Friday, July 11, 2014

Scared to LIFE!

The more common phrase we hear is, "Scared to Death!"

Well, we recently had a major scare.  But we've chosen that it will scare us to life - not death.

This little "episode" in our journey has caused major re-evaluation in our way of living.  It is proving to be one of those crossroads moments we all encounter.  And we've taken a definite turn.

"Sheri, what on earth are you talking about?"

Several weeks ago, we had two families move within just a few days of one another.  Of course, Frank and John were there to help pack the moving trucks.  And Frank ended up with a pulled muscle in his chest.

He nursed it along for a couple of weeks then made an appointment with his doctor to confirm that it was just a muscle issue.

The doctor did an EKG and scheduled a stress test.  All routine.  Frank sailed through both.

The next day, he got a call requesting that he come in to discuss the results.  We finished our lunch appointment with a new church family and I decided to ride with him.  An errand in that part of town made it a wise choice, we thought.

We walked in to the doctor's office and took our seats.  (Frank's regular physician was out of town so we met with his associate.)  The new doctor came in, shook our hands, flipped open Frank's chart.

Without emotion he said, "Mr. Hawley, I'm sending you directly to the hospital for a heart cathiterization."

Time froze.  We both stared with blank expressions.  Our minds swirled trying to process his words.

"Excuse me, what?"  Frank regained his voice first.

"Based on these results," continued the doctor. "I'm sending you straight over to the hospital.  I don't even want you to go home and pack anything.  I'm hoping they can do the procedure this afternoon."

Frank's last hospitalization was 36 years ago.  For appendicitis.

He has walked the halls of the finest hospitals and medical training facilities in the southeast - as pastor and as chaplain.  Never as a patient.

It took us a few moments to regroup and wrap our heads around what this doctor was telling us.

"Of course, the choice is totally up to you.  But if you leave here and wait for Dr. Vasquez to return, I can tell you I don't feel comfortable with that.  There was a change in the EKG and your stress test showed some points of real concern.  The wise choice is to have this surgical procedure right away.  Let them look at your arteries and put in a stint if necessary."  The doctor looked up from the chart with a patient but determined expression.

Frank and I looked at one another then nodded in agreement.

Within an hour, they had whisked us through the checked in.  An IV was in Frank's arm.  Monitors were beeping.  The frustrating hospital gown had been donned.  We moved like people in a dream.

The girls, the church board and our parents were called.  We filled out forms; answered questions; silently wondered what lay ahead.

The procedure actually took place first thing the next morning.  In half an hour it was over and I was talking with the surgeon.  There is blockage but only about 20%.  They did another test to rule out blood clots in his lungs.  That was clear.

Our own doctor went over the results of everything with us.  "You didn't require a stint," he said.  "But you must respect what we've discovered.  Exercise 45 minutes a day, four times a week.  Low carbs.  Red meat no more than once a week.  Only two servings of caffeine a day.  A new medication to lower cholesterol."

"Don't ignore this, Frank."  Dr. Vasquez leveled his gaze directly at us.  "This is a serious matter that requires serious life-style changes."

And we're making those changes.  Calmly.  Quietly.  No fanfare.  Just changing.

Because of a missions trip (we leave today to work with a church in Padova, Italy) we had talked of cancelling a few days of vacation we had scheduled.  We took those days - and rested.

Frank now starts at the gym four mornings a week then goes directly to his prayer room.

We cancelled another conference we were to attend in August.  And we're replacing it with a few more days of vacation.

We're eating so much fruit, fish and chicken that I think I found a pin feather on my arm yesterday.  And I'm certain I'm swimming better.

 A few take-aways for me:
  • When you're scared, it's comforting to see faces of those you love.  (Thanks for driving twenty miles to "drop by" and be with us, dear ones.)
  • Nurses are important people!
  • Right choices have lifetime consequences.  I'm so thankful Frank made that appointment!
  • Change is often for the good - if we see it that way.
This scared us.  No doubt about it.  But we've chosen to let it scare us to LIFE!

Is there something you've been meaning to follow up on?  Do it today.  Right choices have lifetime consequences.  

PS - Kristin, Frank and I will be part of a ten-person team ministering to children in Italy for the next ten days.  Steve and Patti Gray are our missionaries in Padova.  They target immigrant children from dozens of different nations and share the Gospel through VBS/tutoring programs.  They asked last fall that we bring a team to help this summer.  We're so thankful to be part of this powerful ministry.

Please pray for us as we go.  We've asked that God give us the hearts of many children (and parents). 


  1. Sheri,

    You're leaving for Italy TODAY and you had time for a blog post? I'm impressed, my friend!

    Steve and I have thought of you guys so often and prayed for you--will continue to do so as you travel. Unfortunately, Italy is not known for its low carb fare--but olive oil is good for you, right? :-)

    Love you both! (And I wish I was packing my Nikon to go with you--enjoy the splendor of that country!)

  2. I am so glad that Frank is ok. Positive lifestyle changes are well worth the effort and you'll both benefit from them. Travel safely and I will pray for Frank's good health and for a successful mission trip. Will be anxious to hear about it when you return!

  3. Wow, that was a scare! So gad Frank is alright and that the problem was found and is being addressed. Blessing and safety on your trip--may it be fruitful!

    Deb Mantik