Jesus, the Ultimate Healer
By LISA PEPLOW
“But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds, declares the Lord.”
– Jeremiah 30:17 (NIV)
Here we were in my husband’s office having a teleconference with a celebrity doctor. We had been waiting months to meet with him, but fortunately he had a cancellation and was able to move our appointment up! Ken and I had been on a popular diet, we had both made tremendous progress, and we were ready for the next step.
We’d been following this doctor for almost a year on YouTube, and we were a little starstruck when he showed up on our computer screen. He was exceptionally witty, which made the event quite fun. At the end of our one-hour session, the doctor said he would order extensive lab work for both of us that we could have done locally. The reports would be sent to him, and then we would meet again to go over the results.
A few weeks later, we were back on the teleconference going over each of our labs. Everything seemed to be in range except for my LDL (bad) cholesterol, yet like all the doctors I’d seen in the past 20 years, he said he wasn’t concerned with the high number because my HDL (good) cholesterol number was really high too, so that evened everything out.
I told him that the high cholesterol numbers still concerned me, and he replied that if I was really apprehensive that perhaps I should consider having a CAC scan.
A CAC scan is a coronary computed tomography calcium scan of the heart for the assessment of coronary artery disease. It looks for calcium deposits that can increase the risk of a heart attack. He shared that most hospitals have this available and they usually run under a hundred dollars. The scan is easy, painless, and takes less than 10 minutes.
I made an appointment and Ken chose to get a scan as well, just in case. When we arrived at the hospital my husband, Ken, went first. When both scans were complete, the friendly technician then led us down the hall to the office of a young woman who asked us to take a seat. She explained that the diagnosis of coronary artery calcification and the degree of calcification is quantified using the Agatston Score.
0: No identifiable disease
1-99: Mild disease
100-399: Moderate disease
400+: Severe disease
She calmly went over Ken’s results with him. His score was 0. We were so relieved, we smiled and high-fived each other! Now, it was my turn. The young woman seemed a little nervous as she turned the printout toward me and without saying a word she pointed at my score. It was 1893. I will remember that number forever.
The young woman was then adamant about choosing a doctor immediately from a flyer she presented to us, but Ken decided to conduct extensive research into who the best cardiologist was in the Greater Indianapolis area.
He worked diligently on this as if my life depended on it and little did we know at the time, it did! Together we decided which cardiologist we would work with, and his office made special arrangements due to my score so we were able to meet with him immediately. After a series of additional tests, it was clear I needed surgery. On New Year’s Eve, 2020, I underwent quintuple bypass open heart surgery and unfortunately, due to COVID-19, I had to endure it alone with no physical support from my husband, parents, sibling, or children. No one. This was a time for me to be extremely brave. (Not everyone who has a high CAC Score must have surgery and there are many other options available, so please don’t let my experience deter you from scheduling a scan for yourself.)
Many people go through surgeries such as this rather easily. Unfortunately, this wasn’t my experience.
When I was in the critical care unit on the third day, I recall laying there feeling extraordinarily weak. Then the monitors were sounding off alarmingly loud. They had gone off quite a few times before but never to this degree. A team of nurses rushed in quickly and started working on me. One of them leaned down to whisper calmly in my ear that my blood pressure was vastly low and plummeting quickly, and I needed to sign a form so they could legally give me units of blood. I signed it and noticed that I was slowly fading. I felt myself going into a deep sleep. I could hear nurses speaking loudly but wasn’t sure what they were saying. It was similar to that teacher’s voice on the Charlie Brown cartoons.
I was drifting . . . almost gone . . . almost under and then I was startled by a man in white who was banging hard with the side of his fist on my hospital window. He was hitting that window so hard that it seemed to shake the entire building! How could that man be outside that window when we were on the third floor? At first, I thought he was a window washer up on scaffolding but then I saw he was wearing a white flowing gown! Then, after watching him for a while. I knew who he was. It was Jesus! I then became immensely alert. He then turned into a shimmering light in the shape of a cross and came into my room at the foot of my bed and then gently dissipated.
While some may dismiss my story as a result of drug-induced hallucinations, I find little significance in their judgment. What truly matters to me is the profound experience I had, which instilled in me newfound strength and renewed hope. Prior to this transformative event, I must confess that I yearned for eternal slumber, longing to wake up in the bliss of heaven. I believed I lacked the will to endure life on Earth any longer. However, after that extraordinary encounter, I became convinced that my life had been spared for reasons that surpassed my comprehension. I understood that there were still significant tasks for me to accomplish, as ordained by God.
I can do all things through Christ, because he gives me strength.
-Philippians 4:13 (ASV)
I do know, without a doubt, that if even one person was to read this story, decide to act and have a simple CAC Scan performed, then all I went through will be part of the reason I made it through. Would you spend a hundred dollars and 10 minutes of your time if it were to save your life?
What are the causes of Coronary Artery Disease? Risk factors include a poor diet, lack of exercise, obesity, smoking, and genetics. I could have been the poster child for all of those.
