How Faith Changed my HeartI lost 3 siblings in three years to cancer. But even before that I was under so much stress I started to break down. I was suffering from anxiety which developed into panic disorder and agoraphobia. My doctors thought it was my body's defense mechanism of fight or flight. I loved to ride my motorcycle but found myself unable to go more than 5 miles from my home because I was outside of my "safe zone". If I went out to dinner it always had to be restaurants in my neighborhood and for some odd reason I needed to keep a cold bottle of water in my hand as a security blanket. I joined a local gym because I thought exercising would help me to burn off some tension and it did. I worked out 5-7 days per week never less than 2 hours per work out. I made some minimal gains as far as mass is cocerned but made significant gains in terms of strength. Working out actually became the highlight of my day and it truely was now my lifestyle. Supplements, diet, macros, cheat meals, bulking, cutting, 3 day splits, 4 day splits, pecs, lats, triceps, biceps. If it had to do with muscle building, getting stronger, and living a healthier life than I was interested. Then one day everything changed. I started having stomach pains and said to myself, "oh no, ulcers". I thought just another symptom of stress. I went to see my doctor and he ran some tests and then decided to do an echo. Well a few days went by and I went back to the gym for my regular 2 hour workout when I got the call. My ejection fraction was at 15% and I was in heart failure. WHAT THE HECK!? I was in the best physical shape of my life. This couldn't be happening. Exercise is supposed to make you well not sick. That's when I found out that my sickness was genetic and I had been living with it since birth. My PCP recommended a top cardiologist and he told me the plan straight out...meds (if that doesn't work), ablasion (if that doesn't work), pace maker & ICD (if that doesn't work) heart transplant...and I asked "If that doesn't work?" (Crickets).
Well here I am at the pace maker & ICD stage and getting here was a battle. I cried everyday for 3 months. I was glued to my bed or my couch. I was consumed with death. I was afraid any move I made was going to be too strenuous and I would drop dead 5 feet from whatever safe haven I had dared to venture from. However, what one bullet I did have in my arsenal was my spirituality. Although I was suffering from mental issues and now suffering from a left ventrical cardio myopathy with right bundle branch blockage I still had my faith. I always believed that it was only a matter of when God was going to heal my mental state and now I had to slap myself back to reality and add this physical issue to His list. So I prayed and I read scripture and I watch tv evangelist after tv evangelist. I watched Youtube videos. Friends mailed me Christian books. Soon I realized that my mind was a bigger opponent than my heart disease. The bible told me that if I could get my mind in order that my body would follow. I find it so amazing that there are all these new books published each year that only repeat the exact same advice that was given 2000 years ago. These new books try and fool people into believing that they have stumbled on to some secret technique. In fact, doctors try to explain it to you from their years of medical training as if that's where it all originated. I have read many books on the subject of the mind and some were even written by people who don't believe there is a God. But they all agree with the book that was written 2000 years ago...your body will follow your mind. Genuis!!! The bible that is, not those other books. The others are just copying the original.
So there I was each day actually studying my bible and meditating on scriptures and then it came time to be a doer. My first step was to sit on my back porch. I remember that day so clearly. I remember being so proud of myself (I cried there too, so much crying at this time). You see it's all about baby steps. When you're diagnosed with heart failure your world can feel like it just came crashing to an end. You have to start over. You have to start with the basics and sometimes the basics is as simple as taking a shower each morning and shaving. If you could have seen me at my worst you would swear I was close to seventy years old and I'm not even near 50 yet. My beard was gray and even the hair on my head was turning gray. I was aging right before my very eyes. I look back now and laugh. I even made videos for my kids telling them how much I loved them and how sorry I was for not being a better dad (more crying). I'm telling you, I was a wreck. But God's word and each baby step gave me more confidence. I went from the porch to my yard to the mail box to the corner and back. I did all this with the assistance of any available family member. Then one day I decided to venture out on my own. Dang-gone-it I was determined to walk to the corner by myself or die trying! Guess what!? I made it! Soon I was doing more and more walking. I started driving and making sure that I left the house for at least 1 hour each day. I even went into work for a few hours a week. People have absolutely no idea what heart failure is or heart disease. When I went into work people thought I had already died. I guess in a way I had died and came back to life. I know I don't waste a moment now to tell somebody I love them each day. I enjoy seeing the green grass and the blue sky. I even enjoy rainy days because you can't get any moment of your life back so you better enjoy every moment. I am so lucky and so blessed. Don't get it twisted I prefer to be disease free but I could have dropped dead in that gym on that funky floor. I could have dropped dead anywhere before my time. At least now with the ICD if I do drop dead hopefully I'll pop right back up within a few minutes after receiving that electrical shock. God says be thankful IN all things so I'm thankful IN this sickness.
Anybody who is new to this sickness just remember that it's okay to cry and to be confused and to even feel sorry for yourself for a short time. Just get it out your system, dust yourself off, find stregnth whether it's in God's word or a support group or family. You can live a happy healthy life. Maybe you'll never play professional football but remember you can still be the coach.
God Bless and be strong and of good courage.
And oh yeah, next year I plan to be back on my motorcycle. I'll share the pics.