In March 2016, at the Bismarck Church, I attended a CHIP (Coronary Health Improvement Program) founded by Dr. Hans Diehl. The purpose of the series was to help us improve our cardiovascular systems to avoid disease with diet and exercise. Following one evening’s class, I stopped by our family business in Mandan, North Dakota, to see if my husband Bob needed me for anything before I left for home. Our business is agricultural, specializing in commercial and farm trailers. It is also a place where there are many non-customer friends who stop by for a conversation with each other and my husband. This particular night, a customer had brought something called “liverwurst” and the fellows were spreading it on crackers and seemingly enjoying it. Liverwurst (there are different ways to pronounce it probably depending on your German background) is basically animal liver mixed with seasonings and possibly lard or something to make it spreadable. Now, I must be clear—my husband is not a Seventh-day Adventist. He does know my food choices, but they are not always his.
I took one look at the snack and said WOW, there’s a heart attack waiting to happen! We live in the country east of Bismarck, about 12 miles from our business. Once I arrived home, I was having a migraine headache. I called my husband to ask him to stop by Walmart on his way home to pick up some Excedrin. Shortly, he called me from Walmart and said there was no Excedrin. The clerk told him it was pulled from the shelf for some safety recall. He said they had aspirin. I told him to bring that home and I would try it. Early that morning, at about 4:00 am, Bob told me to get up and take him to the hospital. He thought he was having a heart attack. I quickly got up, called 911, and told them I would be taking him to the hospital. It took me about 15 minutes to get to the hospital, but when I arrived, there was an entire heart team waiting. Now, I was told that wasn’t the smart thing to do, but instead to call an ambulance. The doctor asked him when his pain had started. Bob said early in the morning, but he thought he had indigestion. So, he had gotten up and took some of the aspirin he had bought for me, and it seemed to help until the pain started again. The doctor said this may have saved his life. Although Excedrin contains some aspirin, it also has caffeine and acetaminophen which may not have been as effective as aspirin. We were told Bob had a blockage in his largest artery, the “widow maker.” A stent was put in place, and we went home the next day.
I saw divine intervention here. However, approximately a year and a half later, my husband had a second heart attack when a clot formed over his stent. He was told he had something called Factor Five Leiden, an inherited blood clotting disorder. We believe Factor Five took the life of his biological mother when my husband was about six years old. She died of a heart attack at age 26 while carrying a bucket of water into their house when she was pregnant with baby number six.
This past year, my husband had a defibrillator put in his chest to monitor his heart in case there was any trouble. It’s an amazing device and if he is within reach of a cell tower, the device will send information to his doctor.
This makes me think that I want a spiritual defibrillator near my heart. I want it to let me know when there is trouble. I want it to remind me of my love for my creator God.
By the way, now whenever I ask Bob what he wants for dinner, he says, “A salad!”
Paulette Bullinger is the Dakota Conference women’s ministry director and member of the Mandan Adventist Church in North Dakota.