Walk, Walk, Walk

A Guest Post by Hale Meserow

image(Note: The following testimonial is written by a member of my Sunday School class, Hale Meserow, who suffered a heart attack last week after being diagnosed with diabetes eight years ago. As many of you know, my brother, Ronnie, suffered from diabetes for many years before his death last year. Many of your lives have been impacted by either diabetes or heart disease – or perhaps both, as turned out to be the case for Hale. I found his account very informative and trust that his words might help you should you encounter some of the symptoms he either ignored or explained away as his attack was occurring. Or perhaps you might need to start the exercise program that likely saved his life and walk, walk, walk!)

Hello, Friend…

As you probably know, I am recovering from a heart attack. Here is the series of events that I’ve experienced in the last couple of months.

I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes about eight years ago. Incidentally, as a warning for others, it came about because I was experiencing terrible leg cramps, especially at night. That was a result of dehydration in my muscles, which was caused by the body expelling water to dump excess sugar into the bloodstream. That and intense and pervasive thirst are classic symptoms of diabetes.

For the most part, I have been fortunate to keep my diabetes well within control over the years via a combination of medication, good meal choices, and reasonably diligent diet control. However, I began to notice an escalation in my blood sugar count beginning in July. I more or less shrugged it off and vowed to maintain a better diet. But due to poor self-control, my diet did not improve; on the contrary, from about November on, my sugar intake increased (holidays and all that). Whereas my blood sugar numbers should have been 110-120, I was experiencing regular 200+ readings and could not bring them down.

Finally, on December 31, having experienced massive chest pains four days before and an extraordinarily high blood sugar reading that morning, I walked into the emergency room at the local hospital here in Hendersonville, NC and asked for help controlling my blood sugar. They put me in a bed and took all the normal readings. The emergency room physician questioned me carefully and soon discovered the chest pain event I’d had, which led him to do a specific test measuring an enzyme that the heart produces when it has experienced an attack. Sure enough, my reading came back 25 times normal. “You’ve had a heart attack, my friend,” he said. “Why didn’t you come to the hospital when it was occurring, especially since it lasted all day?” I replied that I’d had none of the other classic symptoms of a heart attack and just considered it to be a bad muscle pull or perhaps a tear caused by my dog who loves to jerk on the leash when I walk her. As a warning to you, ANY sharp and lasting chest pain is dangerous and should result in a trip to the hospital as soon as possible.

I was taken to Mission Hospital in Asheville, about 25 miles north, which fortunately is one of the finest heart hospitals in the country. There, over the next three days, I was examined, poked, prodded, given this medication and that EKG and ultrasound and so forth. They withdrew blood from my veins virtually every three hours around the clock for heart testing plus a smaller sample from a finger at the same interval for sugar testing. At one point my sugar count was 414, which is quite dangerous, and at another it was 60, which left me shaky, weak, and mind-fogged. Finally the staff got me stabilized and I was allowed to leave the hospital yesterday afternoon, January 3rd.

The upshot is now a highly regulated lifestyle, with careful sugar and carbohydrate counting, specified food combinations and the exclusion of others (goodbye pizza, ice cream, pasta, bread, rice, cookies, chips, etc.), blood sugar testing and self-injection of one of two types of insulin four times daily, and ingestion of copious types of pills for heart health. It’s not a pleasant routine, but it’s absolutely necessary for the preservation of my heart, life, and health going forward.

One fact is very important here. The cardiologist who performed a catheterization in the hospital told me that I have 100% blockage in one of the two main arterials which feeds the heart and 30% blockage in the other. Normally I would have been immediately taken to the operating table and undergone a double bypass operation. That’s a very difficult and precise procedure which involves at least a six-month recovery and can produce quite dangerous after-effects, some of them fatal. But because of a workout habit and the fact that my wife Sue and I have regularly walked 2-3 miles, 3-4 times a week up and down the hills of the Hendersonville area from April until the end of November, followed by daily walks of 1.2 to 1.5 miles (depending on the track we chose) with our new dog Mandy, my heart developed a number of “collaterals.” These are mini-arterials which bypass the bypass and enable the heart to receive the oxygen and nutrients it requires to function. In essence, the walking saved my life. It certainly saved me from a massive operation. Instead of surgery, my heart-healthy therapy going forward consists of the medications and regular (even increased) daily walking.

Clearly my blockage was caused by diabetes. The doctors have confirmed that. But whatever the cause, the walking and a reasonably healthy diet overcame the danger caused by the blockage and kept me ticking. The undeniable lesson here is WALK! Walk at least a mile every day, even if that means a trip to the indoor mall in bad weather. A brisk pace is better than a stroll, but a stroll is far better than being sedentary. You just never know what’s going on with your heart; my cholesterol numbers were always very good even while the blockage was building. Walk, walk, walk! Under any circumstances your heart will thank you, and under the most extreme circumstances (like mine) it may well save your life.

I am grateful to my Lord Jesus for being with me all through this and for sending me the warning signs that led me to the hospital. He is always faithful, just as He promises.

May God bless you and your health in this next year and beyond.

