Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Health Update for Bob Rakestraw

Monday, June 23, Judy and I spent the day at the University of Minnesota Hospital. I had a right heart catheterization, a left heart angiogram, blood work, and (both of us) had a consultation with the cardiologist who performed the procedures. These are the first invasive procedures I have had since November, 2006.

The news was not good overall, but there are a couple of good pieces. The tests showed that the most important artery supplying my heart is 90-99% blocked, all the length of the vessel, so that no stents in this (or other arteries) can be inserted. There is permanent rejection of the transplanted heart. Humanly speaking, the prognosis is that this artery will soon close completely and I will have a major heart attack. Most of the other arteries supplying my heart have also closed more since the 2006 tests, but are not as severely diseased as the major one.

The good news is twofold. A couple of the heart arteries showed some improvement; there is not as much inflammation in them as previously. This shows reversal of the condition in places! The other good news (although the doctor did not present this with a hopeful tone) is that some small corollary arteries have begun to grow toward the most severely affected area of my heart. My brain received signals from that desperate area of the heart and ordered help to the rescue. Truly amazing! And encouraging!

Even though the doctor said there is nothing more that can be done for me except another heart transplant (which I have declined), and even though Judy and I are still trying to sort out Monday’s news, our trust remains firmly in the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is a wise and good God, and filled with compassion. I sometimes feel afraid and troubled when I look at the future, but deep down I sense his loving arms around me, caring for each part of my body and my life and those close to me.

My blog posting this month (http://bobrakestraw.blogspot.com) is on the powerful scripture text, Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through him [Christ] who strengthens me,” and its applicability to depression in my life. I now want to return to writing that, so I can post the piece in a few days. I have a strong hope that I will always be able to state Philippians 4:13 with the assurance I now have concerning my future and the future of my earthly body. It will deteriorate for sure, some way or another, some time or another, but God will never leave me, or you. I know some of you are suffering greatly as well, not only in the physical realm, and I try to pray for you as I become aware of your concerns. Gratefully, we who trust in Christ will all be together one glorious day with new bodies and new outlooks on all of God’s wonders and mysterious ways.

“I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, ‘Look, the home of God is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever.’ And the one sitting on the throne said, ‘Look, I am making all things new!’ And then he said to me, ‘Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.’ “ (Revelation 21:3-5 New Living Translation)


Renee said...

Hi Unkie Bob, :)
True role models are those who possess the qualities that we would like to have and those who have affected us in a way that makes us want to be better people. You are that to me.
Thank you for always demonstrating what it means to be a servant of Christ and for the encouragement that Jesus is walking with us through everything. I wish so much that you didn't have to go through all that you have been going through with your health... but you are a tremendous example of perservance and strength to me. Your testimony through all of this will point directly to Jesus and all of His graciousness. You really bring to life Phil 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me" (one of my favorite verses).
Thank you for your blog and your updates.
Love you so much!

Unknown said...

God bless you and yours, Bob.

Robert V. Rakestraw said...

Wow, Renee, what encouraging words to me. I really appreciate them and desire to be the man of God He wants me to be. My mind has been in a whirl since Monday's news, but Judy has been greatly supportive. In a sense my health news is more of the same, but in another sense it seems a lot worse because of the specific information.

It was fun reading through your blog recently. I especially liked the story about strawberry picking. Great pictures of everyone.

I am glad you and Jon are trusting God with the sale of your house and the upcoming move. May God continue to guide you to the right place.

Rich blessings to you and your wonderful family.

Unkie Bob

Unknown said...

Hi Bob and Judy,

No one can say it better than Renee did ...

The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, is quickening your mortal body, of this I am sure.

Love to you both, with great admiration and thankfulness,

Linda Grounds

Anonymous said...

Dr. Rakestraw,

Sorry to hear this very sobering update. You are really facing everyday what we all must face, our mortality. It is truly a comfort, though, to have the hope of the resurrection. When my father was in failing health, I found Phil. 3:20 ff. comforting: "But our citizenship is in heaven, and we await a savior from there, who, by the power that enables him to put everything under control [what credentials!] will transform our lowly bodies to be like his heavenly body." Praise God! May he give you his comfort and peace through your struggles.

Grace and peace, Dan Magnuson

Karen Meyer said...

Dr. Rakestraw...I was a student at the seminary in 1991-1992, a member of Church of the Open Door. You complimented me after I shared my testimony there. I did not know about your health problems until I read the last Bethel magazine. You gave me courage that year after I had just lost my 19 year old son. You gave me hope for my future and a lift that was just what I needed. Thank you for being so compassionate. I will have you in my daily prayers. I am now 72 years old and also facing our imortality. Because of you and Bethel Sem, I am looking forward to crossing that river and going Home. It will be a grand day and I WILL see my son (and perhaps you) on that day. God bless you for the lives you have blessed!