"PLEASE LET ME DIE!"
By: Dan Revoir
GOLD MINING OPERATIONS
The prospectors, after finding a stream where there seemed to be a good amount of gold dust or very small particles of gold, started using more elaborate methods to find greater quantities. Some would build sluice boxes to channel water, which was directed on dirt and gravel that they had shoveled onto screening. This process allowed the gold to settle as the lighter dirt and gravel washed away.
In some large rivers elevator dredges were used to scoop up the dirt and silt on the river bottom. After a significant find, prospectors brought in hydraulic equipment to spray torrents of water against gold bearing gravel. Some larger claims required mining shafts and heavy duty drilling equipment in pursuit of this precious substance.
The gold of my faith was still being gathered; only at this point it was being discovered by operations--several of them to be exact.
In December of 1981, I had the dubious honor of developing pneumonia. Everyone else is out playing in the four feet of snow, running their snowmobiles, shoveling off their roofs so they don't collapse (the roofs, that is). And I'm home taking antibiotics and trying not to get chilled. (There are two chances of not getting chilled in northern Michigan: slim and none!) The winters in South Boardman last about six months, coming and going. In fact, they have a saying up there, "We only get three days of summer up here and they usually are in the first week of August." It's a fact that you can usually expect the first frost in the month of August!
By March 1982, the weather was much nicer and my health seemed to be improved. There was still a considerable amount of snow, but it was a nice day and the sun was shining so I decided to go for a walk. My pneumonia was a thing of the past and I love to walk: it gives me time to think and also a time to talk to my Father, the King. But this day it was different. After about half a mile, I noticed a shortness of breath, and a tightening in my chest. This will really date me, but I remember the little green demon or goblin called "Peter Pain", and how he would twist a rope with a stick around a person's chest like a tourniquet. Then he would twist the stick until the person grimaced with pain. After applying "Ungentine" both "Peter Pain" and the pain would be gone! I was soon to find out that "Ungentine" would not take away my chest pain!
Martha my wife made an appointment for me with our family doctor and I told him my lungs still had not recovered from the pneumonia. His stethoscope and a set of x-rays told him differently! His words, "I am going to refer you to a cardiologist in Traverse City," sounded like a sentence of doom.
On April 7, 1982 the heart doctor worked me into his busy schedule. After being ushered into his office, his nurse began filling out a form. You know, all the usual questions: "Have you ever had diabetes? Mumps? Chicken pox? Measles?" Who knows? How can you remember? I was a little kid when all that happened. When she asked if there was any insanity in my background, I told her, "Yes, we are all crazy!"
But she did ask me, "Do you drink?"
I replied, "NO!"
She said, "Socially?"
Again, I replied, "NO!"
"Just a little bit?"
She said, "You mean to tell me you do not drink at all?"
I replied, "That is exactly what I am trying to say."
Then we played the same game with smoking, again with a negative response.
Her last response was, "What in the world do you do for fun?" I told her that it probably would sound very boring to her.
There are pleasures in sin! I would be a fool to say there weren't! One can find happiness in the world with all its allurements. But pleasure and happiness are very elusive enjoyments which can never compare to "joy unspeakable and full of glory" that we find in I Peter 1:8. Or the "peace that passeth all understanding", which we see in Philippians 4:6-7.
The doctor gave me a stress test and it was marginal. He asked me if there was any history of heart trouble in my family. My answer was that every Revoir that I knew had died of heart trouble--unless they were hanged!Actually heart problems were prevalent on both sides of my family.
As the cardiologist was instructing the nurse to schedule the heart catheterization, I reminded him that I was very allergic to I.V.P. dye, which is used for the contrast enabling the doctor to view the arteries of the heart.
Several months prior to this time, after suffering a gall bladder attack, the doctor performed a series of gall bladder tests to determine the source of the problem. One of them was to inject I.V.P. dye and take x-rays to see if any large gallstones had developed. After they had injected the dye, red blotches started going up my arm and a hot, flushed, prickly feeling covered my face and body. A very definite message was imprinted on my mind, to be very sure to inform the doctor if I.V.P. dye was to be used again.
