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November 23, 1999

They say minor surgery is what the other guy has. What you and I have is always MAJOR surgery. I don't know what you call it when the love of your life goes into the operating room for a repair job on her heart, but I can tell you it is very scary. However, modern medicine is so technologically advanced that the surgeon who wields the scalpel usually has performed the same ritual hundreds of times before. To the doctor in our case, it was routine, but to us it was a lonely trek along an unknown path. Thank goodness for family, friends, a pastor and many others for their offerings of words and prayer on Laura's behalf.

The surgery also was totally unexpected, and that gave the scenario an even more dramatic twist. Let me tell you about her operation.

Over a period of two years or so, a pain or feeling of discomfort on the left side of her chest came and left for no apparent reason. There was no other specific symptom of a heart problem so it could have been caused by several other things. Her doctor recommended angiography to determine whether clogged blood vessels were at the root of the problem and the procedure was scheduled in Oklahoma City. Surprise, surprise. There was no plaque buildup but an artery on the face of her heart was malformed with an abnormal bend that limited the flow of blood. To correct it and prevent a lifethreatening situation (probably within a year), a bypass was recommended posthaste.

Wait a minute, doctor. This was supposed to be a brief procedure and we were going home tonight. He suggested we think about it and pray over it, including the consequences. Ultimately, of course, we chose the corrective surgery and it was duly scheduled, working around a 24-hour delay necessitated by previous engagements already on tap in the operating room.

The surgery was completed quickly and successfully and off they carted her to the Critical Care Unit, where others also were recuperating from their own ordeals. Then a day or so later she was moved to a regular patient room to continue recovery and gain back a bit of strength. One day shy of a week after the operation, she was ready to be dismissed and now she's back in our little domain. Recovery is by no means complete, but I think it feels better every day.

I admire her faith, strength, courage and bravery through every step of this episode. She handled it with more grace than I possess. Our family has bonded together as never before and we have learned a new appreciation of our friends, doctors and caregivers everywhere. Besides the hope of a longer, healthier life, this experience has taught us anew the power of prayer. We know many have been offered and we have felt every one of them. Thank you.