It was just four weeks ago, on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, my brother Bob, at age 66, suffered a massive heart attack in the early hours of the morning. He did not really know what was wrong, only that he could not breathe, and it was such an intense feeling he got up, got dressed and asked his wife Karen to take him to the hospital. The feeling of being unable to breathe was so intense, Bob wanted to go to De Paul Hospital, which was just across the street from their house, and didn’t feel he could wait to go to Sentara the larger more specialized hospital which was a few minutes further, although he was moved to Sentara later that afternoon. Fortunately Bob and Karen’s oldest daughter Amanda, who is a Respiratory Therapist, happened to be there when he began to have another oxygen crisis and knew what to do. By the time I heard this news, Bob had been moved to Sentara, was stabilized and the tentative plan was that he would need bypass surgery as he had a lot of blockage in his arteries. None of this surprised me. Our Dad had undergone bypass surgery twice, having a triple bypass at 57 when it was a very new procedure, and then he had six bypasses 10 years later. At the time of our Dad’s first surgery, and up until very recently, cholesterol was believed to be the main culprit in heart disease. This theory still predominates although recent studies can predict heart disease much more accurately. This pattern of heart trouble, especially among the men of the family, went way back, and in fact with only a couple of exceptions, all of them had died of heart trouble in their late 60s to early 70s, all the way back to our 4th great-grandfather who fought in the Revolutionary War. The exceptions were our Dad, who would surely have had the same fate, but had two heart surgeries and lived to be 87. . And our great-grandfather, whose wife had died at a fairly young age, and he moved to a farm in the most bleak corner of northeastern Montana, living a very spartan and frugal life, pretty much raising all his own food and produce. He lived to be 91. All the rest, both in our direct line of ancestry, and the uncles too, seemed to have major issues with heart trouble manifesting about that age and were not long-lived.
We had discussed this before, and Bob was aware of this family history, but he was very health conscious and tried to avoid sugar and processed foods. He never smoked, was not overweight, was active and hard-working. But, those things also described our Dad and pretty much all the other men in the family line who ran up against that wall. The next day all of a sudden I heard they had decided to sedate Bob and put him on a heart pump and a respirator. That was when things started to get really scary. Three years before we had lost our Mother and had to make the difficult decision to turn of the respirator and let her go. But this was different, they assured us – it was just to give his heart a rest to better prepare him for surgery. Still, neither my sister Nancy or I liked the sound of things, and it went downhill from there. All too well I remembered the last time my Mother was taken to Emergency and put in the hospital. Mother had a long history of health issues, and pretty much my whole life since I could remember, she was in the hospital every couple of years for something and had more surgeries than I could count. She had a long list of prescription medications, and during the last several years of her life it seemed that by far the majority of her many Emergency room visits and hospital stays were due to something going haywire with her medications.
This time was no different. We had gone over everything carefully with her doctor and finally gotten all the medications balanced and she was feeling better than she had in years. But, somehow on one of those Emergency room visits, she had been prescribed Nitrofurantoin for a urinary tract infection and we overlooked it – she was prone to UTIs and they usually cleared up quickly with treatment, and I didn’t realize this was anything different from she’d had before – until it was too late. To make a long story short, the Nitrofurantoin destroyed her lungs and ultimately killed her. Many people, including people younger than me have died from this drug, or suffered long-term disability. The drug has been on the market for over fifty years and these complications are very well-known, yet a surprising number of doctors and nurses are unaware of it, and for most of those that are, it has been presented as a minimal acceptable risk outweighed by the benefits of the drug. Since when is dying from having your lungs destroyed an acceptable tradeoff for what should be an easily treated bladder infection?? Nevertheless, when a drug makes huge profits for the Pharmaceutical companies, this is the kind of thinking that predominates. Mother’s case was classic – she was placed on a maintenance dose of this drug in February and everything was fine for a while, but by June she began to experience a chronic nagging cough. Her regular doctor was out of town and she was seen by someone else who thought she had bronchitis. However, it didn’t go away and she was referred to a specialist who then decided she had COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). She began to need oxygen more and more until she was using it all the time. Finally she was sent to the hospital in August and spent a week there, seen by at least half a dozen different doctors who all thought she had a severe case of pneumonia until a specialist finally came in and identified the Nitrofurantoin as the cause of all this trouble. The drug was stopped, but the scan of her lungs showed extensive scarring where a scan that had been taken in February showed them completely clear.