The doctor's response after hearing my warning was not to be concerned about it. There is no reason to worry he said with a laugh.
Was I worrying? Yes! Did I stop worrying? No!
The eventful day came; the doctor reviewed the procedure with me. Pointing to a monitor or glorified television, he said that I could watch the whole procedure if I wanted to. He mentioned that I seemed a little uptight and that there was nothing to worry about.
Then he told me all the things which could go wrong, ending with, "There is only about a 2% mortality rate with heart catheterizations." But somewhere in the recesses of my brain there was a red light flashing, "Danger, danger," and in spite of his reassurances, I still was very uneasy. He continued, assuring me that the only pain I would feel would be the anesthetic shot in order to numb the insertion sight.
As I watched the monitor, it was possible to see the catheter snaking its way through the femoral artery (large artery in the leg) leading to my heart. It was so amazing to watch the rhythmic beat of the heart, the greatest pump ever created. As the catheter came to the valve that you could actually see opening, the doctor inserted it right into the heart. There it fluttered back and forth as the blood swirled in and out of that chamber.
Almost in a rhetorical statement the doctor mentioned he was about to inject the dye. As he did you could see the contrast dye very clearly, like a puff of smoke from a cannon. The heart beat three or four more times and then stopped. Completely!
What a strange sensation! There was no pain, no panic, just as though this was happening to someone else. All I did notice was that it felt as though someone had started stacking weights on my chest.
The doctor and nurses were almost screaming for me to cough. This procedure is to clear the heart of the dye but the coughing did not clear the heart or start it again. The realization struck me that this was my heart and that the monitor had straight-lined, and I was about to die. Still there was no fear or panic. t was probably too late for that anyway!
Everyone was rushing around the room yelling orders in a frenzy of activity. Finally a shot was injected into my IV tube and after an eternity, the heart quivered and beat again, and again and again, until it reached its normal rate.
Later I asked the doctor if he remembered that I had emphatically warned him about my allergic reaction to I.V.P. dye. No comment....
The catheterization revealed four major blockages. I was stunned! How could this be? I have always taken good care of myself, being careful to exercise and not to be overweight. Being a meat cutter by occupation before becoming a pastor, I had always prided myself on being able to carry two hinds of beef at one time. There was virtually nothing I was unable to lift, if I wanted to. Now I was faced with the earth-shattering news of being a heart patient. That only happened to old people! I was too young for heart problems! Little did I know that once again I was prospecting for the gold of faith in my life.
Upon hearing the doctor's report, I wanted him to fix it now! But he declined, saying, that we could try to control it with medication. This seemed to be doing the job until three months later on the sixth of July.
Our church, which was growing very rapidly, had started a softball team. God was blessing our ministry and souls were being saved almost every week. I state this because it is imperative that you realize I BELIEVE I WAS DOING GOD'S WILL! The ball team went to a small town 20 miles south of South Boardman, called Manton, for a game. I decided to try to play so that we would have a full team and not forfeit the game.
As we warmed up before the game, I noticed a slight discomfort in my stomach. Just a little touch of indigestion, I told myself. After a couple innings the indigestion worsened, so I told our team captain I was going to sit on the bench for a little while. Martha came over to me and she had a worried look on her face. I tried to reassure her that nothing was wrong and asked her to run up to the pastor's house, where we were playing, to see if she could get some antacid. She returned with a roll of them and I chewed up several. After waiting 15 minutes there was no relief.
My skin was cold and clammy and beads of perspiration broke out on my brow. Then the truth hit home: it was a heart attack! The game ended (we lost), and I asked our friends to quickly run us home. By then the pain was quite intense and when we arrived home, Martha got me the nitroglycerine tablets the doctor had prescribed. After dissolving three of them under my tongue and still not getting any relief, I told Martha we better go to the Traverse City Munson Medical Center. They took me to the Intensive Cardiac Care Unit (ICCU) and after hooking me up to the monitors and giving me an EKG, they concurred that the condition was a heart attack.
