Article: There but for the Grace of God

Newry Cathedral News

There but for the Grace of God

Adapted from BBC Radio Ulster Thought for the Day

‘Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend’,

Albert Camus

This is a beautiful quotation from the famous writer, Albert Camus and it can remind us of the care and friendship that God has for us and of how often we have had a narrow escape.

There but for the grace of God go I…
It’s a popular phrase and all of us have had that grace. I remember clearly mine.
Two years ago, on a Monday morning, I was heading to Belfast for a meeting at 9.30am, I hadn’t felt great that morning and had a headache and felt generally out of sorts, but the meeting was a must. My health was a second.

By the time I got to Banbridge I felt worse and for some reason I pulled off the A1 and headed straight into town. I thought I’d just stop at the chemist and ask them to check my blood pressure. I had no previous issues and the only remarkable thing about my medical history was I had none.

The chemist took me into a room and took my blood pressure several times. She asked me where I was going. She calmly told me not to continue my journey and call my GP who equally calmly told me to go to A&E. I thought it was a bit of overreaction but did as I was told and joined the queue who were getting triaged.

I was taken almost immediately and found myself on a trolley. The young nurse took my blood pressure again and rushed out of the room. I thought she had been called away on an emergency but the curtain to the bay opened and I was wheeled into a room called recovery bay and given medication.
Only then did I realise that I had been close to a heart attack and had I ignored the warning signs on the way to work then I may not be telling you this today. There but for the grace of God……

The health service as well as charities like the British Heart Foundation are right to focus on Hypertension. We are encouraged to know ‘our numbers’ (blood pressure) with the goal of increasing high blood pressure awareness in an effort to prevent serious illness.

High Blood Pressure is the major risk factor in cardiovascular disease. Hence it is the Number one global killer. Around 1.5 billion in the world have hypertension. The secret is knowing as only half the people who have it are diagnosed. Fewer than 1 in 5 with hypertension have the problem under control. A lot of people find out by suffering from a stroke or heart attack. The first step to dealing with it is finding out. We all know of people locally who have found out the hard way.

There are lifestyle changes you can make from taking exercise to having less salt or maybe like me they need corrective medication or a minor procedure. So if you are in any doubt, call your GP or pop into your chemist. They saved my life that day.

Maybe God’s Grace had a hand in it too!