I remember when, back in 1998, a renowned neurosurgeon told Elgielene and me to “get your affairs in order.” Have you ever been told that? It’s like somebody just dropped a heavy, dark blanket over your head. And I’ll get back to the neurosurgeon in a minute. But first, let’s talk about my deformed heart.
Uh-huh, my deformed heart was discovered after that “affairs” talk.
Yeah. 1998 wasn’t my best year, health wise. But I lived to tell the story. So, score one for the Tone Team.
Maybe I should clear up why I went to see the neurosurgeon. And how that led to the discovery of my deformed heart. It was all pretty weird for me, a guy who had always been VERY physically active.
First, during our year-long stay in Nashville, back in 1993, I noticed a nagging pain in my neck (no jokes about my wife). And I saw a chiropractor and a dentist, about it, while we were there. They both had no clue, even though they both offered advice and “treatment.”
Then, we moved from Nashville to the Tampa, Florida area. And that nagging neck pain continued. My work, back then, was full time in the live entertainment business. And I hauled my keyboards and sound system all around that section of Florida to play the islandy tunes the crowds enjoyed. But sometimes I’d pick up my keyboard case and almost fall down from the pain all along my spine.
I’d have to go easy for a few days. But then it would “work itself out.”
Those incidents continued, intermittently, when we moved back to Colorado.
And from 1994 to early 1998, visits to doctors provided no solutions. Until, finally, one doc prescribed a special CT Scan. And when the results came back, he called me into his office and said, “It appears you have something on your spinal cord. I’d like you to see a specialist.”
So, that brings me back to where I started this story. And how I got to that day when the neurosurgeon said I’d need a complicated surgery to remove a tumor on my spinal cord.
He explained to Elgielene and me that the tumor had grown on my spinal cord near the base of my skull. And he believed a surgery was the only viable option. I asked him what would happen if I didn’t have the surgery. And he said the first possibility was paralysis from the point of the tumor, down, which basically meant total paralysis. My right hand was already somewhat numb from nerve damage. So, that sounded like something I wouldn’t like.
And the second possibility was death. Whoa! That sounded a bit permanent.
Nope. We didn’t like either of those options. So, we decided on the surgery.
And about a month later, I lay on a table, had the back of my head and neck sliced open, and thankfully had the tumor removed. Afterwards, the doctor explained why the surgery had taken almost 8 hours. Because the tumor, with its tiny, fingerlike feelers, had attached itself to my spinal cord and surrounding nerves. So, there was a lot of delicate work that had to be done in order to avoid paralyzing me.
Thankfully, the neurosurgeon was one of the best.
And, except for that numbness in my right hand and a section of my skull (skip the numbskull jokes, others beat you to ’em), I’ve already enjoyed another 25 years of this gift of life on Earth.
So, who doesn’t love a happy ending? Right?
What’s that? Oh yeah, the deformed heart part.
Well, before I had the spinal cord operation, I had to undergo a series of tests to be sure my system would be able to withstand it. And that included an ultrasound of my heart. And that’s when they discovered (and showed me) my bicuspid aortic valve.
In case you don’t know, your aortic valve is supposed to have sort of a peace sign look to it. In other words, it’s supposed to be tricuspid. And healthy tricuspid valves open and close efficiently. But bicuspid valves tend to get leaky over time. Because they just don’t handle the blood flow as efficiently. So, Tony Tumorhead drew the short straw and got one of those.
But, again, I’ve lived another 25 years with that pesky valve. And, unlike the tumor, the pesky valve was with me my whole life. So, I guess that proves what you don’t know won’t hurt you? Maybe.
Well, it’s still better to have a deformed heart than a wicked one. Which, by the way, we ALL have. At least when it’s left to its own devices. Or should I say devising?
So, I confidently believe it’s crucial to connect your heart to your Source of Life. Otherwise, your options will be even more bleak than mine were if I had not chosen spinal cord surgery.
God is real. And it’s not uncool to say so. And your belief and trust in Him should not be based on something “old rules and regulations people” came up with. It should be a longing to have a relationship with the One who made you.
My recommendation is that you don’t go to your grave with a spiritually deformed heart. A heart that isn’t held in the hands of the one true, living, loving Creator who paid your debts so you don’t have to.
Instead, consider what every beat of your heart represents. Your life pulses because of God’s love.
In the middle of a heartbeat
Something small stirs…
Like the sound that a kitten makes
With pulsing purrs.
Your blood goes whooshing through your veins
From head to toe,
And you might just kinda wonder
What makes it go.
It’s the code down deep inside you,
It’s yours alone,
A gift from the eternal King
On His white throne.
So, hold your breath, be very still,
And then you’ll hear
In the middle of a heartbeat…
A love so dear.
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