I had my first heart attack on Christmas Day 2012.
We had finished opening presents a couple of hours before. My teenagers had staked out their own areas of the house in which to chill out and enjoy the day, while my wife Angie was flat on her back with the flu, barely coherent.
After sitting around for awhile, I decided to go down to my basement gym for a weightlifting workout. I wanted to get the blood flowing a little so I didn’t feel like a Christmas Day couch potato.
I did a couple of sets of bicep curls, then switched to bench presses. At that point I started to feel a little funny.
I thought I must be having an off day, but I decided to work through it like I had done hundreds of times before.
Another set, and I started to feel some pressure in my chest. I was slightly concerned.
One more set and it got even worse.
I decided to lay on the floor and relax to see if the pain and pressure would retreat. After two minutes it got no better.
At that point I knew something was wrong, and it could be serious. I hoped to God that it wasn’t a heart attack.
Side Roads Only
I decided I’d better get up the stairs so my family wouldn’t find me motionless on the floor, possibly hours later.
When I got to the top, I found my 15 year old son Trevor. I let him know I was feeling bad and that he may need to drive me to the ER.
He had just gotten his driving permit not long before and he reminded me that he hadn’t driven on the highway yet. I assured him that was ok, and we could take the side roads, just get me there if I say the word.
Trevor went to the bedroom and told Angie what was going on, but she was so out of it that she barely understood.
When he returned, I was on my hands and knees, breaking out in a shirt soaking cold sweat.
I told Trevor, “We need to go right now!”. Trev did a great job of keeping his cool and getting me safely to the ER (side roads only!).
At The ER
When I arrived and explained my symptoms, the attendant rushed me back, and within 2-3 minutes I was attached to several IV’s and had EKG leads stuck all over my chest and abdomen.
Soon after, the cardiac nurse came in with the cardiologist. She tore the paper readout off the EKG machine, looked at it, and handed it to the cardiologist. They turned to each other with a look of concern.
I knew what that meant.
Up until this point I had not been afraid or felt like my life was in danger. I was remaining cool.
“Dr. Cabler, you’re having a heart attack” said the cardiologist in a matter of fact tone.
My lip quivered a little, and a tear came to my eye as I realized that the obvious was being confirmed.
This was very serious, a game changer in my life.
Then, very quickly, I told myself “Suck it up, you know who’s got your back!”
My peace instantly returned as I knew that my trust lay in God, and He was going to make sure that I would be ok despite this heart attack. I relaxed and let the cardiac team do their work as I made phone calls to Angie and my best friend Nuke.
Post Heart Attack- After The Procedure
Not long after, in the recovery room, my pastors and friends began arriving. When they asked how I was feeling, I’d say “Great!” and I meant it.
I was not going to let myself fall victim to a “woe is me” mentality.
Later, the cardiologist came back in to brief me on the extent of the heart attack, and explained that they had found another area of concern. There was a smaller blockage in another artery, and he recommended that I have two more stents placed the next week…
To keep this from being a really long post, I’ll continue this story in a later post (maybe two).
I’ll update you on the interesting episode that happened later and the lessons we can all learn from what I’ve gone through.
Until then- have you ever had a difficult situation where you had to keep your cool and completely rely on God?
Leave a comment and tell me about it.