Tag Archives: Health

You Could Be the “Shift Change”

Command Staff Meetings

Some of you know that I am a chaplain with our county’s Sheriff’s office. It is a great honor to be allowed to serve our men and women in blue, for they are the ones who put their lives on the line every day for us.

Myself and Chaplains Rich Payne, Allen Lindon, and Sergio Freeman (who is also a Chaplain with the Air Force and the US Secret Service)

But about twice a year the rotation comes around and it becomes my time to speak at the Command Staff meeting. This is the meeting where the Sheriff and his captains, along with public relation heads and personal staff, meet to discuss everything from the general budget and how much should be allocated to new body armor, to the number of hits the office’s Facebook page received and when the next Presidential visit may be.

Needless to say, these meetings involve some very important, professional, and intimidating people…including a chaplain. And let me tell you, it’s one place I ALWAYS feel intimidated. But it’s always an honor.

Go to some places and you will have a hard time finding anything having to do with God in the public square. But if you were to visit Hamilton County, TN, you would find a highly professional Sheriff’s office, along with “In God We Trust” on ever county police vehicle and a time for a chaplain to open up the Command Staff meetings with a short devotional and prayer… per the Sheriff’s orders.

No Meeting Today

However, yesterday I got an email notification that this week’s Command Staff meeting was cancelled. Therefore, even though I had set aside time in my schedule, the encouraging words I was planning to share with the Sheriff and his team will have to wait till another time…

Unless I share them with YOU! 🙂

The Shift Change

A little over a month ago I suffered a heart attack. Actually, one may label it more of an “event,” not an actual full-fledged “there’s an elephant on my chest!” type of attack. Had I not gone to a hospital when I did, I might have lived through the night, but I was well on my way to assuming room temperature. I had block arteries and my heart was in distress; it was only a matter of time.

That type of heart attack is so dangerous because it doesn’t show up on an EKG. The only way you can tell you are having that type of heart attack is when blood is drawn, then drawn again, and then the Troponin levels are compared. Troponin is a cardiac marker that increases when the heart is being damaged.

On the evening that my wife and I went to the emergency room, all the usual tests were done and came back negative for a heart attack. As a matter of fact, I was dressed and ready to go home because the first doctor didn’t see any reason to keep me. However, before I was to be released, there was a shift change and the new doctor had other plans.

“Before you go,” said the doctor, “I want to run one more blood test, just to see if there have been any changes over the last couple of hours.” “That’s fine,” I replied, not expecting anything at this point.

No more than 30 minutes later the doctor came back to our little room and said, “Well, there’s been some changes…you need to see a cardiologist…. Now.”

You see, what had happened was that from the time of my last blood test my Troponin levels had doubled, indicating a serious problem. By the time I got to the hospital in Macon, GA, by ambulance, my levels had double again. By the time I was taken to surgery later that morning, they had more than doubled again.

If it had not been for a shift change, I would be dead.

You Could Be the Shift Change

Folks, you never know how God is going to use you from one minute to the next. What may start out as any other shift, that shift could be the one that make an eternal difference in the life of another.

Had that doctor stayed home or been late, I would be dead. Had that doctor decided to just let things be and not follow protocol with a new test for his own records, I would be dead. But when he came to work, he did his job, so I’m alive.

Whatever you do, do all for the glory of God. Do the best you can. Be there, be committed, and understand that you might just be the one who’s fresh perspective and energy, who’s unique abilities and instincts, could make all the difference.

Even the difference between life and death. 

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Filed under Life Lessons, ministry

A Heart Update (May 5, 2019)

I just wanted to share an update about my heart and other medical issues. 

As most of you who read this blog know, I had a heart attack a little over a month ago. That resulted in me receiving 2 stents and having to take a lot of medication – ugh!

Yesterday, I finished my first round of cardiac therapy – it wasn’t that bad, just a little trip to a nice gym where nice nurses and technicians treated me like an invalid and made me wear a heart monitor while I worked up a sweat.

I am scheduled to do therapy for two days a week, then up it to three. I may even get into shape when it’s all over!

Today I went to my cardiologist, endured a painful echo cardiogram, and, to be brief, got a good report. My heart is functioning just wonderful and there is no damage as a result of my heart incident. Hallelujah!

Now, as Paul Harvey would say, here’s the REST of the story…

I have a mass in my chest, just above my heart, close to the aorta. I will be having a PET scan sometime soon to find out if it is malignant. Regardless, because of the size and where it is, I am told it must be removed. If it is cancerous, it must be addressed sooner than later.

The only problem is that having any kind of surgery any time sooner than at least six months after a heart attack (and being on blood thinners) is a risky procedure and ill-advised. If I do have to have surgery soon, then it will require me having to be admitted to the hospital at least 5 days prior in order to be put on a drip to take me off of the Brilinta.

Nothing is easy anymore, is it?

But here’s the good news – yes, there is good news. The constant pain in my chest may be related to the mass in my chest, not my heart. Well, fact is, it’s NOT my heart! So, whatever the other thing is, once it’s removed, I will not keep having these pains that make me think my heart is hurting. That’s awesome!

