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Strength to Care

Lessons from Matthew & Isaac – Our CHARGE Syndrome Journey

“We believe you are having a heart attack…”

Yes, that news is correct. “My name is Kevin Troupe, I am 52 years old and I have had a heart attack”. There, I said it. I am still coming to grips with what happened just two weeks ago.

Before I go through those details, let’s talk about the time that has passed since I last blogged and what may have helped to contribute to that fateful morning. Since the wedding and moving to Dallas of Megan, and Hannah entering the mission field working at a christian camp in Northern Michigan, things in the Troupe house have been a difficult journey. The first struggle was that Matthew did not adjust well to having his two older sisters, who have always been a constant in his life, leave the nest. We did not do a good job in preparing him for this…frankly, we weren’t even sure he would even care. We were wrong.

The last 18 months have been hard. We have dealt with broken walls and doors, ruined clothing and toys, destroyed electronics and wide screen TV’s, pinching with bruising and trading time with friends and other outings to just spending time alone at home trying to appease the unpredictable person Matthew was at the time.

I’ll stop there with the details of that time period. Maybe I will save those, in detail at another time. Currently (for now) we are in a better place now that we have solved some of the Matthew and Isaac puzzles during the last year and a half. The saying “behaviors are communication” became our constant cry as this truth became more and more clear. We are still dealing with the emotional, physical and psychological scars. It was a dark time for sure and there are still daily storm clouds that like to swirl but the skies are clearer with more sunny days than dark.

Honestly, that time period has taken a toll for both of us on these three areas: Body, Mind and Soul. Constant stress, depression, the battles, the isolation, feeling that no one really understands (or even sometimes care) have really taken a toll on believing that God really had our back and that maybe He gave the wrong job to the wrong parents. Obviously, we know that is not true but who hasn’t questioned their calling at times? We are both still dealing with PTSD with all we have been through with one, and now two kids with special needs. Each one with varying needs from medical to behavioral.

 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

I woke up around 3:30 a.m. on Friday, October 18 with what I thought was a sore throat, maybe strep. I had an incredible pain in my throat along with a strange pain in my wrist. Mind you, I was experiencing this on and off over the last few days, along with chills here and there. I shrugged it off with the knowledge that Theresa and Isaac had been sick just the week before. I thought I may be coming down with the same thing. Here is where I believe the Holy Spirit moved me…against all of my “it’s nothing” feelings and “we have a really big event at work I need to be at” thoughts, I woke Theresa up and told her I think I needed to go get checked out. Yes, I drove myself to the hospital at 4:30 in the morning. As I drove I think I knew deep down that something was wrong. I still couldn’t believe I was actually going to get checked out though. In just a few hours I went from “it’s nothing” to having three blockages in two different arteries opened and stented with four stents. One artery was 100% blocked (two spots, two stents) and the other was 90% blocked (one spot, requiring two stents). I would find out later at a follow-up appointment that the 90% blocked artery, because of it’s location and the extent of the blockage, would have been my “widow maker” had I done nothing. God is good, merciful and gracious. The prompting of the Holy Spirit and my willingness to actually listen still brings me to tears.

Theresa: “The wrong boy is in the bed”!

The very next day on October 19 Theresa and I celebrated an infusion pump lit dinner together for our 28th Wedding Anniversary while I lay in a hospital bed. We have much to celebrate and be grateful for. God certainly has sustained us and brought us through many trials. He has also been our constant strength as we have celebrated many joys and accomplishments. Every anniversary for us have been meaningful…this one took on a very special meaning as it almost didn’t happen.

 And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.

Romans 13:11

This past week I was talking with a friend and mentor. John asked me if God had my full attention now. I told him this experience was kind of like when I was a kid sitting in the pew at church and not paying attention or goofing around. My dad would give me a not so gentle tap on the back of my head and point in the direction of the front of the church. A heart attack will get your full attention.

Changes are already being made…a heart healthy diet and with the start of cardiac rehab comes a new exercise program. Our big challenge will be to attempt to reduce stress, or at least find better ways to relieve it. Of course we want to make these changes for each other, for our kids and those close to us. More importantly, we want to make these changes for ourselves. Both Theresa and I serve and give to the point of neglecting our own health: Body, Mind and Soul. That needs to change.

Please pray with us as I recover and as we begin to make the changes we need to make. We will also pray for you as you take a look at where you stand right now…Body, Mind and Soul. Please don’t wait for that tap at the back of your head to get your attention. Seriously, take care of yourself.

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