Living Proof

You can’t tell me there isn’t a God.

After seeing Him in small ways, I knew He existed. I could see Him in the things He created, in the people He lived in. But there is a big difference between knowing in your head and knowing in your heart. After mid-December, I know.

My dad is a local medic and fireman– along with farmer, mechanic, landlord, plumber, roofer, carpenter, entrepreneur, tree-farm owner– the list goes on and on. In the beginning of December, he went for his yearly work physical. He is in pretty good shape; compare him to 20 something-year-olds and he will outwork them almost every time. He has a few aches and pains but shrugs them off like any good, middle-aged, stubborn man does. He had no complaints.

A new doctor had taken over doing the company’s physicals. She was younger, and being such followed more protocols than her older, more experienced colleagues. She determined Dad should have a stress test for his heart. Dad went for the test, and they had him stop halfway through due to his heart’s response. The cardiologist later met with Dad and said if he was the one reading the test, Dad never would’ve left the building. That doctor then scheduled him for an immediate heart catheterization. A heart “cath” is a procedure used to diagnose and treat cardiovascular conditions. During cardiac catheterization, a long thin tube called a catheter is inserted in an artery or vein in your groin, neck, or arm and threaded through your blood vessels to your heart. Once they are in there, they inject dye to see if there are any blockages of the heart vessels and can sometimes repair them. Dad had the heart cath the next day, and they found five major blockages, all above 80% and at least one at 95%.

Here’s what blew my mind– Dad was young, seemly fit, and had no cardiac symptoms– but he was another statistic waiting to happen. With all of the things he does independently, he could’ve been gone working for hours and no one would’ve batted an eye. After that day, Dad is living proof to me that God is real.

Dad was immediately (and by immediately, I mean 8 hours later) transported to a big, central hospital to prepare for open heart surgery. Our family was in shock. This guy who has had no chest pain, no shortness of breath, and no previous symptoms needs new heart plumbing? I vividly remember one of my family members asking me, “Is he going to be okay?” And as I reassured them that this surgery happens often (as it does), I thought to myself, “I hope so.”

Dad spent the next few days in the hospital, and mid-week the next week underwent coronary artery bypass grafting (the nurses kept saying “cabbage” (CABG) and I had no idea what they meant– they sure didn’t teach me that lingo in school). I’m not going to take the time to explain it, but you can read about it if you’d like here. Dad pulled through like the champ he is, and when the doctor came to talk to us I could’ve hugged him forever! We were able to see him after surgery and when we told him we loved him, he gave us a thumbs up. That is a thumbs up I’ll never forget for the rest of my life.

There were a few bumps on the road to recovery. He was in a lot of pain, which was very hard for me to watch. I like to be able to do something to help people (hence, nursing), and I was helpless watching him writhe in pain all the time. After a coughing spell, he ended up going into atrial fibrillation (a serious arrhythmia that makes the heart quiver or beat irregularly), which made him feel like he had gotten hit by a truck. One of the doctors was able to bring his heart back into normal rhythm again on Christmas day, and that truly was my best Christmas present.

Dad ended up coming home the following day and has been doing great since. He has a great outlook and positive attitude about his recovery. I’m sure it’s hard for a guy like him to sit and take things easy when he’s used to always doing the opposite. We are very thankful for everything God has done to protect and take care of him on this journey!

You can say coincidence. You can say modern medicine. That’s fine, but it’s not true by itself. God is real. He is real, and He continues to show you and me each day that He is in control of all things. He knows our hearts– pun intended– and longs for what is best for us. God could’ve allowed Dad to go– and He has every right to– but for right now, His plans involve him here on earth. God must have big plans for my dad! One thing I clung to during this period was the fact that God had provided for prayers we had not even prayed yet. Romans 8:26 proves that by saying, “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Throughout the entire process I kept telling others (and myself), “God isn’t through with Dad yet. Why else would doctors have caught this so early?”

I beg you to examine your own life and determine whether God is real to you. Maybe you do think He is real. But is it head knowledge or heart knowledge? It makes a big difference. When you realize that difference, what a transition that will be.

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