On February 20, 2022 I reported to Dr. Jeffery Porter for my annual occupational physical. About 6 minutes into the examination, Dr. Porter was listening to my heart with his stethoscope. Again and again, he listened intently. I wondered what had him so captivated? This was taking way too long. He had a very concerned look on his face. Left ventricle… listen. Right ventricle… listen. Center, listen. Again, again.
Finally, he leans back and drops the stethoscope from his ears. “Mr. Runyon”, he says, “I am unable to certify your health today.” And, looking as professional as he could in the moment he said, “There is a problem with your heart. You need to see your cardiologist as soon as possible.”
He was visibly distressed when he explained that he was hearing a pronounced and abnormal arrythmia. This was described as 3 strong heartbeats… bang, bang and bang! Then nothing for a long moment. Then bang, bang, bang again. Troubling. Disturbing. These things most often require surgical intervention in the form of pacemakers or mini defibrillators. Or protracted convalescence. Who knows? Drugs too, no doubt.
He went on to say that this was not all he was hearing. He was very, very worried about my extremely low heart rate. My heart was only beating at a rate of 30 to 32 beats per minute. This is a serious condition known as Bradycardia. Normal resting heart rate should generally be between 60 and 100 beats per minute, unless you are a young athlete with a rate around 40 bpm. I am no athlete. I was age 66 at the time with a history of a nearly fatal heart attack in 2010. Dr. Porter (who knows my history) was visibly shaken; and restrained himself from sending me to the ER.
Out in my car I placed my fingers over the radial artery on my wrist. “Oh, no!” I said out loud. “This IS serious”! I COULD FEEL IT. That menacing rhythm had no rightful place in this world. It was unnatural and foreign. Now I was freaking-out a little bit, thinking that I may never work at my job again… or worse. Using the stopwatch on my Android, the slow heartbeat was a reality. “God, help me…” I mumbled.
My problems were further emphasized when I called my daughter Cassandra and explained that I had failed the DOT Physical. She said to get home right away. Being a licensed paramedic herself, she met me at the door of our house with her stethoscope and a blood pressure cuff in stand-by mode. After sitting me down, she was satisfied with a normal BP reading. (Why not? The heart was not working hard enough to build-up any high readings, anyway. Even running up the stairs two or three times produced no discernable change.)
Looking at her watch, it only took another moment for her to realize that my heart was not beating fast enough. Adding to her heightened alarm was that dangerous and pronounced arrythmia. Collecting herself; she told me in her professional tone of voice, “Dad, you need to get in the car right away and I’ll drive you to the Emergency Room.”
“No way!” I protested.
She replied to me that in her experience, anyone with such severe and pronounced cardiac observations would be strapped into the back of her ambulance and hustled off to the nearest hospital. Not only that; but she reinforced her position saying that my heart sounded about as bad as anything. That is to say, that although she has heard some strange things from the stethoscope over the years, mine ranked right up there with the worst of them.
Cassandra was developing a plan to get me into a hospital by hook, or by crook. She had called everyone she could think of to get to praying for me. She even called my sister Gail, who certainly agreed to pray. But in Cassandra’s distress, she even asked my sister to give me a direct order to report to Abrazo West for treatment. Well, that didn’t work, either.
This is after all; my daughter and she just lost her mom to COVID on January 20th. Cassandra was not going to lose her dad as well. We certainly argued about it. Compromising, I agreed to go immediately to bed, and she continued to monitor me every hour. By 9:30 pm I was asleep. About 11:30pm I heard the bedroom door open and in comes Cassandra, followed by grandsons Dean and Ethan. I greeted them by asking, “if you guys are not here to examine me, then perhaps you intend to pray over me and to minister healing in the name of Jesus?” “Yes”, they said. “All right”, I said. “that’s a fine idea. Let’s do it”.
I got out of bed and onto my feet. First we prayed that the Lord would intervene on my behalf and work out His will concerning me.
Next, we rebuked the spirit of infirmity and commanded all cardiac disfunction to leave in the name of Jesus Christ. Also, we commanded my healing and for normal heart function to be restored in Jesus’ name.
I said thanks and returned to bed where I quickly dropped off to a deep sleep.
The next thing that I remember after that, is Cassandra coming into the room around 01:30am to take my blood pressure and listen to my heart again. Being accustomed to this type of routine care, I remained half asleep until she sobbed and leaned over to hug me. The sobbing was shaking me awake. That got my attention. Thinking the worst, I asked what this was all about…. she seemed emotional in that moment.
She told me “DAD, IT’S GONE! The arrythmia is gone! Your heart is strong. The Bradycardia is also gone! Your heart is beating normally at over 50 beats per minute. BP remains normal, too”. I reminded her that the prayer of faith avails much and we should expect nothing less. And then I fell back asleep immediately.
I was able to secure an appointment with my cardiologist within a day or two. They examined me thoroughly and performed a treadmill stress test, blood panels, an EKG and a chest Xray. Everything was very satisfactory, and the Dr’s were impressed with my blood work. They said that there was absolutely no trace of those earlier observations.
During the past six years, I have been involved with the Elijah Challenge ministry whose focus is to train Gospel workers. These are villagers, peasants as well as city folks in gospel-resistant countries to minister healings and miracles. That way, unbelievers are won to Christ when they consider the mandate of salvation after they experience a miraculous healing or other never-before-seen miracle done in Jesus’ Name.
There is power in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Even ministering over the phone and Zoom from vast distances, we get really good results most of the time.
Alan Runyon (an Elijah Challenge-trained disciple of Jesus Christ)
San Diego, California
October 18, 2022