It was hoped that with stopping the drug she might recover. Unfortunately, with Nitrofurantoin, the damage often continues even after the drug has been stopped. In October she went to Emergency for the last time as her oxygen levels were starting to plummet, but they got her stabilized using a BiPap mask for a while, and then she seemed to be doing well on nasal oxygen. She was sitting up in the bed smiling and talking and saying how much better she felt, and the doctor was telling me he thought she would probably go home in a day or to. So I left that night having no idea it was the last time I would ever talk to my Mother. When I called the hospital in the morning, they informed me she had another sinking spell and they had put her on a respirator and was fully sedated. After a few days of this it became clear she was not going to get better, her other organs were starting to shut down. Nancy came up from California and Bob flew from the east coast, and we had to make the decision to turn off the respirator and let her go as there was simply nothing more that could be done for her. So, they stopped the sedation, removed the respirator, and then Mother woke up and we were all standing around her bed. She could not speak but it was clear from looking into her eyes that she understood what was happening, and the tears were rolling down her cheeks and she was trying very hard to breathe on her own and stay with us, but she could not do it. That was for me a very traumatic experience, even though we all knew she was going to heaven, she didn’t want to let go yet and was fighting to hold on and stay with her family.
So, that was my frame of reference for the respirator, and suddenly hearing my brother had been placed on one just three years after losing Mother that way was not a good feeling. Nancy and I began to search for plane tickets and along with her son Rocky, and my daughter, Trinity, we arrived in Virginia on Friday evening. I had of course been praying and felt directed to the story of Hezekiah in the Bible, 2 Kings 20. Hezekiah was very sick and told by the prophet to put his house in order for he was going to die, but he wept and prayed, and God answered and healed him, and gave him fifteen more years. When we first arrived at the hospital and saw Bob, I was not frightened or shocked by all the tubes – my experiences with Mother had prepared me for that. My gut feeling in looking at him was he looked good, his color was good, he did not look to me like someone who was dying, which I had clearly seen that last time with Mother as much as I had tried to hold onto hope till the last. I felt he would recover.
However, over the weekend, the reports we were getting from the doctors continued to deteriorate. One of the doctors met with the family to explain the situation in more detail. At that point they were saying there was too much damage and it was felt Bob would not benefit from bypass surgery, and in fact there was not any kind of surgery which would help him. This doctor was one who had never seen Bob before until he was on full life support and the picture she was painting was very bleak. I was further upset by the not so subtle reference to the term “non-compliance”. In Bob’s case, he had high blood sugar levels. Type II Diabetes was not something that had ever been in our family before, not even Mother had it, and she had experienced almost every kind of health issue you could think of. And, Bob did not appear to be a typical candidate for this. He didn’t have weight issues, in fact, he was almost too thin, and he got plenty of exercise, and was very conscious of trying to avoid sugar and focus on healthy foods. However, at some point he had a high blood sugar reading and had taken medication for a while, and later at some point discontinued it. When he came in for the heart attack however, his blood sugar was very elevated and then as complications began occurring it skyrocketed even more.
This doctor, looking at the charts, and never having seen Bob before or knowing anything about his situation, decided he must have issues with “non-compliance”. That made me feel very angry. The message I was hearing seemed to be something along the order of, the only thing that might help Bob would be a heart transplant, either real or artificial, and the suggestion seemed to be that since that is a huge investment of time and effort and not something they could do for everyone, they need to make sure they are working with people who are “compliant”. Even though the question wasn’t even on the table right then as Bob wasn’t strong enough for any kind of surgery. But the “non-compliance” reference offended me, especially as Bob was not even awake or able to speak for himself, and I had been through years of fighting that kind of thinking with Mother and Dad’s health issues. This should not happen, but it does. Although great advances have been made in medical technology and there are very many excellent doctors, nurses, and other professionals, the system is overloaded with too many patients and hospitals especially are set up where the doctors treating a patient in crisis have never seen them before, and they have no more than a few minutes to spend glancing through people’s charts and have to make snap judgments based on that.
Unfortunately also it often turns out that some of these treatments we are supposed to comply with are not well understood and/or years later prove to be inaccurate. For instance, Dad was told he should not eat things like eggs or butter because of the risks of cholesterol. It is now known that the cholesterol in eggs does go into your arteries as previously thought, in fact eggs are very good for you. In fact, egg yolks, where all that cholesterol is, are an important source of Vitamin K2 which is very much-needed to help keep your arteries clear of calcium buildup. Likewise, butter from grass-fed cows is also an excellent source of Vitamin K2 and far better for you than the dangerous trans-fats that were in the margarines initially recommended for substitution. These have improved some, but butter is still better. Also, the true role of calcium and magnesium was not understood. It is important to understand that calcium is regulated by magnesium and that magnesium is anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is a root cause of coronary artery disease and new research shows that magnesium deficiency is directly linked to heart disease. Besides proper balance of calcium, magnesium, vitamin D and K2, other foods, especially those high in anti-oxidants have been shown to be beneficial for the heart, such as Pomegranate.
