Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Tender Mercies

It is a wonderful thing to see the hand of the Lord in our life, to feel His love and sustaining care. Even amidst change and surprises, it is the one constant. Let me share some context:

Health is important to both Elder and I. We try to eat right, exercise, manage stress, be ‘anxiously engaged in good causes,’ and make room for fun and friends as well. We have both been active and healthy pretty much our whole 41 years of married life—for which we are grateful.

However, there is a lot of heart disease in Elder’s family, including his father and mother and younger brother. Seventeen years ago he had a coronary angiogram and was given a clean bill of heart health, with all the arteries looking great. About 5 or 6 years ago he started experiencing a heaviness in his chest, fatigue and even hoarseness when spending long periods of time on his computer. He mentioned it to his doctor but there didn’t seem to be much concern. He could pass any stress test they gave him with flying colors. He loved his running club with its monthly trail races and probably averaged running 20-25 miles a week.

Since coming to India, he has only run a handful of times, usually going on walks with me or riding the stationary bike in our flat while practicing Hindi. He did go on one 40-minute run last week and said it felt great! But the last couple of months that heaviness in his chest after working on the compute intensified, coming after only 30 minutes of work instead of an hour or two. He tried different arm positions, different relative heights for his laptop, making sure he wasn’t holding his breath while working, but nothing seemed to make a difference. So on Thursday, June 23, he called Sister Hodges and asked about making a doctor appointment for him. She agreed and called back asking whether he wanted to go that Saturday, or Monday, June 27. He opted for Monday. The internist he saw was very responsive and ordered a whole bunch of blood work and tests, including an EKG, ultrasounds of his abdomen and CT scans of his heart. All of these tests were done on Tuesday and Wednesday, with him picking up all the results by Thursday and bringing them to his return appointment with the doctor Saturday morning. Everything looked good until we got to the CT scans of his heart, where she read about a ‘moderate to severe blockage’ in his LAD, with both calcified and soft plaque evident. She prescribed a statin and referred him to a cardiologist, whose first appointment wasn’t until Tuesday morning, July 5. Just for the record, we were very impressed by how quickly all these tests and appointments happened and at their inexpensive costs: an EKG for $8 and a CT scan for $300. Total so far for 2 doctor appointments and all the tests: $650.

President and Sister Hodges got back from a trip to Nepal on Saturday night and asked for a copy of all the results to send to the Missionary Doctor in Hong Kong. We heard from him by 7:30 am Sunday with instructions to not go out to Dwarka Branch for the day as planned, but rest at home. He was in need of a stent or two in his heart but where and when? The soft plaque made travel risky. It was decided to go to the emergency room here, hoping to see a cardiologist before Tuesday, asking their opinion of travel, and maybe getting some nitro for the interim. President Hodges and Br. Anil (the mission driver) gave Elder a blessing promising him healing and comfort and we were all on our way back to the hospital by about 10:30 am.

In hospital pharmacy--they are called chemists here

We were all amazed that there was no waiting in the emergency room and he got immediate testing. Of course we gave them all of the results from previous tests (all results belong to the patient here, you pick them up and carry them around, show them to the doctor, then take them back home again—even all the large images from the CT scan) but there were more done including another EKG and an echocardiogram (everything looked good). He had at least two cardiologists come and see him, both talking to the mission doctor in Hong Kong by phone. Everyone was feeling very peaceful when all the doctors agreed that the best course of action was to admit him and do the procedure here on Monday. The head cardiologist would do the insertion and he is board certified both here and in the USA. Come to find out, this team of doctors does over 20 angiograms a day, many with stent insertions. Talk about experience! Yeah!
Monday morning waiting for the procedure

The procedure went as planned on Monday afternoon, with the one 80% blockage in his LAD requiring two stents because of its length. His recovery is going well. We discovered that the protocol here is to keep them 24-48 hours after the procedure, so he was released from ICU this morning (Tuesday, July 5) to a regular room, but won’t come home until Wednesday morning. He is looking great and feeling great! The only incision is a small cut into the main artery of his right arm down by his wrist. Modern medicine is amazing! We feel so blessed!
Tuesday morning feeling great!

President and Sister Hodges have been so supportive—spending 6 hours with us at the hospital on Sunday and another 4-5 yesterday. Sister Hodges went back this morning and will go tomorrow since we will most likely need her help with the checkout procedure/insurance. Elder and Sister Adams have also been so supportive, driving out to the hospital with me Sunday night so I could take a few things to Elder, plus Elder Adams gave me a comfort blessing Monday morning and Sister Adams gave me food to eat later at the hospital. Br. Anil, the mission driver, volunteered to drive me to and from the hospital anytime I needed, with the Hodges approval. All the nurses and doctors and workers at the hospital were so helpful and professional. We feel so grateful and blessed.
One of our many competent nurses
The information counter in the  main lobby with a very helpful receptionist
But overarching all the rest, the peaceful feeling we have all felt through it all has been so wonderful and sustaining. Having a heart procedure while on our mission certainly wasn’t in our plans, but with a recovery time of 72 hours (according to our head cardiologist) and a ‘take it easy’ time of only a week or so, it isn’t a game changer either.

Now you might ask why I didn’t let you all know what was going on. Honestly, it all happened so fast and the comforting Spirit was so strong, I only took the time to inform our immediate family members. The Lord truly is in charge, that I know. And no, it doesn’t always work out so smoothly and quickly and I don’t know why, but this time I’m thankful it did or our 18-month mission might have been cut in half. As it is, we look forward to the next 9 months loving the people here in Delhi.

Thanks for your continuing prayers of support! We can feel them!


  1. I'm glad to see pictures of it all and know Dad is in good hands. Wow! 20 angiograms a day gives a lot of confidence. I'm a little baffled the doctor's here didn't order more tests given Dad's family history. Of course, that might have changed where you could serve a mission so most likely this is all in the plan of Heavenly Father. I'm so glad to hear you will get to stay out- it seems to me you are very much where you are supposed to be there in India. We love you very much. Keep up the good work and please give each other a hug from us.

  2. Whew, Thank Goodness you are okay Elder Allen. It sounds like there are good hospitals and care in Delhi. That is such a blessing. I'm so glad you will be able to finish your mission. I know your presence is such a blessing in the lives of the members there. Thanks for the update Sister Allen. Sending love and hugs. Linda Hatch

  3. So glad everything turned out well and that dad is doing well!

  4. Thanks for the update Judy! For what it's worth, many people I know who've had that plasti/stent, feel 110% better afterwards...that they didn't realize just how bad they felt until they felt better. Sounds like Roger got better care than he may have here, stateside. Take care!

  5. It's wonderful everything went so well. Have a quick recovery and be ready to get back into the traces. Our best to both of you. Surely the Lord is looking out for you.

  6. Thoughts and prayers with Roger and you from the Leckies.

  7. So glad to see him and to have talked to you. Prayers are so real and amazing, I think we all got some really good practice this last while. A wonderful ending to this trial and sure thankful for both of you, your good example and faith. God's hand is so evident and I am thankful for his care of you.

  8. Thanks for all the information. We've been praying for you guys! Give all our love!

  9. Si happy to hear that everything went well in the procedure. Love to both of you

  10. I will continue to keep you in my prayers. How is Elder doing now? He looks well in the pictures. What an ordeal to go through on a mission Love you both, Joye

  11. The summer has passed so quickly. I can't believe so much time has passed since I read your blog. I am so grateful that everything went well and pray for your continued health and well being for the remainder of your mission.