Opening the Banquet
Other Plans
The past several days were to have been packed with activity. On Thursday, January 6, my husband Rich and I were leaving to attend the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary District 11 (South) annual training conference. We planned to pack on Wednesday evening, depart on Thursday, and leave the conference Sunday morning. That same evening, our niece, Vaite, was to land at LAX. She studies in France but had been home in Papeete for the holidays. She planned to spend a week with us before returning to her university. We worked out a schedule so that she could spend some time with all the family in Southern California: a few days with us, then down to my daughter’s home in San Diego, then over to Lake Elsinore to visit my dad and my sister, then back to us for two nights before her departure on January 15.
In addition to our busy personal schedule, big developments were taking place at my work. We’d awarded the bid for a long-planned remodel of our offices and demolition was to begin this week. As operations manager, I’ve been responsible for several aspects of this major project; I anticipated a challenging and rewarding week as construction began.
It didn’t work out that way.
Wednesday evening, January 5, our labrador retriever, JD began vomiting blood. So instead of packing for our conference, we spent the evening at the emergency veterinary clinic. After several tests ruled out any life-threatening conditions, we returned home with the sad pooch about one-thirty in the morning, armed with anti-emetic drugs and a bland diet. So much for packing on Wednesday night. We fell into bed about 2 AM.
No more than an hour later I awakened. My wrist felt as if it was on fire and my chest hurt. I woke Rich and told him what was happening. I asked him to bring me some antacid, as I assumed the pain was heartburn. I was thankful that he was able to go back to sleep after helping me, but I was done sleeping. I soon recognized that the skin problem was hives, so I took an antihistamine.
I worked until 2 PM on Thursday, then raced home to pack for the conference. I was still raising hives, but the chest pain was better. We checked into our hotel in time to attend a reception on Thursday evening. I felt satisfied. Despite the unscheduled trip to the vet’s and my hives and strange chest pain, we had made it to the conference. 
Saturday morning the chest pain returned. I slipped out of a meeting. A friend in the Auxiliary summoned the first aid team for our conference, who evaluated me, then called the paramedics.
The paramedics ran an EKG and told me my heart looked normal, but that I should go to the hospital for further evaluation. I declined, as I had duties to fulfill at the conference. I skipped some conference seminars and slept all afternoon on Saturday (as I had on Friday) and discharged my obligations at the banquet on Saturday night. 
At some point over the weekend Vaite had emailed to tell us that her flight had been cancelled and she would arrive Monday morning instead of Sunday evening. When we left the conference on Sunday, we planned to return home, tidy up the house, purchase groceries, and unpack. I sent my boss a message explaining about the change in my niece’s travel plans, asking to take an early “lunch” on Monday so I could meet her at the airport.
All this time I’d been growing itchier and itchier, and my chest did not feel good at all. The roll of Tums I’d bought at the hotel gift shop didn’t relieve the chest pain. Once home, as Rich and I were planning our next steps to prepare for our houseguest, the chest pain increased. I realized I couldn’t swallow.
That’s when Rich took me to the emergency room. A staff person ushered me past a waiting room full of people and took my vital signs. A nurse led me into a restroom to change into a hospital gown and I was shown to a gurney in the hallway opposite the nurses’ station. A doctor evaluated me. To my surprise, he told me they would admit me for a cardiac evaluation.
I texted my boss, my dad and my daughter, telling them that I was being admitted to the hospital. I sent a separate text to my daughter and my dad, asking them to coordinate for one of them to meet Vaite at the airport the following morning. A nurse injected an antihistamine and a steroid and gave me a “GI cocktail” of foul-tasting stuff to drink. Sometime after midnight, they moved me to a room in the hospital. I urged my worried, exhausted husband to go home and rest.
So much for my busy week, I thought, as I listened to the monitor track my heartbeat. I wouldn’t be enjoying my niece’s company and coordinating the construction project at work after all.
Two days and several tests later, the doctors sent me home. I’d hoped to return to the office the next day, but the doctors had performed an angiogram and I was to stay home and rest for a few days to recover from that invasive procedure.
My heart is healthy. I followed up with my allergist, who prescribed an aggressive course of antihistamines and antacid medications. [Something I learned: H1 receptors respond to histamine by producing hives and other classic signs of an allergic reaction. H2 receptors respond to histamine by producing excessive stomach acid, leading to reflux symptoms. Pepcid and Zantac, two well-known reflux medications,  are H2 blockers.]
Despite all these changes to our plans, the scheduled events are moving along. Vaite arrived. My daughter met her at the airport; she spent more time with the rest of the family than we had planned. She’s having a great time. This afternoon she’ll come to spend a day with us before flying back to school tomorrow. The construction job at work is moving along without me.
It’s been a good lesson for me. Despite my talents of organization and efficiency, I’m not in charge. I can plan and schedule and arrange to my heart’s content, but my plans don’t determine what happens. Family and coworkers stepped up to cover things I’d planned to do; kind neighbors offered to help my husband and delivered dinner. My husband brought me flowers. My coworkers sent flowers. Just this moment, another kind neighbor appeared at my door with a warm frittata for my breakfast.
No one rebuked me for being sick when I was needed.
When I prayed for relief, my symptoms intensified. It took me a few days to see it, but the pain was the answer to my prayer. It led me to acknowledge my weakness and seek medical help.

8 Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me.
9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness ” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NASB)