Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Heart Issues in Vanuatu

In mid-November, David began to have mild, left-sided, chest pain, his heart beat was quite irregular, and his blood pressure dropped.  Being nurses, we were familiar with the signs of a heart attack and we knew that Vanuatu was NOT the place to have one.  We checked in with the doctor who did an EKG and recommended that David drop one of his blood pressure medicines that has been known to cause heart irregularities.  Even after a week, nothing seemed to change, so we were advised to get to a medical facility that could do a more thorough examination of his heart.  We had to decide which country would be the best place to go - Australia, New Zealand, or the USA.  Getting into Australia was a bit tricky and cumbersome, but it was the cheapest place to fly to.  

So, we began to jump through the hoops of securing a medical visa to Australia.  We had to get a chest x-ray and see a different doctor in Port Vila to fill out a paper saying we did not have tuberculosis.  That doctor would forward the x-rays and paperwork to the Australian High Commission who would in turn send it on to Australia.  Our doctor had told us that it usually takes 3 weeks to get a medical visa, but we didn't want to wait that long.  The folks at the Australian Hi Com said that they would expedite the papers and we could be assured of having the visa within a few days.  That sounded great!  

Downtown Brisbane, Australia
Next step, we made an appointment for the following week with a cardiologist that was recommended to us by one of our Aussie friends.  We were to fly out on November 28th with appointments scheduled for November 30th and December 1.  We heard nothing from the Australian Hi Com by the 25th which made us get nervous.  Early on the 28th we were in touch with someone who told us the paperwork was misplaced and would not be back in Vanuatu until the 29th.  But there were no flights out on the 29th, so our friend at the Hi Com kept trying different ways to get our visa secured.  She was finally successful just 1 1/2 hours before our plane departed from Vanuatu!

Gracious friends, Don and Ruth
Don and Ruth Howie, Nazarene friends who live in Brisbane, had graciously agreed to let us stay at their house during the week of David's appointments.  They had come to Vanuatu in 2007 and stayed in our apartment while we were away for a conference.  While they were in Vanuatu they installed the wiring in our house, but we never met each other face to face until General Assembly 2009!  We actually met up again at the beginning of November as we traveled through Brisbane on our way back from the regional conference.  It was such a delight to actually have time to get acquainted with each other.  They took us to David's appointments and then took us to see the places where they were raised as kids and where the first Nazarene Churches were located.  We even had a chance to drive to Tamborine to have a lovely visit with John and Vicki Moore, Field Strategy Coordinators for Australia and New Zealand.  

David had several tests done by the cardiologist - Holter monitor, stress test, and stress echocardiogram - which revealed the irregular heart beat, but also showed that his heart is strong and showed no signs of blocked arteries.  We were very thankful for that news, even though there are still no answers for the irregularity, low blood pressure, and chest pain.  So, we praise the Lord for health and strength!  We are doing what we can to live healthy lives by eating healthy food and getting exercise.  We would appreciate your prayers that God will continue to keep his hand of protection on our physical bodies so that we can serve Him as long as possible!

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