The 92 year old fell in his kitchen, hitting his head on the way down. A friend found him with a lot of blood on the floor. Head wounds can do that, especially when the 92 year old is on blood thinners for cardiac issues.
The ER doctor stitched up the small wound and ordered a brain scan. There was a small subdural hematoma, something to keep an eye on in the ICU. A second scan a few hours later showed it had doubled in size. The choice was to operate or to observe.
Observation meant the possibility – or perhaps likelihood is more accurate – the hematoma would continue to grow. Operating meant placing the 92 year old patient in high risk of cardiac arrest on the operating table. The patient said to go with the operation.
The operation came off well, but there was no way to return to the blood thinner medication while recuperating from surgery. Both the attending physician in the ICU and the neurosurgeon agreed it’s the condition of the heart that was now “guarded,” not the head.*
No blood thinners meant a heightened risk of heart attack for the 92 year old, even while being carefully monitored in the ICU.
Guarded Hearts and Heads
I’ve been told I can spiritualize anything and use it for a gospel application. The thought to do so with the story about the 92 year old came to me when my wife said, “The doctors are more concerned with his heart than his head right now.” She said this because the 92 year old is a real person who is in the ICU waiting for another scan to see if the hematoma has shrunk enough for him to be moved to a regular hospital room.
But I’m not going to spend much time on analogizing this medical crisis except to say that my wife’s words led me immediately to thoughts about how our own hearts and heads need to be guarded both physically and spiritually.
And then I stopped thinking about that metaphorical connection because the 92 year old is my father and frankly it’s been hard to think about anything but the physical reality of his condition – one that leaves the doctors using a word like “guarded.”
I’m praying for God to guard my dad, to heal him and to bring him strength. I’m praying too for God to protect me, because my thoughts can swiftly run off to dark places at a time like this.
My head tells me to trust God. My heart is full of holes and can’t hold in any trust.
But I need both heart and head to be sound and strong. There are decisions to make and a dad to comfort and support.
And prayer. I need to keep praying for dad.
*“Guarded” is an imprecise term that “is usually synonymous with ‘serious’ and ‘poor’ ….” (What is a guarded prognosis?)