On the Table– December 24 through January 6

Hello, Common Table! I’ve been missing you.

Not that things have been at all dull. Two weeks ago today I was making Santa Lucia buns in our kitchen, felt a momentary sense of vertigo, passed out and without even bending a knee tipped straight back, crashing onto the back of my head. Thankfully my wife was home, and even more thankfully she used her medical acumen to summon the EMTs, and to direct them to Fairfax Hospital (suspecting this might be a cardiac issue, and remembering the excellent cardiac resources there). Even before I was making any sense, the good folks in the ER ruled out a stroke, confirmed a lack of skull fracture, diagnosed a concussion, and repaired the laceration in my scalp.

I stayed overnight in the Adult Observation unit, connected to EKG and monitored every minute. The plan was to send me home the next day with a remote heart monitor… until I had three more episodes of what was eventually diagnosed as ‘syncope’–a slowing or stoppage of the heart (my max was 8 seconds) on Friday the 14th. (I’ll tell you all about the pretty kaleidoscope of lights and expansion of time at a later date.)

This might sound like bad news, but to the fine folks in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, it was a wonderful outcome, providing them as it did with useful DATA!!. They moved me to the CICU to give me a drug to elevate and regulate my heartbeat, and ordered me to stay in bed for the weekend, awaiting a Cardiac MRI on Monday morning. In the meantime, the cardiac team chased down a handful of possible causes for this condition, none of which revealed any conclusions.

All of which led me to the OR on 18th for the installation of a pacemaker, followed by my release from the hospital the next day.

I’m recovering gradually, resting a lot at home, not driving or lifting things or moving my left arm much. I go for walks every day (it’s amazing how weakened one becomes after several days in bed), and the headaches from the concussion seem to be less frequent. And I’m learning to rely on this incredible piece of technology implanted in my chest, which is keeping me alive. I’m profoundly grateful and humbled for this gift of life, and of renewed life. Thanks be to God.

I tell you all of this by way of explanation and apology… for the lack of action at CT and the lack of communication. One of the most frustrating things about the concussion is the challenge of recalling particular words, which has made writing frustrating and depressing. But that’s getting better, and I have an appointment with a concussion specialty clinic in about a week. So I’m diligently working to get back to regular life ASAP.

And we will get right into the swing of things at Common Table in the new year, with our Epiphany Party and Chili Contest on January 5 (the literal and actual 12th Day of Christmas, y’all!), and our first worship gathering of the new year the next morning. So be honing your chili skillz, and preparing yourself to celebrate the coming of God to the world through a little baby. No matter your current connection to CT, you are more than welcome to join us!

Merry Christmas,
Mike Stavlund


Mike is a solid, stand-up guy that enjoys writing poetry and prose, hanging out with family and friends, and long walks around a Weber kettle grill.

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