Tick, tick, tick, goes the heart valve.
Updated: Feb 7
Story by Renee Johnson
"I give God ALL THE GLORY - LOOK what He has done!"
"The King of the Universe has taken care of me and written on my heart with His Word and loving care."
I contracted bacterial endocarditis in May 2011. Endocarditis occurs when bacteria or other germs enter the bloodstream and travel to the heart. Two different bacteria were released into my body during childbirth. I am so thankful for a healthy baby boy that was untouched by these dangerous giants.
Sepsis occurs when chemicals released in the bloodstream to fight an infection trigger inflammation throughout the body. This can cause a cascade of changes that damage multiple organ systems, causing them to fail, sometimes even resulting in death. After weeks of doctor appointments and medications failed to clear sepsis from my body, I had to have my aortic heart valve replaced. The infected area grew a 1.4cm vegetative growth, leading to full regurgitation of blood flow. I was dying. I had a three-month-old baby boy and a five-year-old boy, and I wanted to be their Mama.
On July 27, 2011, the aortic valve was replaced in open heart surgery with a titanium valve. It was a long surgery. Sepsis had destroyed my spleen, ate through my kidneys (and infected 86 stones we didn’t yet know about), tore apart my uterus, and left a large abscess on my aorta. Jesus, my husband Ryan, our boys, my mom, and many other wonderful dear loved ones fought for me, and I fought too. The Lord sustained our spiritual health, emotional health, mental health, and financial health. He funneled blessings through my amazing husband each day.
We had an amazing medical team for the surgery. Unfortunately, after surgery, my ICU night nurse withheld pain medication from me, and I thought I was going to die from shock. The nurse said I deserved to be in pain. (details not forthcoming) I had gone 12 hours with no pain intervention after having my chest cut open. Jesus stayed close by as I suffered, and He comforted me through the night. When the morning shift came on, a female nurse asked why I looked so sad. I didn’t have the strength to cry, and could only muster a small whimper, but she saw my pillow was wet with tears. That’s when she put her ear close to my face and I managed squeak out what took place. I told her the male nurse had not given me my meds and he took my remote so I couldn’t call for help, even if I wanted to, because I couldn’t move my arms. They secure them for you the first night. A short time later the night nurse was escorted out of the building by police.
Six weeks later I completed cardiac rehab and the next step was to undergo eight kidney surgeries followed by 12 stents (thin hollow tubes) inserted between my kidneys and bladder, kidney and bladder irrigation, a temporary nephro-tube placement to drain my kidneys directly, bladder surgery, and a hysterectomy that was performed twice due to procedure failure.
I had a heart attack in 2013 after a blood clot from my titanium valve went through my heart.
Complications from the blood thinner Coumadin, lead to 26 blood transfusions over a two year period.
For one of these complicated events, God sent me three nurses at once. At one point on the way to the hospital that day, I had reached out for Jesus, starting to let go of life. Everything was escaping me, and a nurse named Noah was picked up and put on my ambulance. He started slapping my face and yelling my name. I felt nothing. I remember telling him “I’m a Mama” and “Jesus is warm.” He snapped back, “And you ain’t going anywhere darlin! I was put here to stop this!”
In the Fall of 2020 I was diagnosed with Aortic Stenosis; a narrowing of the heart valve that keeps the valve from opening fully, reducing blood flow to the body, and making the heart work harder. Imagine what it’s like…shortness of breath, dizziness, poor blood flow, etc. So once again, I’m awaiting heart valve replacement, in addition to aortic root reconstruction. In America you have to be at a certain stage of Stenosis before they will perform surgery. So for now I have an implanted heart monitor.
God gave me a promise in 2012 that He would replace my metal valve with one made of flesh. We are praying for that miracle. A miracle without surgery. But He sustains me. And I believe it…the power of the Living God. It’s true! He’s healing me!
I’m a 42 year old Mama. I get down sometimes about needing so much medical help. I’d like to be able to do more physically. Sometimes I’m hesitant to ask for prayer because I don’t want to sound like a broken record. I have good days and not great days.
I don’t have less faith because I’m not feeling well, and I haven’t “not asked” for healing and thanked the Lord for it already.
Because this is a long-term process of healing, it may seem like an invisible illness. What I am doing is praying and calling on the authority of Jesus Christ to heal me and get me through each and every day.
Not all illnesses are resolved quickly. But I believe in the power of prayer. I am grateful for so many wonderful people, including my loyal sisters in Christ, for speaking power into prayer over me and helping me through. I am very blessed.
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