Saturday, March 5, 2016

Through It All

There is so much to say......
This morning I woke up from the first real sleep I'd had in 72 hours and the first thought I had was how good God is! 
If you are in the Evangelical world you'll hear that phrase "God is good all the time, all the time God is good."  There's even a song with that in it, t-shirts with that written on it.  And it's true, but it seems like such a cliché'.  Personally I don't like clichés- it takes away from the deep meaning of what is being said. 
BUT God is good!
Maybe you look at our life and wonder how we really believe that God is good.  I'll be honest, I truly believe we have gone through more than our share of trouble.  The old saying "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger" makes me want to barf.  I kid around sometimes and say "Ok Life I'm strong enough- no need to try me again" 
We've been in some dark places, but God..... He has surrounded us with peace in the midst of many storms.   While I've not liked the storms, and many many many times wish I had a life free from them, I've experienced God in those storms in ways that other folks' who have had those seemingly easier lives have not had an opportunity to know yet....  These valleys of death have been filled with a sweetness that I just do not have words for.  There is no way I'd ever doubt there is a God.  I've had an atheist friend who told me it was just my strength that got me through the accident.  After I finished laughing at the thought of "my strength" I told him that I knew myself and my level of strength and that was NOT what carried me!!!
So this morning for the first time since all this happened, I took some times to do a few things around the house.  I repotted a large plant (ok that is just relaxing to me) I am washing our bed, I cleaned the kitchen and I'm waiting for my little ones to wake up so I can give them baths.  Steve and Shad have been taking care of things around here for me but we have to be so careful with Sam's eye implant & not getting water in it that Sam hasn't had a bath since all this has happened. 
I'm still in shock that this has happened.  I'm going to try and clearly write about it for a couple of different reasons.  One reason is I do not want the memories to get dim, I want to be able to tell Jon about it when he is ready and also I want to encourage everyone to never ever ignore their health or strange symptoms.  Never feel foolish about checking things out- it's better to be safe than sorry! 
So Wednesday night Jon came home from the prison, ate supper, fed Sam, talked and laughed with all of us.  Around 9:30 or so, he sat on the couch and complained about his jaw hurting.  He was convinced it was a new toothpaste making his teeth sensitive.  I told him there was some toothpaste for sensitive teeth in my supplies ( I bulk shop) so he brushed his teeth again and still complained.  We had some Ore-gel so I gave him that and it helped a little.  Then he took some Advil.  I started calling our dentist but they had no after hours service so I called a couple of local dentists.  But while I was doing that I was googling Jaw Pain - I knew it was a sign of a heart attack.  Just about everything I looked at seemed to indicate it was usually accomplied by another symptom.  Well he had NO other symptom at all.  And on top of that just TWO weeks ago he had a complete heart work up as preventative care due to his family's awful cardiac history.  He was given a completely clean bill of health and was quite proud of his treadmill stress test.  The tech told him she'd never had anyone his age do as well as he did.  She said she'd only had a handful of younger men who were athletics  do better than him.  He did all the other heart tests too and everything was perfect.
Anyhow I'm quite a worry wart and paranoid- sorry I've been through just a few things too many.
So I told him I thought he should go to the ER to get checked out and if nothing was wrong I was sure he'd be given a pain killer until he could get to the dentist the next morning.  He was in so much pain, he agreed to go.  Steve took him so I could get the other kids to bed, plus I was tired and didn't want to go.  As they were leaving, a feeling came over me that it was his heart.  But even though I was worried- I was worried in a general way, it seemed like it couldn't be his heart.  I let them go & told them to call as soon as they got seen. 
Just to back track.....Jon's dad had issues with his heart and had open heart surgery and stents.  Most of Jon's aunts and uncles had issues and most died from heart related things.  Jon's younger brother had a massive heart attack at only 32 years old and the only reason he survived was that he was at his doctor's office.  He was having issues breathing but thought he had a bad cold.  He literally dropped dead and they had to shock him several times to get him back.  He was in a coma for 9 days but recovered despite some heart damage.  He has continued having issues.  None of Jon's relatives were terribly overweight, most were trim people who were very active people.  They all lived relatively healthy lifestyles, maybe a little too much fried foods when they were younger....but certainly not what you'd expect in such a family history. 
Every since I met Jon he watched over his heart health.  I can remember him telling me "I don't want to be up on that table" (talking about having to be on the surgical table having open heart surgery)  the cardiologist who treated my father in law was a friend of his and sat all three boys down and told them that they would have to watch their lifestyle closely to avoid heart disease.  Well Jon took that "to heart"  He has always exercised, he has always watched his diet.  He's taught me to watch my diet.  I was raised that if you ate it, it could be fried and would taste better that way LOL!  My family never had any sign of heart disease so there was no concern about eating other than trying not to gain weight. 
Jon was close to being a vegetarian and we did that completely for a month last year.  It was hard work but guess what? Yep we are going back to that!  People told me when we were doing that, that if they couldn't eat meat, they'd rather die......Just saying they should have been with me on Thursday as my husband almost died, they'd change their mind real quick and grab some Kale and spinach!  Often Jon would go a day or two without eating any meat.  He didn't use much sugar or eat sweets.  He didn't drink sodas and almost all the meat we did eat was organic and as low fat as possible.  PLUS I drain any fat off the meat that I could.  Say I cooked spaghetti used some lean organic hamburger, I'd only use a small packet, cook it then I'd drain in through a colander to get all the grease out of the meat.   We'd use whole wheat spaghetti and there's only a couple of brands of sauce I'd use because so many things have extra oils in them.  So despite ALL of that, despite the hours and hours of hiking and biking, plus Jon walks so much at the prison that he wears out a pair of shoes in less than a year.  The prison is huge and he walks it a lot as part of his job working with inmates.  (he's the chaplain)  On the weekends Jon usually exercised two hours a day, sometimes he'd hike/bile for four hours.   One the weekdays 30-60 minutes of real cardiac exercise either by walking at lunch time or after work or lately by riding his exercise bike at home. 
