Monday, July 27, 2009


Last Friday I was supposed to have an 11a appointment with my cardiologist. I never made it. Instead I ended up in the hospital ER at 8 in the morning. My blood pressure had gone completely bonkers and eventually reached 240/149 -- at least that was the highest they admitted to me.

It is now Monday night and I am still here. Within the past 48 hours I have already 1) had six high blood pressure "attacks" where the BP numbers were over 200/100 in less than 60 seconds. It feels like a heart attack and so far they've tried four different ways to respond. I think we finally found a three-fold way to respond and so far it's working. 2) I completely blacked out while sitting on the "pot" (sorry if that's TMI). Fortunately there were two nurses standing nearby and I didn't end up on the floor but a few minutes later came to while laying in bed hearing "Ms. Gabrielle, are you okay?" and they had to tell me what had happened because I had no recollection of my latest adventure. 3) I now have a pain patch that delivers a measured amount of morphine over three days. It works so now all the doctor's have to do is figure out how to get me a prescription for me to have at home. Of course, the last thing I want to be is the next Michael Jackson so I'm approaching this one carefully. And 4) the idea of having oxygen available to me at home is finally being discussed openly and could make a big difference in the level of my comfort at home and ability to cope with the chest pains.

Once again I have doctor's scratching their heads and even brainstorming truly crazy ideas to help me more comfortable with a better prospect of a "life" at the same time. The goal this time is pretty basic: Lower my blood pressure and decrease the chest pain. I like that goal. Hopefully I get to go home tomorrow - not my shortest stay but definitely not my longest.

If anything good has come from this it has been a better understanding from my second cardiologist of who I am and what I believe in.

I know it must be hard for doctors when they really like certain patients and they run out of ideas to help that patient feel better let alone actually be cured. I am not one of those patients who quickly responds to meds and gets back on with life. Unfortunately I am a real challenge to the cardiologists. They really don't know why certain things are happening like blood pressure spikes and unusual chest pains on top of the constant angina so they end up brainstorming ideas that are more science fiction than possibility.

But once again I am being forced to consider my life and what is truly important to me. I'm having to make crucial decisions I never thought I would be faced with at my age. I spend some time researching my various physical challenges on the Internet and a majority of the time talking with my roommate who, because of her 25+ years of nursing experience knows what is "comfortable" and what is extreme when it comes to medicine. With her help I'm able to vocalize my concerns about CPR, ventilators, dialysis, etc.

But these things are not simply discussed on a medical level but truly a Hebraic world viewpoint of both life and death. I no longer look at death as a finality but as a simple "crossing over" to the next part of life. I think medical technology has robbed us of the real truth about death and taught us (especially in the US) that death is something to be avoided at all costs.

I wish I had my old copies of CS Lewis' Space Trilogy. I can't recall the characters nor which of the three books (although my guess would be Perelandra) where the happy go lucky characters which I personally pictured as large seals would come to the time of their "death" (a word Lewis did not use) they happily dove into their next life. To me this was the most biblical definition I had read.

I want my "crossing over" to be as picturesque as my life. I want it to be everything GOD has planned for me and not a time of man trying to dictate an event that is as much a part of life as birth itself.

Are these hard words for me to say? Yes and no. Because it is truly my heart that GOD be the one making all the decisions for me - not me, not my family and definitely not my doctors. It is my heart to give God total control not only of my earthly life but also when I enter the next life.

Once again I come away with more peace rather than less, more joy rather than depression and more confidence and less fear. I believe that is how HE wants me to live - now and later.

From the Heart,


Wednesday, July 15, 2009


July 12, 2009

This week I’ve actually loved watching TV. That’s because I’ve been able to watch Le Tour de France focusing on the incredible comeback of Lance Armstrong - cancer survivor, seven time “Tour” winner and presently in third place by 8 seconds. He’s become the ruler of the Tour - regardless of how people feel about him or how he lives his life outside of the race.

