You Just Can’t Take Me Anywhere

“If you only knew what you’re putting me through.
It feels like a heart attack.
You’re giving me a heart attack.
Heart attack.”
(1982) “Heart Attack” Recorded By: Olivia Newton – John Composers: Paul Bliss & Stephen Kipner

It’s funny how the most unexpected things happen when you least expect them. This scenario came down around my ears, Saturday, June 11th of this year (2022).

It had been years since we had seen one another. My bio-dad, and his wife, live in Lindale, Texas, just outside of Tyler. They had moved from out west, to a nice retirement community where they have their own bungalow, complete with their own driveway and carport. They have enjoyed this place for about three years now. However, it had been about four years since our last visit. I know this because they came for a quick visit while I was in the hospital for a quad-bypass. Procrastination was the victor over the years, keeping me from making the lengthy drive to their house before and after their move to east Texas. Our visit was way past due.

Since Father’s Day was in mid June, we felt the urge to take a daytrip to the Tyler area, about three hours away.

The visit was going nicely, and there was a few items to catch up on. Noon was coming up and lunch out was mentioned. Cracker Barrel seemed to be the ideal location, but it was about a 25-30 minute drive from their place to the Cracker Barrel in Tyler.

I am a diabetic, with heart issues, dying kidneys, among various other related problems on the medical list, too lengthy to jot here. To be blunt, I am a mess. Frankly, life expectancy for me isn’t over the horizon somewhere, so my wife and I tend not to discuss it much.

My new GP put me on a new insulin medication (new for me). By June, my history with it had been a short one, and getting the rhythm of things was still in the adjusting department. Dosages are on a part-time sliding scale. Knowing there was a Cracker Barrel meal coming, with all the trimmings, I stupidly chose to excuse myself in order to inject about 10 units of the new med prior to departing for the restaurant. (I also neglected to test my sugar levels prior to medicating myself. THAT was a huge mistake.) But, I felt good about the length of time between the injection and the serving of the meal. After all, I had experience with injections and timing with other brands of medications. You know what the Bible says about pride? Yep, a fall is coming.

To make a long story short, by the time we arrived, ordered, and was served lunch, a good 40-45 minutes had rolled by on the clock. About 5-10 minutes into our eating lunch, unknowingly to me, I began to sweat like a middle schooler at his first dance. My skin turned pale. I began to move in slow motion. My speech was slurred, and I became unresponsive, even though I was awake and eating my food. Across the table, my stepmom, who is a retired nurse, immediately saw I was going down quickly. My wife began to try to speak to me loudly in efforts to rouse me. Assuming I had hit a sugar low, she began to force orange juice down my throat along with honey and yeast rolls to raise my glucose levels. From my perspective, people were moving their mouths, but I couldn’t hear them, or read their lips well enough. A tunnel-like fog began to arise in my vision, and I wasn’t able to discern what was going on. They tried to walk me out, but my body wasn’t cooperating. I was fading fast. Before you could say, “We need to-go bags”, EMT’s were there with a gurney to wheel me away from my fried chicken. To be perfectly honest, I remember very little concerning this episode. It seems you just can’t take me anywhere.

Photo by Nothing Ahead on

While in the ambulance, They were pumping me with fluids through an IV while feeding me loads of questions. Thankfully, my wife was there and filled-in the blanks for me. When I began to be able to grasp the situation, I felt the issue was just shooting myself too many units of the med, and way too early. However, the EMTs were concerned about my heart. They suspected a mild heart attack had occurred, or possibly a stroke. I really don’t blame them. Some symptoms were similar. At the same time, I told them I hadn’t felt any indications of either while in the restaurant. To be safe, we chose to go to the ER.

