We continue our September series on "What I Did This Summer" with stories shared by Sandy Wade Hagan, a member of St. John's who currently serves on the Vestry and by Stan Terhune, a member of Farnham and Senior Warden of the Farnham Vestry.
Heart Matters: A Summer of Renewal
“It was a fluke finding out what was wrong.” So began Sandy Hagan’s story of how she acquired a Pacemaker and lived into its being a part of her life over the summer.
“I lost a whole day but gained a lifetime.” So began Stan Terhune’s story of his day of open-heart surgery in May after a major heart attack.
Sandy had survived a major heart attack ten years before. She recounted a bit about that earlier event. How when the heart attack happened, she sat on the side of the bed very calmly considering whether this was just her “time” to go or time to intervene in what was happening. “My mind became very logical, considering is this a natural thing to do? Why not just let go? But then the thought: I want to see my grandchildren grow up. So, I called 911.”
Flash forward to the Pacemaker. “I was at the doctor’s office for a brief visit to get the results of routine blood work and the nurse suggested taking my pulse and blood pressure as I waited. She thought the monitor was not working, kept trying. Then ran out of the room to get the doctor. My pulse was 38, then 35, I was practically a cadaver.” Sandy described getting ready: errands to run, making food and care arrangements for her dogs and cats, of course a priority for her. Even researching pacemakers, then telling the doctor, “I want the deluxe model, blue tooth, wifi, the works!” The surgery only required an overnight stay in the hospital. Sandy shared: “The room had no windows and I’m claustrophobic. About 4 a.m. I finally called the nurse, ‘I’m in trouble, I have to breathe air, touch grass, see the sky.’ She led me out of the room and outside so I could. I did. She led me back to my room and I made it through the night.”
For Stan the events of Sunday April 28
are graphically etched on his memory. “I was getting ready for church and the pain really hit me.” Telling Betsy, his wife, that maybe he needed to go to the hospital, though he had resisted the idea for a couple of days of feeling lesser pains. Their getting as far as Thomas’ store before he agrees for an ambulance to be called. The aspirin someone at the store gets him. The ER doctor diagnosing heart attack and sending him on to Richmond. A catherization procedure that stints wouldn’t work, open heart by-pass surgery was needed. A couple of days waiting for the surgery but using the time to plan for those he cared for: family, his business and the employees there. And then what Stan calls the “lost day” of pre-op, surgery, post op. The day that gained him a lifetime. A renewed lifetime that he began to live into, recuperating in the hospital then home-bound for most of the early summer. Stan describes that time: “Very relaxing, a lot of resting, rehabilitating and walking. No anxiety about how work was going. Lots of company, good family time.” The comment, “Maybe God was getting me to slow down.” And, “I was incredibly at peace during the whole time.”
Both Sandy and Stan spoke of gratitude, thankfulness for the doctors, staff, all their caregivers. Stan called the night shift, his “night angels.” Both had stories of important planning between the time they knew of surgery and it’s happening, of arrangements they wanted in place for those they cared about and depended on them. And both shared the amazing sense of peace they felt throughout. A sense that whatever happened, it would be all right. Neither spoke of “fear’ but of faith, trust, time slowing and moments that I the listener of their stories would call “grace.” And even though neither of them could have anticipated what their spring and summer would bring to impact their hearts, I came away from their storytelling with a sense of their experiencing and finding this summer an even deeper and more abiding rhythm carrying them forward. A grace-full, heart renewing summer. Thanks be to God. And heartful thanks from all of us to Sandy and Stan for sharing their stories.