Autobio Time Again.
After being told I had to have an angiogram to see the condition of my heart, Barbara and I walked to “Hope Hospital,” a privately run institution and arrived at the appointed time. The admitting doctor was aghast that we’d walked there in my condition, since it was a steep long uphill walk all the way.
I was taken to a room for “prep”, which included shaving my leg where they would make incision in an artery before inserting a wire to run up into my heart. There would be dye released directly into the heart, which would be watched on a continual x-ray to see if it indicated any blockage.
I was a bit apprehensive because when my father had had one of his angiograms, his heart had stopped and it took a number of tries before the doctor could restart it. However, my confidence was in the Lord here, and I could lay aside my doubts. I also knew that Dr. H was very competent and not very religious.
When I was wheeled into the operating room, Dr. H greeted me warmly. He worked swiftly, finishing the procedure in a few minutes and I didn’t feel a thing. When it was over he said, “Well, Mr. Stephen, I have bad news. The most important artery in your heart is clogged 95%. You could have a heart attack at any time, and it would be fatal.In addition, the blockage is right at a fork to another important artery. We can’t p ut in a stent because it might block the flow of blood to the secondary artery and that, too, could cause a heart attack.”
“So, what does that mean?” I asked.
“It means that you need open heart surgery for a double bypass. And you need it soon.”
“So when can you do it?”
“I don’t do open heart surgery, but it is done here in this hospital and they can do it tomorrow, if you are willing.”
That certainly put the pressure on for a decision. “OK, let me talk to my wife and we’ll make a decision,” I said.
The orderly wheeled me back to my room where Barbara was waiting and I gave her the news. While we were discussing options, two surgeons came in to talk with us about the possible operation. They were reassuring and answered all our questions, including, “How much will it cost?”
“What do you think it will cost?” asked one doctor.
“I would guess about 20,000 Turkish lira,” I said.
“That’s close. It will be about 25,000,” he said. “That is about $17,000.”
Well, I certainly was in no position to bargain about cost, lying there with my leg bandaged up and a big sandbag putting pressure on the incision. Besides, I knew that this was a great price. In America such an operation would cost much more than that. A friend had recently had two stents put in spending only one night in the hospital and it had cost $45,000!
The next morning I was prepped further, including shaving off my beard so the oxygen mask would fit firmly around my mouth during the operation.
A group of friends came to “see me off,” and I gave them the victory sign as I was wheeled into the operating room. I had no fear. I thought, “This is really a great win/win situation. If I die, I go to be with the Lord; if I live, I get to stay with my wife!” I felt perfectly at peace, and was thankful that the Lord had strengthened my faith to the point that I could face possible death without a twinge.