Surprise, surprise!

by Jim Carne

It shouldn't have been a surprise; my father had a cornorary and died of heart disease, stroke and cancer at the age of fifty-seven. My mother suffered as well from all three and died at sixty-three. They were both heavy smokers, however, and my hope of escape lay in the fact that I neither smoked nor drank alcohol.

I had had a rather sedentary life for 43 years as a preacher, although, as a part of my ministry, I helped my parishioners by laying blocks, fixing cars and wiring houses. I did the same on 25 short-term missions trips in third world countries.

I retired from pastoral ministry when I was 67 and, 4 hours into my retirement, got a call to help a truck-driver friend. At the age of 75 I was driving transport trucks yet and began to experience what I discovered later to be the pain of Angina.

Two stress tests revealed no blockage but imaging, associated with the second one, revealed the need for an angiogram. I entered the hospital on a Friday and was shocked to discover that the angiogram revealed that I had 3 blocked arteries, one to the extent of 90%, with a blood clot. I had a triple bypass the following Monday, without ever leaving the hospital.

My recovery was normal, although I suffered some depression and 'cabin fever' because it happened during the winter months. I had no problem with the healing of the chest incision or my leg wound (which was only an inch and a half long. I'm still mystified about that)! I took the physio-therapy and was back driving truck in four months.

The surgery freed me from Angina and I have had no problems wheeling cement, carrying blocks and doing pick and shovel work, although I do need an occasional 'breather.'

I turned 82 last week and hope to go on another missions trip in a couple of months to Romania. I discovered just to-day, however, that I have a history of congenital heart failure (no-one told me until now) and am booked into a clinic in order to manage this. The results will indicate, I suspect, whether or not I can still wheel cement and carry blocks!

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