our HEART journey begins

Spring Break 1998!

Erik and I were both full-time college students and parents to the sweetest little 14-month old boy you’ve ever seen. I don’t know how we were getting by on $500 per month, but it was working for us. My grandmother had died on March 2nd after a very sad battle with cancer and it was a windy, dusty March in Lubbock, Texas.

But we were getting out of town for spring break and we were EX-CITED!

We left Bryce in Tahoka with Mom and Dad, then drove to San Antonio to spend the week with Erik’s brother. We partied like we were – well, 24-year-olds. We went to the lake, went dancing, went to a Spurs game, drove to Kings Inn . . . . . and just relaxed. We were both fighting a small cold, but otherwise had a complete blast.

We got back home on Friday, picked Bryce up then went home to start getting ready to go back to school and our full-time jobs. But Erik just couldn’t shake that cold and no amount of Sudafed and Tylenol seemed to help. On Sunday he started throwing up. That was a little weird.

So I decided to take Erik to the emergency room. Thankfully, Abby and Chris were close by and could take Bryce for the night.

They did blood work, x-rays, and an EKG and confirmed that Erik was in heart failure. Most people don’t really understand what heart failure is, and we certainly didn’t. I remember the ER nurse showing us his chest x-ray and saying “That’s the biggest heart I’ve ever seen!” It was really enlarged, but we had no idea what that meant.

Slowly everything started adding up – Erik’s shortness of breath walking across the campus to class; this cold that in hind sight he had been struggling with for several weeks; the swollen feet; his inability to lay down flat . . . . .

They admitted us into the hospital and we went to sleep for the night.

Early Sunday morning a cardiologist came in and told us that Erik had dilated cardiomyopathy and needed a heart transplant in 6-9 months in order to live. I won’t even try to describe that moment, so I will continue to just state the facts.

Mom and Dad peeked in toward the end our conversation and I asked them to wait outside. When the doctor finished I asked him to relay that information to my parents in the hallway. My mom says the doctor came out and said to them, “The kids got a bad break.”

A bad break. To say the least.

Over the course of the next 6 months, we visited many different doctors all over the state of Texas. We finally found one that gave us a glimmer of hope – Dr. Clyde Yancy, who would turn out to be one of my favorite people in the universe.

Dr. Yancy explained that a heart transplant is never best-case scenario, so we would do everything possible to postpone transplant for as long as we could. He started Erik on five medications, including Enalapril and Coreg, which came to be known in our house as “the miracle drug”.

The Coreg actually began to regenerate and heal portions of Erik’s heart. It was miraculous and even Dr. Yancy seemed shocked at its success. Although I guess he wasn’t really surprised because the Coreg did exactly what he hoped it would – postponed transplant for 5 years.

Later that spring, Erik was stable and out of heart failure and we went back to life as usual (kinda). And that is how our heart-journey started. It seems like a million years ago and so much of our story is yet to come. But Spring Break 1998 is where it started.

Fast forward to Spring Break 2010. Bryce is 13 now and we have 2 daughters, Lexi (10) and Ryan (4). We are going to Dallas over the kids’ spring break so that Dr. Barnes can start Bryce on Coreg, the miracle drug.

And a miracle is exactly what we need. I try not to continuously compare Bryce to Erik, but in this case I hope there IS a similarity in the way their bodies react to Coreg. I am believing the Coreg will regenerate and heal Bryce’s heart and that we can go back to life as usual. I believe the end result in Bryce’s story will be much different from Erik’s, and won’t be written for many years.

Today, I’m grateful that I am not consumed by this portion of our journey. That in itself is a miracle.

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. Great is Your faithfulness! Lamentations 3:22

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