Funny thing, though… the pain of the mass in my chest may have actually saved my life by getting me into the hospital to find out I was having a heart attack that I DIDN’T feel. On top of that, the heart attack may have opened the door to the early discovery of what could be cancer (hope not).

While I was in the waiting area waiting for the echo cardiogram to be done, I met an 85-year-old man named Hyman. To make a long story short, with the sweetest and calmest of temperament, he began to talk to me about life, his lack of worry, his marriage to his bride Rachael, and his life-changing faith in Jesus Christ. We had a wonderful discussion, which leads me to my final thought.

As I told the elderly saint in the waiting room, my wish is that people not necessarily pray for my healing, but for me to be a faithful witness of the love and grace of Jesus Christ while God allows me to endure whatever He has planned for me. Sure, I want to be healed, but I’d much prefer to be able to point people to Jesus.

As I told Hyman, sometimes, when the people in the hospital won’t go to church or seek after God, God sends the church to the hospital to be a witness for Him. When the hospital won’t go to church, He sends the Church to the hospital.

I appreciate your continued prayers… and pray for Rachael, Hyman’s wife. He really loves her. 

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Church, Faith, Life Lessons, ministry, Struggles and Trials

Things to Do In 2019: Lose an “X”

Honesty Is the Best Policy

OK, I am going to be completely honest with you, dear reader, and the rest of the world – even Dr. Phil…

I’m overweight! 

If the truth be known, I could stand to lose 40 pounds and at least one “X” from my clothing. My current collection is 2 X’s, including an extra “X” for more casual occasions. Believe it or not, my first new suit in years had a coat size of 50R!  I should be in a 44, or less.

Needless to say, I am not as photo-worthy as the sleek version of myself in my header pic, that’s for sure. That’s why I haven’t changed it in the last 8 years!

Not My Temple

But the thing that is so hard to remember when I get a hankering for fresh-baked bread is that this body does not belong to me – it belongs to the Lord.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. – 1 Corinthians 6:19–20 

God not only owns my soul, but He owns this old (literally) body, too. My body is His temple, and I have never been given permission to build any extensions.

Therefore, it is my intention to restore the condition of this fleshly temple, making it more usable and more profitable for the One who owns it in 2019 and beyond.

To do otherwise would be a sin.

Literally.

Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth [it] not, to him it is sin. – James 4:17

 

Oh, and I’ve got to average 83 views a day to break that 30,000 mark.

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Filed under clothing, Food, the future

Have You Done a Self-Examination?

A Doctor’s Instructions

I don’t want to get too TMI-ish, but as we get older the doctors say we should do more self-examinations. Have you ever been told this?

Doctor visits can be depressing 😉

You ladies are regularly told by your physicians to check for unusual or suspicious lumps in certain places. We men are told the same thing, just not as often (it’s not a subject we’re comfortable with).

But despite the awkwardness, all of us need to be reminded that it’s our responsibility to examine ourselves in between doctor visits. Fact is, embarrassing as it may be to discuss, a self-examination can mean the difference between life and death.

An Apostle’s Instructions

But as awkward as it is to discuss our bodies, the spiritual lives of people tend to be much more private and less likely to be examined. Yet, what does the Apostle Paul (a true Doctor of the Faith) recommend?

Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? – 2 Corinthians 13:5 (KJV)

Or, as another translation interprets it…

Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith. (NLT)

Believe it or not, there are many, many people who think they are in perfect spiritual health, but in reality, they are terminal. Consider the following examples.

  • Bob goes to church every day the doors are open, including cleaning day.
  • Henry gives 20% of his income and 10% of his time to the church. If there’s a need, ask Henry.
  • Margaret goes to a fundamental church, uses the “right” translation of the Bible, and never wears anything but a long dress (except when she wears culottes to the beach).
  • Mary would never say a dirty word, tell an off-color joke, or even permit foul language in her presence.
  • Sharon put aside marriage and gave her life to helping orphans in the streets of Mumbai.
  • Frank and Karen have Bible studies in their home, take the kids to Sunday School, have gold crosses in every room, not to mention on their necks.
  • A rich young ruler has kept ALL the commandments (not just the big 10), even since he was a boy.

Are you like Bob or Mary? What about Sharon or Frank and Karen? Are the above people spiritually healthy, or could there be hidden cancer not yet removed?

Remember Ephesians 2:8-9? Works don’t save people; faith in Christ does. It’s not about the life you live; it’s Who’s life is in you.

My Advice

Look, I’m not an M.D. or an apostle, but if you’d like my advice, here’s what I have to offer.

  • Listen to your doctor and do what you need to – check for those lumps and things. Your life could depend on it.
  • Listen to the words of Paul and do a spiritual self-examination. Is your faith genuine?
  • Go to the top of this blog and click on the “Eternal Life” tab and consider what is written.

Don’t neglect the health of your body… or your soul.

 

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Filed under Christianity, fitness, Life/Death, salvation

Post-Surgery Update 1/22/18

Greetings! Good morning!

I hope to make this brief, so read quickly 😉

Today is a big day, and I would appreciate your prayers for godly wisdom, composure, and … for the sake of all my charismatic friends … “favor.”

