You know how you hear words over and over and they are so common you don’t even really stop to consider their profound meaning? I mean, I recall for many years my mother in law or my father in law would comment about their cardiologist or my mom mentioned her surgeon or my dad mentioned his oncologist… words. Merely common words.
I was talking on the telephone last evening with a friend of mine… the friend whose husband just died and she was asking me for the specifics of what has happened around here this week. So I sort of rattled off statements that were interspersed with old vocabulary words that have now become part of my every day speech. She said… wait, can you believe you said, “Wes’s cardiologist?” And I laughed. It was nervous laughter that became this morning’s tears. I was hugging my husband, my head resting on his heart, and I cried at the events of the week. There’s time for crying now. There’s no time for tears when the activities call for action and attention. There’s no time for crying when the responsibilities call for attention and clear thought. But this morning called for neither—nothing but hugs and praise. And the words that have been so easily rolling off my tongue sort of all got caught in my throat today and my mind was sort of in a blur and I gasped as I realized: what the heck? my *husband* has a cardiologist?
I have this little shelf beside my sink above the bathroom counter. It’s become my habit every night to set my glasses on the shelf, to put my bracelet on the hook and my hair clips next to my glasses. That little shelf is now lined with bottles… not pretty perfume bottles, but amber coloured bottles with with my husband’s name and… c-a-r-d-i-o-l-o-g-i-s-t-‘s name on them. More words. As probable as it was for my husband to travel this path and hit this part of the road, I was completely unprepared for personal use of words that I was fairly accustomed to hearing… in other’s lives. Other husband’s lives. Other’s homes.
My husband(!) carries nitroglycerin now. Nitro’s… you know, little pills old people carry with them to relieve the symptoms of angina. Angina!?! When did that word become part of my husband’s lingo? It’s so bizarre to even consider let alone realize that we’ve entered the world of statins, ACE inhibitors, Beta blockers, blood thinners; the segment of the population for whom all sorts of acronyms and initials describe their own personal medical conditions and history. MI and CA stents now appear on my husband’s medical records and that he now carries a card in his wallet that has a bar code on it… id-ing him as a cardiology patient – a card that can be referenced the next time… I blink. The next time?
Those words… myocardial infarction… still ring in my ears. I still marvel that I sat in that waiting room and talked with the doctor and answered his questions. How long had my husband had heart disease? A myocardial infarct was his first sign. For too many people those words are their first sign of heart disease, too.
How I praise the Lord I was able to talk with the cardiologist after the successful procedure was completed. I sobered up real fast when he said that if Wes hadn’t come in when he did and hadn’t begun that heparin and nitroglycerin that he may well have suffered a massive heart attack and the outcome might not have been favourable. I read just today of yet another man whose first sign of cardiovascular disease was a fatal MI.
The warning signs were all around. We read them… the were common words. Those words became sirens… we’re so listening now.