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Every year I write an inspirational message that will be useful for daily life. This year is a little different. I had a miracle experience with my father on January 2, 2013 that I would love to share the story. I have such a deeper appreciation for my father, life, and living each day to the fullest. Enjoy the story and would love to hear from you!
My Father's Miracle Heart Story
It all began on a cold Christmas Eve morning in New London, Connecticut. My father, John, was the youngest in a family of five and the only boy. He was born a healthy, 8-pound baby boy, but problems soon began to arise, as his body was unable to digest his mother's milk. Now, at two months old, his weight had dropped to two pounds, with no hope from the local doctors.
Out of desperation, John's parents sought help at Yale New Haven Hospital, which was about 60 miles away. The biggest snowstorm in years was coming down, but with faith in God, praying for a miracle, his parents drove through the mighty snowstorm to bring baby John, who was pronounced on arrival a "blue baby," unresponsive and virtually lifeless.
And then the miracle occurred - emergency surgery was performed to repair John's esophagus and stomach. Baby John was brought back to life!
John had a very happy childhood, the son of an ice cream manufacturer (Maloof Ice Cream - since 1903), always very creative and musically inclined. After being honorably discharged from the navy because of a herniated disk, he received a degree in Agriculture and Dairy from the University of Connecticut, he took over the ice cream business from his father, where his creativity flourished. His special ice cream molds for every holiday were always in extreme demand. He formulated and designed all of his specialty ice creams, flavors, logos and containers. My fondest memory was my dad always bringing me the latest ice cream inventions and flavors to try... it was such a delicious childhood.
Dad also played upright bass in the band at the Lighthouse Inn, the finest restaurant in town for dinner and dancing every Saturday night since he was in his twenties. His love for music and dancing was truly inspirational. His compositions and arrangements were thoroughly enjoyed by all.
I myself followed in my father's footsteps and studied at the University of Connecticut, and then continued my education at Chiropractic College in California. Though John was initially less than enthusiastic about my moving to California, not long after I completed Chiropractic School and opened my practice, he followed me to California, where his life really blossomed.
He was retired, so now he could delve into his passions in a beautiful environment with endless possibilities. It didn't take him long to catch onto the dream: taking art classes, year-round outdoor swimming, flower photography, painting, regular exercises in the California sunshine, and dancing. He quickly found a new large circle of friends with common interests, and with his gracious and friendly personality, became loved by all.
Most importantly, he was close to me, so that he could come to my office for regular chiropractic care and nutritional therapy. As long as I can remember, John had a "bad back" - it was always stiff, and he always had trouble standing up straight. This always bothered me, and now, ironically, I could do something about it.
He has come in faithfully every week for the last 22 years, and has taken the supplements I recommended, and has stretched as I have prescribed every day. Yes, my dad did listens to my advice, and it paid huge dividends. When an orthopedic doctor looks at his x-rays, invariably the first question is, "How is it that this man is not in a wheelchair?" John can attest that my theory remains true: if you remove nerve interference, the body can heal itself.
During these 22 years, I often observed how I am like my father in so many ways. Not only are our spines similar, but God has given us the same gift of sensitivity combined with creativity.
As a young boy, my dad had been an altar boy, and as an adult, was a lecturer in the Catholic Church. When he moved to California, I introduced him to Saddleback Church, in which he always enjoys the music and the messages. He has always been in a faithful servant of God and a strong believer in the power of prayer. If this is any indication, his nickname is "Honest Abe," for his integrity in his personal and professional life!
My dad has remained healthy and drug-free until about ten years ago, when he developed endocarditis, an infection of his mitral valve, after a normal dental visit. This was the first time that he found out that he had a congenital problem with his heart. Endocarditis is an infection in the heart which can be fatal unless it is treated with large doses of antibiotics. Fortunately, after six weeks of intravenous antibiotics, he was fine, but since then he has undergone extensive yearly heart testing. He now takes a dosage of antibiotics prior to any dental care to prevent this from happening again.
He did his part; unfortunately, the cardiologists did not do theirs. His last echocardiogram, two months ago, showed that he had severe mitral valve regurgitation, meaning that a large portion of his blood supply was being pumped by his heart in the wrong direction. I was furious to discover that this condition had been observed by the cardiologists each of the last several years, but it had never been communicated to my father until now. When he confronted them this time, John was told that nothing could be done, and was advised to enjoy his life, despite John's complaints of frequent shortness of breath and fatigue. They told him he was too old to have surgery.
Fortunately, my sister Maureen began her research, believing yes, there is something that can be done. She found a doctor who has enjoyed tremendous success with mitral valve repair and replacement, in patients of all ages.