Hale Meserow
January 4, 2016

(Hale is an accomplished author. I have just downloaded his book, “Minnesota: The Great State”. If interested, you may check out the books he has written by clicking this link and typing Meserow in the search line. I can testify personally to the benefits of a regular walking routine. Last year, I walked 500 miles and am shooting for 600 this year. Keep walking, my friends. And if you don’t have a walking routine and have no plans to start one, maybe you should read this account again! It just might save your life.)


Reflections On 2015

“You were taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Eph. 4:22-24)

I have never been a big fan of New Years resolutions. After many failures through the years, I have come to view them as a waste of time and energy. I also came to question why anyone would wait until the start of a new year to make a change they desire to make. As that great philosopher Bono once sang, “Nothing changes on New Years Day”.

I’m often reminded of one of the most memorable sermons I have ever heard. It was preached by Brother Bob Melvin at Spotswood Baptist Church in Fredericksburg, Virginia. I remember few of the details of the message, but I’ll never forget the title – “Why Spend Another Night With The Frogs?”. It was based on the Exodus account of the plagues that God sent to convince Pharaoh to release the Israelites. After the plague of frogs, Pharaoh agreed to release the Israelites if Moses would pray that The Lord would take the frogs away. When Moses offered to allow Pharaoh to set the time when he would offer that prayer, Pharaoh replied, “Tomorrow”. (Ex. 8:10)  When you stop to reflect on that response, it begs the unspoken question, “Why spend another night with the frogs?”

That expresses how I feel about New Years resolutions. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for setting goals, whether they be physical, educational, spiritual, or otherwise. But if there are frogs keeping you from reaching those goals, why wait until January 1 to address them? Why spend another night with the frogs?

By the way, my wife apparently understands that principle better than I do. I informed her last week that I planned to start the new year off by following the Atkins diet regimen for several weeks to shed a few pounds. She started me on it this past Monday. I guess she took Brother Bob’s sermon to heart! Either that, or she is really anxious for me to lose that weight.

In keeping with the implication of the title, I planned to make this my last post of 2015, but then a frog jammed up those plans. The frog that interfered is best known as the BCS College Football playoffs. So this will be my first post of 2016. I’m nothing if I’m not flexible.

In case you’re concerned, I have no intention of recounting all the details of my 2015 like some of those letters we sometimes receive with Christmas cards this time of the year. But I would like to reflect on my blogging experience which began in February.

First of all, my heartfelt thanks to all of you who felt my posts were worthy of your time. For the year, I published 16 posts on Ridgetop Reflections and those posts received over 1500 views. I don’t know if that would be considered a good first year or not, but it was very encouraging to me.

My most popular post was “A Tribute To Mama“, which was taken from the eulogy I imagedelivered at my mother’s funeral in 2004. More of you shared that post on Facebook than any other – no doubt a leading factor in the number of views it received. Mama could have never imagined that people would be reading about her life on something called the internet eleven years after her passing. Knowing her humble spirit, she would have been more embarrassed about that than proud.

The second most viewed post was “Lessons From The Treehouse” which was taken from my brother Ronnie’s eulogy earlier this year. Knowing him, he would have been both amazed and proud of that and pleased that the post about him did not surpass “A Tribute To Mama” in popularity.

Blogging is more challenging than I anticipated. I have been writing Bible Study lessons word-for-word for years and expected blogging to be not so different. But I quickly discovered that when you write for public distribution, proof reading for proper grammar, punctuation, and narrative flow adds a whole new dynamic to the process.

Mountains of doubt entered my mind every time I pressed that intimidating “Publish” button staring at me on the screen. Is this worthy of publishing? Do my words convey the message I’m trying to communicate? Will anyone read it? Why should anyone care what I have to say? Those frogs of doubt plagued me so much at one point that I didn’t publish anything for three months.

But your encouragement, a guilty conscience, and a divine nudge helped me shake those doubts long enough to get back on the blogging horse. Many thanks to all of you who have served as my Barnabas with your encouraging comments on the blog as well as Facebook. I’m especially grateful to those of you who have shared my posts with your own Facebook friends and retweeted my posts on Twitter. (For those of you scratching your head wondering what retweet means, just ask your Grandkids.)

I hope that moving forward in 2016 you will continue to find my posts worthy of your reading time and worthy of sharing and commenting on. Your feedback and contributions to the dialog are always welcomed and appreciated.

My plan this year is to publish more often. Many ideas for future posts are in various stages of development, but I’m contemplating focusing most of my writing this year on the Gospel of John. As I mentioned in The Word Became Flesh, none of the disciples had a better understanding of the person of Jesus Christ than John. No one knew Christ more intimately than John. No one had a deeper insight regarding the purpose of His coming than John. And no one can help us know Christ better ourselves than John.

Like the Apostle Paul, I want to better know Christ and the power of His resurrection in my own life and make Him better known with my writing. While nothing I have to say should ever take the place of your own study of God’s Word, I hope that my words may deepen your hunger for and enhance your understanding of the Holy Scriptures.

Happy New Year to you all. I pray that 2016 will be prosperous for you in all the ways that would be pleasing to our Lord and that every day, in some small way, your spirit will be refreshed and your faith renewed.


“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (2 Cor. 4:16)

Note: All Scripture references from the New International Version (NIV)