Did you know heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States? With this knowledge alone I would think it would be enough information for you to Google CAC Scans available near me before you would read any further. I’m sharing my story to possibly save your life or the life of someone you love. I could end this right here and feel I shared an important message, yet actually, I have even more information I believe to be beneficial for some of you.
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
-Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)
“Lisa, I’ve never met anyone in my life who works harder on self-improvement than you do!” my husband said as I was putting on my shoes to begin my daily walk around the subdivision. I was always one of the first to buy the latest self-help best-seller when it hit the shelves. I always strived to excel in my career, learn new skills, and shine in both my personal life and business, sometimes falling short and other times succeeding beyond my wildest expectations.
Yet even though I gave all I had to all parts of my life, I still had a mortifying secret. This is why I worked so hard to improve myself on a daily basis with the hope that something would help cure just this one last thing I was suffering from. I honestly felt I had everything else in my life in pretty decent order.
I had tried willpower a million times, yet I could never sustain it for long, and I was left desperate when my self-discipline inevitably fizzled. This cycle of attempt and failure became habitual from childhood into adolescence to a perpetual adult state of being. You or someone you love may be struggling with it right now and its name is addiction.
He healeth the broken in heart, And bindeth up their wounds.
-Psalms 147:3 (KJV)
My addiction was food and it developed as far back as I can remember. Yes, food addiction is a real addiction. In certain people, particular substances in a food can light up neuropathways in the brain even more than cocaine does.
Like addictive drugs, highly palatable foods trigger a feel-good brain chemical called dopamine. Research attributes one way people develop an addiction to certain foods to five consumables that create deep grooves in the brain’s neuropathways: sugar, sweeteners, all flours, processed foods, and alcohol. I now no longer consume any of these foods.
Some become addicted early; others, later in life. For myself, when I was around eight years old, I began noticing that I was eating quite a bit more than my peers. Looking back, I also realize that I ate even when I wasn’t hungry. I recall sneaking downstairs to steal an entire box of sugary cereal and hiding in my room to eat it. I would continue to eat even when my stomach was uncomfortably full. There was some kind of out-of-control feeling that would not let me stop. The following day, I would feel so sick, both physically and mentally. Not only because I ate the entire box, but also because the addictive substances affected my body, mind, and spirit with physical pain, guilt, and shame, which led to experiencing tremendous anxiety, irritability, and depression. Yet, for some reason, even with the suffering after a full-blown binge — even after being taunted for being overweight by some of my peers — I would continue to do it over and over again for more than three decades.
I even underwent weight loss surgery, twice. The first one was in the United States, and when that one failed, I secretly flew to Tijuana, Mexico to have yet another surgery, which inevitably failed too. What most people don’t realize is, is that if you are addicted to certain foods, weight loss surgery is not going to help because food addiction isn’t a food-to-mouth disease. As Mayo Clinic states, it’s a brain disease. There are many ways to eat around a surgical procedure. I know firsthand.
Abstinence is the only way to recovery if you’re an addict and I find my strength for sobriety through Jesus. He’s never failed me when I call on Him. Author Colleen Hoover famously said: “Addictions don’t get better. They’re either actively fed, or actively fought.” I’m not strong enough to fight this on my own and that is why I need help from the Lord.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
-2 Corinthians 3:17 (ESV)
Jesus led me to information about how the brain is able to repair itself in many ways. This information was enlightening because it helped me understand why my “white knuckling it” or “everything in moderation” was never going to work for me.
I’ve heard the phrase “nothing is ever wasted.” And nothing was wasted. I truly believe Jesus turned my suffering of addiction into good by guiding me to share this story with you. He is using me as a vessel to bring invaluable information about this subject and to share that He is the Ultimate Healer. With knowledge about what food addiction is, how it develops, and how it can be overcome, now we can have a better chance of making changes soon enough so it doesn’t lead to serious health diseases.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
-Romans 8:28 (NIV)
I drew a line in the sand and asked Him to give me the strength I needed so that I would not step over it. I stand at that line many times throughout my day, and He makes me strong when I am weak. When I think I’m about to falter, to get what I think will be a satisfying dopamine hit, I picture him hanging tightly onto my ankles so I won’t cross that line.
Those deceptive “highs” with food that I initially thought brought me “joy” inevitably only brought me pain. My food addiction caused me to have heart disease that led to a serious high-risk surgery. Yet that suffering brought me to the Ultimate Healer, where I find my true joy, in Jesus Christ. And He brought me to you to share what I learned in the hopes it may help you or someone you love.
Greater Indianapolis Area-based Lisa Peplow is an international best-selling author, Sr. Project Director for Trinity Global Press, LLC, which publishes some of the best multi-author anthologies today, including this book Salt and Light – Inspiring Stories of Love, Faith, Hope, and Transformation. Lisa has published over 200 authors from around the world, assisting many of them to best-seller status as well. If you’re interested in becoming a published Christian Author, reach out to her and inquire about upcoming projects to determine if Trinity is a good fit for you. You may contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org