Sometimes I don’t know what is more frustrating. Not knowing what caused my heart failure? Or not knowing if there will ever be a cure for heart failure in my lifetime. Right now, it appears that managing the symptoms may be the most that I can hope will occur.
Of course I do feel fortunate that I can still do a lot of things even though I have heart failure. But there still are the lingering questions that haunt me: First I ate right, exercised daily and was not a heavy drinker. Why do I have heart failure? Second, they can put a man on the moon – why can’t they just find a way to fix my heart? Third, why do the drugs I take to help my heart cause such wearing fatigue sometimes?
And the questions continue to multiply like the marching Energizer bunnies you see on television. But then out of the blue, as I start to wallow in a bit of self-pity, I motivate myself by researching ideas for my blog posts. Suddenly, I will stumble onto something that strengthens my faith.
Here is where my latest faith boost began. Over the last five years, I have told everyone that no one in my family had a history of heart failure. But it is possible that my maternal grandfather (Grandpa Ellerbeck), who died in the 1970s, may have had heart failure. I recall that years ago, a relative said that my grandfather might have had dropsy. But I can find no one at this time who is able to confirm this fact. But I have a terrific memory and I must have considered the source credible at the time. So I think it is very possible that my Grandpa did have dropsy.
So like me when I first heard this, you are probably saying: What is dropsy and how does it relate to heart failure? Doesn’t it sound like a chronic condition for those who are clumsy? (And that can describe me on occasion). So I did some research.
It appears that the term dropsy hasn’t been used in medical terminology in recent times. At least I could not find any articles on the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic or American Heart Association websites that defined the term.
The website MedicineNet had the following definition:
But if Grandpa Ellerbeck had dropsy, then maybe there is a genetic connection to my current state. To be honest, he died when I was in my early teens. I only saw him at most once a year, if that often, and I don’t remember much about him. I do picture him in my mind as being tall and not at all heavy, so if he was retaining water, he certainly hid it well. Then again, he wore overalls most of the time, so how would I have been able to tell. (Note to self: Purchase a supply of overalls to disguise your water retention. Nope – scratch that. Inner fashionista is perilously on the edge of cardiac arrest!)
What fascinated me more than the fact that Grandpa Ellerbeck might have had edema due to heart failure were the bible study websites that mentioned the term dropsy. They all referred to the Gospel of Luke Chapter 14, verse 2:
So I put on a more pious hat and my devout side took over. I believe the biblical scholars would emphasize in this verse the point that Christ was probing the spiritual sincerity of the leaders of the Pharisees. They tended to put the letter of the law of God over the spirit and intent of God’s law.
But even though the faith perspective is important, the following bit of commentary about dropsy on the Bible Hub website caught my attention:
Nope – that’s not what is going through my mind at all. What I take away from this is that there is a presence of God and Christ in each of our lives, trying to heal us. Sometimes the healing is physical. There are people on this earth who had scary cancer diagnoses but are still here with us and still going strong. So it can happen.
But healing and sustaining our souls can be just as important. When I see the stories of the healings in the New Testament, of course I think it would be nice to be rid of my heart failure. But I also am conscious of the presence of God in my life, and the comfort he showers upon my me as he heals my spirit. God has lifted me up at my lowest times, and have reminded me that I have much to be grateful about and to smile and laugh about. Life is worth living regardless of a condition that sometimes shortens my breath and makes me bone weary.
I concluded that whether Grandpa Ellerbeck had dropsy is not the point. The exercise of looking into the issue of dropsy has been so rewarding even if no one in my family had heart failure. Because even though I have not run into Jesus in the house of a Pharisee, I consider myself healed by him even though the heart tests might indicate otherwise.
Melanie discovered that she had heart failure in 2013. Since that time, she has been learning how to live with the condition, and how to achieve balance and personal growth.