Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Moes Recovering from Massive Heart Surgery

Days before discovery of my
life-threatening heart issues.
By Garry J. Moes
Director of Communications

The Lord protects and preserves them—they are counted among the blessed in the land—he does not give them over to the desire of their foes.The Lord sustains them on their sickbed and restores them from their bed of illness. — Psalm 41:2-3

Shortly after surgery
That scripture verse was one of several great promises penned by my daughter Marijke Joubert onto a "heart pillow" given to me by the Greenville Health System's Heart Institute in the wake of open heart surgery on March 25th. The verses were particularly comforting as I struggled to recover from emergency surgery that include seven coronary bypasses and insertion of a mechanical heart valve.

I have been invited to provide an account of my surgery and recovery, and I do so here with gratitude for the many prayers offered up on my behalf.

The surgery lasted eight hours, and I spent the next six days on life support in a medically induced coma before being awakened for another week in Greenville Memorial Hospital's cardiac intensive care unit. After spending a further week in regular hospital care and a week in rehabilitation, I was blessed to have been released to go home for additional recovery.

In God's curious providence, however, within days, our household goods were being packed and removed for our planned relocation from Greer, S.C. to northern California. Early this year, my wife Karlinda and I had decided to return to the West Coast, where all five of our children and 26 grandchildren live. Our house sale closed in late April. The ordeal reinforced our belief in the importance of having family more directly in our lives. My amazing wife Karlinda has been an absolute stalwart through this crisis as she has overseen my medical care and supervised our move. I am blessed beyond words to have this wise and skillful woman at my side. Four of our five children, Shiloh Hand, Marijke Joubert, Graham Moes and Brook Moes, came to South Carolina in successive weeks to offer their unique gifts to us at just the right stages in my recovery. (Our other daughter, Brittany Duggan, gladdened our hearts by giving birth to our latest granddaughter, Annaliese, during this time.) In addition, my sister Patricia Dys and her husband Peter of Ft. Myers, Fla, came to Greer to transport us, following the closing of our house sale, to their beautiful home at Shell Point Retirement Community, a sprawling life-care community which Peter served as president and CEO until his recent retirement. Another sister, Gloria Oostema of Grand Rapids, Mich. has gone to California to set up our household there.

For the past year or more, I had begun to experience chest pains following any physical exertion. The problem became critical in March and prompted me to seek medical attention. What I believed to be a form of angina which might require moderate surgery proved instead, through a heart catheterization, to be massive coronary artery blockages. A heart defect was also discovered requiring the artificial valve.

Garry and Karlinda in Florida
At this writing, Karlinda and I are in Florida being overwhelmed by the graciousness and provisions of Peter and Pat Dys. We have also been blessed beyond measure by our church family in Greer, Fellowship Presbyterian (PCA), which poured out prayers, encouragement, and sacrificial financial support and hosted a wonderful farewell reception for us on our last Lord's Day there.

My recovery has been remarkable, surprising my medical caregivers and rehab specialists. I am able to walk more than a half-mile at a time and carry on many normal activities. God has answered thousands of prayers from around the world on my behalf, including those from my seminary colleagues and GPTS supporters. Financial support has poured in from many sources, provisions which have greatly blessed and humbled us. God has wisely and skillfully arranged all the details of our complicated cross-country move and many life changes throughout this trial. (Thanks also to United Health Care insurance company for outstanding service in covering our needs in South Carolina, Florida and California.)

I expect to be in California by late May or early June and to resume my responsibilities as GPTS communications director from our new West Coast home office in Murphys, Calif.