Mine has! In 1988, after my father and business partner died of a heart attack, I sat down with our family doctor after a complete physical. All my numbers looked great, including my BMI of 23. Dr. Lewis advised me to keep doing what I was doing and wished he had more patients like me! He pointed out the only thing I had no control over was my heredity. I made a commitment to continue to eat healthily and to get plenty of exercise. I continued to hear this post-physical pronouncement through the years from my doctors. As a result, I was proud I had not been on any medications! I felt superior to others my age who had to take daily doses of meds.
A couple of weeks ago, I experienced severe chest pain while walking our dog. It went away after a few minutes. I thought it was gas from spicy food eaten the night before. It occurred again this past Tuesday, and I went to the clinic to get it checked. My EKG looked a bit off, so they took blood for analysis. Early Wednesday morning, I got a call from Physician Assistant Annie asking me if Terri, my wife, was home. I said, “Yes,” and she said, “I want Terri to drive you to Mission Hospital ER immediately. Your Troponin enzyme is high, meaning you have had a heart attack!” That afternoon I had a heart catheterization that found some blockage in the LAD of my heart, and a stent was inserted.
After the procedure, the doctor prescribed a statin and a blood thinner and said I should keep a small vile of nitroglycerin with me at all times! My pride took a hit. After all the good healthy habits, I fell off the pedestal! My humility took a hit. I’m learning and relearning a couple of things.
First, I’m blessed to have had incredible support from Annie, the PA, who directed me to go to the hospital; the nurses and doctors who treated me; my caregiver wife, my close family and friends, including my men’s small group; and my work cohorts. As I lay in the ER Wednesday morning, I felt peace and knew the prayer that never fails, Thy will be done, was at work.
Second, the only constant in life is change. The antidote for change is adaptation. Heredity is a wild card. It is at play in our lives. You cannot control or change heredity. While I feel like and have the attitude of a 40-year-old, I am reminded I still need to adapt to an older body, so my reality check doesn’t bounce! I admonish my coaching clients to remember to put their oxygen mask on first before anything else!
Third, patience is part of a healthy lifestyle. Patience is the ability to stay calm while you’re waiting for an outcome. Patience is essential in one’s emotional intelligence and aids self-awareness, self-management, empathy, and managing relationships. Patience is the foundation to “seek to understand before being understood.” Patience is essential in dealing with difficult people.
Finally, I’ve been a practitioner of daily prayer and mindful meditation. It has served me well and is proving to be an essential part of my recovery. It, like my nitroglycerin vile, is something I won’t leave the house without!
This is what I know for sure: I’ve lived an incredible life, and I plan to continue to do so. I am looking forward to adding a new title of “grandfather” later this year. I am looking forward to officiating at the wedding of our son and his fiance in December! Thus, I will take my daily doses of meds and carry that little vile of nitroglycerin. I plan to keep running the bases and sliding into home, Lord willing, and the creek don’t rise!