So despite it all......he almost died from clogged blood vessels!
So let me get back to our story.....
Steve called me Wednesday night to tell me that Jon's blood work had come back with elevated enzymes.  They test Tropanin which tells them if the heart is reacting to something like a heart attack.  His was elevated.  Then they gave him nitroglycerin and it took away his pain.  Nitroglycerin opens heart vessels, so it makes it easier on the heart to pump the blood through so pain decreases.  Well at that point there was a strong suspicion  that there was a heart problem.  The kids were in bed and our sweet nurse told me to go.  So I got up there and talked with the nurse, Jon was feeling fine then.  I'm sorry to say the ER doctor dragged her heels and refused to call in a cardiologist.  She did send Jon's results to the on call but she did not ask for a consult and told me that Jon did not fit the protocol to bring in a cardiologist.  He would be seen in a few hours and was being admitted.  I went toe to toe with her and she would not change her position.  She was ugly to me and very condescending.  Jon was feeling fine and didn't want me to push the issue so I dropped it, knowing that he'd see cardiology in a couple of hours and was probably going to have a heart cath (where a tube is inserted into the vein and they look at the heart with dyes to see if there is a problem.  Jon actually wanted me to go home he was so calm so we got home around 4 am.  I could not sleep so I did some things, got a shower and as I was on my way back up, the nurse called to say they were taking Jon in for the procedure.  You know I prayed all the way there.  When I got there, they said they were almost done and a nurse would come and get me.  I knew there was a problem, that was way too quick.  So when the nurse came out to take me to the doctor, I started shaking.  I've been around medical things way too long and I knew if there had been no problem, the doctor would have come out and told me.  Instead she took me to a room where there were screen shots of Jon's heart everywhere, the doctor was on the phone in a deep conversation and two other doctors were in there.  He was straight forward and told me that Jon had 5 vessels blocked and was on the verge of a fatal massive heart attack.  He also told me the hospital could not do the surgery and I had 15 minutes to decide where he should be transferred.  I was leaning towards a large hospital but time was of the essence and the doctor had concerns about how quickly Jon could get the surgery done, often there is a few days wait just because they can only do so many surgeries a day.  He felt Jon would do best in our local hospital in our town.  They specialize in heart surgery but have a smaller number of patients.  So with reluctance I agreed ( I'm so glad I did but at the moment I was not sure at all)   He was working as hard as he could to get Jon transferred, he had everything sent over and was in conversations with the other hospital.  He was very persistent and worked hard but there were issues that came up and I got the feeling he pushed things to get Jon the help he needed.  I appreciate that man!
So as we were waiting, Jon began to get worse and worse.  He go to the point he could not communicate because of the pain.  Nothing they were giving him was keeping the pain down.  They gave him Nitrogylcin through an IV & had the dosage high.  That did help to open his blood vessels which probably kept him from going into a full heart attack. 
To be honest, I thought he was going to die before he could be transferred.  Our nurse worked so hard and was very patient with me as I was pushing for things to be done.  She was amazing & I even realized it at the time.  She was very worried too.  She even called and checked on him after the surgery. 
Anyhow FINALLY the transporters came .....they looked like three rough guys.  By that time, I just had to say "God Jon is in your hands, there is nothing I can do"  Well the guys were great and helped Jon despite their rather non professional appearance.  Maybe they'd just had had a long day LOL
BTW I was oldest brother in law had been with us for most of the day but he had an important doctor's appointment and had to go to it.  He left right before things went down hill so I knew they were coming back as soon as he was finished with his doctor.  One of my best friends was with me for hours but needed to go home as her daughter had just had dental surgery and was not feeling good.  My youngest brother in law was in court- he is a felony probation officer and was coming to meet us at the hospital where the surgery was going to take place.  In fact he beat us there and was waiting but as thing went downhill I was alone with Jon.  I will tell you I was terrified.  That is no lie, I though my husband was going to die.  It seemed like he was on the verge of going into the massive heart attack and he was, the only thing that stopped it was the meds and prayer. 
So once transporting guys got there, I went and got my van and drove to the hospital where the surgery was going to be at.  I WAILED all the way there.  I most have looked like a crazy lady to anyone who was looking in my van.  I'd held it in since I first talked to the doctor so I let it go!  Actually when I talked to the doctor the first time, I started throwing up.  I retch violently when I'm upset and I shake, tears are just a by product for me.  It's quite funny afterwards but not so much when it is happening.  I have thrown up on someone's shoes before when Sam had had to be life flighted because he quit breathing. ( My retching would become legendary before the day was over )
But on the drive over to the new hospital, I cried, I was so scared that I was going to lose my husband. 
When I got there my younger brother in law was there, I was so glad to see him.  Then another one of my best friends got there, along with Jon's warden from the prison who is a friend also.  I was so glad to have them there with me!
