Friday, February 5, 2016

A Week in the Hospital Part 3: Thursday – Psalm 143

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.]

To see the previous post, click here.


Answer me quickly, O Lord;
    my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me,
    or I shall be like those who go down to the Pit.
Let me hear of your steadfast love in the morning,
    for in you I put my trust.
Teach me the way I should go,
    for to you I lift up my soul. (143:7-8)

When I woke in the morning, I was visited by a cardiologist. He was there to prepare me for the TEE. A simple procedure. He’d performed dozens over the last ten years. I wasn’t so sure. Why was I getting this done?

The earlier heart ultrasound had revealed a small spot on one of my valves. The spot was small enough that it could barely be seen. This cardiologist hadn’t even seen anything. It was his colleague. The spot could be a little blood clot that would most likely clear itself. Or it could be a slight deformity. Or it could be a bacterial infection. The TEE would make everything clear.

Knowing my body, I decided to ask them to defer the TEE. I have a sensitive throat and esophagus. What if the camera got stuck on a scar from one of the many times that acid has come up my throat?

They ordered a barium test, an x-ray of my esophagus during which I swallow a contrasted-liquid that allows them to see any scarring. I aspirated a little of this, because, of course something more had to go into my lungs. But I coughed it all up again, along with some of the fluid from the slight pneumonia. I felt well enough to take several laps around the ward. The barium test demonstrated that, despite my long history of acid reflux, I actually exhibited very little esophageal scarring. Not only that, but the pulmonologist examined my lungs and found me progressing quickly toward full health.

Tomorrow morning, they would perform the TEE. Sarah would be there for encouragement. We started to let a few people know that I was in the hospital so that things could be taken care of for my churches and Sarah could receive some childcare support.

I ate dinner early then settled down to fast. This was only the third meal that I had eaten since Tuesday morning at 8. Though nervous, I rested in God’s comfort. ‘Let me hear of your steadfast love in the morning,’ I prayed, ‘for in you I put my trust.’ Once I hear the diagnosis, ‘teach me the way I should go.’


To continue this series and see the next post, click here.

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