New Sherwood

No heart attack

I am back home, feeling fine. What a week.

Mostly I am overwhelmed by the firestorm of prayers ignited by my wife’s phone calls and emails – not to mention her, ahem, unauthorized update to my last post. (You know I love you, honey!) And God bless all of you who responded with your generous prayers, your requests for more prayers, and your comments.  I just don’t know what could be more humbling. Right off the top of my head I could name dozens of more deserving objects of heavenly favors, with more serious needs – but six of them live under my own roof, so perhaps I shouldn’t complain for their sake. I tried to offer up this small trial for a dear relative who probably suffers more every day than what I endured for a mere 48 hours. May your prayers for me, now answered in abundance, be efficacious for my uncle in Alabama.

It sure is nice to see old friends in my comment boxes! And new ones, too!

No, this wasn’t a ploy to get linked on Mark Shea’s blog, but: thanks again Mark!

The chest pain disappeared Wednesday evening, while I was waiting in ER for admission to the hospital. The doctors had found irregularities in my EKG, and high levels of cardiac enzymes in my blood, indicating that I had suffered an unspecified “cardiac event”. Of course we were all thinking “heart attack”, but they were careful not to say that.

The angiogram proved conclusively that I do not have heart disease and did not have a heart attack. There is no blockage or narrowing of the arteries, and my heart is strong. After the angiogram, my cardiologist – a prince of a man – asked if I would like him to call my wife to tell her the happy news. He pulled out his cell phone and called her immediately. A little gesture like this makes all the difference.

Because the feeling of pain was similar to the pericarditis I had 21 years ago, they performed a couple of additional tests looking for signs of a recurrence. Again, they found nothing. The leading theory now is that the problem was either a exacerbated GI condition, or an infection, or a combination of both. I do have an enlarged left ventricle, which can cause some minor problems, but they do not believe it is dangerous.

(For my part, I’m not ruling out the possibility that it was something more serious followed by a miracle …)

Many weaknesses are exposed in a hospital setting. One of the male nurses asked about my “necklace”. When I told him it was a scapular, he said he thought so, and that he had one too but doesn’t wear it much. Foolishly I did not speak with him about Our Lady’s promises attached to the scapular, but instead muttered some small talk about church and being Catholic. How easy it is to avoid a conversation about spiritual things, even when it is practically begging to happen.

My roommate was a 61 year old man who had just undergone a stent procedure, his second in four years. He was a big fellow – probably about 300 lbs – the owner of an auto repair shop in a little town not too far from here.  We had some very interesting conversations, and one in particular that will haunt me for a while …

Well, that’s all for now. I thank you not only for the charity of your prayers, but for the reminder that I myself should pray much more than I do. A happy solemnity of Our Lady to everyone.


December 13, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    Comment by Mark Scott Abeln | December 13, 2008 | Reply

  2. Jeff, we’re just glad you’re okay.

    Does this mean that “cardiac event” is just a phrase doctors use when they don’t want to say it was a heart attack, but they were wrong and there was no “cardiac event”? Or is the phrase really broader in reference than a heart attack?


    Comment by Lydia | December 13, 2008 | Reply

  3. Lydia, I think the term “cardiac event” probably covers numerous potential ailments. The release of certain enzymes, I am told, is usually evidence of recent and/or ongoing damage to the organ, which can be caused by narrowing or blockage of the arteries as well as other things. I had pericarditis once – the inflammation of the sack around the heart – which can also damage the heart but is fundamentally a different problem from angina (which is what most people mean by “heart attack”). I suspect that one could easily get an infection that could cause a “cardiac event” but wouldn’t be a heart attack.


    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | December 13, 2008 | Reply

  4. What a scare Jeff! Please don’t do that again. Another reminder of all I have for which to be thankful. However, I didn’t need to be reminded that I’m thankful for you, my brother. By the way, it is you I have to thank for the pile of flax seed I poured on my cereal this morning… Mmm mmm…..and hopefully a few more subtle changes in lifestyle. Talk to you soon.



