Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Matters of the Heart

February has colored us red. Blogs and emails hint at what many celebrate with great delight. Valentine's Day is hard to ignore as it beckons from shopfronts and TV commercials.

In our household, a different 'matter of the heart' is remembered. On this day last year, our daughter Sophie was wheeled into theatre for a small procedure to correct an arrhythmia of her heart. The doctor promised us it was a straight forward process and one he was confident would restore her heart and blood to its normal beat and flow. After many prayers and assurances of love, I watched as the smiling nurse closed the door to the operating room, taking with her my firstborn child. Yes, she was 16 then, but I saw a toddler, a 6 year old and a 12 year old all rolled into one. And they were going to fiddle with her heart.

At church the day before,  Barry, one of our faithful saints had encouraged Sophie to read Psalm 27 as she prepared for her hospital visit. This was a chapter he often shared with cardiac patients as he ministered to them during times of sickness and ill health. Armed with such well used scripture, I found a quiet spot in the visitor's lounge and under the shadow of God's wings of protection, I began my 'mother's wait'. 

Psalm 27:14 says:
Wait on the Lord, be of good courage and
He shall strengthen your heart:
Wait I say on the Lord.

I read and re-read that chapter all morning, as I prayed and sat poised to hear news of Sophie's surgery, confident that all would go well. This was a routine procedure. The doctor had done it countless times before on patients of all ages. Maybe he was slow in getting started that morning, or an earlier surgery had gone overtime. I looked at the clock on the wall and compared it with my watch, cross checking with the time on my phone to be double sure. Yes, more time had gone by than what had been promised. They should have been finished an hour ago yet the theatre doors I surveyed from my seat in the lounge, remained shut like sleeping eyelids.
Back to God's word and more praying. Should I go for a wander and ask someone? Text messages were coming through asking for news. I had nothing to report. Just keep praying I told them, and myself.

And then she appeared, in a flurry of activity as nurses wheeled her into Recovery, eyelids too heavy to lift.
I had to step back as the ensemble of patient and nurses was swallowed behind another door.
No Admittance poked its tongue at me once again. 
But a deep voice drew my attention as the doctor arrived and wasted no time in telling me where things stood.
I wasn't ready to hear it. The word complication was not on our 'to-do' list that day. Nevertheless it snuck in, demanding to be dealt with.

"We had a little complication to start with. The route to her heart we thought would be the best, turned out to be quite difficult for us to navigate. Our probe came too close to the wall of her heart and we were afraid if we continued along that pathway, we would pierce right through. So we had to take all our instruments out, call another specialist to do an ultrasound and determine a new pathway to get to the area we needed to treat. In the end we used a major artery and unfortunately this delayed our progress a little. She's in Recovery now and you can see her when we've stemmed the bleeding. It may take some time, but she is going to be ok," He patted my shoulder. "She will have a longer recovery than we anticipated though."

So it was all good. Somewhere in all that he was telling me it was all going to be ok. My legs which had held me up so well, decided it was a good time to turn to jelly, and I wobbled my way back to the lounge. 
Thank God she would be ok and sometime in the next 24 hours we would discover that her heart would now march to the beat it was meant to. I could finally call people and tell them it had ended well. A detour had taken the medical team in a different direction but we had eventually reached our destination. We had waited on the Lord and he had indeed, strengthened out hearts in more ways than one.

Twelve months later, I can look at the heart shaped chocolates in the supermarket and thank God for healing Sophie and holding us all through her week of surgery and recovery. There is a lot of love to contemplate when I think about February. 

So how do you know that your teenager has woken up well from heart surgery? Her first question is the best clue. 
She - "Did the doctor say I can go to Wednesday's drama rehearsal?" 
Me - "He said you need to rest for the whole week. No drama, no school, just rest"
She - "Oh no....." 
Me - "You'll survive. And your heart's going to be fine too!"