Friday, November 15, 2013


Having POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) is a tricky thing to deal with but having POTS with a heart condition is even worse. Last night I had a “POTS Crash.” I woke up during the night feeling very unwell. When that happens the first thing to do is check blood pressure…mine was 79/48. When I was first diagnosed my Cardiologist told me anytime my blood pressure went under 100 I needed to go to the hospital. I told him I would be camping there quite a bit then. So he almost made me promise that if it went below 90/60 I would make the trip in. Last night surely met the criteria and yet I felt too bad to move or walk.
The next two hours we tried all the “home remedies” I could think of that my Dr. gave me. Push fluids and drink a coconut water (which contains 500mg potassium) etc. while checking my pressure every few minutes. But then the matter became more complex. My heart obviously didn’t like my blood pressure being so low and it started having spasms. Now besides having very low blood pressure I also was having sharp pains in my chest and in my back between my shoulder blades. The typical solution for this would be to take a Nitrate under my tongue but I’m not allowed to take one unless my blood pressure is over 100 so that was out. The thought then arises…Is the affected artery still clean or is there enough plaque buildup in it that this would lead to a full out heart attack. All we could do was stay very calm and relaxed and hope things would turn around me (all the while knowing that I have my Cardiologist’s cell phone number in my cell phone in case things would get worse). Remembering that when I’ve had surgeries and my blood pressure dropped they would also tilt my bed with the head down and feet up we tried that as well.
After 2 ½ hours on this tightrope things started improving and my blood pressure hit 92/58. Now I was getting more in my “normal” range although feeling a bit weak and left with a fairly intense headache. I was so thankful that we didn’t have to go in…as belonging to a POTS support group I read about so many people who are in and out of the hospital. In fact some people are getting ports so that they can do their own IV at home during a “crash”. 
Why do I share this with you?
First of all when people ask me how I am and I reply “stable” that is a very good thing...I love stable. We never know when these will happen and this is only one type of side effect of having POTS. Whenever I travel I have to be ready and prepared if this would happen…its my new life.
Secondly, we all know that we are walking with a fine string separating us between life and death but I am very keenly aware of this fact. This morning as we were eating breakfast it really hit me how serious the matter could have gotten and how I was able to remain so calm through it all.
I don’t really like writing blogs about my own health issues but this morning I just wanted to give you a little window into what life with POTS and Coronary Artery Spasms can look like. It’s not an easy life…but it is a life dependent on the Lord Day by Day.

Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find, to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He Whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best—
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Every day, the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,
He Whose Name is Counselor and Pow’r.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
“As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,”
This the pledge to me He made.

Help me then in every tribulation
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith’s sweet consolation
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E’er to take, as from a father’s hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till I reach the promised land.


Friday, November 1, 2013


Sad to say, I rarely talk to strangers about religion so today when standing at a store checkout I was caught totally off guard. The young man in his 20's (clearly not of Dutch descent) asked me how my Halloween was. I stumbled a bit and mumbled something like, “good.” But my conscience wouldn’t leave me there and after a brief struggle with my fears I said, “we don’t actually celebrate Halloween but we commemorate Reformation Day.”
“What does that mean?” he asked enthusiastically.
“Have you ever heard of Martin Luther?” I asked, and after a brief pause he assured me that he did. Wrongly I assumed that he was thinking of Martin Luther King and thinking how could I explain who he was in 2 minutes while at a checkout counter with people waiting behind me, I would just leave the conversation end there. But he wasn’t through with me yet.
“Why do you have Reformation Day then…what does that have to do with Martin Luther?”
“Well,” I said, “Have you heard of the 95….”
“Oh,” he interjected, “the 95 thesis. I have heard of that.”
And so the questions went on. Him wondering exactly why and how we commemorate the Reformation and more specifically when we go to church what kind of service to we have. All the time he was saying what a neat thing to go to church for.
Finally, he said to me, “Would you mind me asking what religion you are?”
And again me assuming he was very ignorant I said, “Well we are Reformed.”
“Oh, Christian Reformed?” he asked his face lighting up.
“Yes like Christian Reformed,” I said figuring that would be a starting place for him to understand the Christian faith, it being a well-known denomination.
“Wait,” he said stopping his work, his face clearly showing a mixture of sadness and bewilderment, “I’m Christian Reformed and….we don’t celebrate Reformation Day, we have trick or treat day at church.”
Now he needed an explanation who we were and why we differed from the CRC and just why his church didn’t celebrate Reformation day. At that moment we both realized how far even the Christian Reformed church has come.
At this point I was finished checking out and the next customer didn’t look very interested in our conversation so I urged him to look up Martin Luther and the Reformation online so he could learn more about it to which he assured me he would.
And then as if knowing my fear of talking to strangers he loudly said as I was walking away, “thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me, I am so happy that you did.”
I left the store with a mixture of sadness and encouragement. Sadness, seeing the confusion on this young man’s face and yet so encouraged to speak again. Who knows what seed could have been planted in this young man…may my mouth more and more be opened for His name and to His honor and glory.