Things moved FAST!  The surgeon came in and talked to us....let's just say he had a surgeons' manner (reminded me of Trump but in a good way) I liked him right away, he was very confident but said it was an emergency heart surgery and had more risks but he was going to get in there and get it done.  He then described what he was going to do....I started retching again...he quit talking LOL  After it was all over he said that in 30 years he had NEVER  seen that reaction he kidded me and we all laughed then.  I told him he had better be glad I could not eat all day or he would have been really sorry.  He told me he would have joined me because he hates to see throw up LOL 
I was able to hold Jon's hand all the way to the surgery door, they were almost running him down the hall.  When I let go I yelled "I love you" and he said it back.  then I went in the waiting room and WAILED some more.  For the record, I don't cry....I push it in till it comes up like a fountain and it quit dramatic. 
It was 8 pm when they started.  We didn't think they'd be completely done till about 1am but things went good, all the reports we got were wonderful.  The surgeon was out to talk to us by midnight, said everything went absolutely perfect.  He does think Jon had a mild heart attack while on the verge of a major one ( mild because he was being treated) but he was not 100% sure.  He did not see any heart damage nor were any of the tests showing any which was an absolute miracle.  He also assured me that it was not Jon's lifestyle that caused this, he said that Jon was a fit man, his heart muscle looked great but he had lots of plaque.  The doctor said only genetics cause something like this.  The doctor that did the heart cath said the same thing, he was shocked at the amount of plaque and did not expect given Jon's healthy appearance.  I've been told over and over again how shocked the doctors were at the severity of Jon's heart disease. 
So NOTHING that has happened has been "text book"  Jon had jaw pain only but really mostly in the chin area.  That was his only symptom until right before surgery when his chest began hurting.   Every EKG he had before surgery was NORMAL even though he was in terrible situation.  He is otherwise so very healthy and his cholesterol while a little not off the charts.  I think his last blood work - his overall cholesterol was 218.  It should have been under 200....that's nothing in the scheme of things.  He was almost a vegan and exercised almost daily......he just passed a visit to cardiology. 
Don't be embarrassed to seek medical help.  If nothing is wrong then just be glad but don't take chances either!
If Jon had ignored this, he would have probably died in his sleep Wednesday night or if things had subsided a bit, he might have had a heart attack at work on Thursday.  All the doctors have told me that that if he'd had a heart attack, it would have been fatal, he had too much blockage.  They gave him 24-40 hours at the most before it would have happened.
Now looking back there were some small signs.  Monday night Jon came home with a headache so bad he had to lay down and take some Advil.  I don't think he has ever had a headache like that.  But the meds worked and he got up and ate supper with us and watched some tv.  Tuesday he had the jaw pain a little after brushing his teeth that night and it actually woke him up but he thought it was his teeth.  It went away.  He's seemed a little tired lately but we have been going and going.  That's it!
So where we are now, he is doing perfect, everything is right on schedule.  He's doing all the breathing into things just right (he breathes into a tube and has to raise a little ball) He got in a chair last night and he's already up today and will be walking.  He's not in much pain.  Every few hours they take off or out a different tube.  The doctors feel he will make a full recovery and live a normal life span.  He will be taking a lot of meds which he hates and probably going Vegan.  But that is a small small price! 
The nurses love him:)  One said he was her nicest patient ever.  Everyone was kidding him because he has never had a girlfriend said "Jon Clanton goes big" when he does something LOL  No tiny little surgery for him! 
Our family and friends have just rallied around us in tangible ways and always with prayer.  It's been beautiful to feel the care of our peeps.
Jon will probably come home Thursday and then will have 6 weeks of recovery and cardiac rehab. 
Right before he went into surgery I tried to break the tension by telling him that if he'd behave himself in there we'd go on a cruise JUST me & him No kids!   He'd been wanting to do that but I'd worried about being away from the kids and the costs but I figure we only have ONE life so why worry about all the reasons not to do something! 
In fact, I thought that about a lot of things on Thursday.  I'm a really responsible person-it's hard for me to let people do things for me or my family .  It's hard for me to let go of any responsibility even things at the church....things that aren't even fun but I feel responsible for....  But that makes me a rigid person and it's hard for me to relax.  It's not that I don't enjoy life, but I'm sort of a project, fix it type person and I'll put off fun things especially for me and Jon as parents.  While I'm sure I'm not going to change complexly I'm sure going to listen more when my husband wants to do something and I'm going to quit finding excuses to why we can't do something.   Life is too short!  this situation made me realize it to a depth I never have before.  Jon's more the fun one and I'm more the "no we don't need to spend money or it's too hard to find someone to watch the little ones or I need to do this project instead of the fun thing"   So I'm fixing to change and become the party girl LOL!
So getting back to the saying "God is Good"  He is good.....even if this outcome had been different, God is faithful.  This morning I was thinking, had Jon died, we might would have been having his funeral today.  Would I have the peaceful happy feeling I have this morning had Jon died?  I would not have been happy but I would still know that God is a good God.  He is a God who has given us eternal life. 
And if you think I'm being silly just know I've walked through many valleys of death where the outcome was not the outcome I wanted it to be.  I was abandoned by my parents and my great aunt and uncle raised me, both died before I reached adulthood.  My mother in law died just months after Jon and I married.  I was heartbroken!  I had finally found a mother and we were growing close and she was snatched away in a car accident.  Our twins died and I almost died....Sam has never been healed of his disabilities.  Selah is still in a coma from the accident.... I've had many tears over the years but I KNOW that God is still Good
I love an old song called Through it All

