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How a Heart Scare Changed My Outlook on Life

By Joey Havens

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Pop Joe is our family nickname for my beloved Dad, Joe Havens. Pop Joe is 79 and recently he had a mild heart attack which actually helped save his life. Pop Joe is high energy, works out 3 times a week at the gym, mows his grass, manages the landscaping, grows a family garden and serves in many capacities at Calvary Baptist Church. Mom says he can be a little stubborn at times which might truthfully be the only negative thing you will ever hear about this wonderful man. What an amazing dash he is living and so glad to share that he has been my greatest mentor, an amazing role model and loving father. 

On this particular Monday morning, Pop Joe and Mom traveled down to the gym for their regular workout. As Pop Joe was doing his treadmill cardio, he had his first episode—chest pain and numbness in both arms.  This certainly scared him.  He did get off the treadmill but he did not tell Mom (Did we mention stubborn?).  Of course, he was thinking it would go away. Thankfully when he got home, he took an aspirin. After a few hours around the house and lunch, I guess to convince himself he was fine (stubborn), he went outside and began working in the garden with his shovel. That’s when he had his second episode. This one was stronger and combined with the morning event, thankfully, he was scared enough to tell Mom and seek medical attention. 

At the clinic, his EKG and blood work were normal. Many times, a patient might go home at this point but (after some insistence and sound medical advice from Mom) they kept Pop Joe for observation. She simply pointed out how stubborn this man was and if he was up here at the clinic, then something significant had occurred with his heart. Pop Joe, Mike, Mitzi and myself, have all found Mom to have some very relevant insights along the way—many of which we did not really like! Three hours later, his blood work was elevated indicating a cardiac event and he was transferred to a cardiac center where they confirmed he needed an immediate catheterization to assess his heart. The catheterization the next morning found a blockage of 95% in an artery on the front of his heart.  The blockage had formed a blood clot which increased his danger.  The physicians first dissolved the blood clot and then they were successful in inserting a stent. 

Pop Joe is home, back to his normal routines and doing great. We are so blessed and thankful to God for His grace and mercy. Pop Joe has always hugged us (Mike, Mitzi and me) and repeatedly shared that he loved us. On the morning of his catheterization, I rose early and made the three hour drive in time to be with Pop Joe before his procedure.  Although it was certainly a serious and scary time for our family, it was also a family reunion of love and joy. Two things really struck me that I should share about this experience. 

After his heart catheterization and stent, we were visiting with Pop Joe just thirty minutes later.  As I hugged him, told him I loved him, he grabbed my hand and looked deep into my eyes. “Thanks so much for coming and I love you.” Now I’ve heard that almost every time I talk to or see Pop Joe but this time it shook me. Why?

First, it was the power of being intentional with loving and caring for each other. A calling that I believe God has given all of mankind. When we are intentional with our love for others, it makes us better. 

Secondly, it’s the dash—our life’s legacy. Pop Joe’s is already full of love, devotion and faith. How can we be more grateful for our precious moments together? My life lesson is to intentionally share my love more, care more and express my gratitude more every day. 

Lets #beEvenBetter by intentionally caring for those we are blessed to work and serve with.