    Comment by Jason Culbreath | December 13, 2008 | Reply

  5. Deo Gratias!!!


    Comment by Jeffrey Wilson | December 13, 2008 | Reply

  6. Jeff, such good news. Very happy.
    I’m home from my (Our Lady of Guadeloupe operation) day and recovering well. Thanks for the shared prayers.

    I didn’t get to have my Catholic faith discovered this time around as I was required to wear nothing to the hospital except clothing to cover up what I was born in. However, a nurse in op recognized me as having been one of her pastors in the last church we were in before converting. At the time I was literally on the operating table breathing oxygen just before they gave me the “sleeping medicine” so the conversation didn’t go anywhere.


    Comment by Owen | December 14, 2008 | Reply

  7. Thanks be to God!


    Comment by T. Chan | December 14, 2008 | Reply

  8. Very happy to see this, God bless.


    Comment by Kevin J Jones | December 14, 2008 | Reply

  9. Great news. Prayers of many answered!


    Comment by James | December 14, 2008 | Reply

  10. Glad to hear you’re OK! Deo Gratias!


    Comment by annabenedetti | December 14, 2008 | Reply

  11. So good to hear that you are doing well. See even prayers from out of town work.

    We will pray for your continued recuperation.

    Jim Dorchak


    Comment by Jim Dorchak | December 14, 2008 | Reply

  12. God bless you…and Mrs. C for letting us know!!!


    Comment by Kelly Clark | December 14, 2008 | Reply

  13. Jeff, now I’m wondering about the conversation that you had with your roomie that is haunting you!


    Comment by Tracy Fennell | December 14, 2008 | Reply

  14. +JMJ+

    I’m so happy that you’re okay, Jeff!

    So . . . you’re going to ‘blog about that haunting conversation, aren’t you? =)


    Comment by Enbrethiliel | December 14, 2008 | Reply

  15. Jeff:
    Glad to hear that you didn’t have a heart attack. My dad suffered one 26 years ago and recovered after some serious heart surgery and an undiagnosed heart conditioned killed my younger brother. So I’m relieved to read that you’re fine. I enjoy reading your posts.

    The best advice I can give you is take it easy, listen to your doctor’s recommendations and be ready for some possible dietary changes. And best of all enjoy your family and friends that’s the very best medicine.



    Comment by xavier | December 14, 2008 | Reply

  16. Oh, I’m so glad you’re all right — I’ve been praying for you. Laura K posted the prayer request over at A Better Country.


    Comment by Kelly | December 15, 2008 | Reply

  17. Great news – and glad to hear it! Your family must be relieved.


    Comment by Francis | December 15, 2008 | Reply

  18. I’m so happy you are well. Be assured of continued prayers.


    Comment by ben | December 15, 2008 | Reply

  19. So glad you’re OK!


    Comment by Wendy in VA | December 16, 2008 | Reply

  20. Glad it’s a false alarm. My understanding is that you’re supposed to not be afraid to “cry wolf!” for cardiac-related stuff.



    Comment by Zach Frey | December 16, 2008 | Reply

  21. Glad to see you are ok, Jeff! That’s quite a scare!

    Maybe you could take a look around the natural health and medicine threads or ask the members of PreparedSociety for some tips and advice.



    Comment by Jack | December 17, 2008 | Reply

  22. Jeff, glad to hear that you’re OK! You know, what happened could have been this


    Comment by Chad | December 17, 2008 | Reply

  23. Thank you, everyone. It’s good to be alive. God bless you all for your charity.

    Chad – that wiki article makes more sense and explains more puzzles than anything else I have heard thus far. I’ll bet I had something like that.


    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | December 17, 2008 | Reply

  24. Deo Gratias!


    Comment by Diane Kamer | December 19, 2008 | Reply

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