But then my heart began to slow down to the point of stopping. Lights flashed and an alarm went off and I thought I had won a prize! Doctors and nurses came pouring into my room. The doctors were shouting orders and a nurse gave me a shot of atropine. Slowly my heart responded to the drug and started to beat again. Was it a coincidence that my heart didn't stop until I was in the hospital?
We had traveled from Manton to South Boardman, a distance of about 20 miles. Then we drove from Boardman to Munson Medical Center. You would have to travel that road to know how winding and twisting it is. It requires at least 50 minutes to drive that 28 miles unless you are a world class Grand Prix driver. Martha is not. We spent all that time on the road and being admitted to the hospital and my heart did not stop until I was hooked up to the monitor. Why? Was it a colossal streak of luck? Was it a 10,000 to one coincidence? Was it fate? I believe with all my heart and soul that God is King and sovereign of this universe and everything moves and happens according to His perfect will. It was not His will for me to die. IT WAS NOT MY APPOINTED TIME! (Hebrews 9:27) There is a point in all of this. Every day, I would walk five miles in an hour, then pump out 70 push-ups and sit-ups, and on to a regime of working out with weights. Religiously. I was in top physical shape for a man my age. In fact, when the young people would come up from GRSBM, they had a hard time keeping up with me as we walked. One day I could do all that, and the next day I was a patient in ICCU having faced the possibility of a fatal heart attack!
I also believe that a child of God (believer) is indestructible until the time God calls him home. Do we have any assurance of tomorrow? Can any of us be sure of the future?
The apostle James tells us that "life is a vapor that appeareth for a short time and vanisheth away."
Many times I've heard people say, "Someday I'll start going to church." "I'll get my life right with God when I get older." Many teenagers feel they are immortal and nothing will happen to them. Many people know about being "saved", having heard the gospel and knowing they should do it but continue putting it off, thinking they have a lifetime to make that decision.
Has Satan ever told you one of these lies? He, according to John 8:44, is the father of all lies. You have no surety of tomorrow, but you do have today. Today to get your life right with God. "Today is the day of salvation", 2 Corinthians 6:2b. We have today to tell our husband or wife how much we love them. We have today to influence our children and teenagers with a good example.
In a few days my heart was stabilized and I was doing quite well although still hooked up to a monitor. It was Sunday morning and to my surprise, a visitor came. He was a big, strong, self-reliant oil and water well worker who also had been a heart patient. That profession is probably one of the most difficult and dangerous jobs in the world.
We had talked several times but he was definitely not a man to be pushed into making a decision. As he walked in, he said, "I decided to come and have church with you this morning." As he sat on my bed, he looked me in the eye and said, "Do you want to know why I really came?"
I said, "Yes, my friend, I know why you are here: you want to be saved." We read some Scripture and we bowed our heads in prayer and Louis confessed to God that he was a sinner and accepted the Lord Jesus Christ into his heart and life. He was crying and I was crying, and a nurse flew into my room because my monitor was going crazy! Praise God for the privilege of leading this dear brother to the blessed Savior. Louis told me that he was afraid I would die before he was saved. But God still had plans for my life. And the refining of it.
After my release from the hospital on August 3, 1982, the cardiologist assured me that the pain would now go away since the damaged heart muscle dies and is replaced by scar tissue and the scar tissue has no nerves in it. Wrong! The pain didn't stop. In fact, it became worse and worse until I could only walk about 20 yards before stopping to wait for the pain to subside. The pain was debilitating; it would stop me right in my tracks.
Again Martha made me an appointment with my heart doctor. As I was seated in his office, he asked me what the problem was.
"The pain, I can't stand it!"
He reached for the phone and said, "Cleveland or Grand Rapids?" I very intelligently replied, "Huh?" He asked me where I wanted my heart surgery done.
This happens to other people, it could not be happening to me. I'm too young to have heart problems and to have by-pass surgery and to always have to take medicine. The words of denial were screaming in my brain!
I could think of a thousand reasons why this shouldn't be happening to me...