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If I said the hospital stay in this particular hospital was smooth, I would be less than honest. The ER folks, as well as the cardiologist on duty, suggested I had experienced a mild heart attack, or at the least, a “cardiac event”. Over the next 24 hours, they ran almost every test they could to determine what had occurred. The cardiologist wanted me to be admitted until Monday, or Tuesday, for a coronary angiogram…yes, with the catheter snaking up through the body from the groin area. By this time, my blood pressure had returned to almost normal, sugars were within average range, and absolutely zero symptoms of stroke, or heart episode. One test revealed a concerning area on the lower backside of my heart, as well as as an elevated CPK cardiac enzyme level, indicating a heart under stress, etc. We had already mentioned the fact that I only have 45% functionality of my heart, and only 21% of my kidneys. We felt nobody was truly listening to us. Oh, well.

Within a 24 hour period in the care of this hospital, there had been some noticeable issues of concern for us. They were adding some unnecessary medications, wrong medications replacing my daily meds, and some meds were skipped in the normal dosage schedule. Things didn’t seem right, and we felt the volley of testing was a bit over the top, as well as the cardiologist missing his next update with us. It was now Sunday afternoon. When we finally got the answer as to why he had not given us the promised update, the short-handed faculty sheepishly revealed he had left early and would communicate again on Monday. Right then, I knew I was NOT in an emergency condition. All we could hear was the echo of “ching-ching” from the proverbial cash register down the hallway.

Photo by Enrico Hu00e4nel on

Right or wrong, we made the decision to check out under the official title of, “Against Medical Advice”. Shortly after, we made the 3 hour drive back home to Dallas. Michelle, my wife, insisted she drive us back herself. I’m a terrible backseat driver. Let’s just say, it wasn’t an easy lift across the counties.

All I could think about was getting an appointment with my trusted cardiologist asap. I can’t tell you how grateful we were to sit in his examination room a couple of days later. Not surprising, he already had the records from the Tyler hospital. He explained that the elevated levels of my heart enzyme was not that high of a concern, especially since it always shows up in the lab work due to my heart history. As to the “area of concern”, the anomaly seen in the tests, he explained it wasn’t much to worry about, due to my history, and that it was a bit disturbed due to the low blood sugar episode as the heart goes under stress in such events. As expected, the cardiologist on duty in Tyler, who didn’t know me, or my history, with the exception of a glance, overreacted. At least that’s the kind way I am putting it. My cardiologist added the anomaly to my file. In December, I will do my annual echocardiogram and will consult with him again at that time. Otherwise, I am to continue to monitor any unusual symptoms, if any.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

It was a road trip to remember. In the end, it was my fault for the whole experience interrupting our visit in the first place. Hindsight being 20/20, I would have elected to let the EMTs treat me and then go home. Still, the extent of the episode was enough to raise anyone’s pulse and blood pressure.

While visiting with my cardiologist, I was surprised to see the angst and anxiousness in my wife was still hovering. She remained skeptical about my condition. She questioned the good doctor about my activities. She questioned if I should be driving or not, exercising or not, extending myself or not. He responded so well. He told us that not long ago, he boarded a plane for San Francisco to visit family and friends. As he got to his seat, strapped himself in, he looked up to see that he unknowingly had boarded the problematic Boeing 737 MAX. As you might recall, the Boeing 737 MAX had been grounded worldwide between March 2019 and December 2020, due to flight control mishaps, which caused historic downed flights. At first he said he got overly nervous about his flight. However, after he relaxed his mind, he realized we take chances each and every day, regardless. After he mentioned this, he said his recommendation was to go and live our lives, regardless of my looming health issues. Otherwise, one can become a hermit, leaving one motionless with a weight of concern. That, too, is a biblical concept. My doc is a wise man.

Meanwhile, I have committed myself to return to a local Cracker Barrel and finish my fried chicken. That’s where you can take me.

Whether at home, or on the road, you can read up about “faith steps” in fuel for the race.

“Therefore if you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about the other things? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither labor nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You of little faith!” – Jesus Luke 12:26-28 (NAS)


A Horse With No Name

“I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name.
It felt good to be out of the rain.
In the desert you can remember your name,
‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain.”
(1971) “A Horse With No Name” (Originally entitled, “Desert Song”.) Recorded By: America Composer: Dewey Bunnell

For as long as I can remember, I have been an animal lover. I come from a long line of generations of animal folk. Sure, I have my priorities in the dear animal kingdom, dogs being #1. However. close behind the canine arena, would be horses. I’ve always loved horses. I am sorry to say, I never had the opportunity, or the means to own one, but there have been many in my family who have been, or are horse owners.

