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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.

On Becoming a Good Communicator

July 6, 2012 by  
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“I love people and I listen”

I must admit I am not a very good listener. The quote above is a positive affirmation that has been helping me change this in myself. But what really helped me become a more aware listener and more empathic to others was helping my wife as she recovered from her difficult trachea surgery.

The thing is she couldn’t talk for almost a month. In the hospital she had her chin sewed down to her chest so as not to damage the repair of her trachea. Then after her 10 days in the hospital she was on mandatory voice rest for another 2 plus weeks. She had a pad and would write down her thoughts and comments but of course that is very slow and cumbersome and I could see that growing frustration each day. I found myself trying to figure out what she was thinking since I knew she didn’t want or have the energy to write everything down, so I constantly found myself trying to see the world from her eyes.

Even though my wife wasn’t speaking, this need to pay closer attention made me a more aware listener and because she couldn’t write out every word she wanted to speak she had to be more particular about the words she chose. Because of this our communication became more valuable and we paid closer attention to what the other person had to say .

After this experience I couldn’t help but think about how this might help people who are having relationship problems. I think that if one or both people agreed to not speak a word for, let’s say, a few days or even a week and the only way they could communicate was by writing their thoughts and comments down, I believe it would be incredibly good therapy and help people solve a lot of problems. Why not give it a shot if you are having any struggles with someone. They don’t have to agree to the no talking rules because this experiment can be carried out by just one person. Do it and see if you don’t become a better communicator.