It seems ironic to me that I sit here writing about how thankful I am for having my health back to where I want it to be. I have been fighting a cold since last Tuesday—with not enough improvement to suit me and my schedule.
For several weeks I have been mulling over a column about how I have passed two significant milestones regarding brushes with potentially fatal health problems, and how thankful I am to be around.
At the time they occurred, the impact was frightening, but now years later it doesn’t seem that bad. I know I am very fortunate to have had people in the medical field who knew the symptoms and knew what to do about them. Not everyone who has had the same problems as me has fared as well.
Coronary artery disease existed in my family; I knew I had the genes to expect some of the same problems my ancestors had. But five years ago I was in denial and made myself believe I was having heartburn, which went on for several months.
At the urging of my wife and daughter following a trip to Atlanta, I went in for testing. I passed an EKG at rest, but found out that doesn’t necessarily prove anything. With a second opinion I received because of another routine test I was going to have done, I was told I didn’t have heartburn after all.
A treadmill test was scheduled the next day. I flunked it and found myself in an ambulance that same day on the way to Wichita Heart Hospital.
Two stents and three days later, I was back out in the world as though not much had happened. Actually, my state of mind hasn’t been the same since. That event happened five years ago next week.
Not many days go by without reminders of what the outcome could have been: Advertisements for the pills I take, press releases discussing heart disease and a recent TV show in which someone about my age was rushed to the emergency room because the stents in his left main coronary artery collapsed.
My next health episode was prostate cancer, surgery to remove a tumor and the prostate and a blood clot that developed right after the surgery. I am thankful to say I have now passed the two-year mark with all tests showing no evidence of further problems.
When I was in for a biopsy, the person who was asking about my medical history was informed about the stents I have and where they were. His comment was: “Oh, in the widow-maker.”
When I first had these problems and everything was fresh in my mind, I thought I better get things in order and slow down. What I learned is that slowing down is harder than it sounds.
With help from my wife and dear friends at work—who have supported me and for which I am eternally grateful—we are moving ahead with all plans for the business.
My purpose in writing this is so you don’t ignore symptoms when it comes to your ticker. Get checked over on a regular basis so there’s a baseline for your health.
The recurring question for which I don’t have the answer is, why I am so fortunate and others are not?
“There but for the grace of God, go I.”