My grandmother, Opal Atherton, with one of their beloved horses.

My grandparents loved to tell of my granddad’s horse when they were dating in the mid 1930’s. I once remembered his name, but time has erased that from my noggin.

At the time, my grandmother and granddad’s families lived in the country outside Wolfe City, Texas. Granddad rode his horse to school every day on the dirt farm roads through the woods. When he arrived, he would slap his hoofed pal on the behind as he told him to go home. The horse was incredibly obedient, and trotted his way all the way back to the farmhouse. So, when my grandparents started dating, and on days when his horse wasn’t needed, he would do the same, and off he went, down the dirt road with his mane bouncing up and down with a clippity-clop all the way home. In those times, and in cowboys days of the cattle drives, a horse was man’s best friend.

I thought about those days when seeing a disturbing video from New York this past week.

Apparently, a working horse, pulling a carriage, common for the Central Park area and city blocks surrounding it, collapsed in the lane very near an intersection. The carriage driver, got angry, jumping out of the seat, he began mercilessly whipping and kicking the poor horse as the exhausted animal laid on his side after first folding his legs beneath his body like a camel. “Get up! Get up! Get up!”, shouted the driver as he continued to whip and beat him. Witnesses said the horse attempted to obey as he moved in efforts to get back up on his hooves, but failed each time. The crowd gathered as the man continued to whip and kick the downed horse. One shocked sidewalk observer shouted, “Hey, how would you like it if I started beating you like that?” Soon, many began to yell at the driver to stop his cruelty, some calling 911.

When the police and animal control arrived, they found out just why the beaten horse was down for the count. Unfortunately, the beast was malnourished, exhausted, and very dehydrated. Even his ribs were sticking out from his starvation. As the police began to comfort the horse while gently spraying water over his hurting body, the horse began an attempt to lick the water off the pavement as it ran past his mouth. However, with the bridle and steel bit remaining in his mouth, he struggled to lick the residual water. Right away, one officer quickly removed the bridle and bit from him, leaving him free to drink what they offered from the hose.

Photo: W42ST.NYC

The way this animal had been treated, I really doubt he had a name. He was obviously seen as a machine for carriage rides to make money. The last thing I read is that the city workers took him to an emergency animal clinic for treatment. I hope he can recover.

As I watched the cruelty on video, my heart sank for this once healthy creature. The vision of it also reminded me full well of how life can treat us. There always seems to be a point person which inflicts terrible personal pain as we weave and bob through our bouts in life. Or, just the scratches, bumps and bruises which paint us over time where the hard knocks occur, without a personal overzealous driver with a whip. Even government can inflict unnecessary scars during struggles. I don’t mean to beat a dead horse, but certain politicians, policies, and overnight voting sessions on a weekend under the Capitol dome, can kick the already exhausted overtaxed, citizen. Am I right?

Frankly, I feel like an exhausted horse with no name in the spiritual arena. The Apostle Paul called the Law a tough schoolmaster. Like the collapsed horse, there’s no way anyone can even keep all ten commandments, not to mention the hundreds of others dictated over the rabbinical books from antiquities. Laws show no grace, no mercy. The Torah is there to prove we can not measure up, no matter how hard we try to get back up from the fall.

The Enemy, the Adversary, has a huge whip, and spurs to go with it. The carrot offered never delivers, never satisfies, and never leaves us nourished. When Jesus came, He fulfilled the legalities which knocked us down, and with grace, tended to our wounds with balm and bindings which come from grace, kindness, and mercy. After picking us off the pavement, giving us ever-living water, tending to our brokenness and bruises, He asked us to follow Him with trust for a better road, a better place of healing, a merciful driver.

I sure hope the caring city officers gave him a new name. Someday, I’ll have one.

To find the bridle which directs to a safe haven, look no further than fuel for the race.

“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is comfortable, and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:29-30 (NAS)