Young Living’s new formulation NingXia Red Juice is a powerful concentrated juice made with wolfberries from the northern NingXia province of China, as well as pomegranate juice, therapeutic grade essential oils and much more, providing low glycemic energy and an excellent source of anti-oxidants. It supports a healthy cardiovascular system and helps maintain normal blood sugar.
On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, the doctor’s report was even gloomier than ever. Bob was not eligible at that point for any type of surgery, he was suffering from cardiogenic shock with multi-organ failure and they felt at that point neither his liver or kidneys would be able to recover from the insult. They were using a temporary balloon pump for the heart which can only be left in for a very short time and that had to come out very soon. They didn’t think his heart was strong enough to keep beating on its own without this. They didn’t think he would be able to breathe on his own if the respirator were removed. There were certain medications that could only be given short-term that needed to be stopped soon, and the doctor said without these he would surely die. I was enveloped in this most terrible feeling of dread. But, on Sunday night, some friends from Bob and Karen’s old church when they had lived in North Carolina came up to see him. Rachel had been a close friend of my niece Christina when they were in school, and she came to support Christina. Rachel’s mother Martha came there too, and she was there, she said simply, to pray.
Our Dad was a Nazarene minister and we had all been brought up with strong faith to believe in miracles and the healing power of prayer. That night we stood around Bob’s bed and prayed. I anointed him with pure therapeutic grade Frankincense oil, Boswellia carteri. Studies done on Frankincense resin from over 2000 years ago proved that either Boswellia carteri or the closely related Boswellia sacra (Sacred Frankincense) were the species used during the time of Christ, and were most probably what the Wise Men had brought to the Christ Child at his birth. In James 5:14-15, the Bible says specifically we are to pray for the sick and anoint them with oil.
At that point, Bob had a lot of inflammation and swelling, and the overall shock to his system was stalling recovery. Martha, however, had a very strong faith, she had not heard these very negative reports from the doctor which was a good thing, she was just very calm and very certain that Bob was going to be fine, and she was very glad also I had brought the Frankincense. So, we committed this to God’s hands, knowing that at this point, only a true miracle would make a difference. And that is exactly what happened. When we went in Monday morning, facing the reality that we might have to be prepared to turn things off and let Bob go, we began hearing for the first time a very different report from the doctors. Nancy’s other son Nathan, who is also a doctor just graduated from UCSF, University of California, San Francisco school of medicine in June. It was very nice to have him there to help interpret and help us understand all that the doctors were saying.
This time, Dr. King was on duty, who had first seen Bob after his heart attack and had left for days off when Bob was awake, stable, and anticipating he would be going into surgery on Monday morning. Dr King had been very shocked by the reports of change in status of his patient, but when he examined him that morning he found things distinctly changing for the better. They were able to stop the drugs the doctors had said he would die without. They removed the heart pump and his heart continued beating. The liver and kidneys were showing signs they would recover. The sedation was stopped and the plan was next to remove the respirator as soon as Bob woke up enough for them to be able to do that. This part took nearly three days, but gradually during that time Bob began to respond to us and was able to communicate by squeezing our hands and shaking his head yes or no, although he doesn’t remember any of this. He was in some far away state almost like being hypnotized but was communicating through a deep part of his subconscious in which it was clear that he recognized who was talking to him and was able to correctly answer specific and complex questions. Unfortunately we had to leave within minutes of Bob waking up enough to take the respirator out, so he did not really remember our being there, but we were able to go back again in another week in another week and stay longer, although that too went by all to quickly. However, Bob is definitely now on the mend and has finally been moved out of the specialized heart wing of Sentara Hospital to a regular wing for rehab. Witnessing his recovery firsthand has truly been an amazing miracle, and the best Christmas gift ever.
- Study shows value of calcium scan in predicting heart attack, stroke among those considered at risk (medicalxpress.com)
- The Long Road Back – Recovery After Massive Heart Attack (oilwellessentials4health.wordpress.com)
- Bypassing the Bypass (consumerresources.in)
These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and this information is for educational purposes only and not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.