still trying to wrap our heads around the idea of open-heart surgery and not really understanding what it meant.  Now, by the grace of God, he received four bypasses in his heart and is on his way to full recovery.

Right now his recovery is focused on coughing carefully, taking laps around the room and using his volurex.  Eating is an chore.  Texture, taste and smell work against him in so many of the foods he normally enjoys.  It seems impossible to him that in six weeks he'll be able to return to work.  Time has warped and it's difficult to understand how healing will come and things will return to normal.

Part of the truth that we face is that normal will be changed even after Rob has healed from surgery.  Rob has been diagnosed with coronary artery disease.  The bypass didn't cure the disease it just fixed some of the results.  In normal coronary arteries, blood has a smooth wide path through which to flow.  As a body ages, even a normal heart can have some deposits of fat and cholesterol form in the lining of the heart arteries.  In Rob's heart, this process was accelerated.  Rob's doctor called it a transportation error.  Rather than distributing cholesterol throughout his body Rob's cholesterol collects in his heart causing his blood vessels to become clogged and hardened.  We learned from Dr. Streicher that in Rob's heart as cholesterol collects  it is deposited in the lining of the vessels and calcifies, like bone.  Hardening of the arteries truly means that the heart, at least parts of it, is turning to bone. 

While the bypass provides a solution to the blockages in Rob's heart now, genetics work against him.  The transportation error cannot be corrected.  We can only fight genetics to slow down the coronary artery disease.  Medication for blood pressure and cholesterol, exercise, a heart healthy diet and no smoking will be Rob's new normal.  The price of a new heart is small and the benefits are great.  We are so thankful for this heart of flesh and the new life it brings.

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