A Lesson in Faith and Compassion: CHRISTUS Health’s Comprehensive Cardiac Care

Jan Jodan sitting on a coach looking at the camera with red glasses.

Jan Jordan has been a registered nurse for 54 years. In September of 2022, Jan experienced what she has come to refer to as a “heart event,” and something that happened more than 55 years ago in nursing school most likely saved her life.

The Lecture

When Jan was a young nursing student, she attended a lecture during which she learned that women present differently when having a heart attack. She was taught that women often experience feelings of indigestion and a trill in the arm.

Fast forward more than 55 years…Jan experienced these exact symptoms. She immediately remembered the words from that lecture. Even though she hadn’t thought of the topic in more than 50 years, it came into her mind at that moment. Jan decided to take immediate action.

She went to her primary care provider. At first check, her provider said she seemed perfectly healthy and didn’t seem worried. He ran a few tests and sent Jan home. Just a few hours later, when the test results were received, the same provider called and told Jan to have her husband bring her to the CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Louis and Peaches Owen Heart Hospital immediately. Her heart was in distress. Jan would undergo quadruple bypass surgery the next day.

In God’s Hands

Jan’s cardiologist, thoracic surgeon Dr. James Caccitolo, described her as a “miracle.” Jan didn’t take his words lightly. She has always been a woman of faith and believed that her survival was indeed the work of God. Jan said, “I’ve always known God had me in his hands. He did then, too.” Jan’s strong faith and dependence on God would continue throughout her journey.

As fate would have it, Louis and Peaches Owen Heart Hospital, along with all CHRISTUS Health facilities, is a place where compassion and faith meet. Inside the hospital walls, Jan would experience the healing power of God through the hands of the doctors, nurses, and therapists employed there.

Just before performing the quadruple bypass surgery, Dr. Caccitolo joined hands with Jan and her husband to pray. According to Jan, “God made things so much easier.”

I’ve Really Had A Good Time

Jan approached heart surgery in the most positive way imaginable. She placed her faith in God and expressed gratitude for those who cared for her. As a result, she had a positive experience. When she left the hospital, she was able to say, “I’ve really had a good time.”

Just after surgery, Jan was given a heart pillow. She would hold that pillow to her chest while she breathed. While she recovered. While she brought movement back into her physical body.

Jan asked every doctor to sign her pillow. She asked every nurse to sign her pillow. She asked every therapist to sign her pillow. She asked every tech to sign her pillow. Any caretaker with whom Jan came into contact, she asked them to sign her pillow. While the pillow still shows its red color, it’s been quite overtaken by the signatures of her caretakers.

Why is this pillow so special to Jan? It represents the people. The people of CHRISTUS Health make it special, and Jan recognized that.

There were several situations in which nurses recognized a physical need Jan had before she had a chance to ask. And sometimes, they recognized her needs even before Jan herself recognized them.

Positive and Compassionate Recovery

After Jan was released from the hospital, the next step was cardiac therapy, again through CHRISTUS Health. She was immediately drawn to the therapists. They continued the positive and compassionate care as they helped Jan recover.

Unfortunately, Jan’s husband passed away while she was still recovering. He suffered from a lung disease and was in hospice care for a short time. Jan was devastated.

The ladies working with Jan in cardiac therapy supported her faith and were sensitive to her physical and emotional needs while they continued to help Jan through her recovery. Jan still feels a strong connection to these therapists and stops by to visit anytime she’s in the hospital.

Support from Friends and Family

Although Jan was doing very well after her surgery, she couldn’t drive and was grieving the loss of her husband. She sometimes didn’t have the energy to feed and care for herself.

Both of Jan’s daughters were extremely helpful. Shannon lives nearby, and Morgan traveled from her home in New Mexico. Both were a comfort to Jan as she underwent surgery and throughout her recovery. Jan is very proud of her family. She has five grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

In addition to the help of her daughters, Jan was fortunate to have a local support network. Friends from her Sunday School class fed her and her family, and they drove her everywhere: to therapy, to church, and occasionally out for lunch. Most importantly, they were there to care for her when her husband died.

“I can’t even imagine how someone would get through something like this without a church community,” said Jan.

Words of Wisdom

We can all learn so many things from Jan. Her positive outlook on a situation that would seem dire to many is inspiring. Her ability to trust in God, lean on her faith, and count on her friends is an example we should all follow.

But when asked what she most wanted to share, Jan said, “Pay attention to yourself physically. Pay attention to your own health. I looked like I was healthy and in good shape, until I wasn’t. Women get so caught up in taking care of others. Sometimes, you put yourself off. But if you’re dead, you can’t take care of anything else.”

Her simple words of wisdom to women of all ages: “Don’t put it off.”

It Feels Like Going Home

As Jan reflects on her time at the CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Louis and Peaches Owen Heart Hospital, she feels a strong connection. Every time she goes to the hospital for a follow-up visit or to visit a friend, “it feels like going home.”

The Louis and Peaches Owen Heart Hospital

The Louis and Peaches Owen Heart Hospital is part of the CHRISTUS Health network and carries the mission of extending the healing ministry of Jesus Christ. It is the first and only heart hospital in East Texas.

Louis and Peaches Heart Hospital