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So Now What?

In the second of a continuing series of blog posts, Tom Howard continues to share his thoughts and feelings as he goes under the microscope of his cardiologist as they investigate the cause of his chest discomfort.

So now what?

     As you may have read previously I had what I called that, “never felt that before moment.”  As I approach my 50thbirthday I have had many of these moments.  If you have spent any time in the fire service I bet you have too.  You know that stiff shoulder that has never bothered you before or that elbow that for no reason decided that this is the day to offer up shooting pain just because.  Spending most of my time in the fire service living is a two story station I can remember the first time I woke up headed down the stairs and by about the third step suddenly realized I had knees and they were not very happy about being woke from a good rest and walking down the steps.
     Most of these ailments are minor and transient.  But here I am having both my knees scoped, cleaned up, and living with chronic back pain.  I don’t think that any of this has come as a real surprise to me as I watched and listened to the “old timers” when I got on the job.  But as I wrote about my experience from the other night I realized this is much different.  I didn’t want to say anything and I hesitated to call it chest pain, who wants to admit that?  I still struggle to name it.
     Never the less, I did the right thing and followed up with my doctor.  My doctor didn’t hesitate to send me off to the cardiologist.  I explained to the cardiologist that I had felt this “feeling” in my chest two times prior, both in a training exercises.  Neither episode was to this level but enough that I noticed it and remembered it.
     The cardiologist didn’t hesitate to move to a cardiogram, seeing as how I just had my physical and a stress test.  So there I was, 49 years old and talking about my heart. She had mentioned a couple times about how this was different because I was “younger.”  I had got the impression that this being younger was going to work to my advantage.  I then thought well lucky me, I’m young, but at the same time I thought, why am I young and talking to a cardiologist? 
     This isn’t a sore knee or stiff shoulder.  So many things were and are running through my head.  What if I’m done working?  What if I struggle with this forever?  Will I be able to return to the firehouse and my family here?  Then I also start wondering if I want to.  The fact is there is no history of heart disease in my family.  I am convinced that whatever this turns out to be it is a result of my years living a job that has immeasurable stress.
     With  the cardiogram just a couple days away I will continue to rest in the Lord.  I have full confidence in the doctors and the procedure.  I know that He has a plan for me.  Maybe, just maybe, part of the Lords plan is for me to share my experience.  I can’t help but wonder how many of my brothers didn’t just ignore the first or second time but the fifth or sixth.  How many returned to the house and collapsed from heart failure?  I’m ok with being a statistic as long as I’m alive to read it!   

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