The Time for Gratitude is Now

March 19, 2023 by  
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In the past few days, it’s been very shocking to see in the news all the damage left by these huge storms we’ve had lately all over the world. The damage wasn’t what most people expected and so many didn’t see it coming but then it hit, quickly and so very powerfully that thousands of people lost their homes, businesses, and for some, sadly, their lives.

What we humans experience hits us at all different levels but sometimes what hits us the most is the loss of things we’ve taken for granted. It’s only then, after we lose them, that we realize we haven’t given much thought and appreciation for all that we have. Everything from small possessions to big things like a best friend or family member can be lost in an instant.

I have experienced this many times in my life. There were big losses, but I also lost many small things that I’ve felt kind of stupid for not being very grateful for when I had them. There are things, like being healthy,  that don’t seem like a big deal when you have it, but it can be devasting when you lose even small parts of it. I have been realizing that a lot lately, that great health is something we need to always be grateful for. We need to take notice every day and be thankful for our good health and well-being.

If you take a look at our lives here in the good ole USA, compared with most other countries in the world, wow, we have it so good here! We really ought to take time to notice all the good things we have in our lives right now and not wait until we lose them to appreciate them.

Recently it struck me hard that I have not taken enough time to appreciate so many things.  One of the big things that was taken away from me, that I realized I always took for granted, was my ability to play tennis.

I took up the sport when I was 35 years old and was given lessons by a former professional that had big time success and even played at Wimbledon, a tournament considered one of 4 greatest in the world. I was later in many big tourneys myself, receiving 2 gold medals at the annual Huntsman World Senior Games. I even met some of the game’s greatest and most famous players like Roger Federer and Andrew Agassi while hanging out in the player’s lounge at that tournament.

Then my time playing some pretty good tennis all changed when I had an unforeseeable accident, falling so hard that I was knocked out for over 15 minutes. Talk about things I took for granted! I didn’t really appreciate all those great games I got to play and all the tournaments I was able to win until I lost my ability to play. I could hardly hit the ball or even run.

Luckily, I have able to start playing again and I am loving it. Not being able to for a time made me realize how very important it is to take time to appreciate all the good things in life and do that before something hits you hard and changes everything, for the moment or even forever. In other words, let’s all appreciate the good things, big and small, when we have and do that before we lose 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?