Just days shy of my 38th birthday, I watched the Independence Day Celebration through a hospital window, where I lay recovering from an angioplasty procedure. It was the culmination of a week pain that I was attributing to acid reflux but turned out to be a 100% blockage in my heart.
The blockage, my cardiologist informed me, was too long to use a stent. And I was too young for a bypass, the average lifetime of one being twenty years before it needed to be redone.
The angioplasty lasted a month before closing up. Without the standard options, it was suggested I go to a cardiac rehab clinic. The idea was that, if I worked the program, hopefully one of the other veins in my heart would pick up the slack and make a new pathway. In effect it would give me a new heart.
And so I did. I walked daily. Several times a week I went to the rehab center. I started there on an easy treadmill. I was strapped to a portable heart monitor that would alert the staff to any dangers. Eventually I was off the monitor and walking laps around the gym with the old-timers. A year after my original surgery I took another Cardiac Stress Test. A dye was injected into me and x-rays were taken. The process had been a success.
This is a great analogy for my life today, 15 years after I got the clean bill of health. Now, with my marriage having collapsed, there is that same blockage, but rather than blood flow, it’s communication. This problem can’t be quick-fixed with simple tools. There’s no stent, no by-pass. Communication is cut off and, though the relationship is not completely dead, it is on life-support. It’s going to take patience and hard work and, most of all, time, to heal it. I need to build a new heart.