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Dodging a Bullet

October 26, 2012 by  
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All I have to say is a double WOW… I worried myself sick after the doctor told me there is a 90% chance that my right main heart artery is 100% blocked. We scheduled an angiogram and just before they wheeled me in the doctor tells me that if my left main artery is also blocked then they will have to do open heart surgery. Of course, that last comment scared me to death and I started thinking about dying. Hey, I’ve had a good nearly 69 years and a lot of people get much less than that.

So there I am in the operating room staring at the ceiling as the doctor gets to work. (They don’t put you under for an angiogram.) I think back on my life and that everyone has to die and maybe it’s my turn now.  Less than an hour later they wheel my bed back to the hospital room where my wife Kimberly is waiting. Then the WOW news!! And what was that news?

“We didn’t find any blockage. All the tests, cat scans and nuclear stress EKG’s that you had that showed a blockage were wrong. It was a false positive.”

Did that ever make my day … or life! But what a lot of stress I went through to get there. I guess that kind of proves the old adage that “What we worry about the most doesn’t usually happen.”

But there was a good lesson that I learned. It goes back to what the Buddhist have said for years … that everyone of us needs to mentally go through in our heads the process of dying (to die before we die) so when we do get to that point in our lives where we really are going to die, it makes that transition much easier to accept and to embrace.

So yes, I dodged a bullet. Even if I did have a stent put in or had open heart surgery the chances of survival would have been very high but still, dodging that bullet helped me prepare myself for the inevitable. It also gave me pause so that I took a good hard look at the relationships I have with family and friends and renewed my vow to do more with my life.

But you don’t have to go through an unnecessary scare like this to appreciate and reaffirm the strength and importance of your relationships and really see what you are doing with your life. Just ask yourself, if I died today, would I feel that I was the kind of person I wanted to be for the people I love and am doing what I really want with my live? Then listen carefully and well to the answers and make the changes you want to see while you still have the time here to do it.

Gold Vs. Heart Attack/Maybe Death

October 19, 2012 by  
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Okay…  what do you want first–the good news or the bad? Let’s go with the bad first.

I worked hard on my tennis game all year long with the gold medal as my goal at the Huntsman World Senior Games. I was going to get the gold in men’s 65 to 70 singles–no if’s and’s or but’s. The bad news is that I failed!! But there is good news connected to the failure … I didn’t die. I kind of like that part.

You see, one week before the Senior Games my Doctor was searching for the source of my 2 year cough when a cat scan revealed something totally unrelated to my cough.  I had a possible 80% blockage in my right coronary artery.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. My family has no history of heart disease, I eat a very healthy diet and I work out regularly.  But when I totally flunked my stress EKG test I started to believe what the doc was saying. I told him that I was heading to the Senior Games in St George, Utah and asked for his advice.  He said I would probably be ok but not to push myself and besides he added “they have defibrillator machines on site (that comment did not fill me with confidence!)

So I forged ahead but with some caution and a fair amount of fear. I worked my way through matches but when I found myself in the finals I got a huge big time scare! I started the match playing very strong but when I found myself ahead in the first set 3-0 something started happening to me.  I began feeling a slight chest pain and felt a bit sick. By the time my opponent Michael Murphy caught up and we were “on serve” I was sweating like a horse and my chest pains had intensified. I stopped the match right then and told Michael I couldn’t or at least shouldn’t play on, so the gold medal was his and I had to settle for the silver medal. Yes I was very disappointed but more than that I was scared. More than 30 minutes later my heart was still racing with a resting rate of over 100!

Back in Salt Lake City I had another EKG stress test, this time with radio-active dye that gives the docs a clearer picture of the blood flow through the veins. And yes I flunked that test too.

Then just a few days ago my doc called and told me that there is a 90% chance that my right coronary artery is completely blocked. His recommendation was to have an angiogram and most likely they need to put in a stent. Of course I agreed and scheduled it for this coming Wednesday, October 24th.

What is the take away lesson here? For me it’s this … life is so precious and can be so very short. You never know what might happen so live it in that “Great right now”!  Thankfully, we have access to such great medical knowledge, great medical technology, and great medicines so with that, taking care of ourselves, and a great bit of luck, we can all live a little bit longer and stronger.

So that is my great “golden” lesson of this year. Or should I say my great “silver” lesson?

 

Don’t Let Nay-Saying Stop You

October 12, 2012 by  
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You probably know this person, the one that asks for advice or help but then when they are offered an answer they do nothing but list all the reasons why it won’t work. And they do this over and over again for each possible solution they are presented with.  A person like this doesn’t want an answer; they want the responsibility of having to take care of the problem lifted from their shoulders. Of course, this is not how things work.

For most of us, we are this person too at one time or another. It’s not that we are wimpy or lazy, we just get overwhelmed. Our reaction is to complain, bemoan our situation and ramble on about the impossibility of the difficult thing we are faced with. But let me ask this–What has complaining ever done to help you? Absolutely nothing. What you need to do is ignore that initial negative reaction and don’t let yourself fall into the nay-saying trap by being positive first.

If you want to have a seemingly impossible issue removed from your life or at least lessened, you have to look to the possibilities not the impossibilities. There is always a solution. Asking others is truly a great way of finding an answer because another person’s view can open up possibilities you hadn’t considered. And when you are overwhelmed, it’s so hard to see the possibilities. The key is to be ‘open’ to other people’s suggestions. If someone offers you a possible solution try first to imagine that it truly might work before you let all the reasons why it won’t work rise up and squash it. It’s that initial negativity that will kill your motivation to really weigh the options. Be positive first and you are far more likely to come up with a feasible solution and a way out from under a difficult situation.

Cherishing Our Mistakes

October 5, 2012 by  
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I recently saw this anonymous quote making the rounds on the web:

Don’t place your mistakes on your head, their weight may crush you. Instead, place them under your feet and use them as a platform to view your horizons.”

What a great quote. Isn’t it more often true than not that we let our mistakes weight us down and crush our motivation? Mistakes are nothing more than learning opportunities. We learn best by the mistakes we make because it’s not so likely we’ll forget them.

Every one of us will make mistakes. A lot of them. They will make us feel idiotic, incompetent, and imperfect. But we are all these things at some moment (or two or ten) in our lives. And it’s wonderful! It means we always have something to work on, something we can look forward to doing better the next time.

So certainly, use your mistakes as blocks to step up on, to build the stairs you use climb to success. Don’t carry them around. When setting goals and taking those steps to reach those goals, know you will make mistakes along the way. Tell yourself,” I will screw up sometimes but that’s okay. I will learn from my mistakes and will be that much more competent and successful because of the knowledge I gained from those experiences.” This way when you make a mistake, you’ll be ready to move forward, not let it slow you down or stop you all together, which of course, would be the biggest mistake of all.

**If you like what you’ve read in this blog please send it on to people you know and love, to people who you think this message and information may be very helpful. There is nothing in the world that brings greater satisfaction than helping other people. Don’t you agree?