I've had many tears and sorrows
I've had questions for tomorrow
There've been times I didn't know right from wrong
But in every situation
God gave blessed consolation
That my trials only come to make me strong

I've been a lot of places
And I've seen so many faces
But there've been times I've felt so all alone
But in that lonely hour
In that precious, lonely hour
Jesus let me know I was His own

Through it all
Through it all
I've learned to trust in Jesus
I've learned to trust in God
Through it all
Through it all
I've learned to depend upon His Word

So I thank God for the mountains
And I thank Him for the valleys
I thank Him for the storms He's brought me through
Cause if I never had a problem
I wouldn't know that He could solve them
I wouldn't know what faith in His Word could do

Through it all
Through it all
I've learned to trust in Jesus
I've learned to trust in God
Through it all
Through it all
I've learned to depend upon His Word
Yes, I've learned to depend upon His Word
I've learned to depend upon His Word
This song sums up my whole life.....
So I just want to encourage you that if you given your life to God, please do so.  Life is short.  None of us know when death may overtake us and we then would face eternality and God.  I don't want anyone I come in contact with to go to hell. 
Second if you are a believer, I want to encourage you to trust God in the midst of your life.  You may be going through something or life might be easy right now for you.  But I encourage you to trust god with your life, because there will be a time when a storm comes.  Decide now that you will cling close to Jesus and not rail against God when life doesn't go your way. 
Sometimes people say we are public examples and I and I didn't like that for a long time but I've embraced the fact that for whatever reason we seem to just go through crazy stuff.  .  So let me show by my life that god is a good faithful ever present Help in times of trouble.  god is exactly who He says He is in His word.  He has never failed me, He has never abandoned me nor has He turned his back on me. 
God has revealed His character to us in a way we would have never known had we not faced the things we have faced.  He has not been faithful to us because we are such wonderful spiritual people but because He is a good God and we have thrown ourselves into His arms knowing that He alone could deliver us and walk with us through times of trouble. 
If you never get anything from what I write, just know that God is real and He fulfill His promises that He gave in His word.  You need to know He dose not promise us a "rose garden" the scripture is clear that life can be hard.  We live in a fallen world, we will all die one day, God does not promise eternal life to our bodies.  He does promise us a new body one day but this one is going to the grave.  He doesn't promise that we won't walk through the "valley of the shadow of death" but He promises that He'll walk there with us.  I KNOW that is true!
Please feel free to share this post, I want people to know Jon's experience- it might save a life- someone might have similar symptoms and go to the doctor rather than ignore it.   
And please do not think something like "well look at how hard Jon worked at being healthy and still has heart disease"  For the records both of our main doctors said that had Jon NOT lived his life like he did, he would have probably died years ago or at least had been disabled with heart disease that affected his heart muscle.  So for Jon to live a normal life span he will have to be very careful but it is worth it to me!  I think God wants us to live our lives healthy and for him as we have relationships and reach out to other people.  He  created us to live, sin came in the world and brought in sickness and death.  While we look forward to eternity, when a person has a family, who still needs him, it's just not time to go yet!
Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers.  If you have any questions please feel free to ask, No HIPPA rules here :)  If this can help anyone physically or spiritually I'm happy to share!
And if you are week there will be a few "come to Jesus meetings" with the first hospital and how things were handled.  I've already submitted a formal complaint about the ER doctor.  I'm also going to have all his cardiac testing reevaluated from two weeks ago.  I'm not bitter  but hopefully if mistakes were made, in the futures they won't be made again on another patient who may not have the same outcome that Jon has had!