I was a cyclist once: at a time when girls were not known for owning or even riding ten speed bikes, the only backpacks available were olive green and said “Boy Scouts of America” on them and “bike” helmets were actually stripped hockey helmets.

But I’ve never stopped following cycling and Le Tour de France has been one of my favorite events for years. Today I was impressed by two wonderful aspects of this race - the fantastic crowds and the finish of each of the 21 stages. Because of the way the Tour is set up a cyclist could win the entire race even though they’ve never won a single stage. Riders ride over 2100 in three weeks and in 21 stages. that means a lot of 100-mile days. But some of these stages end in a sprint - AFTER riding close to or more than 100 miles in the mountains.

To me this athletic event comes the closest to emulating a well lived life. It is the perfect combination of ups and downs, has marathon miles but with occasional sprints in the middle and end, a crowd of supporters cheering you on and a great finish. In fact, to me it almost sounds like:

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us... Hebrews 12:1

When I watched the Tour yesterday I was amazed at the lines of fans standing on the road waving flags at all the riders as they went by and my first thought was - how good that must feel to have that kind of support. Then I realized that I, too, have those “standing along the road” as I go by and I have those already in Heaven who are cheering me on, so to speak.

But for me the hard part is when the last two miles suddenly becomes a sprint after I’ve been riding for nearly 100 miles. I am amazed as those riders stand up in their pedals and ride as if they haven’t been riding at all. But in a way that is where I feel I am in my own life. It feels as though I have been riding along, going up and down the mountains, enjoying the scenery, staying ahead of the crowd and cherishing the coasting down hill and suddenly I’m being asked to sprint to the finish.

How this translates into my “real” life is because it seems like the days that seem shorter and shorter, that months fly by much quicker and the finish line is coming more into view. And so I feel as though I am being faced with the decision of how to respond to the call to “breakaway - now!” that I hear so clearly in my ear. It’s like my life is no longer measured in years but months and my daily activities are measured by the number of steps I can take.

This is not the first time I have been in “this” place. I was extremely sick while in college but for reasons that really weren’t well thought out or even reasonable my husband at the time and I decided to hide my illness from everyone on campus. They had no idea of the pain I was in, all the meds I was depending on or that the doctor’s weren’t sure I would survive. But because my life was clearly on a different course than those around me I found myself irritated at the trivial complaints and immature priorities of my friends. I no longer wanted to spend time talking about things I thought were insignificant compared to eternal values.

Needless to say I survived that year and the next 35 years but it certainly has been full of mountain climbs and downhill coasts with a few rest days in between. And now, unless God miraculously intervenes (which I DO believe He is capable of doing) I am looking at the finish line. I just don’t know exactly how close it may be. But no matter how far or close I am very aware of it’s existence.

But what I am also very aware of is that going through the “Finish Line” is just that - going through. And I have been forced to acknowledge that I’m at a new stage in this race called life and I can hardly stand the thought of wasting a single moment of this sprint towards its end. No matter how close or distant that finish line is I want to make every single day significant and purposeful.

But it shouldn’t take a close encounter with death to motivate anyone to change their priorities and decide to make every day of this life matter. I came across the following quote this last week:

You can't do anything about the length of your life, but you can do something about its width and depth. Shira Tehrani

It doesn’t take much to realize that events we have been taught would begin happening in the “end days” are quickly taking place all around us. Here in Texas there have been seven earthquakes in the last two months and to me that is fairly surprising to me. A look at other countries, our own government and the growing depravity of men’s hearts should be a huge indicator as to the times in which we are living.

The bottom line is that there is a “finish line” for every one of us because life as we know it on this earth will one day come to an end whether or not we have “crossed over” into eternity before that end takes place. CAn I challenge you now to take inventory of your life and its priorities? Do your passions have eternal value? Does what you find your mind bring strength to your life’s purposes? Is what you are doing today what you will be glad you’ve done if you lose the ability to do anything tomorrow?

