Sometimes in life we just know when something is wrong. I was walking around one of Cambridge’s many green spaces, but not with my usual spring of step and sense of purpose. On this occasion I felt like an octogenarian crossing the Savannah’s of Africa rather than on an afternoon constitutional.
Some weeks before on a visit to the doctors , I was shocked to learn that I had a heart murmur which needed investigation. After tests it turned out I had a leaking aortic valve which would need to be monitored and possibly treated in the future. It was a year later, after a sabbatical in the U.S that I was then diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm.
Fast forward 8 years and despite living with a condition that was clearly going to need addressing at some point, I was still surprised to find myself last summer, in a surgeon’s office at Papworth Hospital, facing the prospect of major surgery. It somehow didn’t seem right, and made all the more difficult by the fact that there was risk either way and the decision was mine.
I felt for the second time in my life that I was back in the Garden of Gethsemane. The first time coming to terms with who I am and this time coming to terms with where I was.
What followed was months of uncertainty, prayer, conversation with friends and family, research and tears. It felt that for a long time God had tried to whisper with that “still small voice of calm” but in the noisiness, activity and clamour of life, I had not heard or perhaps sometime chose not hear the warnings. It seems now that He was shouting and finally I heard.
I always thought that God has a great sense of humour, how on earth would have He created us lot if He hadn’t. For someone who thinks so visually, the irony was not lost on me on how much imagery there is in Christian faith about the heart.
I eventually came to the realisation that whatever I did, I was going to end up needing this surgery and it was better to face it now….