This question has been asked of me on many occasions and under lots of different circumstances throughout my life. This past week I was asked about Berry Lee (Bubba) in an unusual setting, and the conversation that followed brought me a lot of peace and comfort.
For the past 6 weeks I have been adjusting to one of the health problems of advanced aging for the male members of the Moore family; heart abnormalities. My paternal grandfather, (Granddaddy Moore), my Dad (Pop) and my brother (Bubba) all had coronary artery disease of varying severity, and it ultimately caused the death of all three. Pop had other health issues which combined with his heart disease led to his seemingly premature death at age 63 years. Because both Bubba and I were keenly aware of our genetic weaknesses we became regular aerobic exercisers from our mid-thirties until late in our 70’s. Neither of us were smokers nor did we drink beverage alcohol in any form, in part because those two bad habits are huge risk factors for heart disease.
Recently I have experienced a marked decrease in exercise tolerance which has concerned both Cathy and me. I plead guilty for acting like many physicians in that I have not seen a doctor for my health in at least 7 years, so had no idea what was happening, although I suspected advancing coronary atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). At Cathy’s insistence and the pleading of our children I agreed to consult a cardiologist, Dr. David Churchill in Fayetteville. I had known him and about his excellent reputation when we lived there over 10 years ago.
At our first consultation I discovered I had developed atrial fibrillation (abnormal and uncontrolled heart rate) which was part of the overall problem and totally unsuspected by me. So much for my cardiac self-diagnosis! Dr. Churchill set into motion a series of invasive examinations over the next several weeks, and I was plunged deeply into the modern medical world where I was now the patient and not the provider. I decided early on I would be completely compliant to my doctor’s orders and not become a grumpy and demanding old doctor with heels dug in! Having the loving encouragement and complete devotion of Cathy at my side combined with the concerns and sweet prayers of our children, grandchildren, other family members and friends have made the journey so far a lot less uncomfortable.
This week I was scheduled for a TEE/DCC (Transesophageal echocardiogram/Direct current conversion) which in simple terms is shocking the heart back into normal rhythm. This was done at the Walker Heart Center, a highly sophisticated heart center in Fayetteville. Cathy and I had been there the previous week when I underwent a left heart catheter (diagnostic) procedure which went well, and this next procedure was to be therapeutic (treatment) and not diagnostic in nature.
The Walker Heart Center is quite large with as many as 20-30 patients having invasive and non-invasive procedures done daily. We arrived 2 hours early for the usual preparation procedures such as health history, acquiring vital signs, placing the intravenous line and drawing blood for the appropriate tests needed. At approximately the correct hour a nurse entered the room telling Cathy she should remain in the holding room because the planned procedure would only take 20-30 minutes, and I would be back in the room within the hour. At this she wheeled my gurney down the hall and up one floor on the elevator.
My gurney was placed in the hallway of the multiple procedure rooms awaiting my designated room, when the nurse announced “we have come up a little early, and there will be another 15 to 20 minute wait here in the hallway.” As I lay in that hallway feeling exposed and vulnerable numerous professional people passed back and forth without ever acknowledging my presence. It was near the lunch hour, and I assumed some were headed to the cafeteria. At one point, my cardiologist passed by, and I don’t think he recognized me because he simply say, “Hi”, and that was the full extent of his greeting. I had the overwhelming sense I was simply a specimen and not a person; more specifically a diseased heart needing a shock. I don’t believe it was a case of self-pity because I don’t think I was treated any worse (or better) than any of the other patients in the heart center. At this point I quoted to myself the wonderful verse from I Corinthians 6: 19,20 reminding me my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and I am not my own! I am to glorify God in my body which is His! My spirit began to immediately lift despite what was taking place around me.
I was then moved into Procedure Room #10 filled with gigantic and highly technical equipment of which I had no professional knowledge. The technicians in the room, although efficient and knowledgable were not particularly personable. An older technician, perhaps in his mid-40’s in age passed by the gurney holding my health record and disappeared into the control room without speaking.
In a minute or two the older tech. came walking over to me and said, “Do you have a brother named Berry Lee Moore?” My initial thought was he was too young to be a contemporary of Bubba, but he might have once been one of Bubba’s patients back in El Dorado. I said, “Yes sir, Berry Lee was my brother and we practiced medicine together for many years.” This man then said something totally unsuspected; “My grandmother was Dr. Berry Lee’s office nurse as long as he lived and I am Marty Leach, her daughter’s son. You Moore’s are just like family to my family!” I was pleasantly stunned by his introduction. Mary Alice Cross was Bubba’s nurse for the entire 55 years he practiced general medicine, and now her grandson Marty was bringing me great comfort in the flood of memories of those years past. I shook his hand and thanked him on behalf of his family heritage, while on the inside I thanked God He just “happened to have Marty Leach in the room” where I was feeling a bit lonely. I could hardly wait to get through this examination and cardiac conversion and back to the room to tell Cathy who God had waiting for me in Procedure Room #10! The accounts of my experiences as a new heart patient are ongoing.