The first step was to go to an Echocardiologist to examine all aspects of John's heart from inside his body. This confirmed that the valve was indeed damaged, and needed to be either repaired or replaced. The next step was an angiogram. Maureen bent over backwards to get this scheduled, knowing it was vital not to waste any time. The angiogram determined that John had blockages on the left side of his heart.
Maureen made daily phone calls in an effort to schedule a consult with a nationally-recognized cardiac surgeon. His schedule was completely booked with appointments and surgeries, followed by a Christmas vacation which was scheduled to begin on December 21. By the grace of God, he decided to extend his work schedule one extra day to see John, and John was given an appointment first thing in the morning on the last day before his vacation.
My sister and I both escorted John to his appointment, where the doctor explained that a quadruple bypass would likely be required along with a replacement (not a repair) of his mitral valve. When I asked the doctor for the earliest possible surgery date, his nurse went out of her way to coordinate all of the key personnel for a January 2 surgery date, and also to coordinate all of the pre-operative tests while we were still at the doctor's office that day. Miraculously, all of the necessary people were still in the building and all the pre-op tests were finished, to pave the way for the surgery, first thing in the morning of the day the surgeon returned from Christmas vacation. John was the doctor's last patient before his vacation, and the first one after!
We all decided to make this Christmas the best ever, immersing ourselves in the festivities and enjoying each other's company with the joy of Jesus' birth in our hearts. My dad reminisced at the dinner table about the Christmas miracle when he was two months old, and completely expected another miracle. Even though he was told to take it easy, he went dancing on New Year's Eve!
The big day came - January 2, departure time, 6am. I didn't sleep a wink. I had complete faith, but my subconscious mind got the best of me. My sister and I were with John at the hospital, helping him get ready for the surgery with the nurse and the anesthesiologist. Believe it or not, we all seemed to be very calm, knowing everything was going to work out perfectly. We talked to the surgeon right before, and he said the team would keep us updated every two hours. He told us to expect a five hour procedure.
Well, we got the first phone call two hours later, but the news was shocking. The surgeon found something very unexpected: an aortic dissection. I quickly looked it up online and read that this condition has a 90% mortality rate, with most people never making it to the operating room once it occurs. Once it is detected, emergency surgery is always scheduled.
We turned this disappointment around and dug deep to maintain our faith, courage, and optimism. As the operation progressed, we received more and more positive updates, letting us know that the aortic repair, the quadruple bypass, and then the valve replacement were all performed to the surgeon's complete satisfaction, ten hours after it began.
In the opinion of John's surgeon, John had been living with this aortic dissection for perhaps six months, and was completely perplexed as to how John was still alive, without any symptoms such as chest pain! A month prior, the Echocardiologist had failed to take a picture of the ascending aorta above the valve, which would have revealed the aortic dissection and prompted immediate surgery. He has now decided to change his protocol from this point forward to examine the entire heart, regardless of symptomatology.
Seeing one's father full of tubes in ICU is not the easiest thing in the world, but I was so happy to see him alive, with good color in his face. As you know, the first few days are critical, and he spent a lot of time resting, since he had had such a long surgery. But he had his wits about him from the moment he woke up, and didn't miss a beat. I brought my Ipod in and sang to him, while he tapped his feet to the music. On the fourth day after the surgery, he was already roaming the hallways of the hospital!
I attribute John's endurance first of all to God's healing Power; second, to regular chiropractic care for over 20 years, keeping his nervous system in optimal health, thus maintaining the nerve impulses to all his organs, including his heart, keeping it beating well; to taking nutritional supplements; to a healthy diet; and to regular exercise.
Is John a lucky guy? I believe it is so much more than that - he has been continuously blessed by Almighty God, who has held him in the palm of his hand. What is my prediction for John's future? I anticipate a long extended happy life, world-renowned flower and heart photographer, and a dancer extraordinaire. God has big plans for his life!
Happy Valentine's Day
Valentine's Day should be celebrated every day, not just on February 14 where we are constantly reminded with advertisements of flowers, candy, and cards. Do we need this holiday to let your loved ones know how much we care or how much we love and appreciate them? Take the time each day to acknowledge someone and let them know how much you care with a note, text, phone call, it only takes a few minutes but could change someone's life forever.
"You never know what you might do or say, and how it may affect someone in their life many years later."
Dr. Catherine Maloof
"Authentic empowerment is knowing that you are on purpose,
doing God's work peacefully and harmoniously."
"He who stands for nothing will fall for anything."
"Courage: the most important of all the virtues, because
without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently.
Anyone can hide. Facing up to things, working through
them, that's what makes you strong.
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Dr. Maloof's website by clicking www.drmaloof.com
Dr. Maloof Online, © 2012
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