On the healing front, I am getting better every day and a half, or so. I’m getting a little more flexible with time, and the pain is not constant, only symptomatic – that is, it only hurts when I move my shoulder, try to catch something, or stretch in my sleep. So, sleeping still isn’t the best part of my life.

On the job front – and this is a big one. This morning at 11:30 (eastern) I will be entering into an interview with the VP’s of a major transportation company. This could be a big career move, so please be in prayer for me at this time. No, I’m not leaving the pastorate (I’m bivocational, you know), but driving a school bus might become a part of my history, not my present.

Have a great day everyone, and I’ll keep you informed.

God bless!

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Filed under current events

Surgery Day!

I don’t have a lot of time to write, but I wanted to take a moment to type away on this wonderful little keyboard. There is such a wonderful feeling I get when typing out words with both hands buzzing along, rarely misspelling a word… yeah, right.

You see, my wife and I are preparing to walk out the door and head out to the hospital for my rotator cuff surgery. This afternoon, not long after 2 p.m. (eastern), my right arm will be completely useless. I have no idea how long it will be before I am able to type the way I am doing right now, and that’s a little sad.

But on the other hand, I am going to do everything I can to keep my spirits up. This is a terrifying day, but it’s also a very exciting day! I am about to undergo the most radical surgery of my life….I am about to become handicapped… I am about to become totally dependent on my wife for things, as of this moment, I can do for myself…. I am about to sleep in a recliner… I’ve never owned a recliner until today 🙂

This day is also exciting because it is going to be the first day on a journey in which I am going to be able to prove my God is real. Already, even as of yesterday morning, the Lord has been opening my eyes to the reality that He will take care of my family and me through this challenging ordeal. We will not starve…we will not be destitute…He will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory!

I will do my best to keep you guys updated along the way (the best way will be through Facebook). Even though I would ask you to keep me in your prayers, would you please keep my wife, Valerie, in your prayers? She will have a lot on her over the next couple of months as she is not only going to be taking care of me, but still taking care of my grandmother (she’s 95). Keep this in mind – my wife also had torn tendons in her right ankle!

Well, I guess I’d better go and get some more things done before it’s time to leave. In the meantime, go back and look at my previous “appeal” post, and if you can help in any way, it would be most certainly appreciated.

“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid Rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.”

– Anthony Baker

FYI, my surgery will be at 2 p.m. at Erlanger East, Chattanooga. Pray that Dr. Lund doesn’t slip up 😉

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Filed under current events, Faith

Stupid Chest Pain! (Remembered)

The following post was written on 9/29/2013 – NOT today! But I’m thankful to the Lord for what He has brought me through over the last 4 years.


Not Again!

Earlier in the year (maybe late last year) I had been having chest pain. At one point I was literally afraid I was having a heart attack. Yet, after extensive humiliation, all tests came back negative (which is actually a positive).

Well, here we go again. More chest pain – in the same place – and more tests. Friday night I went to the ER just to be safe (and to make certain people be quiet). That’s when I got the same questions, the same initial tests, and the same evil looks from self-righteous, healthy, gym-membership-owning nurses who know I need to lose weight.

However, this time was a little different from times in the past.

What Am I?

When my wife and I first got to the hospital, I walked up to the desk and was greeted by a not-so-sweet lady with a clip board. “What’s the reason for your visit?” she asked. “Um, well, it’s a chest pain thing,” I answered. Then, without looking up she hands me a clip board and says, “Fill this out and sign at the bottom, then take a seat.”

In a moment or two I am triaged and taken to have chest x-rays. When I got to the room for the x-ray the technician asked to see my arm band (for identification). They had not given me one.

Later, while lying in bed and hooked up to monitoring devices, a hospital rep came in to ask me a lot of personal questions. They needed to know about any medications, whether or not I had insurance, and about previous illnesses or surgeries. Among the questions were the following:

  • “Mr. Baker, are you now, or have you ever been pregnant?” she asked. “I know I may look it, but no,” was my reply.
  • “Are you on any type of birth control medication?” That’s when I looked at her with the same look that Gary Coleman used to have when he said, What’chu talkin’ ’bout, Willis?

Now folks, I have had little kids come up to me, touch my belly, and ask, “Are you having a baby?” But honestly, either my wife has been secretly poisoning me with estrogen, or this woman must have thought I was one ugly woman in a lesbian relationship. Why would she ask such questions? You’d think my facial hair, low voice, and Adam’s apple would be a dead giveaway!

Signing Out

Fortunately, the ER doctor decided not to admit me. He said they wouldn’t be able to do an arteriogram over the weekend, so I might as well go home and take nitrates until next week when I talk to a cardiologist. Who knows? I might be in bad shape, but we will have to wait.

So, after talking with the doctor, he said: “I’ll have them bring in your paperwork, then you’ll be free to go home.”

Guess what was written on the prescription?

Name: Anthony Baker   Sex: Female

Should I change my name to Antonia? !!


UPDATE: It is now 9/29/2017 and my name’s still Anthony :-)… and my chest is fine.

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Filed under fitness, General Observations, Humor