Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Heart Problem?

This morning, I awoke fairly early, coughing so hard I thought I'd choke to death! Well, obviously, I didn't die, otherwise I wouldn't be writing this entry.

This afternoon, things seemed to improve, as I wasn't coughing as much (at least not every 10 seconds or so, like yesterday!) and by this evening, I was feeling greatly improved. Since it has moved to my lungs, I am not coughing as often, but cough rather deeply, when I do. My headache is easing off, so I can safely say I am feeling improved. Even if I am feeling rather weak, yet. Hopefully, tomorrow will show even greater improvement, with God's help! Thank you to all who have prayed for healing for me! May God bless you, richly.

Since I've had two (2) days of rest, to reflect on my brother's death and information I found out, while visiting with my sister and elder brother, I've come to the conclusion that Glenn's heart gave out on him. I'm not a doctor, but I believe it is a good guess.

The coroner and police never found anything suspicious. Since he had quite a few serious health complications from diabetes and a history of heart attacks, the coroner said he believed Glenn died of natural causes. No autopsy was ordered.

A few years ago, before any amputations took place, Glenn went to Oakville-Trafalgar Hospital for a stress test. As he began the test, they stopped him, unhooked the equipment and took him into the Emergency Room (ER), telling Glenn he was having a heart attack, at that very time.

Glenn was shocked, because he didn't know he was having a heart attack. Further testing, as an inpatient, showed damage from two (2) prior heart attacks. So, this was actually his third (3rd) heart attack!

It was explained to him that diabetic people sometimes have damage to their nerve endings. Glenn was told this was the case with his heart problem, for he never had any pain or symptoms.

This might sound good on the surface, but it is truly dangerous, for if a person doesn't know they are in crisis, they can't get help.

It was about this time, when I made a serious effort to talk with Glenn about Jesus. And, his need for salvation. Glenn also came to visit us in Windsor and went to church with us. I recall that our Pastor had preached a sermon about people having a problem of the heart. The reason I remember this, is because Glenn spoke with Pastor D, after the worship service and spoke with him about his physical heart problem. Unfortunately, Glenn had missed the point that the sermon was not about physical heart problems, but about problems of the heart, from a spiritual sense.

In any case, both Gordon and I made a conscious effort to help Glenn see that he needed to be saved.

While being hospitalized before his first amputation, Glenn did make a profession of faith, trusting in Jesus for his salvation. I was so-o very happy. So was Gordon. My happiness was short-lived, for as Glenn recovered, he seemed to not find Jesus very important, anymore. At least for a while. We did wonder if his profession of faith had been real, or just made under stress of the situation. We just trusted God, for only He knew, for sure.

Since Glenn didn't live anywhere close to a Bible-believing, Bible-preaching church, where he could have support from church family and learn about God's Word and grow closer to the Lord, it was difficult for him. Couple this with the knowledge that other family and friends weren't really church goers, it was easy to see that Glenn would probably fall away.

Let's face it, even people who on their death bed make a profession of faith, God will accept. The only requirement, is to trust in Jesus. So, I kind of felt like maybe I was worrying about nothing, since it only takes the faith of a tiny, little mustard seed, to have saving faith. Still, I was concerned for my baby brother.

We provided him with a DVD of the Bible, so he could watch it, listen to it. There were times when Glenn would ask questions about what he had read/heard, so we knew he was at least making an effort. We praised God!

Still, knowing his best friend didn't even believe in God and knowing he had no church family for support, it seemed like an uphill battle. Eventually, after much prayer, God revealed the truth to me. He didn't have to. But, He did.

Last summer, before Glenn made the decision to proceed with the amputation of his only leg, Glenn told me that he was going away with our sister for a few days. He told me that upon his return, he was just going to not attend dialysis anymore and let his body die, so he wouldn't have to have the amputation done.

Glenn asked me how God would feel about this. Truthfully, it was a difficult conversation, for how on earth was I to know for sure how God would feel? So, we discussed the fact that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and we are to care for them as such. (Okay, okay, so some of fail miserably at this!)

Glenn admitted being angry at God, for the condition of his life and the trials he had to endure. Rightly so. Most of us would feel the same way. We discussed the fact that God is a BIG God; he can handle us being angry. He loves us, anyway.

Glenn asked me if God would think he was committing suicide if he refused health care/treatment, like his dialysis. Again, I had to admit that I truly didn't know, except that once again, if our bodies are temples and we are supposed to care for them, then it made sense to continue treatment, to help him be as healthy as possible.

Suicide was another matter. We discussed the fact that God tells us, in the Bible, that we should should not kill. It doesn't say, we should not kill someone else, but it's okay to kill ourselves.

After discussion about this subject and many other subjects, Glenn assured me he had decided to proceed with the surgery and discarded the notion of not attending dialysis to allow his body to die.

Ultimately, the decision was his. No one elses. Still, I was glad he made the decision to live and trust God for everything else in his life.

Glenn knew that his decision would ultimately change his life, drastically. And, it did. Life without legs, isn't easy...for anyone. Especially, for someone who lived alone, never married, no family nearby, no children and no support available at a moment's notice.

Something wonderful happened though. Glenn began speaking with me more and more about Jesus. I was so-o happy to hear that even though he didn't wear his love for Jesus on his sleeve, he was truly trusting/believing on Him.

During many of our telephone conversations, Glenn would remind me that he was no longer concerned about what would happen in his life. He made it clear that if he were to die, he was okay with it, for he knew where he was going.

There were times, when Glenn would tell me he bottomed out, during dialysis, meaning that his blood pressure dropped so low, he was dying and he was resuscitated. I fully expected to receive a call from the hospital one day, telling me Glenn had died.

Never did I think I would receive a call from my sister S, who hadn't spoken with me in years, notifying me Glenn was found dead at home. It was shocking.

Then, I found out from my older brother B, that apparently Glenn's potassium level, even AFTER dialysis, was extremely high, last Monday. Usually, having dialysis would clear his blood of some of these type of problems, but not so this week, apparently.

On internet, I checked out the problems that could arise from having a potassium level too high, for a diabetic with heart problems. Wikipedia explained that a condition called Hyperkalemia could occur. Hyperkalemia could lead to renal failure. Well, that couldn't have caused Glenn's death, because his kidneys were already dead; hense, the necessity for dialysis.

However, it also explained that Hyperkalemia could cause a variety of symptoms, like tiredness and/or sudden death.

Glenn had told me he was feeling tired, during our last conversation. In fact, he told me he didn't think he was going to live long enough to turn 50 in September. This was only hours before he actually died. The best news of our conversation was that once again, Glenn reminded me, before he told me he loved me, that if he died, he was okay with it, because he knew where he was going. And, praise God for this!

Until next time...

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