On the afternoon of Good Friday I was scheduled to go in for a heart catheterization, or angiogram. My echocardiogram a couple weeks back indicated I need a new aorta valve. I believed the angiogram would be an easy in-out experience. Perhaps I did not hear (or want to hear) the part where the doctors and nurses said that unforeseen problems can sometimes arise. My experience getting the angiogram did not turn out as I expected.
About 4:30 I was back in recovery. I was strictly instructed I must lie flat for about three hours, especially to not move my right leg, to never lift my head, and it’s best to not move a muscle. If I lifted my head a moment, I was quickly told to put my head down. Although this position seems tolerable, it is not. Soon my back began to ache. Hang in there, I thought. I will get out of here soon. But then a nurse noticed a hematoma building up near the wound. This called for much painful rubbing and kneading to make that lump of blood go away. The super-stick bandage was removed and replaced accompanied by my groans.
Nurses had said that after three hours I could sit up, then soon start to walk and after not long, I could go home. After three hours they raised me slightly toward a sitting position. But within minutes my groin wound began streaming blood. Now caring hands applied much more painful pressure on the spot to staunch the flow. “This is not uncommon,” one kind nurse told me. After the fire was out, we were back to first base. My blood pressure was ranging high and the wound not closing as easily as expected so plans were made for me to stay overnight. By now it was eight o’clock and instead of going home, I was urged to not move for four hours.
Some of you may have had this experience. I had not. During those long hours I was determined to cooperate and keep my blood inside me. But in that awkward position my back muscles were crying out for relief, for some movement to relieve the pressure points. It was nearly intolerable except for brief periods when a nurse would adjust a pillow under my knees or something. After midnight I got relief when I could roll to my side. I got a couple hours sleep, but that’s all.
I must make it clear that every nurse and doctor that attended me was kind and caring especially at every unexpected turn. But I was trapped by these medical do-gooders. I was totally dependent on them. My urge to urinate came more often than it should, and I needed skilled hands to help me do that without moving most of my body. Drinks and pills got into my mouth with my head carefully tilted to one side. Many people have endured longer and more devastating pain than I did. I’m just an amateur at this business. But it opened a window in my mind, to consider anew what Good Friday was really like.
For this brief period of my life I was enduring lots of unexpected pain. There was not a thing I could do about it. And I needed someone else’s hand to do even the simplest things for me. I tried to let this be a pain offering to God. I thanked God that I had just a small taste of Jesus’ pain and helplessness on the cross. This does not mean I had a deeply spiritual experience, far from it. I just had a taste of being helpless and in pain for a few hours of Good Friday. And I hated it.
By the time most of you read this, we will have celebrated Easter Sunday - Resurrection Day! And I love the victory Jesus brings. But even in his resurrected body his wounds remain clear. And I am so fortunate, so blessed, to know that my physical heart will get repaired sometime in the coming weeks. God willing, I will have an extension of new life for a few years before the ultimate glorious day of resurrection opens for me, and for all who trust in our Mighty Risen Savior. The one with the wounds.