I’ve done my share of marathons in this life and now it’s time to switch gears into the final sprint. Even though it has come years earlier than I ever expected I don’t want to miss out and be overtaken by the “pack” that is closing in behind me. And even if I don’t win the stage I want to finish doing my best - not for myself but for the One who has given me life in the first place. A cyclist rides for himself but with loyalty to his team and their owner. I want my race to honor the team who has committed to ride with me and my “Owner.”

The sentence in Hebrews 12 finishes with this...

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest you be wearied and faint in your minds. Hebrews 12: 2,3

There is One who has crossed the “finish line” before me and has tasted death on my behalf. And then He became the “resurrection from the dead” also on my behalf. If I keep my eyes on Him as I finish this race I will finish the race with honor and humility. And I will be able to say along with the Apostle Paul...

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: II Timothy 4:7

It is my hope to not only finish my course well but to challenge everyone around me to finish well as well - whenever that “finish line” might be. I’ve just been blessed with a hint of that “finish line” and the motivation to sprint towards it honorably.

From the heart,

Monday, July 6, 2009


July 6, 2009

Way back in January while I was dealing with my first heart attack and getting ready to receive 7 stents, my dear Sister-in-law, Sharkbytes started a game of "tag" on her blog. Being fairly behind for obvious reasons I just saw the blog this morning and noticed that I was tagged. So I'm playing a little catch-up and enjoying the fun diversion since I'm just coming off a real bummer of a weekend and need something else to write about than how bad I feel at the moment.

Here are the rules:
1. Link to the person or persons who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random and/or revealing things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog
6. Let the tagger know when your post entry is up on your site.

I might have trouble thinking of six people to tag but I'll do my best.


1) I love watching the "G4" Channel on cable TV. I especially love Unbeatable Banzuke which originates from Japan and has the wildest physical challenges you'll ever watch. My favorites are the unicycle and hand walking obstacle courses. I would has SOOOO done the Unicycle challenge had there been such a thing in the 70's!

2) I tasted my very first beer at the age of 54 and I was surprised that I liked it. But I haven't had one since but I admit that's only because my dozens of medications won't even allow me to enjoy an occasional glass of wine. Yep, I've strayed from my Baptist roots.

3) I came very close to joining the Navy while in college. I went as far as visiting a recruiting station after stopping at a booth at the Tulsa State Fair in 1972. This was a new push to recruit women for the Navy and I wanted in. They even had a special camera that showed what I would look like in the newly designed women's uniforms. A month later I got engaged and ended my pursuit of Navy life.

4) I always wanted to be on a game show - preferably Pyramid, Password or Wheel of Fortune. The one time they were having try-outs for Wheel of Fortune in this area I was in the hospital. I have to be content playing word games on Facebook instead.

5) I have a Build-a-Bear named JB Dimples that my Son and Daughter-in-love gave to me in 2005 when I had my first lung surgery. JB has been in the hospital with me every time since then (12 times) and has several outfits including surgeon scrubs. More nurses recognize JB before they recognize me now.

6) I once participated in Sumo Wrestling but was knocked over in the first 30 seconds and couldn't get back up without three people helping me.


MY QUALITY DAY - A Daily blog about things that make "a quality day" and always makes me smile and often laugh. This is one blog worth going back to the beginning and ready every post.

A JOYFUL HEART I'm picking on my sister this time because she needs to update her blog. She's just returned to the states after 8 years of missionary work in Brazil and I hope she picks up blogging again once she stops traveling every week.

POCKETREVOLUTIONARY.COM My son might hate me for this but I''m a Mom and I'm really proud of what he does. This is mostly a techie blog but many of his posts are so funny that even the non-techie will appreciate his sense of humor. And if you have a son (or daughter) a part of that computer geek generation you might just learn something about what they do in their spare time.

That's all the blogs I read but I'm willing to accept invitations so if you have one. please let me know. So I might be 7 months late, Sharkbytes, but I've had fun doing it.