Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tick, tick, tick...

My heart doesn't beat any more. Ever since my friend and surgeon Dennis replaced my aortic valve with a carbon-fiber mechanical valve, my heart doesn't go 'lub dub' like yours does. No, he didn't turn me into the undead. Now that I think of it...he may have, however, have turned me into a time bomb (I gotta remember to talk to him about that). Why do I say that? Well, instead of beating, my heart now ticks! Just like a wristwatch! It's pretty cool - if the room is quiet enough, you can actually hear my heart ticking like a loud watch. At night when we lay in bed, Camille and I can hear it clearly. Tick, tick, tick. The hilarious thing is that it gets louder when I open my mouth! If I open my mouth and hold it up to your ear, you will hear my heart. Weird, huh? And pretty stinkin' amazing.

The tick is obviously from the new man-made valve doing its job. Out of all the intricate, amazing, specialized parts in my body, my new aortic valve will be the last one to wear out. It's like a Timex - it just keeps on ticking! One day my heart is gonna stop...but it won't be because of that valve. As long as my heart is beating, it will do its job. Day in and day out - until the day I stand before God. Tick, tick, tick. That valve is now officially the most dependable part of my body. I will always hear it working, if I listen. Talk about peace of mind!

As my mind struggles to make sense of the experience that has been the last couple of years of my life...feeling healthy but worrying about health, dreading the inevitable surgery, praying for miracles, uncertainty, fear, faith...I am just starting to grasp what an incredible gift my Creator has given me. Tick, tick, tick...I now have a constant reminder of His love and concern for me. From now on, whenever doubts creep in or the 'fear of man' looms like a shadow in my thoughts, I will hear that tick and know that He is still in control. He has always taken care of me, always seen me all of the way through the hard times and into the joy that awaits on the other side. It's as if He arranged for my mechanical heart valve as a sort of marker - an unavoidable, indisputable sign that He saved my life and that I can keep trusting Him with everything else no matter what.

That sort of begs questions about just what is gonna take place in my future to where I would need such a tangible sign of His love and protection. I guess I could be a little scared thinking about that stuff. But that would defeat the purpose of the tick, tick, tick. I'm convinced that the sign was put there as a reassurance, a reminder that He is at the wheel and that He is a very good driver. And that is good news indeed!

I have a lot of anxiety about this next year. Because I'm a commercial pilot, I am bound by FAA rules. Those rules say that I am 'grounded' after heart surgery and cannot re-apply for my medical certificate until six months after the surgery. Then it is a few month process of tests, medical exam boards and physicals before I will be cleared to fly again. In short, I will be out of work for the rest of the year, maybe more. That's a little scary. Like you, I have a mortgage to worry about and bills to pay. That's not to mention medical co-payments for a major surgery. It's easy to become overwhelmed and feel a bit hopeless. But...tick, tick, tick. Whenever the room quiets, I can hear my heart ticking - and that quiets my anxiety. My Creator didn't bring me this far to leave me to drown in the trivial stuff like money and careers. My heart reminds me of this several times a day.

So, I am looking forward to this next year as one of opportunity. There are several things that Camille and I have always dreamed of trying. I now have the time to try them. I feel God gently pushing us into a new area of our lives. Where we will end up, only He knows. But I am excited! The ticking in my heart tells me that He will be with us every step of the way. If I have learned anything in life so far, it is that while the trip is often bumpy, if we keep letting Him drive, our destination is always worth the journey. So, I'll be happily along for the ride - making sure to quiet my thoughts enough to always hear that tick, tick, tick.

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