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By Robert Duvall
Faith and hope are two words that we hear frequently when we are faced with serious challenges. There have been many times in my own life when I have lost my faith and given up on hope. I have taken a hard look back at times when those two words meant nothing to me. Friends and family with nothing but good intentions tried to encourage me during or after a traumatic event with faith and hope and what they said fell on deaf ears. Everyone experiences hard times, health issues, abusive and failed relationships, loss of a family member or friend, financial troubles just to name a few.
For me it was mostly anger and pain that kept me from turning to God to help me through my darkest hours. That’s when my faith was at its lowest, if I had any at all. I also had no hope. It all seemed to me like such a waste of time. I was blinded by anger, hopelessness, anxiety, depression and fear. I know that during those times I treated my family as if they were to blame for what I was going through.
Over a period of 5 years I had suffered 2 heart attacks, near fatal pancreatitis, a stroke and complete kidney failure. To top it off, I was forced to medically retire from my law enforcement career which I had served over 25 years. But one night I had enough. At 3 am I went to my downstairs living room, got down on my knees and gave it all to God. I promised that I would be a better husband to my wife and a better father to my children. I promised that I would rely on Him to get me through this. I stopped the pity party and worked on being positive and faithful. I now had hope.
Things didn’t change overnight but they did improve and continue to get better. I will be plagued with medical issues all my life. I just recently found out that the kidney my wife donated to me to save my life is now in rejection. I will soon have to endure chemotherapy. But my faith is strong and I have renewed hope.
Nothing that is good comes easy. Lessons that are painful are the ones you remember. Prayer is so powerful and it does work. Don’t let anything take away your faith and hope. Give it over to God, completely.
My prayer for us today ~ Lord, thank you for the trails you have placed in our lives. I pray Lord that we look for you in the trials of our lives to see the blessings and help that you alone can give, Amen.
By Robert Duvall
Most of us have had second chances. In relationships, friendships, jobs and the list goes on. I have had so many second chances that I really can’t remember them all. But I do remember all the details of the most significant second chances of my life. First was when my wife forgave me for being unfaithful in our marriage. Second was the grace, mercy and the miracle of healing that God gave me.
For most of my life I have been blessed with good health. When you’re young you really don’t think about stuff like good health. You think more about material items you have acquired, status at work and so on. Working in Emergency Services for 20+ years was really hard on my body.
It all caught up to me in July of 2008. I was working 24 hours shifts, same as Firefighters, as a Deputy Coroner. On my shifts, it seemed that I never got any real sleep and was up most of the 24 hour shift. I was also supervising a county-wide DUI grant on my days off. My wife will tell you that I was working every day, and she was right.
I had a busy 24 hour shift and when I got home at 11 am and I didn’t feel well. I should have gone to bed then but I was restless and had some chest pain and sweating. I blew it off and told Rebecca that I was fine. I was up the entire night and when she woke up the next morning she told me I looked awful. She called the hospital and gave them my symptoms. She was told to take me to the hospital right away. I knew she was right. I went even though I argued with her the entire 30 minute drive. When we got into an exam room and the tests came back, I was told I had had a heart attack.
I was in the hospital less than a week and back to full duty in 30 days. About a month later I was at home reading my son a bedtime story when all of a sudden my heart start racing. I began to sweat uncontrollably and couldn’t catch my breath. I called 911 and when the Paramedics arrived and got me hooked up to the heart monitor, the medic said,”Oh SH**.” I was rushed to the hospital, lights and sirens. My heart was going over 260 beats a minute. I spent another couple of days in a hospital.
It was during these events that the doctors told me I had become diabetic, had extremely high blood pressure and there were signs of damage to my kidneys. Over the next 2 years I would suffer near fatal Pancreatitis, have a stroke and eventually go into complete kidney failure. I had to medically retire from a career I loved. By the end of 2011 I started dialysis and literally had to live one day at a time. I opened my heart to God and came to grips with the possibility that my life was coming to an end. God told me that he had more work for me to do on earth, not as a cop, something else.
In June of 2012 I had open heart surgery. We then found out that my wife was a perfect match for a kidney transplant and in October of 2012, we both went into surgery. She gave me a kidney, saving my life. It was through the grace of God that I had all these second chances. I now serve as a Law Enforcement Chaplain for several Law Enforcement agencies and I know that God saved me so that I could serve others. God is GREAT!!!!
My Prayer for us today ~ Lord I thank you for loving us unconditionally. I pray we see the good in each day that can only come from You, Amen.