Last week (January 26-February 2, 2016), I ended up in the hospital. Something simple spiraled out of control. While in the hospital, I kept up with the daily reading of psalms that I’ve been practicing since the first of the year. The psalms I read were chosen by the Presbyterian Daily Prayer Lectionary. The psalms are sent to my e-mail every morning and I often read them on my phone, then again in my bible. These psalms helped to frame my experience. The following is an account of my hospital stay for friends and family who want to know what happened. [NOTE: This contains some graphic depictions of medical problems. No pictures, just words.]
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By awesome deeds you answer us with deliverance,
O God of our salvation;
you are the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas.
By your strength you established the mountains;
you are girded with might.
You silence the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
the tumult of the peoples. (65:5-7)
A primary care doctor visited me in the morning. So did a gastroenterologist (stomach doctor) and a pulmonologist (lung doctor). They took x-rays of my lungs—a little fluid, but nothing that couldn’t be overcome. They performed an ultrasound on my stomach—my hiatal hernia (a bulging stomach issue related to my ongoing problems with Gastro-Esophageal Reflux) was no larger than it had been when I they discovered it during middle school. My liver was burdened with a little fatty tissue, but nothing that losing 15 pounds couldn’t solve.
But my heart. Wait?! My heart? The primary care doctor heard a murmur, a little gallop on my heart. A tiny tumult. This could be caused by dehydration, or fighting the pneumonia infection, or a host of other things, the doctor said. But, just in case, let’s do a heart ultrasound. To be safe.
I was admitted to the hospital proper and continued to rest and recover. I already felt strong enough to take a brief walk around the ward where I was staying. Sarah and the kids visited. I was assured I would go home soon.
At midnight, when the nurse woke me for the vital sign test that they perform every two hours, she reminded me that I wasn’t supposed to eat. I was getting another test in the morning.
Wait. What?! What test? A TEE, she replied, didn’t they tell you? You need a trans-esophageal echocardiogram. It’s a simple procedure. They put a camera down your throat to take a better picture of your heart. You can’t eat so that you don’t throw up.
The tumult in my heart grew to a roar.
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