  1. Oh, just wow....God is so very good. We've been praying hard over here. So thankful for God's Hand and the wonderful doctors He put in your path!!!!

  2. Thank you for sharing all of this so openly Yvonne! I am praying that it reaches some who need to begin seeking God and some who claim to know him but would turn from him in the storm and some who need to pay attention to their health! I will continue to pray for Jon's steady recovery, for you and your children, and especially for that ER doctor who clearly needs to know the Lord! ((((HUGS))))

  3. A stress test is a comparative study where it compares the blood flow of one portion of the heart vs. another part. If one vessel has a large plaque in it, then it will show that portion of the heart has restricted flow compared to the other portions with healthy arteries. So the results come back abnormal. In a case of triple vessel disease (or quadruple vessel in your husbands case), all of those portions of the heart are getting restricted blood flow so the results can come back as "normal" bc all portions are getting low blood flow. Does that make sense? So thankful you pushed to get him to the hospital and they were able to operate before a massive heart attack.

  4. He also had a sonagram of the heart & the blood flow. The doctor said it was normal. How could it be if he had 5 blocked arteries? I know the stress test is not completely accurate but I would've thought that the sonogram at least picked up something what do you think?

  5. The echo is more for looking at the heart muscle itself and the flow of blood through the 4 chambers and the valves... Although sometimes coronary vessel disease can be detected. I'll be interested to see what another cardiologist determines if you take his results somewhere else. Continued prayers for a speedy recovery!!

  6. So thankful to hear the good report. My husband passed away two years ago this month of a massive heart attack. No warning signs except in the very few minutes as it happened. We had eaten lunch together, he was fine, a few minutes later, his left arm hurt. He was gone before we made it to the hospital. He was 54 yrs old. When I saw your post of FB about a heart attack I began to pray. Your family has been through so much already. I have followed your story, and prayed for you for awhile now. My husband was an ordained AG minister and my sister attended Southeastern , albeit before your time.
    I just want to say I am so thankful God spared Jon. I won't pretend to not question God at times, I don't know why my husband was taken so quickly. But I do know He's a good God and its the enemy that comes to kill , steal and destroy.
    And I hope you follow through and go on that cruise! lol We had planned to go on our 35th wedding anniversary which would have been August of 2014. My husband was bi-vocational as well and he rarely took time off, but I'd gotten him to agree to the cruise.
    I will continue to pray for your family as he recovers. And I agree life is too short to not enjoy it!
    I have always LOVED that song, it was my dads favorite.

    1. My eyes tested up reading your story. I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm thankful for the hope we have for eternity- but death is our enemy. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

  7. So sorry I'm late to reply. My mom passed away 2 weeks ago, in my home, under Hospice care, and things have been so hectic that I haven't had time to be on the computer.
    I've kept your family in my prayers each day since the accident and will continue to do so, with special, extra prayers being said until 'Mr. Jon' is at home and on the mend. Lord bless you all.
    (Your "down the sand road" neighbor).

    1. So sorry to hear of your loss. I didn't know!

      I finally figured out where you live. We HAVE to get together soon!

  8. I hope your husband's recovery is going well! I've been praying daily for you all. <3

  9. I'm praying that all is well and Jon is progressing beautifully.