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The Year of the Stroke: 2018

This is a few weeks late as it is now the first week of February…

I have always prided myself on great genes and the health passed on to me from my parents. Little to no heart history and limited cancers throughout our ancestry line typically make it easy to complete a medical history form. 2018 created a few more checked boxes to be completed though. January 1st, 2018 my mother went to the ER for flu like symptoms and severe dehydration and after multiple scans and testings was placed in the CVICU. She was determined to have endocarditis requiring open heart surgery and a mitral valve replacement along with a month long stay in cardiac rehab. We were extremely blessed to have her walk out of the hospital in February of 2018, just a short year ago. It is common with endocarditis to have vegetations that break off from the infection known as septic emboli and travel through the vessels which can occlude any area, causing a stroke, paralysis or PE. This happened to my mother but fortunately only caused weakness to her right upper extremity. She has gained a majority of this back but still has weaknesses associated and remains on an anticoagulant. This causes me to now check the “history of stroke” box on maternal history forms. One little checked box at the doctor’s office encapsulates a month long ordeal of tears and pleading with the Lord and faithfully learning to loosen my grip on everything, even my own mother’s life. Thankfully, the Lord kept her here and continues to use her for His ultimate glory.

Fast forward several months and my father took his own trip to the ER after having PVCs. He left the hospital the next day after having a PCI revealing only a 5% blockage to LAD (all good news for my non medical friends). We thought the rest of 2018 would be a little less dramatic, however; while at work one day in October my father noticed a visual deficit in his left lower field. He’s an MD so he was able to do a visual test on himself and knew something wasn’t right. A BP check by his nurse revealed a hypertensive emergency and led us to assume the worst, he was having a CVA (stroke). He was rushed to one of the larger hospitals in Little Rock to later confirm this, another checked box on my family history forms. Once again we were extremely fortunate because the scary thing about a stroke is it literally all depends on location. One mm of a difference can mean life or death.

To end the year we made one more trip back to the same hospital all of these events took place. This time for a joyous celebration of life as my sister gave birth to her third son.

2018 taught me a significant amount. It reminded me that the Lord goes before us, beside us and behind us. He knows and He understands. I have felt closer to him in the valleys and that always sounds weird to say (or write). When you’ve walked through a valley and felt His presence when everything around you is white noise you begin to appreciate more what the phrase “He is faithful” truly means. He is great and He is good. The “Year of the Stroke” taught me that Jesus is good despite our circumstances. I firmly believe if either one of my parents were called home throughout their medical ordeals I still would have claimed Jesus as good. I am thankful I do not have to yet find that out.

The hardships of this year reaffirmed my decision to provide medical care overseas. Though this seems like it would make it harder knowing my family’s health is not where it was, it actually allows me take a step back and know their health is not in my control. I believe the Lord has given me a task to love people well around the world by sharing His word and providing His healing power through medicine. Stay tuned to hear how the journey continues…

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