Thank You, God, for a Heart Attack

by | Jun 7, 1998 | Blessing, Suffering, Trials

Have you ever thought that you could be thankful for a heart attack? I’m sure you haven’t and neither had I until the time that my husband had a heart attack in May of 1991. It all started in early May when my husband and I had gone to Williamsburg for a vacation. We arrived there on Saturday, made preparations for a week’s stay and on Sunday we drove to Virginia Beach to pick up our daughter and son-in-law and bring them back to spend the week. We had great plans to see the sights of the area and just enjoy being together.

Before we left Va. Beach, my husband made the comment that he wasn’t feeling well and didn’t want to lift the heavy luggage into the trunk of the car. Fine, we got that taken care of. But on the way back to Williamsburg I noticed that he began to perspire and his hands became very fidgety on the wheel. I offered to drive, but he said no, he was fine and could drive.

When we arrived back in Williamsburg and got everything in to the condo where we were staying, I fixed lunch and he ate. But he still didn’t look too good. I asked him to let me run him over to the hospital be he replied that he would be all right but was going to lie down for a while. After a little time he came out where we were with his toiletry case and a pair of pajamas in his hand and said maybe I should run him to the hospital. And that’s just what I did.

When we entered the emergency room and told them his symptoms, they hurried him back to have a look at him, leaving me to fill out all the forms. Before I could get through and go back where he was, the doctor came out to tell me that he was having a heart attack right then. They wanted to give him a drug called TPA which was known to stop an attack and possibly reverse any damage that had been done. But there were possible side effects that had to be considered including bleeding from the orifices. If he had had any surgery recently it could cause bleeding from the incision. Well, the fact was that he had had some surgery just shortly before that. He had carpal tunnel surgery on his wrist. I wasn’t sure what we should do and decided to call our family doctor in Martinsville, VA. When I heard his phone ring I just prayed that he would be in. I knew that he often played golf on these beautiful afternoons. When I heard his voice I thought I could just crawl through the phone and give him a hug. After we talked a bit he conversed with the doctor in charge at that time and they decided to give him the medication.

They placed him in ICU and later in the evening my son arrived from his home in Delaware. He spent the night and on Monday he took my daughter and her husband back to Va. Beach after they had seen her Dad. My son came back to Williamsburg and we followed an ambulance carrying my husband to Richmond to the hospital there.

Over the next couple of days they ran tests to see what kind of damage had been done and decide what to do. Bear in mind that he had had open heart surgery 16 years before at Baptist Hospital in Winston Salem, NC. It was determined that he would have to undergo the same surgery again and one week after he arrived at MCV the surgery took place. This happened on our 41st wedding anniversary.

My son and his wife and child and my daughter and her husband were there as well as the minister and a number of folks from the church we attended back in Martinsville. Thankfully, he came through the surgery fine. I had found a motel nearby and was staying there at night and at the hospital all day every day. It seemed he was progressing nicely until I went in one morning and he was all hooked up to tubes and lying quietly and I could see that something was wrong. I was told that he seemed to be bleeding from somewhere inside but they didn’t know where. He had just sort of relapsed during the night.

They began running tests and said they believed that he had a stomach problem but they were going to let him go home and they wanted him back in a week or two for another test. It had been three weeks since this all started and I had made my home in the motel at night and in the hospital by day, not being able to go back home for anything. We were both very happy to get home.

After a couple of weeks at home we went back to Richmond for the test and then they sent him home again. He was beginning to perk up pretty good from his surgery and we planned a trip to Delaware to visit our son. He was to go around August 1 for another test and then we were going on from there to be at our son’s home for his birthday on August 5. But they called and asked him to come earlier with the explanation that a certain doctor wanted to do the test and he was going on vacation during the time he was to come. When we got there and they took him in for the test they told him that they didn’t need to do anymore testing, that he had stomach cancer and needed to have surgery for that.

Now let me interject here that he had not had one symptom of any stomach problem before this time. So the question is, how much longer might it have been before we knew that he had stomach cancer if it had not been found because of his heart attack and ensuing surgery. We felt that we needed to be thankful for the heart attack because it led to the discovery of the stomach cancer, and as it turned out, in time to do something about it.

I know you are probably wondering so let me just add that on July 31, 1991, he underwent successful stomach surgery and was found to be cancer free after that. He did not have to take any kind of treatment or medication.

It certainly was a very traumatic time for both of us and we feel blessed that everything turned out as well as it did. And to this day we say, “Thank you God for a heart attack.”

Jean Fitzgerald

A little bit about Jean:

I live in town of 15,000 in Virginia and just celebrated my 50th wedding anniversary in May. I have three children, Julie, Jody and Jay. Five grandchildren, Adam 17, Susan 13, Seth 11, Bryce 2 1/2, Zachary 7 months. They are the sunshine of my life. I teach Sunday School, like all kinds of music, and am a member of Toastmasters International. I enjoy playing golf and look forward to each day with thanksgiving.


Thank You, God, for a Heart Attack