The Gasp

I never wanted to be labeled a hypochondriac. You know the kind of person who always seems to be complaining about this ache and this pain. However, over the past forty days I found myself seeking medical attention and missing work with strange physical symptoms and fevers too often.

I diagnose and treat my own ailments, and for the most part I have been relatively successful in my medical career even though I have the wrong kind of doctorate to practice medicine.

However, a few days ago, I found myself driving to the ER after prayer meeting. Over the past thirty days after a long road trip to Brownwood and back, I had not felt good. I thought I had a touch of pneumonia or acute bronchitis, but when I checked into the urgent care clinic the doctor on duty ruled my condition to be a urinary tract infection and put me on a round of antibiotics.

Over the course of the next week, I felt somewhat better and the severe back and shoulder pain related to deep breathes subsided, and it appeared all was well, except the fact when I exercised I continued to have shortness of breath and an accelerated heart beat. So after a couple of weeks of not feeling right, I went to my primary care doctor and she determined I may have a case of congestion and the onset of allergies, so she treated me in line with her assumptions, but I still did not feel right. So I consulted with a doctor friend whose persuasion may have saved my life.

When I arrived at the ER, I must confess I felt a bit dumb. I had no fever, no shortness of breath unless I was running, and only a dry cough, but I decided to trust my friend and rule out any serious complications. Upon arrival, I waited– which is why you are called a patient in a hospital, because you will need patience to be a patient! When I made it back to the examining room and Robyn arrived, a series of tests and blood work ensued. (By the way, I now have nightmares of smiling lab attendants bearing needles seeking my blood!) All the tests, and x-rays appeared normal confirming my feeling I was wasting time and money until I had a scan of my lungs. Robyn and the technician took me to radiology and I laid flat on the machine awaiting a shot of dye in my IV to expose any possible problems.

Since x-rays were to be used, Robyn joined the technician in his office to watch the results on the screen. According to protocol he assured her he could not reveal the findings of the tests but she would watch and make her own assessment. Momentarily, he informed me he was shooting the dye into my veins and I should expect a warm sensation. Just as the dye entered my lungs he gasped and said, “Oh my… his lungs are full of clots!” Quickly blood drained from Robyn’s face and when I saw her I knew instinctively something was terribly wrong.

Needless to say, I did not get to go home that night with the satisfaction of having been right, I spent the next couple of days in the hospital receiving treatments for pulmonary embolisms and giving blood to the vampires in the night.

It all hit me about three o’clock in the morning when I did a Google search on my iphone to read about my diagnosis only to discover that nearly 20% of those with this condition DIE! No wonder the doctors, nurses, and technicians marveled that I was still alive, but I was in good hands all along…not mine, but HIS—His nail-scarred hands.

Yes, this Thanksgiving I have much to be thankful for. This year I will head the list with life…simply being alive. Sadly, too often I take life and health for granted. The Psalmist declared: “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases…” (Psalm 103:2-3).  What are you thankful for this year?

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