I pastor a church that has overgrown its capacity.
People are being reached with the gospel of Christ.
There are so many people dependent on me to meet the spiritual needs in their lives.
I am a servant of God, trying to do His will to the best of my ability.
Now this doctor tells me I'm going to have by-pass surgery. This isn't fair! It shouldn't be happening to me! God, why does it seem you are so far away? Why can't I feel your presence all the time? As David cried out in Psalms 10:1, "Why standest thou afar off, O Lord? Why hidest thou in times of trouble?" God, you said that there is nothing impossible to you. You can touch my heart and heal me, then I won't be laid up for months trying to regain my strength to continue to serve you. Hundreds of scriptures crossed my mind, words about God's love, His mercy, grace and power, about Him being a loving Father that "pities those that fear Him." But now it was time for God to have His will in my life. And like Paul, the apostle, I can say, "I bear in my body the marks of Jesus Christ." My first would be a scar that runs all the way from the top of my breast bone to a couple inches above my navel. Somehow, this didn't seem as though it would be the last!
The night before the surgery while lying in bed reading God's Word, mostly in the Psalms, I spent much time talking with my heavenly Father. There was absolutely no fear or anxiety within me. There was no guarantee of surviving the procedure but everything inside me was peaceful and tranquil. And it did not come from a pill or a shot. This was the peace of God which passes all understanding and the joy unspeakable and full of glory that I talked about previously. It is a peace that no circumstance can take away, not even death.
Bypass surgery is extensively used everywhere. Basically, they split your chest with a "Skil" circular saw! I still wonder where the sawdust goes. Then, have you ever watched the mechanic at a garage fix a flat tire? They have a machine that hooks on both edges of the tire and it goes plop, spreading the sides of the tire apart so it can be repaired. Well...when they aren't using the machine they loan it to the hospital so they can hook it on both sides of the rib cage and split you like a chicken, enabling the doctors to proceed with the surgery!
Upon returning to my room from recovery, I was quite coherent. At least I was aware of substantial pain. (If someone splits your chest with a "Skil" saw, substantial pain is an understatement). Of course, we did the old "cough-three-times" routine, which was great fun but not as much fun as the case of hiccups which developed. Does your chest move when you hiccup? You better believe it does! Instant pain. The nurse rushed out and came back with a tablespoon of sugar, which she put under my tongue. It works, it really does! She was a real angel. In a few moments a male nurse walked into my room telling me to sit up on the side of my bed.
Again, I intelligently replied, "Say what?"
He repeated his command and I thought this guy must have escaped from the mental ward so I told him (as if he was not aware of it), that I just had open heart surgery. In moments, my feet were dangling off the side of my bed! Then he gave me words of comfort and assurance, "Tomorrow morning we are going for a walk." He was true to his word. We did!
The term "indestructible" was stamped into my mind as the heart surgeon came to talk with me. He recounted the procedure on my heart, saying that after he opened my chest he could see the four blockages very plainly. But had been amazed to see a blood clot in one of the main feeder arteries. The blood clot had passed through the heart and lodged in an artery...very few people survive that! Great is our God and greatly to be praised!
Before leaving the hospital, I was walking about a half mile every day, upstairs and downstairs: the real test of how the heart is going to work. The doctor's instructions were to add one tenth of a mile to my walk every day, keeping the heartbeat within a certain range to guard against stressing it too much. I progressed quite well and was released by the doctor to start preaching and ministering again. Much to my disappointment, the first Sunday back in the pulpit, our attendance was down from about 125 to 50. Satan is alive and well on planet earth and he was successful in scattering the flock while I was in the hospital.
I am reminded of the story about the dear saintly woman who always had something good to say about everybody. She was remonstrated by an elderly gentleman who said, "I bet you have something good to say even about the devil."
Her reply was, "Well, you have to admit he is persistent."
I had survived a heart attack, months of pain, by-pass surgery, lousy hospital food, and was filled with a peace and confidence. Possibly now I could get on with my life and my ministry, trying to rebuild my church again, reaching our community for the Lord Jesus Christ.
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